Twenty things a son wants to tell other sons

There are two things I almost never do: respond to memes on Facebook, and write blog posts. I’m going to do both things today.

My mother, who is a saint, recently re-shared a list that my cousin Jennifer also shared on Facebook titled “20 things a a mom should tell her son.” Despite being good intentions, most of the list rubbed me the wrong way. Badly. I’ve reproduced it in its entirety below:

1. Play a sport.
It will teach you how to win honorably,
lose gracefully, respect authority, work with others, manage your time
and stay out of trouble.
And maybe even throw or catch.

2. You will set the tone
for the sexual relationship,
so don’t take something away from her
that you can’t give back.

3. Use careful aim when you pee.
Somebody’s got to clean that up, you know.

4. Save money when you’re young
because you’re going to need it someday.

5. Allow me to introduce you
to the dishwasher, oven,
washing machine, iron,
vacuum, mop and broom.
Now please go use them.

6. Pray and be a spiritual leader.

7. Don’t ever be a bully
and don’t ever start a fight,
but if some idiot clocks you,
please defend yourself.

8. Your knowledge and education is something
that nobody can take away from you.

9. Treat women kindly.
Forever is a long time to live alone
and it’s even longer to live with somebody
who hates your guts.

10. Take pride in your appearance.

11. Be strong and tender at the same time.

12. A woman can do everything that you can do.
This includes her having a successful career
and you changing diapers at 3 A.M.
Mutual respect is the key to a good relationship.

13. “Yes ma’am” and “yes sir”
still go a long way.

14. The reason that they’re called “private parts”
is because they’re “private”.
Please do not scratch them in public.

15. Peer pressure is a scary thing.
Be a good leader and others will follow.

16. Bringing her flowers for no reason
is always a good idea.

17. It is better to be kind
than to be right.

18. A sense of humor
goes a long way
in the healing process.

19. Please choose your spouse wisely.
My daughter-in-law will be the gatekeeper for me
spending time with you and my grandchildren.

20. Remember to call your mother
because I might be missing you.

Instead of doing my normal song and dance of ranting and picking apart the above list piece by piece, I decided to try something different. I decided to improve the list. So here are my not-quite-twenty things.

  1. Find hobbies that make you happy. Your best friends will be there with you.
  2. Don’t put women on a pedestal. They like the same things you do, and you’re not going to break them.
  3. Anything you mess up is your own responsibility. Someone cleaning up after you is a kindness, and not to be expected.
  4. Save money when you’re young, because compounding interest is amazing, but don’t miss out on experiences you can only have when you’re young to save a few dollars.
  5. Listen to your heart and your head when it comes to your spiritual beliefs. Don’t let anyone bully you into fitting in, and don’t feel bad if you believe something different than everyone else. Even if that something is nothing.
  6. Don’t pick on anyone, but don’t back down from every fight, either. Some battles are worth fighting, even if you can’t win.
  7. Education is not knowledge, intelligence is not wisdom, and the best men know the difference.
  8. Everyone has to earn respect. That means you, but it also means the people who assume you owe it to them.
  9. Authority is a fragile thing. Don’t abuse it, and don’t let yourself be abused.
  10. Marriage is a choice, not a requirement, in your life. The gender of your spouse, should you have one, is also your choice alone. As is the decision to have children.

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