Ten Things to Teach Our Teen Sons
We are responsible for preparing the next generation of husbands, fathers, teachers, leaders, coaches, salespeople, service people, plumbers, etc. It's up to us, the adults of our society, to teach them what's important and how to live a productive, connected, and happy lives.
This learning has to start at home, when they are young. If not, they'll enter the adult world unprepared, unmotivated, and disconnected. In order to avoid that outcome, here are ten things our sons need to learn that will help them become the men we need in the world.before they launch.
How to Pray
It involves 'thank you' and 'help me be.' It will never be perfect and that's ok. It should be intentional, though. Best way to get him into the habit? Do it with him yourself.
Humility is the seat of gratitude, empathy, connection, and joy. The sooner he realizes that he'll be happier when thinking about others as much as he thinks about himself, the better. Ways to learn? Have him serve those more unfortunate than himself.
God made him as He wants
Tween and teen years are full of comparisons - 'they' are stronger, smarter, faster, better looking, etc. Our sons need to realize that God made them exactly as He wants. Also, the must recognize that they are unique, loved, and prepared for their own path - surrounded by those supporting and loving.
How to be response-able.
One of the things we men struggle with is our reactions. Emotions have a hard time getting out of our sons for lots of reasons, most importantly, their brains are set up for quick access to their emotions and words. Teaching them how to respond in the best possible ways includes teaching mindfulness and building a sense of confidence.
By that I mean how to cook a meal, do laundry, pay bills, interview for and keep a job, etc.
Our sons may really like to be served and cleaned up after but it's not preparing them for life out of the house. He won't do it as well as you and that's ok - it's part of the learning process. Plus, the more useful he feels, the better he'll feel about himself.
There are lots of shiny objects out there. Prepare him to handle the onslaught by helping him think not only through first-order consequences but through second and third-level consequences as well. Every action has a ripple of re-actions, good and/or bad. This involves learning when to say 'no', when to say 'yes,' and, most importantly, understanding 'why.'
How to fail, learn, and try again
Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Alexander Graham Bell, Edison.... all failed a lot before they changed the world. Want some new examples? Michael Jordan, Kevin Hart, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Aubrey Marcus, Seth Godin, etc., etc., etc.
We have a saying at our camp: You either win or you learn. But, you better learn from the wins, too.
How to ask for help
I literally got my first job because I stopped to ask for directions. My oldest son got recruited by high level basketball coach because he asked questions about a drill (and because he can shoot.)
Asking for help demonstrates to others that you are a) humble and b) want to learn.
How to treat a 'special friend'
How you treat your son's mother or father directly impacts how he approaches the close relationships in his life going forward. What kind of example are you showing him?
How to be useful
The question "how can I help" may be the most underrated question by men in the world. Learn that simple phrase and then doing something that helps changes all sorts of outlooks.
Extra Credit: How to Tell a Joke
If you can make people laugh, you'll build a connection more quickly. Having two or three go-to (clean!) jokes is a good way to be prepared.
If you are a parent, mentor, caregiver, teacher, coach... if you have a connection to a young man, help him learn these tools. He'll be better off for it. And so will everyone else.