If you don’t know me. I am currently raising four teenage boys. The oldest is in college and the youngest is in 8th grade. My house is full of boys and following their lives. Last night I was reflecting on some lessons I have learned through the years and some advice I might share.
1. Skip the Vacation Till They are Older – Your children will not remember anything you do until they are older. Believe me, I did the trips and now I ask the kids about them and they just give me blank stares. Save your time and money. This includes skipping the Easter Egg hunt, the parade, the pumpkin patch and Santa. I know that makes me sound like a mean old man. Trust me, one day you will look back at all those pictures and ask yourself, “Why did I do all that stuff?”
2. Love with Sons is Rough – I know it might just be my boys, but love in our house was rough. Love involved football and wrestling. It was “rough-housing” and outdoorsy. Boys need a father figure who is willing to get down on the floor with them in spite of what mom thinks.
3. Limit Pictures and Enjoy the Moment – Some pictures are great. I have a collection I keep on my computer that I look at regularly. 1,000 pictures are overkill. You do not need a photo of every moment. Honestly, boys rarely ever sit down and look at them. Be real, the pics are for mom and not the boys.
4. Don’t Try to Recreate Yourself, Let Them Be Them – This is tough for dads. I wanted my boys to love fishing and metal detecting like I do. I wanted them to enjoy what I enjoy. My boys don’t, at least not yet, and that is okay. I want them to do what they enjoy and not try to make me happy.
5. Keep Pizza Rolls in the Freezer and Soda in the Fridge – Over the last 2 years since we have moved to Adrian we have had a house full of boys. My boy’s friends are always at our house. Rarely does a weekend go by that someone is in our house at meal time. Boys love Pizza Rolls. I can’t explain it, but a pan of Pizza Rolls, a bag of chips and a can of soda makes everyone happy and then they do not have to run home. If you want your children at home with their friends so that you can know what they are doing and have an influence, buy a little junk.
6. Video Games Are Not The Devil – I know that many adults think that video games can rot your brain. For my boys, they are a source of bonding. The boys spend time playing games together. They talk about it and strategize their next game. They invite their friends over to play. A big TV with the latest games is like a magnet for boys. Accept it and love it.
7. Sports are Not God – For me, the definition of a god is something that controls your thoughts and actions. If you put sports to high in a child’s life there is a huge fear of falling. One day they will play someone better or they will get hurt and their world will come crashing in on them. Keep God as God and enjoy sports when they fit into the rest of your plans.
8. Getting a Sports Scholarship is Not What You Think – Unless you are the best in your state at an event, your chances of a “full-ride” scholarship at a big university are almost non-existent. Scholarships work differently at a small college. Small colleges only have a certain amount of money to go around. They will have you fill out FAFSA, take the ACT for the highest score, apply for other scholarships and then see what is left to pay. At that point, they may give you all or just a little bit for you to play. Good grades are 50 times more important for college than athletic ability. Trust me – been through it and going through it.
9. One Day the Right Girl Will Come, Until Then Dating Can Wait – I believe the point of dating is to find a mate. You do not need to find a mate until you are leaving high school at the soonest. Enjoy time with your friends and leave the serious dating until you are older. Continually dating someone and breaking up is training for divorce and not marriage. I know this is hard when all the other boys have girlfriends, but one day they will thank me for it.
10. Never Let Up On Faith – Keep teaching and training until the day they leave your control. Model faith in your own life. Ask questions. Share stories. Be honest. Continually point to God.
This is my life. I am the father of four boys. I have no idea what it is like to have girls (I am happy about that :-), but I am sure it is different. I believe boys are uniquely created by God and parents need to treat them as such. Maybe one of these things will help you on this wonderful and awful journey.