My son just turned 12. The twelfth birthday is kind of a big deal. It’s your last year of childhood before your teen years. It’s the year you begin to care about the opposite sex, what you wear, and how you smell (praise Jesus!). So for this 12th year of life, there are a few things (12 to be exact) that I feel like my son needs to know before his teens. These are the lessons I feel I have been teaching since the day he was born, and now it’s time to begin to put them into action. My son is becoming a man, and to me, this is what a man looks like.
1. A gentleman by definition is a chivalrous, courteous or honorable man. That is so much more than being polite or holding a door, it’s about being considerate to women, and putting them first.
2. It’s the job of the man to protect the women who are put in his life. Every time I “put you in charge” or called you “the man of the house” when daddy was gone, I was preparing you to be the protector. Sometimes that will mean protecting a girl from you, or even from herself.
3. Guard your eyes. Some things can never be unseen and…
4. Control your thoughts. Your thoughts control your heart and your actions.
5. Don’t be afraid to be sensitive. Yes, men need to be strong, it’s part of that whole gentleman thing, but it’s also ok to show your soft side. Being a man doesn’t mean you have to hide your emotion, quite the opposite.
6. Don’t spend more than you have, learn to live within your means, and learn to save for the future.
7. There is a big difference between funny and mean, don’t cross that line. The joke isn’t worth it at the expense of someone else.
8. You only get one mom, one dad, and two sisters. When their gone, their gone, and they can’t be replaced. Work hard to keep family connection, especially with your sisters. And don’t ever let daddy son time disappear, no matter how old you get, you will never regret it.
9. No one will ever love you more than your mama, and yet (as hard as it is to say), you are absolutely supposed to love someone else more than me. One day all too soon, it will be your job to put someone else first in your life, and mom will be ok, don’t worry.
10. Aristotle said “we are what we repeatedly do”. While I’m not sure that I completely agree, we certainly are defined by what we do. Let your actions speak loudly of dignity.
11. Don’t be lazy. And yet, it’s also ok to relax. Find the happy medium.
12. Finally my dear son, remember that we exist for one purpose, to Glorify God. Let your life be one that points to the Father. Be the spiritual leader in your own life, so you can grow up and lead your family one day.
Nothing has given me more joy than to get the privilege to raise a young man. I hope that Matt and I are able to impart these lessons well.