New Castle News

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June 2, 2014

Lisa Madras: Ten thoughts to help my Son shine brightly

NEW CASTLE — If you could send a message to anyone in the world, right now, who would you send it to and what would it be?

The whole #YesAllWomen phenomenon on Twitter (a response to the California rampage) has me thinking quite a lot about the lessons we teach our sons. I often wonder, as a single mother, if I'm doing and saying the things my teen son need to hear.

I never really thought too much about how we teach our daughters not to get raped or attacked, instead of teaching our sons how to not treat women like public property in the first place.

It's certainly not that I think my own son would ever be capable of such an act. He's a gentle giant, and I'm proud of him for that. But he does have a temper problem that rears its ugly head occasionally, and I believe this is because of the notion of self-entitlement that seems to plague so many of his generation.

For this reason, I have a few things that I'd like to make clear to him, and to any other teen who needs to hear it. These thoughts don't necessarily have to do with the treatment of women, but they do have to do with respect and boundaries, which is the basis for any good moral compass.

1. There will be times when you feel like loneliness is crushing you. Sometimes there is nobody to hang out with, and this, to you, translates to rejection. It is not rejection, and it is not personal. Spending time alone is something you will not appreciate until you're much older. Use the time to make yourself a better human being by reading, or learning how to clean up after yourself, or listening to music. Playing video games is fun, but it does not make you a better human being.

2. People will hurt you, because that's what people do. If it becomes a pattern, cut those people loose from your life because they're not worth having around, even if they are family. If they only do it once or twice, forgive them and move on. We all make mistakes.

3. Question everything. Not even the people in the highest positions in the world are infallible. But do it with respect, and don't be a butt-head about it. There's a big difference between an intelligent debate and an argument. Teachers and parents deserve respect because they've EARNED it. Give it to them — even when you disagree with them. If you do, someday you will have earned respect, too.

4. Don't expect life to be fair. It's not fair now, and it's not going to be fair 10 or 20 years from now. In fact, the only place that things ever really work out are in Disney movies, and even those people have to go through a lot of crap to get to their happy ending. Real life is more Cruella Deville and less Bibbity Bobbety Boo. You're just going to have to deal with that, and learn to enjoy the puppy kisses and glass slipper moments when they come along.

5. It's a man's world. As a woman, I don't like this, and feel it should have gone the way of powdered wigs, or at the very least, disco balls. But it hasn't. Women who earn A’s in school only make as much as men who earn C’s. Make A’s in school so you know you deserve what you get, and do what you can to change the world so your future daughters can get paid what they're worth, too. Do it for you mother.

6. Don't fall for the capitalist ploy. Know that every advertising campaign is designed to make you feel like you're not good enough because you don't have enough. Right now, you're happy as a clam with macaroni and cheese for dinner and your second-hand clothes from the Goodwill store.  Make sure you continue to measure your life in love and laughter, and don't worry about the people who want to quantify it otherwise.

7. Music is the answer to just about everything. Nobody in this world knows quite how we feel like the guys from Avenged Sevenfold and Skillet.  Play it loud and often, and beat your frustrations out on some drums if you need to. But remember that people like F.U.N. and Michael Bublé know the other side of us, and if you can strum along on your guitar with your feet buried in the sand and a cooler full of Pepsi beside you, you will know the true meaning of peace and happiness.

8. Women are not on this earth for your enjoyment. Yes, they are wonderful and magical and beautiful, and may be all you think about at times.  But they are not your personal property, even if you're fortunate enough to get a ring on her finger and have babies with her. No woman enjoys cat calls or whistles, comments about her body or clothing, or being expected to do all the housework while you relax. No means no, in EVERY situation, whether it's going on a date or making you a "sammich." And yes might very well mean she believes you're different from all the other guys. Don't destroy that kind of trust.

9. Your religion is between you and Whomever you choose to worship. Some people will dislike you when your religion is different from theirs.  Again, don't take it personally. People fear what they don't understand, and perhaps their religion doesn't teach tolerance or acceptance. Don't get angry when they try to shove their beliefs down your throat. Don't try to shove yours down theirs, either. The same rules apply for race, sexual orientation, political beliefs, ice-cream flavors, and well ... everything.

10. Nobody in this world owes you one darned thing. You came into this world naked, afraid, and alone. You will probably exit the same way (although maybe not the naked part, but if you do, who am I to judge?) Along the way, you will meet many people who will love you and cherish you and will do things for you because of that. But when all is said and done, you and ONLY you are responsible for every single aspect of your life, including whether or not you do your homework, whether you become a physicist or a fry cook, and whether you are happy or miserable. YOU decide you. It is a choice. Choose wisely.  

I'm your mother, and I think you're a rock star. I really do. You're one of the most amazing people I've ever met, and no matter what choices you make, I will always have your back. I believe there is greatness in you, and when the time comes for you to be a man, you will choose to be a man.

That time is coming soon. Give your gifts to the world, willingly and unselfishly. Align yourself with joy. Find your purpose. Love.

Be the man the world needs you to be.

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