Things I Could Teach My Son but That He’d Be Better Off Learning from His Dad

October 20, 2014

Moms struggle with their full mommy plates. We struggle with how much we do (getting kids dressed, combed, fed, clean-toothed, packing lunches, putting shoes on the correct foot – ours and our kids’, telling the kids to not bite each other, and going to work) and then take on even more (taking on projects, buying presents for birthday parties, making doctor appointments, rescheduling doctor appointments, cleaning up, making dinner, working out, finding time to have a glass of wine and chat with our husbands… and friends… and mothers.) And those are just the physical responsibilities of a day without including the emotional are we doing it right, are we doing it well, are we doing it without causing too much permanent damage to our kids.

And then there are the posts telling me what else I should be doing, the lists: 46 Things Moms Should Be Awesome At, 38 Things Cool Moms Do, 18 Things A Mom Should Do to Avoid Being the Absolute Worst Parent Ever. I try to give these posts an honest try, after all, I like a good list, but instead I find myself wanting to shove these lists down someone’s throat because I don’t want to hear about the things I’m not doing but should be doing. I’m exhausted, remember?

The most recent to-do list I’m ruminating on is 15 Things a Mom Should Teach Her Son. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with many of the items on the list (Teach him that the job of a stay-at-home mom is equally as hard as yours OR that a dutch oven is never funny. EVER.) but as I stare at the ceiling, I think I shouldn’t be teaching this to my son. In the days of hunters and gatherers, boys went out with their fathers and learned about what it meant to be a man. Boys developed into men by watching the kind of men their fathers were (or uncles or family friends in the absence of a father). Boys didn’t learn about those things from their moms because can I, a woman, really teach my boy child, how to be man. And would he really want to learn about a dutch oven from his mom? Doubtful. He’s better off learning that from dad, a real man, the man I hope my son will become.

So with the help of Husband, I made my own list:

1. Nothing is more “manly” than a man that takes care of his family. Nothing. Period. Not what you buy, not what you wear, not what you drive, not where you go.  Taking care of others is hot. Your wife will think so and so will every other woman out there (but don’t go talking to those women).

Be a good husband and a good father and you needn’t worry about how else to be a man. It’s already done.

2. Flush the toilet. No one needs to see your business. 
3. The best things in life aren’t free, they require work. Love requires labor. Passion requires push. Even freedom requires struggle. Don’t be afraid of work. Put in effort and do a job well – no matter what the job.

4. Choose your friends wisely. Friends are like tequila: either they’ll turn out to be a lot of fun or they’ll land you in a Mexican prison. So unless you want to end up peeing in a hole in a cement cell, choose wisely.
5. Make music a part of your life and you’ll always have reason to dance and sing. Music brings happiness. How many sad people have you ever seen dancing and singing?
6. True friends don’t care about what you can give them. Some people are only around when the fortune wheel is high and you have a lot to give but as soon as the wheel turns, so do they. These people aren’t your friends. Find friends who will stand next to you at any turn the wheel takes. Do the very same with a partner. A girl who likes you won’t expect much; that’s when you know you can give her everything.

7. Put some thought into your first date. You don’t have to spend a lot of money but effort goes a long way in love, way further than dollars.

8. Learn to cook for yourself… and that doesn’t just mean grilling (although grilling is awesome). Boil some pasta, hard-boil an egg, bake a potato. Julienne a carrot. The kitchen is your friend too.

9. Lying isn’t always bad. Don’t lie to me or your mother but if you’re sparing someone’s feelings, lies aren’t always the worst thing you could do. 

10. Shave over the sink. There will be less to clean up and you’re mother will be happier for it.

11. The world is much more interesting if you believe in things that cannot be proven: love, God, Santa. Some things just require a leap of faith.

12. Success won’t teach you as much as failure. Success is awesome. It makes you feel accomplished. But there is a lot to learn in failure. Failure teaches you where to improve, where to work harder, and how to avoid the same pitfalls. Failure teaches you how to really appreciate your success.

13. Lose with grace. And while your at it, win with grace too. Sore winners and sore losers both have their own nasty stench.

