20 things a son should learn from his mother

Recently I have seen a few people posting a link to this 20 Things a mother should tell her son post and each time I read it I find myself disagreeing with many of the things to be taught. It is written from a particular perspective on life that differs from my own.

I am a son and I have a mother and have some thoughts on the matter. Here is my response

In addition to being a son to a mother I am also a father to daughters so I’ll write about kids and parents generally because basically I know it all.
1.  RESPECT Others (Could also be learned from Aretha Franklin) – Respect everyone and everything. Everyone is worthy of respect until they prove otherwise. People have different opinions and perspectives on life. Parents can teach this to their sons (and daughters) by modelling respectful discussions and disagreements. Parents can teach their children about different perspectives on various issues and help kids to examine those perspectives.
2. RESPECT Yourself – Each one of us is important and worthy of respect from others. More importantly we are worthy of our own respect. We all hold opinions and ideas and perspectives worth hearing and sharing. It is important to listen to our own ideas and respect them enough to share with others. We are each responsible for our own health and need to respect our bodies enough to take care of them and make our own choices about them. Be true to yourself. Be true to your values and beliefs. Make your mark where you stand.
3. LISTEN – Parents are always right and kids should learn to listen to their wisdom – or something like that. Listening is how we learn about one another. Listening to parents and other people is how we gain understanding of other perspectives and about the world around us.
4. TELL STORIES – Telling stories help us to express our perspectives. They allow us to entertain others. Stories help give ideas and facts meaning.
5. HONESTY – Be honest with yourself and with others. This may run counter to the above point about telling stories. Not all stories are true. I, for example told a great story to my parents about how a chunk of my hair went missing when I was in kindergarten. I may not have been honest about that particular situation, but it was a great story and I get to keep telling the story about how I learned the importance of being honest (more or less) with my parents.
6. Be a TEAM PLAYER – This lesson may also come from playing a team sport. I was certainly an exceptional soccer player and I did my part to ensure that I scored no goals on my own team. I also learned the importance of working together to achieve a common goal from Cubs and Scouts, various extra-curricular activities, and growing up in a single-parent household. I also continue to be reminded of this lesson every day as a parent.
7. CLEAN UP – mostly after yourself, but also after others. It is part of being a team player and being respectful. We could all stand to do a better job cleaning up our homes, communities and planet.
8. SELF-RELIANCE – Learn to look after yourself. This means being able to work appliances and use them effectively to wash clothes, cook food and even iron clothes. Sewing and being able to drive/ride a bike/navigate transit are also invaluable skills. We parents can teach self-reliance by parenting from the park bench. Being self-reliant makes you a better team player and a better leader.
9. TRUST – Trust yourself. Trust others – until they give you cause not to. Help others to trust you. Sometimes we need to rebuild trust and sometimes the person’s trust we need to regain is a parent. It is a difficult thing when you break someone’s trust. Sometimes that does irreparable harm to a relationship. The good thing about parents is that they are often willing to give you a second chance.
10. PERFECTION – No one is perfect, not even parents (except of course for yours truly). Perfection is not important. Doing our best is important. Set aspirational goals and strive to achieve them.
11. BLACK and WHITE – the world is not black and white. it is full of nuance and in betweens. People are not good and evil. Right and wrong can be subjective. Straight and gay are merely points on a spectrum. No one has figured it all out. Ideas can be debated and challenged – even ideas presented by dads.
12. LEARN EVERYTHING – You will never learn everything. It is one of those aspirational goals. We can learn new things everyday. As kids we can learn from our parents, as parents we can learn from kids. We can learn from our friends and partners, teachers, colleagues and bosses. Every day we can learn something new. Some days we can even learn more than one thing.
13. HAVE FAITH – For some people this faith is tied to an organized religion. For some it is faith in themselves or family or in the goodness of people. For others it is faith in the earth and environment. Find something to believe in. That faith can be your anchor in challenging times.
14. HELP OTHERS – Support your friends and family. Help them to achieve their goals. Reach out to others who need support. Help people to find jobs, meet other people, figure out where they are in a strange city. Help people access resources that they might need. Tell someone they are doing a good job. Pick people up with they are down. Donate your time and or money to causes that are important to you. As individuals we can’t solve all the problems of the world that is too big. We can however all do our part to solve problems and help others to overcome challenges one at a time. By working together we can address anything.
15. GET INVOLVED – Get involved in your family, your workplace, your community, your country, your world. The saying “no man is an island” is applicable here. Of course it should really be “no person is an island”. By being an engaged citizen we can make a difference. Contribute to your community – however you define that – and make a difference. Everyday we can make a difference by being engaged.
16. HAVE FUN – Life is kinda crazy, don’t take yourself too seriously.
17. BE POSITIVE – Shh, this is The Secret. Having a positive outlook on life and seeking the positive in situations makes life more fun and tolerable. Help others to find the positive.
18. WALK THROUGH THE DOOR – Listen for opportunity knocking. Look for the opportunity to walk through the door. I remember a story told by someone I met in high school who used to do motivational speaking. He spoke about opportunities for leadership appearing at unexpected times and places. He told people about the time he was taking his partner to the train station in a town he didn’t know. He turned on to a street and noticed that there were a lot of people lining the sidewalks. After a couple of minutes he realized that they were there for a parade and he had inadvertently pulled into the lead spot. So they did what anyone should do when they are in a parade. They waved to the people.
19. FAIRNESS – Everyone deserves a chance. Be fair in your dealings with people and give everyone an equal opportunity. Push for equal rights and opportunities for yourself and for others. Seek out opportunities to make the world a more just and fair place. Challenge privileges and injustices when you encounter them. Recognize the privileges you have that others do not.
20. PHONE HOME – Parents like to hear from their kids and kids like to hear from parents. I know when my kids get to the point in their lives when they leave home, I expect that we will be using holograms and telepathy instead of rotary phones. It is important to maintain connections with whomever we consider to be family. Life is about relationships and since all relationships require work, we are all responsible for maintaining them.

About DadGoesRound
I am a Canadian father of three girls and blog about Fatherhood, Kids and Current Affairs at www.dadgoesround.com

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