I read this blog post today; a list of 52 lessons fathers should teach their sons.
I have no idea who this blogger is or what his mentality is, but by the time I got halfway through the list I realised that this is everything that's wrong with humanity. This is why we can't progress forward as a society.
I decided to improve it. Here is a list of 52 lessons I hope to teach my sons. I'm hoping my boys will learn many of these lessons long before they're teenagers.
(I also think these are wonderful things for mothers to teach daughters. or fathers to teach daughters. Or mothers to teach sons. Whatever. Just teach them).
1. How to Throw a Ball
Learning physical skills and team sports is a great way to build confidence, bond and have fun. You can participate in social games, keep physically active, and have fun with friends. It's also encouraging to see your throwing skills improve with practice.
2. How to Negotiate
The last place you want to be is on the giving or receiving end of a punch. Be confident and quick witted. Stay away from violent people if at all possible. Diffuse a volatile situation while staying calm. Nothing good ever comes of physical violence.
3. How to Dress Presentably
While ripped jeans and old t-shirts might be fine for the weekend, you need to look professional in situations such as job interviews. Even if you don't want a conventional office job, it's a good idea for you to understand what type of dress is acceptable in different settings.
4. The Power of Willpower
It's important for you to believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? You are capable of achieving anything you set your mind to. Don't mind setbacks, they're just bumps in the road. If you want it bad enough, you'll achieve it.
5. Treat Women With Respect
It's the 21st Century, and we're still having to say this stuff. Clearly the message is not getting through. Fathers, lead by example. Treat your wife or partner with respect. Have a zero-tolerance level for sexism. Have an ongoing discussion with your son about what is and is not acceptable. See an example of sexism in advertising? In a movie? On the street? Talk about it.
Sons, treat others as you would like to be treated. It's just that simple.
6. How to Build a Bookshelf
Learning basic DIY skills can save lots of money in the future and can instill a sense of pride.
7. Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover
The world is a diverse place. Learn to look beyond face value and connect with the person underneath. Learn about other cultures. Don't judge people based on their skin or clothing: the real value comes from what's inside. Forget this lesson, and you'll miss out on a lot.
8. It's OK to Feel Emotions
Another lesson which seems to be lost on boys. Research has proven time and time again that it is important for a person's mental health to be able to express themselves in appropriate ways. If you are sad, you should feel safe expressing that sadness. If you cry, that's ok! If you're angry, punch a punching bag or go for a run. Bottled-up emotions can lead to mental breakdowns, panic attacks, fits of rage. Learn the best and healthiest ways for you to get your feelings out. If you feel like you're not coping, seek professional help. When a person asks for help when they are mentally unwell it is a sign of immense strength.
9. Trust Your Gut
Most people are inherently good, but unfortunately not everyone is out to be your friend. You should trust yourself and if you feel uncomfortable in a situation or with a particular person or group, there's probably a good reason for that.
10. The Importance of Hard Work
You will get out of life what you put into it. Set goals and work towards them. Set little goals to begin with, and feel that confidence boost when you achieve them! Then set bigger ones. You should feel a sense of pride in the things you work hard for. If you don't give something your best effort, learn from it and do a better job next time.
11. The Importance of Physical Fitness
Staying physically active is very important! Find an activity you enjoy, whether it's running, swimming, team sports, dancing, karate, or yoga. The activity itself doesn't matter. if you enjoy it, you'll want to stick with it. Being physically fit has obvious physiological benefits, but it also has psychological benefits as well.
12. The Importance of Contraceptives
This lesson needs to be drilled into every person along with the birds and bees talk. You need to learn everything you can possibly know about condoms. You need to know where to buy them, how to use them, and when to use them. Yeah, this conversation can be awkward. But it's less awkward than asking your parents to drive you to the doctor for STD testing. Or worse...explaining to them that they're about to be grandparents.
13. How to Swim
This is something that I feel very strongly about. You live on a planet that is mainly water. If for no other reason than self preservation, you need to know how to swim. I'm not talking Olympic standards here, but well enough so that should you encounter a body of water deeper than a puddle, you're going to be able to get out again. Of course, swimming is also great for physical fitness and you'll have a much better time at pool parties.
14. Don't Be a Sore Loser
You will not win every race or competition. That's life. It can be disappointing, but there's always next time. Take the lessons learned from the competition and keep trying. Congratulate the winner, and move on. This also applies for the winner. Be gracious. Congratulate the other players/competitors, and keep your feet on the ground.
15. Opportunity is Everywhere
Think outside the box and be inventive. Think about what makes you happy and what you enjoy doing. Is there any way you can use your hobby or interest to further your career?
16. Be Yourself
Be your real, authentic self. Don't try to change to fit in or to impress anybody. It never works, well, not for long anyway. You'll never be happy being someone you're not. And if someone doesn't like who you really are, you don't truly need them around anyway. Seek friends who love you for who you are. Fake people are boring, anyway.