14. Compliment her shoes. It sounds silly but just do it. I promise.

15. Don’t make big head decisions with your little head. There is no worse decision you could make and no decision that will haunt you longer.

16. First impressions matter. A lot. So if you wouldn’t want to meet the future love of your life or your future boss, or your future father-in-law looking like that, change.

17. But, make sure you fall in love with someone who doesn’t care what you look like. I know. I just said to care what you look like and now I’m telling you to find someone who doesn’t care. Here’s the thing: it’s about you. YOU need to care what you look like, not her. The same goes for your apartment, your car, and the toilet seat. It’s about the pride you take in yourself.

18. Don’t stand there. Do something. Be the kind of man who helps instead of stands idly by doing nothing. That’s the worst. Does your buddy need help with something? Help. Is someone getting bullied? Step in. Does someone need a lift somewhere? Offer them a ride. Be the kind of man that shows up, that people can count on.

19. If you’re not sure – wash it in cold and don’t dry it in the dryer. If you’re not sure how long it has been in the fridge – air on the side of caution and throw it out. If you’re not sure where you’re going – Ask. For. Directions. I’m still working that one out. 

20. Don’t use the phrase, “like a girl.” That phrase is lame. So are people that use it to mean something inferior. And I promise you this – if you say this in front of your mother (or your sister) they’re going to slap you “like a girl” and it will hurt. Because girls are strong.

21. And know that the saying “be a man” is just as stupid. You know who’s a man? Me. Your dad. You know why? Because I know that “being a man” can be defined by lots of things by lots of people but the only definition that matters is your own. Be what you want.

22. Chivalry is not dead. Court her. Bring flowers. Or coffee. Write her a letter. Opening doors is always a good move. Share your umbrella. Give her your coat if she’s cold. Walk her to her door. Compliment (see #14) Ask her to dance. Know how to dance. Pull out her chair. Offer her your seat. Call – especially if you said you would.

23. Know how to build a shed. Be handy. Know how to use a hammer. Own a ladder. Be resourceful. Don’t worry, you’re sister will also learn the same thing.

24. Don’t be in a rush to get older. You will be an adult for far longer in life than you will be a kid. Enjoy the wonder. The only things waiting for you in adulthood are bills, payments, and to-do lists. I’d rather be playing tag.

25. The world is full of fools. Don’t be one. Ask lots of questions and don’t stop asking. Question everything. Don’t just accept what other people tell you. Learn something from everyone but not everything from someone.  Accept other views but make your own.

26. Winning matters on scoreboards and record books but ask Derek Jeter if that’s what he was thinking about when he was making his farewell speech after 20 seasons. Sure winning is great but playing hard, playing your best is everything. Give 100% and I promise you’ll never regret it.

27. Nice guys don’t finish last. Being kind and compassionate actually takes a good bit of strength. Learn to be that kind of strong. You don’t need to be hard and ruthless in order to get ahead. You’ll hear that kindness is weakness. You’ll hear that nice guys finish last. It isn’t true. Ask your mother if this nice guy finished last.

28. The biggest guy isn’t necessarily the strongest. I’ve seen big men fold to much smaller men. The key is to play your own game and not someone else’s game. We all have our strengths. Use what you have. 

29. Aim high: in life and in love. Have high expectations. Don’t settle.

30. And finally… your mother is always right. Accept it. Don’t fight it. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s a losing battle.

And we love you. 
& Husband

6 Comments
    1. ha! great, Amber. I'm glad you enjoyed my list. It's funny cause I had another friend that said “I agree with some stuff but don't have the time to tell you about the stuff I don't agree with” and I was kinda like “don't look into it all that much” Funny how people agree/disagree with raising kids, isn't it. It's such a personal experience. What one mom does another one would never do. As for me, lying is an invaluable resource sometimes. 😉

    1. Great list! there is a lot we expect from the men in our lives and sounds like your little one will be on the right track. Wishing the best of luck in raising your little man, parenting can be the most rewarding challenge.

      my blog moved to http://www.pearlmaple.com

    1. AWESOME LIST! Looks like you have a great man beside you, and the two of you are going to raise such a wonderfully kind, caring, smart, mindful man, thank you! The world thanks you!
      I must pin this, now.
      XOXO

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