Recently, I spoke with another father who has a son about to enter into his adolescent years. It was interesting to learn that no one had taught him to shave when he was growing up, just like me. So I sat down and decided to write an article about it.
Parents having a young son would understand when I say that it can be unbelievably challenging to teach sons to keep themselves well-groomed and tidy. During my early grooming years, I was not told how to use the razor properly. Often, I had razor burns, and my face sometimes bled when I incorrectly applied to much heat or pressure shaving.
I can recall the look on my parents faces when they would see me bleeding like I just got into a wrestling match with my razor. With each attempt, in the ignorance of my youth, I always thought I got the better end of the exchange over the razor.
Asking fellow co-workers and acquaintances I found that most fathers I ran into would like to offer some tips to their teenage sons. It is like a sort of like a rite-of-passage for us. We can pass on to them a few little tips and tricks that we either learned on our own or were taught to us along the way.
Why Do Sons Need Tips?
When I told a friend that I would write an article on this topic, he asked me why I needed to do that. You may also ask yourself that same question. With the Internet and smartphone, our kids have access to virtually all the information in the world right at their fingertips.
Yet for me, I felt it would be a good idea to document something I can pass on to my children that hopefully they may benefit from in the future, or perhaps look back at and share a good laugh.
In the meantime, being that Instagram and PUBG have taken away all their attention. And most of their free time is spent replying to WhatsApp texts and watching Netflix to name a few, so might as well.
Taking a some time to put down the electronic devices and spend quality time talking and inevitably teaching my son can have a significant impact upon his life. He may seem reluctant at first, but in the long run he will remember the moments I shared with him and perhaps pass some information on to children of his own.
In a sense, teaching my son to shave is akin to teaching him how to fish. He may not be a master of it in the beginning, but the experience will resonate with him for a lifetime.
Talking During His Preteens
During this period of his life, I know and can understand that there is often confusion and an almost overwhelming multitude of changes that are happening to him. Personally, I believe that any opportunity that I can find to be an open ear to my son during this period should be capitalized upon.
As a father, I understand that I can not be his friend, but I can listen with a friendly open ear. There are not many moments to talk during our daily schedule either. Or if the moment comes about, my son may feel embarrassed to talk about the things he may be experiencing in front of other people.
Shaving may not take a long time but the questions and answers provided while shaving can help bridge gaps in communication facilitating open dialog between my son and I.
I have noticed that the conversation does not always have to start out while shaving. We could be watching TV and see an ad for a shaving kit or nose-hair trimmer. Seizing this opportunity I have asked what he thought about the shaving kit he saw or the nose hair trimmer and if he thought I may need to buy one and use it.
Time to time the conversation was funny, other times it was serious. All in all, it is just really interesting to see how a subtle influence in the conversation starter like a shaving commercial can evolve into a really interesting talk with my son.
Teaching him to shave
My son must have seen me shaving or trimming hundreds of times, not to mention laughed or ran away from the foam faced giant a few times. Now that he is getting bigger, he is beginning to embrace his understanding of why we must shave and groom for good personal hygiene.
In the beginning, he would stop by and watch for a few moments and then go back about his business around the house. As time went by, slowly, gradually, I allowed him to hold the shaving razor and then try to help me shave a few times
After seeing and experiencing the process with me so many times, his comfort level has grow to the point where he is almost ready to do it entirely on his own. Fortunately he does not have to shave everyday like I do.
Nonetheless, as time goes by he will already have the appropriate shaving direction engrained in his mind. Although applying shaving foam and aftershave lotion is pretty straightforward and uncomplicated, he will have the added trick of applying heat prior to adding the foam.
He will also have an understanding that the direction of shave may end up causing razor burns or bruises if they try to shave against the grain of their hair.
Teaching my son about going against the grain was probably one of the funniest moments. The rough against the grain way is always like sand paper to my little ones.
Touching my cheeks during my five o’clock shadow always makes them laugh. Fortunately, it also teaches them which way is against the grain and which way is with the grain prior to shaving on thier own.
His First Shaving Kit
My son does not want an entire shaving kit full of gadgets and accessories. He has asked me about a shaving kit, or rather, a grooming kit and other shavers, trimmers, blades, beard attachments, nose trimmers, and grooming instruments.
Because of the fact that I know he likes to experiment. I taught him to work with items we currently have at the moment, and if they do not meet his needs we can upgrade to something he is more comfortable with later.
If I give my son a full-fledged shaving kit, he will, likely, experiment with whatever is inside it. But he is most likely going to do one of two things 1.) shave all his hair off, get bored with it and take it apart or 2.) shave half of his hair off, get bored with it and take it apart.
It being the electric shaving device that comes with most shaving kits these days. I rarely use these types of shavers but they are great to help teach different trimming techniques.
It seems that fathers are hardly the first point of contact for hormonal and bodily issues faced by teenagers. Often they are influenced deeply by their peer-group, and sadly the Internet, picking up the improper hygiene habits in the name of caring for their appearance and grooming themselves well enough to meet some unrealistic social standard.
As a father, I also feel that I must be open to my child so that he will come to me as the first point of contact and clarity on these things. Explaining to my that if he shaves well, trims nose hair and maintains a proper hairstyle, his crush, at school, will find him a lot more attractive may help, but in actual application the situation may not unfold that simply.
What I try to do is remember how delightful it felt when I got my my first Mongoose Bicycle, or the best birthday I can remember growing up as a child. Having experienced these happy events, that are permanently etched into my mind.
Many of us have these types of memories from our childhood. Some good and some bad. Ideally, I would like to use every moment I possibly can to be a positive influence on my children. Even if that moment is a few minutes going over shaving tips with their old Dad.
Growing up is already hard enough as it is these days. With so many negative influences in the world, it is easy to overlook the many opportunities for positive moments with our children.
When my sons voice starts to change, I will make sure that he understands that it is just apart of becoming a young man. If he feels like he is tripping and stumbling over things more often than not, I will teach him that his body is just growing rapidly and explain how his height and shoe size will eventually be proportionate to his hands and feet.
It is hard for many of us to understand what teenagers go through in this day and age. Although they often behave like a pack of wolves mimicking the mischievous exploratory behaviors of each other while posturing up and inflating their own howling egos.
But inside, they are just kids in need of good strong leadership and direction so that they do not run astray. In the short term it may slow us down for a moment of our day to teach them something as simple as shaving. But the long term collateral costs and consequences of doing this is positive beyond boundaries.
Solidifying the pack in your home and increasing the likelihood that one day my son with walk up to me and say, “Dad, how does my mustache look?”