17. Always Give 110%
No job is beneath you. Give it your best. Always.
18. Keep Your Word
Don't say something without following through with it. If you're not sure if you can commit to something, don't say you can before finding out more. Be reliable, or people won't trust you.
19. Do What Makes You Happy
Think hard about what type of career you'd prefer. Study hard to make that happen. Live the dream you set for yourself. Don't choose a career to please someone else. That includes your parents. As long as you are happy and able to pay the bills, we'll be happy.
20. Love Yourself For Who You Are
Some people feel that they were born in the wrong bodies. They see themselves as the opposite sex and desperately want to be seen as the other gender. Every time I read one of these stories, a lot about angst and sadness is discussed. I suspect the only reason anyone feels angst or sadness over this 'change' is because of other people's perceptions. If the world just left these people alone to become the person they want to be, I don't think there would be any angst or sadness at all. Know yourself, be yourself, love yourself. Others will too.
21. No Excuses
Don't make excuses for things you didn't do. If you truly wanted to do something, you would do it...no excuses! Similarly, if you did something wrong, own up to that. Don't make excuses for your behaviour. We've already heard them all, and quite frankly, we don't buy it.
22. Apologize When You Are Wrong
If you have hurt someone or done something wrong, apologize. It takes guts to own up when we are wrong. You'll feel better after you do it, and sometimes this simple act can salvage a friendship. Be sincere. Reflect on your actions and think about how they made the other person feel. Then apologize.
The thing about girls, boys, and everyone else on the planet, is that they are so individually diverse that it's impossible to put all of them in one box. But speaking very generally, most girls actually do want to connect with you. I'm not a relationship guru, but here's a big hint: it really helps if you and the girl of your dreams actually have some shared interests and values. It really helps if you can have fun together outside the bedroom. It really helps if you are interested in each other as people. And it most definitely helps if you have respect for one another. Don't treat her like an inferior being. Definitely do not treat her like a little sister. You wouldn't like it if she did that to you. Once again, the key to life is just treating people with respect. It's not hard.
24. The Importance of Athletics
This is pretty much a repeat from before, but yes it's important to stay physically active. Whether you choose team sports or individual exercise really doesn't matter that much as long as you enjoy it. The long-lasting benefits of structured exercise are far reaching. I learned self-discipline from my years of classical ballet. This is something I have retained today and it's helped in many areas of my life. It's helped in every job I've ever had and in my current role as a stay-at-home parent and university student. Even though my flexibility and strength has disappeared, I still gained so much from ballet. The same goes for whatever activity you choose.
25. Be Confident
Every child needs this lesson drummed into them. Everyone is unique, everyone has something to contribute, and YES you can achieve anything you set your mind to!
26. Love Yourself
Love and respect yourself enough to take care of yourself. Bathe regularly, keep yourself tidy and presentable. Eat well and exercise regularly. Take time out to deal with any built-up stress. Do things that make you happy.
27. Don't Harm Yourself
This sounds like a repeat, and in many ways it is, but it needs to be said. Don't indulge in self-harming behaviours. This includes drug use, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, partying to the detriment of your studies or job, or eating an unhealthy diet. Even if it seems fun at the time, you'll suffer the effects later on.
28. Treat Animals Kindly
Pets are dependent on you to live. If you make the choice to own a pet, do everything you can to treat it well. It's a big decision and responsibility, which is why you shouldn't get one if you don't think you can do right by it.
29. There Will Always Be People Greater and Lesser Than Yourself
What this means is that there will always be people suffering more, and there will be people suffering less than yourself. There will be people happier than you, and people sadder than you. There will be people with more of everything, and people with nothing. Right now there are people bursting with joy, and there are people dissolving with grief. When you feel like you carry the world's burden on your shoulders, remember that you actually don't. We get a turn in all of these places over a lifetime.
30. Help Others
No matter who you are, where you are, what you do...you can find opportunity to help those less fortunate than yourself. If you work hard and end up in a position of power, remember to stop and thank those who helped get you there.
31. Basic Scientific Literacy
Understanding where we came from, how our bodies function, simple chemistry, simple physics, and the ability to determine legitimate scientific studies from quackery are all very important abilities to have. It will help prevent you getting sucked into the ever-popular pseudoscience, and it will help you make sense of the world around you.
32. Budget Wisely
Learn to draw up a budget and stick to it. Always save for a rainy day and do everything within your power to avoid debt. This includes credit cards. Material possessions are unimportant, but having financial security is crucial. Always have a bit of savings to help keep you afloat. Live within your means. If nothing else, this will save you many sleepless nights.
33. Choose Your Words Wisely
Words carry enormous power. Think before you speak.
34. Basic Courtesy and Etiquette
When meeting someone, look them in the eye and smile. Greet them warmly. Shake hands if appropriate. Say 'please' and 'thank you' when necessary. Say goodbye when you leave. Easy things to do that help create a positive impression.
