First off, I reject one-size-fits-all parenting, so you could really re-write this list to be 20 things you personally feel your child should hear. But for my update of the attached list (on things a mother should tell a son):
1. You will set the tone for the sexual relationship, s
o don’t take something away from her that you can’t give back.
So don’t be a douchebag. Wait for enthusiastic consent before acting, and let your partner know that ze never “owes” you anything, ever.
2. 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.
If you feel like it. You can also try out for academic competitions and art fairs, which will teach you similar values. Or get lost in a good book. Or volunteer for a charity. Find what makes you feel like “you”.
3. Use careful aim when you pee. Somebody’s got to clean that up, you know.
And remember when you clean up a mess you’ve made, you have made the day just that much better for the next person.
4. Save money when you’re young because you’re going to need it some day.
But also remember that money has no power unless it’s in motion, and there’s no shame in living paycheck-to-paycheck.
5. Allow me to introduce you to the dishwasher, oven, washing machine, iron, vacuum, mop and broom. Now please go use them.
And if you like, we can spend time doing the chores together, turning work into play. As long as you do your share, I’ll do mine, and we can sing a song together.
Pray and be a spiritual leader.
Or don’t. This one is really up to you. No pressure.
7. Don’t ever be a bully and don’t ever start a fight,
but if some idiot clocks you, please defend yourself.
It’s okay to run away. No really, it is. Life isn’t fair, and sometimes people who are acting in self-defense are punished anyway. You use your best judgement.
8. Your knowledge and education is something that nobody can take away from you.
Unless they punch you in the right place (see above). :D But seriously, your thoughts and experiences are your own.
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.
More importantly, there is no default human. No seriously, it’s not the hetero white cis male, and it’s certainly not you.
10. Take pride in your appearance.
However you define that. Sometimes people will try to force you to look how they expect you to look. Whether you comply is up to you. But I’ll gladly look past any exterior to see the you inside.
11. Be strong and tender at the same time.
And more importantly, remember that being masculine doesn’t make you more of a man, and being feminine doesn’t make you more of a woman. Or anything in-between.
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.
Sometimes your relationships will fit gender roles. Sometimes they won’t. What matters more is whether they’re built upon ethics, empathy, and equity.
13. “Yes ma’am” and “yes sir” still go a long way.
Yes, sucking up to people can get you what you want. Just be aware of the possible costs to such compromises. Also, know that being kind to others is often its own reward, and that’s what makes life sweeter.
14. The reason that they’re called “private parts” is because they’re “private”. Please do not scratch them in public.
Or better yet, know your audience. ;)
15. Peer pressure is a scary thing. Be a good leader and others will follow.
Or be a good follower. Or step aside and watch the world go by. But know that you have the power to make the world better for others and for yourself, even if that power seems entirely insignificant.
16. Bringing her flowers for no reason is always a good idea.
An even better idea: bring her to the flowers. Visit your local gardens, and experience that which is thriving in nature. So much of which makes life beautiful can’t be bought.
17. Be patriotic.
Sometimes that means questioning or even opposing actions of your local and national governmental agencies. Remember that governments exist to serve people, and that includes you and me.
18. Potty humor isn’t the only thing that’s humorous.
But if your only other available option for a laugh is a bad pun, just let that moment pass in silence. ;)
19. Please choose your spouse wisely.
My daughter-in-law will be the gatekeeper for me spending time with you and my grandchildren.
That means choosing someone who has compatible goals to yourself, no matter short term or long term, one partner or several. I trust you to know what’s right for you, so don’t worry your head over whether or not I’ll approve of hir.
20. Remember to call your mother because I might be missing you.
Really, anyone who loves you and cares for you will be glad to hear from you. And hopefully, we’ll be reaching out to you as well.