Dear Boys...

After I posted "Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls," a lot of people came out of the woodwork and said "What about the boys?!?" In fact, I got quite a lot of hate mail about my urging women to dress with some self-respect and not "saying anything" to young men about respecting women.  To which I replied (respectfully, in my head) "Um, that's because the post was written TO GIRLS."

I decided not to write a "10 Things" for teenage boys for 1 reason:

  • I'm not a guy.
  • I've never been a guy.
  • I don't know how guys think.
  • If I wrote a list for guys I would have to call it, "Ten Things Girls Want Guys to Know."  Which, come to think of it, might be kind of helpful, but not at all the same thing as man-to-man advice.

(I guess that's 4 reasons.)

But my husband, who is a guy, has been a teenage guy, and knows how guys think, wrote his list of "Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Boys," and I think it's awesome.

Also, my good friend T.J. (who is a guy, has been a teenage guy, and knows how guys think) wrote a list on his blog, and it is equally awesome.  You should go read it here right now.

Here is Dan's list, for all the young men (and not-so-young men) out there, and those who love them.

Ten Things Dan Wants To Tell Teenage Boys

1.  There are no shortcuts to respect. Shortcuts to popularity? Maybe. Shortcuts to hype/cred/fame/swag? Sure, whatever.  But shortcuts to respect? None. You earn it or you don’t. You earn it by giving it to people that deserve it. You earn it by giving it to people that don’t. Men, women, kids, the elderly. Teachers, parents, the greeter at Walmart. You earn it by the way you carry yourself. The sooner you realize it’s what you really want, the quicker you can quit looking for shortcuts that don’t exist.

2.  Person not parts. Often, you will look at a woman.  Your teenage years are a good time to master the habit of seeing a person and not just body parts. The girl you’re checking out not only has a nice butt – she also has a name, a personality, parents, goals, dreams, and a life that doesn’t involve your staring. Plus, that respect thing will be easier if you look her in the eyes first.

3.  Control your sexuality or it will control you. With the right boundaries, sex is cool.  And for a teenage guy, sex seems like this overwhelmingly huge part of life. But it is NOT worth wasting your whole life for. Sex is best in its proper time and place – if you rush and do things your way, you’ll regret it. Sex can drive you to do stupid things. As cool as you think it is, remember this for a little perspective: your parents did it too.

4.  Laziness is a disease. Other men will treat it that way too. Men may disagree with your opinion, your values, or your lifestyle and still give you some credibility. Let them believe you’re lazy, and you might as well not open your mouth again. They’re not listening.

5.  There is fine line between confidence and arrogance, but a canyon between confidence and insecurity. Act like you’re supposed to be there. When you believe yourself, others believe you too. People look for someone willing to take on challenges, willing to say ‘I got this.’ Be real, be yourself, but be the best version of yourself. The best confidence of all comes from knowing that whatever happens, I’m coming out the other side. After all, what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger. ( FYI: the respect from #1 will kill arrogance before it starts.)

6.  Whatever you’ve been asked to do, do just a little bit more. Exceed expectations. If your Mom’s expecting a ‘C,’ fight, claw, and scratch for a ‘B.’ If Dad asks you to wash the dishes, wash them AND take out the trash.  I know this sounds like nothing but extra work.  But in business, this gets you new customers. In basketball, this improves your free throw percentage. In relationships, it builds trust and responsibility. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is only five letters. Just a little ‘extra.’

7.  Women do not think like you do. You think you look cool because you’re wearing a new shirt. She thinks you look cool because you actually ironed it. You think ‘I love you’ means ‘I think you’re fun.’ But she’s thinking about words like ‘forever’ and ‘always’ and ‘The Notebook.’ Speaking in this romantic language as a teen guy is like trying to speak to hostile Latin King gang members after watching an episode of Dora. You don’t really understand what you’re saying, and you’re going to get yourself shot.

7b. Oh, and those women want you to pull your pants up.

8. Speak up. Sometimes you have something meaningful to say. Say it. Say it where people can hear you. Speak up! Speak up when you say hello, when you ask the girl for her number, when you’re answering a question. If it’s not worth saying proudly, it’s not worth saying. (This doesn’t apply to cell phone conversations)

9. You will not fail if you do not try. In other words, feel free to avoid failure at all cost. But only if you’re content being single, broke, jobless, uneducated, unknown, and unaccomplished. If that’s not what you’re looking for, you’re going to have to buck up and give it a shot. And sometimes, you’ll screw up. That’s part of life. Remember:  if you failed two times out of every three times your entire career in baseball (and hit a .333 average), you’d be in the top 26 all time! (

10. Real men. For the rest of your life, you’re going to hear about all kinds of real men. They are going to be described to you as men with superhuman strength, impeccable taste in fashion, loads of cash, and the charisma and charm that every woman wants. You’re going to hear how real men wear pink, real men drive Fords or Chevys or Porsches, real men grow beards, real men drink this, or go here, or use that. They’re going to use this kind of language because you were made to be a man. And for someone to question your manhood is to deny you a valuable part of who you are. The last thing you want women or men or society or culture to think is that you are somehow ‘less of a man.’

Here's the secret: this real man that you’re supposed to measure up to doesn’t exist.

The only man that you’ve got to worry about striving after is the man you were created to be.

You’ve got to wake up in the morning determined to meet your potential head on, to no longer judge your success by the products that they’re peddling, but to judge yourself by standards that have existed since the beginning of the time:

Am I going to make excuses or am I going to make something happen?

Am I going to make my life count or am I going to waste it?

 Am I going to make my life about what I have or about who I am?

After all, answering these questions well will get you the best kind of respect there is: True, solid, ‘conscience-clear,’ left everything out there, self-respect.

Go read T.J.'s list too, and start encouraging and building up the young men in your life.  

The world needs them.