Plea to Parents with Sons
I have seen your sons out on the town. They're teenagers now and trying to make a spot for themselves in this crazy ever-changing world. Some of them are doing phenomenally, but most of them still need your guidance. They're not being all they could be. They're running around acting like wild animals and treating everyone they can as shittily as possible, juggling as many girls as they can con, and making a real ass of themselves. Is this what you want to contribute to society? A generation of lazy, disrespectful, self-aggrandizing moochers?? I certainly hope not.
I'm here to give you a reality check. Parenting starts at birth. When you hold that little boy in your arms for the first time know you are responsible for who he turns out to be, not his school, not his church, not his peers, not anything else, just you. You are the most important person in his life, and as he grows older he'll try to make you think otherwise but don't you ever forget you are the one that has to give him the building blocks to succeed at life.
From the moment he's born take responsibility! Show an interest in his life. Praise him for everything he does right and make sure he knows if he does anything wrong you will be there to punish him no matter how unfair he thinks this might be. Tell him how proud you are of all his accomplishments and don't ever forget to tell him you love him. Just because he's a boy does not mean he doesn't need to hear this - he does. No matter how embarrassed he acts make sure this is instilled in his little growing mind.
Teach him he is valuable, teach him the satisfaction that comes from doing a job well, and above all teach him to be respectful of others. Tell him that women are not something to be used, abused, or taken advantage of. Make sure he knows they are not objects but human beings, just like himself, who have the same ability to feel, to think, and to be. Tell him animals do not exist to be tortured or treated cruelly, that life is sacred and needs to be respected as such.
Listen to him. Take his opinions and emotions into account. Always have an open dialogue. He needs to know that he is deserving of YOUR respect as well. He will learn through example so don't ever tell him to just sit down and be quiet, or just behave without explanation.
Tell him to stand up for what is right, to avoid things he feels are wrong, and to feel empathy for others in a bad situation. Teach him that blaming others is NEVER the answer, that he is the one driving the car down the road of life, and he is the one who is ultimately going to be responsible for where he ends up.
Make sure that by the time he is a teenager he is ready and prepared for life. Make sure by this time that he respects not only women, peers, and other fellow human beings but also himself. Tell him he does not ever have to put up with bullying or disrespect from others. Make sure he can stand up for himself and make sure he can do so with confidence and pride but also make it clear that violence should only be taken as a LAST option, not the first. And before he takes that first leap into the unknown make sure he has all these skills and is happy. Happiness is not bought with expensive gifts, it's an innate state of being that comes with being prepared, with seeing others who are happy, and by feeling accomplished.
You are not being the bad guy when you make curfews, limit time spent online or playing with video games. You are not the bad guy when you make him do chores and monitor his homework and school. You are not being the bad guy disciplining him when he falls off track. He needs your guidance and with it he should end up a pretty decent human being. In the end just be there for him, even if he claims you don't need to be. When he comes back to visit you as an adult he will show you through his actions that you've done right by him.
This article was written as a follow-up to Plea to Parents with Daughters
A 27 Second Film in Response to the Steubanville Rape Case Shows What a Real Man this College Student is
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