As my sons grow taller it seems my days speed by faster.
The days of leisurely reading inspirational parenting books and planning a picture perfect household are long gone. Real life is never like the books. It’s hard. It’s gritty. It’s actually quite wonderful.
Staying focused on the long term is often overshadowed by arguments over chores, lectures on frequency of hair washing and discussions on when and where it is appropriate to release flatulence.
How do I remember what is important while I keep fighting the daily fight to be a good parent, a loving wife, businesswoman and semi-coherent adult? I discovered that writing a list and reading it regularly made staying focused on the big things easier.
Lessons for my sons
Decide what kind of man you want to become. Everyday behave like that man. You will fail often, keep going.
2) Life is hard and unfair.
Women you love will break your heart. People you depend on will let you down. You will watch yourself screw things up royally and make it worse if you think life shouldn’t be so hard. Don’t fight the truth, accept it and don’t let it surprise you. Face the pain and plow through it. Hiding from pain with alcohol and drug abuse, affairs, escapism with video games and addictions all lead to destruction. Man up and power through it.
3) Seek truth.
Read the Bible, go to church, talk to God, get to know Jesus. Know the truth of a loving God. Never let the behavior of Christians cloud your vision of who God is. People will disappoint you if you place your hope in them. Seek eternal truth.
4) Stand up for those who can not stand up for themselves.
Speak out when evil runs amuck. Never let fear of reprisal keep you from doing the honorable thing. Be valiant. Protect the weak, the innocent and the needy. Use your voice, your strength, your mind, your vote, your prayers and your money to do the right thing. Never confuse appeasement with peacemaking.
5) Love of money is the root of all evil.
Money is not evil in itself, but the love of money will ruin you. Feel free to make as much money as you can, take care of your family, but give 10% to your Church, give to shelters and charities. Feed the poor and help care for the sick. Do good things with money and don’t let greed overwhelm you.
Ask the honest opinion of your brothers when you think about getting married. They may see things you do not. Watch how her parents interact with each other. Childhood patterns are often repeated for decades.
Youth will fade and marriage built on desire only will have a rocky path. Find a woman who excites your mind as well as the body. A woman who makes you laugh, who will be a strong partner and will be your rock when life gets tough.
7) When you do marry and have children, remember to continue to see your wife as the woman you love.
She will need you to look at her lovingly even when the bills are overdue and the kids are screaming. She will need your attention and comfort through the years. Speak to her with love. Never take her love for granted. Cherish her and she will make your life wonderful. To ignore your wife is to invite regret in your life. Stay loyal to her. Every person has their own set of baggage and issues. A new person would just have a new set of annoying quirks you will have to deal with. Your marriage is a gift. Treat it well.
8) It’s OK to be a man.
If you want you can be loud, you can play sports, you can hunt and be rough. You don’t have to act like women no matter what is politically correct at the moment. In fact, try to always be politically incorrect. Political correctness kills truth and the ability to think for oneself.
9) Take responsibility.
Own your behavior and never blame others for your choices. When you screw up say you are sorry. Humble yourselves and ask forgiveness. Make things right when you mess them up. Take an active role in your community. Apathy kills the soul and the mind. Pay attention to the government, be informed and never shrug your shoulders saying “What can I do?” Just do the right thing.
10) Never stop learning.
Watch less TV and read everyday. Turn off the distractions of noise and visual stimulation. You will look around and see nothing but faces focused on screens, fight the lure of the TV and keep reading. Keep learning. Keep growing. Never be happy to settle.
I hope to continue to add to these through the years. There are a million lessons to learn and endless opportunities for their growth. The secret is simple. It is remembering what is important and living those principles out loud.
What do you hope to pass down to your children? I would love to hear one (or more) of your principles that you hope to pass down to your children.