As a Mom of Boys, I often feel like we’re failing our young men or, more importantly, ignoring their development entirely. Raising our young boys into men, or menschs (to be exact) is incredibly important. And, not just because if we raise our boys right our girls have less to worry about, but because if they’re half of the problem, they must be half of the solution.
1. First impressions last. It’s important to pay attention to how the world perceives you. It’s important to be aware that people make judgements of who you are based on how you present yourself. Think about how you want the world to see you, and then act accordingly. But, also never, ever, assume you know someone based on their appearance. You must dig deeper. You must try to avoid snap judgements and pre-conceived notions. You’re life will be so much richer if you push past your initial biases and get to know people for who they are.
2. And don’t be afraid to show people the real you. You can be independent and different from the pack. You bring your own unique strengths to the team and the classroom. Let people love you for you in all your beautiful weirdness. Don’t worry about being cool or conforming to the team. Be an individual and be strong in your individuality. Your uniqueness is what makes you an indispensable member of the whole.
3. Life is not Youth Soccer. You do not get a trophy for just showing up. You will not be awarded for mediocrity. There are winners and losers in life and you are not always going to win. Therefore you must learn to be a humble winner and a gracious loser. You might not always be the most talented athlete, or the best performer, or the smartest student. And the world won’t always reward you for your effort. But, you can be sure that you can take pride in the fact that you worked your hardest and put your best work into everything you do.
4. And, you can’t quit when things get difficult. You can’t make excuses when things don’t go your way. Mom and Dad will not always be there to kiss your boo boos. You need to learn how to solve your own problems and overcome your own obstacles. You need to develop your own internal locus of control. Grit and resiliency will take you further in life than taking the easy way out. You are in control of your life, your are responsible for your actions, you control your destiny.
5. About self-control. Don’t be embarrassed by your emotions. Don’t be afraid of tears or anger or fear. But learn how to control these emotions and learn where they are appropriate. And you should expect the same from those people around you. You are allowed to excuse yourself from uncomfortable situations and you needn’t tolerate poor behavior from others. Don’t let other people’s anger or meanness or sensitivity bully you into behaving in ways that make you uncomfortable.
6. Love who you want, and definitely follow your heart. But always make sure your relationships are built on mutual respect and admiration. And, never lose logic and pragmaticism as you embark on romance. And never be with someone because you NEED them. You are fine on your own, you don’t need another person to complete you or take care of you.
7. Take care of your body. Eat healthy and be strong. Get outside and keep moving. Do not sit on the couch all day and play video games. Be active and adventurous. And, for the love of god, be clean. There’s nothing more odious than smelly boy smell. Do not be that guy!
8. Keep your hands out of your pants. I understand that there’s plenty to discover down there, but there’s a time and a place for everything. Do not let that strange appendage control your life. God gave you a brain for a reason; use it!!
9. Stand up for what’s right. Have a voice and don’t be afraid to speak out. Be the guy on the playground that sticks up for the underdogs. Hold your friends to high standards and lead by example. Always be empathetic to those around you and think before you act.
10. Life is a most excellent adventure. Develop passions. Hold on to wonder. Conquer your fears, overcome your obstacles and just dive in.