35. Value Your Family
Your family is where you come from and where you will return. Your family contains the people who love you beyond measure, who will celebrate your joys and mourn your sorrows. Your family will pick you up when you fall. One day you will create your own family with your own traditions, but I hope you will always find room for us.
36. How to Write a Resume and Cover Letter
You will apply for many jobs in your lifetime. Learn how to write a standout resume and cover letter that will lead to you being selected over the other hopeful candidates.
37. How to Play a Musical Instrument
Music appeals to just about everyone, and learning to play an instrument takes years of dedication and practice. After you put the hard work in, you will not only have a new skill, you will have a fun and relaxing pastime, a way to connect with others, an emotional outlet, perhaps a money-making opportunity, and a skill and a joy that will stay with you for life.
38. Stand Up For Yourself and Others
Don't stand for bullies pushing you around. Don't react. Don't give them any of your energy. If you see another person being picked on, stand up for them. Reach out and be a friend. Don't be one of the cowards standing around letting it happen. If things get too out of hand, ask for help.
39. Stay True to Your Values
Remember what is important to you and don't just go along with what everyone's doing because all your friends are. You can say no.
40. Enjoy Being Outdoors
Going camping is a learning experience. It's good for you to get away from the rush of civilization and the addiction of technology. Get outside for a few days and 'do nothing'. Gain respect for nature and learn some useful survival skills along the way.
41. Learn to Grow or Catch Your Own Food
Learn to fish, or start a vegetable garden and grow your own produce. It's a great feeling eating something that you procured yourself, it's good for the environment, it's good for you, and it saves money.
42. Learn to Take Care of Your Things
Your car, your computer, maintenance issues for your home. If you learn basic tasks such as oil/tyre changing, basic IT skills and basic handy work around the house, you will save money and prevent further damage.
43. Read Classic Literature
There is much to be gained by reading some famous written works. Sometimes it might be difficult to understand, but persevere and think about it. Many classic works have multiple layers of meaning and if you read something that really speaks to you, it can even change you as a person. Go to the 'Classics' section of the bookstore and pick something that you like. You won't be disappointed.
44. Learn to Clean
Create a basic household cleaning routine. Dishes need to be done every night, or every time you cook. Clean as you go. If you live alone, tasks such as vacuuming, laundry and bathroom cleaning can probably be done once a week. Pick up stray objects as you go so the mess never becomes overwhelming. If nothing else, keeping your house clean can prevent pest infestations, broken items and lost objects, so it's worth it just for that alone.
45. Learn to Cook
Sorry, you can't survive on a diet of takeaway food. Start out with some simple family recipes. Browse through cookbooks that seem interesting, or search for recipes online. Then branch out and experiment. Have fun with it! Try recipes from different cultures or things you've never tried before. You never know if you'll find something amazing. And if it's less than amazing, chalk it up to experience.
46. Visit the Dentist
I hate the dentist. When I was younger, I thought that I could make the rules as an adult. That I didn't have to go for regular cleanings and checkups. Well here's your opportunity to learn from my mistakes. Go to the dentist! The same goes for the doctor. Take care of your body and get regular checkups.
47. Ask For What You Want
Be sure of what you want from life, and don't be afraid to seek that out.
48. Learn to Haggle and Shop Around
Look for the best price and haggle to make that price lower. The retail price of just about everything is massively over-inflated, so usually you can get a percentage off. Or you might see the same thing somewhere else cheaper if you shop around. When it comes to cars and houses, you are expected to make an offer lower than what they're asking.
49. Everyone Has Worth
Every single person on this planet is worthy and should be valued. It doesn't matter what they look like on the outside. It doesn't matter where they're from. It doesn't matter what they believe, it doesn't matter what gender they are or if they're gay or straight, it doesn't matter if you think they are stupid or intelligent. They are to be treated equally, and kindly.
It's the best way to open your eyes, learn about the world, meet new friends and have amazing experiences. Travel as much as you can. There's so much you haven't seen. Visit the big cities and the tourist attractions, and then visit the small villages and the out-of-the-way places. Take photos. Write it down. Talk to people.
51. High School is Not As Important As You Think.
I'm not only talking about the friends you make (or don't make), but your academic performance. Now, you should try your absolute best. You should aim to do as well as you can, because it will make your life a thousand times easier later on. But, in the worst case scenario, there are ways around your bad grades. You can still go to university and study whatever you want, it just takes a bit longer. If this is the path you take, be aware that is is harder in a lot of ways, but don't let one setback discourage you. Use the time to travel and work, and figure out what you really want to do anyway. Most teenagers have no clue. Get out there and have a think. In fact, do this even if you got wonderful grades. A year or so off will be good for you.
52. Chin Up
Life will throw many curveballs your way. Sometimes you will find obstacles to be nearly insurmountable. There is very little in this world that cannot be overcome. Remember that you can do anything, and take a step.
Are there any lessons you think should be added to the list? Are there any you think shouldn't be included?