If you told me that I had kids that were old enough to write this post, I’d tell you that you were crazy. That’s how fast time sneaks up on you. One day they are toddlers wanting to spend time with only you and the next day they are almost teenagers, wanting to spend their time playing outside with friends. It goes faster than we know.
Becky and I have three sons and a daughter, and each of of them is completely different. Our oldest son is at that very impressionable age, where they start to listen to everything that you say and take it literally. The age where they are learning and creating habits and character traits based on what you do and say.
1- Gone are the days where he can just ignore someone and be considered “shy”, now the world views it as rude. Just yesterday I witnessed the seeds of what I’ve sown. Someone said “Hi. How are you?” to him and he immediately responded with “I’m fine, thank you. How are you?” I was sure to tell him afterwards how great he did. I was glad that I didn’t have to nudge him or remind him… those talks we’ve had are working.
2- Open a door for your mom, your sister and your date! (And go out of your way to do it!) It doesn’t matter if your friends don’t do it, or if your mom says “it’s ok, honey” because she will always think of you as her little boy… you are growing up and this is what we do. It is one way to show respect. Yes, she can do it herself, but show her that you respect her enough to do it for her, just like you would respect someone enough to help them out if they were holding something heavy. Yes, they can do it, but they don’t need to because you can help.
3- Shake someone’s hand when you meet them – you don’t need to wait for them to reach out. Reach out to them instead. Look them in the eye, too. We have practiced this… a lot.
4- If someone falls, help them up. When our son was playing basketball with another kid, the other kid fell and our son didn’t know what to do. He went over and stood by him, gave him his hat back and said “Are you OK?” After that game, I taught him how to do the “one-arm-extension” as you pull up another person when they fall on the field or court. A simple gesture that goes a long way as a team-player.
5- As the great basketball coach Jimmy Valvano stated, “Don’ t give up! Don’t ever give up.” You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to try your best.
6- Laugh at yourself! Don’t take yourself too seriously or others will do the same. Have fun! Be silly.
7- Manage your money well. Becky and I start teaching the kids about credit cards and debit cards when they are around seven years old. This gives us more than ten years to show them what we mean every time that we are out, until they are out of high school. “Look. These shoes are $70, but I know that I can get them for less if I wait for a sale. What would you do? You have $20 in your account. Would you get them now and put them on credit or wait and get them when they go on sale? If you get them on credit, you will probably owe more with interest, because I’m not sure how you will earn $50 in a month. What do you think?” Every single shopping trip is a lesson and we have a lot of years to teach it.
8- Grades matter. If your friends don’t think so, then we need to have a talk about who you are hanging out with.
9- Don’t let people put your family down. Stand up for your brothers and sister. Friends come and go, but family is forever.
10- Always be nice to your mom. She loves you more than you will ever know. A mother’s love is strong and will stay strong forever.
Above all, I want him to remember that I am always his friend. Yes, I am his dad, but above all, I am his #1 fan, your friend, an ear to listen to, a shoulder to lean on.
Now go out there & conquer the world… and then come back and tell your mom and I every last detail. We can’t wait to hear them!
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