I have a 16-year old son. It’s an odd thing to say or even believe. Age 15 was one of the hardest years of my life and I still vividly remember the pain. Yet I have a son that has already passed that point. For certain, it has not always been an easy road. But he’s zooming across it, and taking no prisoners.
The Mini Me
It’s an odd effect, looking at a son and knowing he’s basically a Mini-Me. Honestly, it’s scary as hell. I feel like every word I say can have a massive impact on him; however, the terror comes from knowing the impact can be from the wrong words at the wrong time, or even his choosing to ignore what I say.
This post is five messages I want to say to my precious son. Five things I also wish someone would have smashed into my head when I was his age. Some of them we’ve spoken about, and some he’s already quite taken to heart. Others? Well, a kid is still a kid. I can keep pushing forward and hoping everything goes where it needs to.
And time and circumstance will take it from there.
1) What is this Money Stuff?
A while back I offered my son $100 to use to become a mini-entrepreneur. I told him he could use it however he chose. He could learn a skill, set up a website, buy some equipment. All profits would be his, and could be used as he chose, with strong encouragement to reinvest them back into his business efforts.
It’s a brave new world out there. Knowledge is no longer hidden in stuffy universities. Young people can gain skills galore and can get their feet wet in ways none of us could have dreamed about. Why not learn these skills as early as possible?
And much to my massive chagrin, he wasn’t interested.
Maybe it Seeped in Anyway…
So, he’s probably long forgotten the original conversation. However, I think something must have sunk in along the way, since now my beloved son, after we had a whole conversation about passive income, is becoming a Shutterstock master.
At the rate he’s going, he’ll be paying for college himself!
OK, maybe not that far. But he’s learning about hard work and money, and he’s laying foundations that could be fantastic for his future. I’m a proud dad.
2) Defend Yourself at All Times
I took Tae Kwon Do classes when I was a kid. I regret nothing, but not a single kick I learned to wield, nor my endless stretching, did a thing for my confidence. Or my ability to defend myself.
I think every child should have a serious background in some intense form of Martial Arts, whether it be Muy Thai or Krav Maga or any of the really tough ones. My fantastic son settled on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I couldn’t be happier.
He holds his head way up high. He is in phenomenal shape. And he is part of a really special worldwide community.
Have It, Never Use It
The best part about a child who knows that he can kick the crap out of everyone around him is his lack of need to ever do so.
Despite what we all learned from the Karate Kid, the truly powerful have no need to demonstrate their abilities on the weak. And their knowledge that they are fully capable of defending themselves, and the confidence that emanates from this knowledge, makes all bullies stay far from their path.
Self-defense is essential for all youth.
3) Knowledge is Everything
My son constantly asks questions about why schools force him to learn certain subjects he finds completely meaningless. My answer is almost always the same. And I’m not sure if it’s sunk in at all just yet.
First, I personally don’t have regrets for skills I didn’t pick up while in school. However, I have a boatload of regrets about knowledge I wish I didn’t have to re-learn as an adult. I still feel like I’m playing catchup on history and geography, and I’ve basically given up on math and science. Just because you don’t appreciate certain pieces of information in your youth, doesn’t mean they’ll be meaningless to you forever.
Second, you want to be part of the conversation. If something is common knowledge, or even somewhat known but you are a blank slate, you could spend so much of your life wanting to be a part of a conversation, but not knowing how. Especially here in Israel, with a shared a culture. If you’re unaware of details about that culture, you’ll always feel like an outsider when these topics arise.
Be a part of the conversation!
4) Enjoy the People in Your Life… While You Can
At 42, the number of special people in my life who are no longer around keeps growing and growing. I’m not a fan of regret, yet the only type of regret I routinely allow myself is not appreciating people while they were still here.
There are so many beautiful people in your life. Never be the reason you look back and wonder why you didn’t get more time together.
5) Family is Forever
My children sometimes fight with each other. I’m well aware this hardly abnormal. However, it still pains me nonetheless.
I could, of course, argue that as an adult the silly issues people have with siblings just magically disappear. But this is hardly a fair assessment. There are plenty of childhood rifts that continue on into adulthood, as well as newfound bitterness in the latter years.
And it all makes no sense to me.
I remember getting choked up when dealing with how some of my kids were treating another one. And I’ll never forget the look on their faces when I raised my voice as I said, “She’s your sister!”
Those closest to us in this world should be the people we cherish the most. They should be the people we defend with all of our might.
Yet it’s so easy to put time and energy into bringing them down. But when you do so, you’re harming your own family. And by doing so, you are harming yourself as well.
And conversely, when you elevate your own family, you make your own stock grow infinitely.
Family is to be cherished.
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