Teenage boys should hear three things regularly

For the first seven years of life, a parent teaches a child everything they can. In the second seven years the child starts to listen more to peers and occasionally teachers. In the third seven years, it has to be very simple to get a boy to pay any attention at all: three things.

So Jack, in the event I'm not here to tell you these things, pretend I am. Pretend I walk with you through your days saying:

You don't know everything

You think you do. As the brain wires itself for the final time around 14 or 15, you discover all the horse-power you have and mistake it for wisdom. You can now think like an adult, but you do not have the store of experience of an adult, to teach you a little humility and eventually a smattering of wisdom. And you are still accumulating the collected wisdom of your species.

The thing that differentiates us from other animals is language. Real language, not just a variety of barks or grunts for "food" or "danger" or "back off". With language we can pass on culture. Culture is just another name for crystalised wisdom. Ten billion humans (more or less) have lived and died and left their little spit on on the accreting ball of human wisdom, just so you can have it passed to you in a couple of decades of words. For crissake have the humility to believe that this vast and magnificent work has something to teach you beyond that which you can work out for yourself.

You are being an idiot

Your friends won't tell you. In fact it will be their idea. Let's pierce our eyelids. Let's ride on the bonnet of the car. Let's dress like extras in a low-budget horror movie. Let's smoke this and see what happens. Please expand your frame of reference beyond the few dickheads you hang out with, and the few dickheads they elevate into cult heroes just because they can act in movies or play a guitar or write something anti-establishment. If the bulk of humanity thinks an idea sucks, just consider for a moment that maybe it does.

Stop thinking with your dick

The sexual overdrive of adolescence - the perpetual pole-vault - draws all the blood from your brain. For the sake of the remainder of your life when (if) the hormonal tide recedes, try to retain a little objectivity, will ya?

Choose your friends, hobbies, courses, clothes and the rest of your life for more reasons than just getting laid. Try to think and talk about something else occasionally. And just because she's willing to kiss or turn it up for you, doesn't mean you will want to see her at breakfast in ten years' time, let alone forty. Separate lust from love, and don't get her pregnant (the kid deserves better).

Tha't all you need to hear on a regular basis. Good luck.

Last night...

Last night my teenaged son and I got into a horrible argument. It happened because he didn't do what he was supposed to do - what he said he was going to do, and because he was disappointed in himself, he ranted at me.

It was as if something snapped - was broken between us. Perhaps some "breakage" needs to happen as he pulls away, and feels his way toward adulthood - part of that includes judging me. But it also makes you question EVERYTHING you do as a parent.

I went looking for an answer on the web - to find out what I was doing wrong or doing right. Experts and parents are conflicted on the topic of how to raise teenaged sons. I stumbled across your blog and was enticed by the title of this post: Teenage boys should hear three things regularly. I read it, and despite the various details that make us individuals - it's right on. 3 things that our sons should hear from us and 3 things that apply to everything.

My son didn't come home last night because of the argument and it seemed reasonably certain that he wasn't coming home any time soon. I e-mailed him your post and within a few minutes I received a text message from him that simply said "I love you." I am still angry with him, but the bigger picture demanded me to "be" the parent - so I bit back my anger and hurt, and replied, "I love you too." And he responded, "Can you come and pick me up so that I can come home?" And I'm on my way to do just that.

Thank you for your words - his own father died in 2003 and he's been disappointed by mentors who were too busy to do the job, but wanted the resume credit. The language you are speaking, said what I could not - in a way that he heard it best. I appreciate your effort with your own son and value the impact your words have had on mine.

Oralya Garza


Thank-you Oralya
Your one comment makes this whole blog worthwhile.