I have been writing a lot about running and racing, so I wanted to switch it up a little since this blog is about more than just that. A while back I wrote a post to my daughters about life lessons. Now it’s time to write one for the boys. I know they are only 5, but it is never too early to set a good foundation.
Lesson #1: There are no gender-specific jobs or chores. I don’t want my sons growing up thinking women do the laundry, dishes, and cook while men mow the grass, clean the garage, and complete home repairs. As they can see, I do all of this myself. Nor do I want them to think they need to be police officers, bankers, or mechanics while their sisters pursue teaching, nursing, or counseling. Thankfully, gender barriers are being broken, and I want my sons to know they are capable of anything and have my support.
Lesson #2: There’s a lot to be said about good manners. This is not just for my sons; it’s for everyone. It is always disheartening to meet an adult who obviously lived under a rock and missed the manners memo. I understand that some extremely rude people have excelled in life, but I am sure they aren’t looked upon favorably by others. A genuine “please” and “thank you” can work wonders when dealing with people.
Lesson #3: Never, ever date your sisters’ friends. Believe me when I say that this never ends well for anyone involved.
Lesson #4: For the love of the children, don’t forget to look people in the eye and give a firm handshake when you meet them. Nothing is worse than shaking hands with a guy (or girl, for that matter) who gingerly takes your hand and gives the wet noodle shake. I’m not asking you to rip the person’s arm out of the socket, but a firm handshake and eye contact make you appear more confident and friendly. A smile doesn’t hurt either.
Lesson #5: Crying is perfectly acceptable. Sure, there are times when breaking down in tears isn’t necessarily appropriate, but it helps release emotions so you can clear your head and move on. I liken it to pressing the restart button on the body. You will not appear weak if you cry.
Lesson #6: There is nothing that says a “real man” needs to play sports. Real men paint. Real men play instruments. Real men immerse themselves in photography. Real men read books. Real men do a lot of things besides athletics. I’m not knocking the sporty types (You all know I appreciate a good run after all), but athletic abilities don’t define a man. Besides, you will get further in life based on your brain rather than your brawn.
Lesson #7: Treat women respectfully no matter what their age. I don’t care if she’s 6 or 106; she’s still a lady. If you wouldn’t treat your sisters, mom, and grandmas a certain way, you know it’s not acceptable to treat another woman that way. I am raising you to be better than that, and this behavior is expected of you.
Lesson #8: That being said about treating women respectfully, never stay with a woman who doesn’t respect you. A relationship is about equality, not superiority over another. A woman who belittles you and attempts to make you feel inferior isn’t worthy of your time and affection. I don’t care if she’s smokin’ hot; she doesn’t deserve you if she treats you that way. I have seen girls treat their husbands/boyfriends like dirt when we’ve been out, and it makes me sad to think that if she’s that mean in public, I can only imagine how toxic she is at home. It really leaves a bad impression. If you bring home a woman like that, she will not be welcome in my house.
Lesson #9: Show empathy for others. This is generally considered more of a female trait, but being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand where they are coming from is a good trait for everyone. I don’t think we live in a society where things are black and white, right or wrong; there are shades of gray that are best understood when we put our opinions and thoughts aside and try to see things from another’s point of view.
Lesson #10: You will always be my babies. I will admit that I am a little more lenient with you and baby you more than I do the girls. Why? Because you are my babies, the last children I will have (more than likely). You are already getting to the point where it is hard to pick you up and hold you, and I am sure in a few more years, you will be able to pick me up. It won’t matter if you’re 15 or 35 or 50; you will always be my sweet, little baby boys. Continue to grow and make me proud.