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Ten things I want to teach my son so he can become a man.

Ethan turned one on April 12th. I have a letter for him that I need to finish, but in the meantime I’ve compiled 10 things that I want to focus on over the next 18+ years. I want to raise a man. I don’t believe you’re a man just because you’re male, just as I don’t think a female is automatically a lady. These are some ways I’ll be teaching my son to be a man.

  1. Open the door for people. This is your chance to offer what will, for some people, be the only kindness they experience all day.
  2. Stand up to bullies. You’ll be surprised that the majority of them will immediately back down.
  3. Never stop reading. When you stop reading, you stop learning.
  4. When you think nice thoughts about people, let them know.
  5. Handle failure with graciousness on the outside, and kindness on the inside. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.
  6. Be generous with your time and money. Both, even in small increments, are worth more to other people than they are to you.
  7. Talk kindly to yourself. Don’t be harder on yourself than your parents or spouse would be.
  8. Be curious, not furious. Instead of being frustrated or angry or annoyed as to why someone did something, try to figure out why they did it.
  9. Decide which hill you want to die on. Most battles, whether with family, friends, employers, employees, or strangers, are not worth fighting.
  10. Love hard.


39 Responses to “Ten things I want to teach my son so he can become a man.”

  1. Ryan ()

    Love it. Such wonderful advice.


  2. Stephanie

    I love this. And you. Period.



  3. Mary

    Excellent goals. On a more basic level,I taught my kids to look people in the eye when they speak to them.


  4. bermudaonion (Kathy) ()

    How can that sweet baby be a year old already? I know he’ll have wonderful guidance.


  5. Jenn's Bookshelves ()

    I love this! I did something similar with my boys. I created a journal for each of them, starting the day I found out I was expecting. My oldest is nearing the age that I’ll start sharing bits and pieces of the messages I wanted to share with him. I truly look forward to reliving my pregnancy, with them!


  6. Steph

    All of these are great pieces of advice, but I especially like number 7. So many people (including myself) are needlessly hard on themselves. At 29, I’m trying to learn how to be kind to myself and wish I had started doing so years ago!

    Great list, Trish. With you as a mom, I can’t see how Ethan will grow up to be anything short of a wonderful man!


  7. jennakathepickygirl ()

    Beautiful, truly beautiful.

    Happy birthday, E-man!


  8. zibilee ()

    You need to frame these and send them out to all the new moms out there. These are seriously good pieces of advice, and I wish that someone had imparted this wisdom to me when I became a mom. I especially like number 4.


  9. Sandy ()

    Now, if you add a little one in there about patience in the shopping mall, he will make the perfect husband! I can’t think of a better gift to your child than this advice.


  10. Jordan

    Awww, I love this- it’s really sweet. And, I love that all ten things are things that are important for little girls to learn too.


  11. Amused ()

    Happy birthday Ethan! What wonderful life lessons to want to impart to your son!


  12. Julie@my5monkeys ()

    those are all perfect goals and happy Birthday to your beautiful son πŸ™‚


  13. Anthony Caplan ()

    Powerful thoughts on raising boys. I’ve got a 14 tear-old. This is going up on the wall in our house. Ethan is going to be a DUDE.
    I wrote a book about fathers and sons that is nowhere near as insightful. OK maybe close.


  14. Liz Cohen ()

    Touching, and true. I’ll be sending your list to friends who have recently become parents. THANKS.


  15. Frankie

    Ahhhh! All such great,loving desires. My baby is 20 yrs. old. And there is isn’t anything about the man I would change. Good luck. The fact that you have these wishes for him is a very, very good start.


  16. Char

    My son is now 25. I can proudly say that I raised him with most of these, and he has turned into a wonderful and loving man. Although he has a problem with #7 and I am still trying to work on it with him. Good Luck on your goal, I hope your young man turns out as wonderful as mine did.
    Blessings of Peace


  17. Seaside Book Nook

    I love your teaching points. I think I will discuss them with my son tonight (he is 10). He does a lot of these things right now, but could work on some!!! Also, what a great discussion we can have! Thanks for the list. Now I have to come with something similar for my daughters!


  18. Michelle ()

    This is gorgeous. Good luck teaching your son to be a man. We need more men in this world. Happy birthday to Ethan!


  19. Daine

    We should all learn these lessons, the earlier in life the better. How wonderful to have parents who know what is important!


  20. zapkode.marie

    {new follower here}

    This is a really nicely laid out list of things that you want your son to know. From a mother’s perspective I completely agree with everything you have lifted. Thank you for sharing.



  21. Kathleen

    I love this list. Your son is very lucky to have such a wonderful mommy!


  22. Melissa ()

    What a wonderful list. You’re going to be an amazing mom!


  23. Lu

    A beautiful list. Happy birthday, Ethan!


  24. Lisa

    Excellent list! #1 is something I have been teaching all three of my kids since they were little and yet it still brings a little tear to my eye every time I see them do it. My greatest goal as a parent has always been to raise good people, who are productive and give at least as much as they get.


  25. Laura Fabiani ()

    This is a great list, Trish! I have an 8 year-old son and I would want to teach him the same things, hoping he will turn out to be a fine young man. I was so proud when he came home one day and told me he helped a girl who was being bullied by a group of girls.


  26. Teresa ()

    Happy Birthday! This is a great list. I may have to borrow it!


  27. Amanda ()

    Awesome list! I can’t believe he’s one and my little guy turns one in a few weeks. Where does the time go?


  28. Stephen R Drage ()

    Wow – amazing advice. Will certainly be passing it on. Thanks for sharing.


  29. Frances ()

    I love your list and your collage of photos of Ethan. Will you save this list for him and present it to him when he is older?


  30. trish

    I hadn’t thought that far ahead! I guess I will now that you’ve made me think about it. πŸ™‚


  31. Athira ()

    Wonderful advice! You should certainly add these to the letter you were planning! πŸ™‚


  32. zapkode.marie

    {i’m following your blog}

    I am leaving this note to let you know that I am following you. If you aren’t already following me can you please return the favor and leave a comment on my most recent entry. Please and thank you! πŸ™‚



  33. Lisa @ Two Bears Farm ()

    I love your list. Such kind hearted things to teach a young boy.


  34. Pamela Foster

    A beautiful post. My babies are now 41, 39 and 36. I taught them to question authority. If I had it to do over again, I might add, “but have the sense to do it quietly.” Or, perhaps, I would do it exactly the same all over again.


  35. Karen

    Thank you, so simple, yet so true.


  36. Dylan Wrenn

    Amazing list! You’re going to be an amazing parent. Show him this film when he’s older a little heavy, but a really important one with a lot of lessons to be learned.


  37. Alison's Book Marks ()

    You have one very lucky little boy! I need to pass on such advice to my own boys, but before I do, I should read them over again to myself. That last one, especially, is a tough lesson to learn in life. It’s not only about picking your battles, but believing in the things you want to fight for. Thank you for this!!


  38. Howard Sherman ()

    Your list pretty much sums up what every man should be.


  39. Margie Durham

    I have a granddaughter – can we do an arrange marriage. You son will be wonderful and that is the kind of guy I want for her!


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