As every father can verify, life’s perspective shifts uniquely the moment a child is born. Innately, we feel in that instant the weight of what we created. There is a soaring joy in our baby’s first moments, of course, but also an acknowledgement of a new duty, perhaps the greatest and most challenging any man can endure. Whether we choose to answer the call and truly take on fatherhood will also decide, in large part, our own child’s approach to life’s responsibilities and trials. Nothing will test a fathers’ will — or provide greater reward — than guiding a child along the path to becoming a good adult. Here are a few tips to make the journey as fulfilling as possible.

Be An Example
There’s no avoiding the reality that young people will base their behavior on what is demonstrated by the closest adults figure in their lives. They observe your actions, and from them form an opinion as to what being an adult means. It’s essential to embody traits like self-control, commitment, and willingness to sacrifice if you’d like your son to value responsibility as an adult.

Teach Planning
It’s tragically common to see men drifting through life as reactionaries, always moving in response rather than with forethought. This habit is a sign of immaturity and with the right guidance, boys will grow out of it. Being able to think ahead is the core of manhood. It’s a skill that fathers can teach in many ways; for example, by helping develop plans for personal budgets, and discouraging mindless spending.

Value Respect
The rebel who rejects authority and follows his impulses — no matter the impact — is a pop culture icon. Reality, however, is best navigated with consideration for others. Ensuring children learn to appreciate the role authority plays and to honor their promises (and to work alongside peers, understand differing viewpoints, and respect the opposite gender) will open them to a universe of opportunity.

Practice Accountability
Many of the society’s most prevalent issues can be tied back to an epidemic-scale decline in self-control. Help children learn to surrender small pleasures for long-term benefits by getting them into a hobby, like sports or playing an instrument. They’ll realize that mastery doesn’t come naturally, but from countless hours of hard work. Being involved, kids will also start to notice patterns of action (or inaction) and consequence — forget to practice, and they’ll fall behind.

Don’t Neglect Compassion
There is a nasty and prevailing idea that men should be stone, weathering all storms without a crack of emotion. What those who champion this concept don’t -— or perhaps because of their philosophy, can’t — pick up on are the stunted relationships left in wake of unbleeding stoicism. If you want your children to accept their feelings, do the same. Show compassion for those less fortunate. Love your family and make sure they know. Protect what can’t protect itself, including the environment. Imprint in them these ideals, and your children will be stronger for it.