As you’ve probably guessed by now I lucked out on the healthy advice and guidance by men in general when I was younger. The closest to any fatherly advice I received was from some old pervert that was trying to get into my mum’s knickers. I’ve never spoken about this but my mum had a lot of clingers; men that were attracted to her but didn’t get anywhere. She was attracted to men that had six packs and muscles in places that I didn’t know had muscles, and because she was an attractive woman she was able to get these men. Sadly, muscle bound meat head does not automatically mean fatherly. I’m not saying muscle men aren’t fatherly, it’s just the men she attracted weren’t going for father of the year anytime soon.
This has brought me to a slight conundrum. I can just ignore my sons puberty when it happens, pretending that what he’s going through is just a figment of my imagination; knowing that I got there in the end and I’m sure he will too. I have a big vacant gap when it comes to advice during those years when I was changing from a boy into a man. A black hole of nothingness as I struggled to make sense of what the f was happening to me. I winged it. I remember the first black hair I found on my testicles and I thought I was getting cancer. It wasn’t until all the other boys were waving their schlongs in the changing rooms that I realised everything was just fine.
No, I’m going to take him through every step of the way because I don’t want the incessant worry that I had to be his fate. I had no-one I could bounce these ideas off, and telling mum was just too icky. I remember telling my mum that I liked a girl when I was still in Primary School and it’s all I heard for the next two days. I was the brunt of laughter and jokes from mum and her girlfriend coven. It wasn’t funny. I’ve had to calm myself with this already. I already know Alex likes a girl at school, and whilst it is just some harmless crush, I’ve had to make zero issue over it, as if it didn’t exist at all. Mum’s constant laughing over the girls I liked when I was younger blew my fear of dating through the roof. I just thought everyone was going to laugh at me.
One thing I’m HUGE on is accountability. I know I’ve said I had it really harsh as a kid but one thing I did have was safety. Mum AND dad had my best interests at heart. I was moved down to England to live with my dad promptly when I was going off the rails. I had got myself into a gang, I was taking drugs and drinking excessively, so my dad grabbed me and took me to live with him. That’s not all though, there are other instances where I’ve been grabbed and hounded for my bad decisions. I’ll be doing it differently with Alex. Of course, getting himself in with a bad crowd would be different but I like Alex to make mistakes. Right now I’m beginning to watch from afar as he screws up whatever he’s doing and then I swoop in when he needs advice and guidance. I learned this in my last job. I remember crumbling speaking to a crowd of over one thousand people and my manager allowing me to make the mistakes I made. Her answer? “Well, you won’t do it next time.”
I learned to trust my own decision making through the nurture from afar method and I would like to pass that onto my son. One thing that was never given to me was the control over my actions. There have been times in my childhood when dad or mum would just be too smothering, and because of that (amongst other things) I stopped opening up to them. So, as a child I would make mistakes but have no fallback whatsoever, no-one I could trust. I couldn’t ask for advice or help and that led me quite a confused little journey. For me and Alex I’ll be here for lots of hugs, advice, and guidance, and more importantly, I won’t judge.
Judging is bad of course. We’re already watching a lovely progression in him. He already knows that people make mistakes and that’s just fine because no-one is perfect. He knows he get’s angry from time to time and that’s just part of life (as does his dad). I’m currently working with him on people thinking differently. He struggles with people that view the world from a different perspective to him as his world is still very black and white; good and bad, wrong and right. It’ll come though, I’m sure of it. If I managed to understand grey area, he will too.
I’m also going to help him with women when he’s older. Of course I won’t have a say with who he likes, dislikes or chooses for a partner, but I’ll definitely teach him the type of woman to avoid and who to go for. It’s true that we can’t choose who we fall for, but at least I’ll know in my mind that I’ve tried to do right by him.
There are definitely women in this world that you should avoid with a hundred foot barge pole, and perhaps he might naturally repel them as I do now, but we need to have some form of discussion on acceptable behaviours and boundaries; not on how to treat women, but how women treat him. Do we teach our sons the acceptable behaviours of women around them and the boundaries they should have for themselves? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments. Maybe I’ll write an article on that topic next. It seems all we do these days is talk about how men should behave around women but not the other way around.
Alex treats his mum and I like Google, and I’m sort of pleased he does. There’s nothing I like more than being a source of information for people, especially my own son. I hope that continues forever. There will be a point in time though that I will encourage him to go out and look for himself. He’s already learning to search Google at school, and he has his own PC at home which we’re trying to do with him, but one of the most important behaviours I’m trying to instil in him is the eagerness to find information out. In the grand scheme of things I know very little about anything. My favourite quote is from Socrates and it goes something like this:
I am the wisest man alive, because I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
It’s basically saying there’s so much information in the world it’s impossible to know more than a tiny teeny little bit.
Last but not least I’ll be teaching him that anything is possible. We’re a society that’s fixed on blame right now. I don’t want my son to be fixed on blaming his outcomes on other things; that’s not productive to a successful life. With the right amount of accountability, and the right amount of encouragement I think we can train Alex to think that anything is possible with hard effort and responsibility. He’s into making his own board games right now and a couple of days ago he wondered if he could sell them on the internet. I must admit, I didn’t know the answer to that, but you know what? Tomorrow we’ll be on google looking at the resources we need and how much it will cost. As I say, anything is possible. I want him to grow up with a mindset that views the world as abundant and place where he can thrive.