Give your son what he craves from you

Tell him he has what it takes.

M.M. O'Keefe
4 min readJun 16, 2018


This story begins on Easter many decades ago, when my imperfect Dad gave me the perfect gift I carry with me wherever I go: Validation.

I was 10 years old, pale and frail from years of allergies and asthma. The Easter Bunny no longer seemed real and manhood seemed like a distant shore.

Mom hid baskets throughout the house, as she usually did, but I didn’t sprint through closets looking for jelly beans like I used to. I walked listlessly, desiring something I didn’t even know was there — an invitation for connection, affirmation and validation from my father.

I was still a Mama’s boy. I wanted to be my Dad’s future man.

I found my Easter basket filled with candy behind a chair, but something more meaningful sat on the carpeting next to it: a Spalding basketball, still in the box.

“Mom didn’t give this,” I told myself. “Dad did!”

Closest photo I could find resembling my Easter gift.

I looked at him. He looked at me. I knew. Doctors said I should never play sports. But he believed in me.

My sunken chest swelled half an inch.

It seems like a small thing. But for me it was a grand gesture. Dad called me to a place where we could connect, learning a sport he loved. We played basketball together for years and I went on to play competitively without wheezing my way down the court, gasping for breath.

Every male’s anxious question: Do I have what it takes?

Author John Eldredge is on to something when he says the main question every boy asks himself is Do I have what it takes?

A father can help a boy answer that question. The boy, no matter his age, wants that help from his father more than anyone else.

That statement is not intended to diminish the powerful role mothers, teachers, coaches, spouses, mentors and friends can play. It is intended to inspire fathers to give their sons the gift that keeps on giving.



M.M. O'Keefe

My mission in 3 words: See, write and inspire. I help men over 50 find their God-given zones of genius. Why 50? Getting fired at age 50 fired me up after 50.