The love advice your son should hear, from a man who’s been through it all.
Oh damn. My poor sons.
In a world chock-full of wise and dignified male figures who save lives, carve out financial fortunes, and pretty much change the world in a trillion different ways, these two lads of mine (Henry, 3, and Charlie, 8-months) got stuck with me as their dad.
Well, besides all my shortcomings and ramshackle physical DNA (and in spite of all of my lackluster accomplishments), I still believe that I have a thing or two to offer these fellas of mine when it comes to something pretty important: love.
Like a lot of other dads out there, I’ve been churned through the mill when it comes to matters of the heart. I’ve been held tight, seduced, punched in the face and had my heart broken. I’ve been helplessly giddy on a Friday night and had sex in a bathroom stall.
I’ve not had sex for way too long, promised things, lied, cheated on, been promised and lied to and cheated myself. Basically, I’ve experienced enough of what can (and will) happen when you fall in love to justify teaching you two young men about this crazy little thing called love.
Without further adieu, here are 3 relationship mistakes I hope my sons never make:
1. Being afraid of what your heart is telling you.
Even when you're young (or maybe especially when you're young), having feelings for another person can be unbelievably overwhelming. Let's face it: falling in love can be just about the most awkward thing a person can experience. But no matter what, don't be afraid of the things your heart is telling you.
When I was a kid, I was scared of my own passion. And I spent years feeling self-conscious about my body (I still HATE the word 'husky') and about my own self-worth. I suspect a lot of it had to do with the fact that I didn't have a dad around during some of my most important years.
Nobody to tell me that it was natural to feel good about a girl, or that it was OK to get a little horny for your middle school art teacher. I had to figure it all out on my own. While so many other kids were 'dating' and holding hands and kissing and going to the movies with someone they liked, I went through most of high school without even coming close to having a girlfriend.
Finally, one day I was finally able to move past my fears, I met a girl who actually liked me and wanted to 'go out' with me. I blew it. I never allowed myself to actually accept that she did, in fact, like me for who I was.
My point is: you have to like yourself to be able to like someone else. It's so crucial when you're a kid, and it's just as important later on when you become a man. Sons, I'm doing everything in my power to let you know what awesome people you are and that it's OK to feel really fantastic about your heart skipping a beat at the sight of someone else.
2. Don't be an a**hole.
Oh, I know, it seems so cliche to tell your kid to be kind, right? Why the hell would I even bother to include it when being kindness is just so obvious? But no matter how many times we hear the words, no matter how much we experience or witness cruelty and heartlessness, so many of us still don't ever seem to understand that kindness is the key to the universe. It just is.
I've known for a long time now that I'm not a sinister person. I don't have a murderous bone (or even a pick-pocket bone) in my body, but it took me decades, DECADES, to comprehend that good intentions just ain't enough. There are a million ways to be mean, to kick human hearts to the curb in this life, and they're all so easy to instigate. Being an as*hole is simple work. Being chivalrous, humane and empathetic (especially when you're a human growing up in this increasingly bonkers world) is very, very difficult stuff.