Warrior Dad’s Action List

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Some men become fathers during their warrior years (18-30).  All that dating, love, and marriage results in pregnancy. Depending on when your romance started, you could have one, two even three or four little ones running around your place!  Life changes dramatically when those little voices are clamoring for food and diaper changes!  More than that, they want to be loved.

As a new dad, how do you raise those little images of yourself? 

Shane and Sawyer

The Measure of a Boy

If God has blessed you with a son, here are some key character traits that you, as his dad, need to build into him.  Eight qualities I discovered on a list from a parenting conference. These are good building blocks that will prepare him for young manhood and beyond.

  1. Obedient.  Scripture teaches that children are to obey their parents, in the Lord, for this is right. Obedience is and should be expected. You are the parent and training your son to follow through with obedience to what you ask of him is foundational.  Picking up his toys. Going to bed when told. Doing his homework. Living with an understanding that obedience to God-ordained authority is core as he grows up.
  1. Pays Attention.  “Squirrel!”  Learning to stay focused is hard for a little boy. There are so many distractions. So much to see and do. Yet, paying attention to instructions and what is at hand is important. Your son needs to listen well and follow through. That’s how we know if he’s paying attention.
  1. Learns to share; is considerate of others. I had two younger sisters growing up. Learning to share my Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels tracks with them was hard. Sometimes, they lost my favorite car or broke a toy. I could get angry. And yet, learning to share sets the stage for healthy compromise when your son gets older.
  1. Accepts discipline without anger or pouting. This is a big one. On the one hand, as his dad, you need to discipline your son. Without discipline, he will grow up unruly. Receiving discipline with a teachable heart will diffuse anger and pouting. Anger is him resisting authority. Pouting is him trying to manipulate you to reconsider.  No discipline is pleasant at the time, but it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who are being trained by it. (Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV
  1. Responds to directions to control his emotions. Young boys can display a gamut of emotions. Emotions are not wrong, but they can be wrongly displayed. Right emotions, but at the wrong time and place can teach a boy how to control a situation to his advantage. It’s called a tantrum. Learning to listen to your direction to cool it or engage with appropriate emotions can be a difficult lesson for a boy to learn, but as his dad, you need to be consistent in how you call him out.
  1. Starts building a reputation.  Is your son a liar? Or, is he so honest, he cannot lie without his guilt showing? Is he known by others to be a boy with a pleasant attitude or one that manipulates?  Spoiled brat! A boy needs to be known as reliable and forthright.
  1. Starts developing good work habits. Perhaps it’s simple chores around the house like taking out the trash, cleaning up his room, walking the dog, or sweeping the garage floor. Boys need to be taught good work habits and you, as his dad is essential in the process. Take him along when you have errands to run or honey-do lists. Timeliness, accuracy, and becoming a boy of his word are key to him becoming an excellent employee or employer someday.
  1. Can handle pain and frustration. This is another big one! Life is filled with pain and frustrations. A stubbed toe, a scraped knee, a broken arm, a canceled birthday party because of disobedience, getting sick and missing the campout.  Getting a bad grade on his spelling homework. Being misunderstood.  The more he can learn to handle such when he’s young, the better he will be at handling pain and frustrations that will be 100x bigger when he’s older.  In that, your son needs to see that God is at work despite and in fact through the tough times of life. 
Helping daddy drive the bus!

Our son, Justin, wasn’t a perfect boy growing up. He tested the limits, loved to negotiate, and was determined to understand the why behind everything. He was (and is) strong-willed for sure. That is actually a good thing! Who wants a kid who is a pushover?  The key to seeing these eight qualities in your young son is by you modeling such yourself.

Daddy introducing his son to a Canadian phenomenon- Tim Horton’s!

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Too Far From the Tree

Pull out some old photos of you when you were your son’s age. I’m sure there is a resemblance. How about these character qualities?  The good news is that if you are a dad who follows Jesus, you have God himself involved in the raising of your son; and who doesn’t want their son to resemble our heavenly Father?

If you have questions about raising a young son, reach out to us at We will help through prayer and by pointing you to some helpful resources.

Warrior On!

Photos in this post courtesy of Shane and Emily Anderson of the indie-folk group Arbour Season. Check out their music at

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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