Last year, I wrote a letter to my daughter. Then a letter to my younger self. I think it’s only fair I do a letter to my son too. Here goes nothing, unedited.
I didn’t name you that, fyi. I’m not qualified to advise you based on experience, and whilst everybody knows that experience is the best teacher, it’s pretty much useless when it’s coming from another person. But I don’t need to be a man, or to have known many men in order to build a perfect prototype, as I already know it.
Where do I start? Perhaps on what it means to ‘be a man’. We live in an age where men are pressured to be rugged and masculine, but also to disregard this stereotype and douse their beards in glitter and slay that eyeliner whilst crying. Where men must be cold, ruthless cheaters in order to gain an approving slap on the back by his fellow boys, whilst secretly wishing to have someone they can come home to at night and feel safe with. We live in an age where a man is only defined as a man by how many things on the checklist of stereotypical manliness he has ticked off, rather than the achievements that nobody sees.
If you want to be a shell of a man, go ahead and abide by that list. If you want to be a man, throw it away. We live in an age where image is everything. Don’t be that man. Because that isn’t a man, it’s a boy.
One of the things I learnt in university is the difference in ego between the man and the woman. To hurt a woman’s ego, you reject her and you show her another woman is better. A woman doesn’t necessarily want to be the best, she just wants to know she’s better, more wanted than the next woman. A woman wants to be wanted, and to humiliate a woman by rejection, to show her another is better, is the worst thing you can do.
A man, however? To hurt his ego, you attack his possessions and everything that makes him masculine. A man wants to be the best at everything. He wants to have everything. He wants to be better than the next man in everything. He wants to be better than all men. He just wants to be the best, even in things he doesn’t know about.
I hope that’s not you. You’ll have a strong masculine figure that will make you feel so secure enough in who you are, that you’ll never need to be better than the next man. Just better than who you were yesterday. You’ll never need to compete with anyone for anything.
You’re not going to be brought up with culture drummed into your head. There’ll be none of that where you’re from. You’ll have no sense of superiority over women, you’ll have no sense of entitlement. You’ll know how to cook and clean and you’ll look after yourself. You’ll know to respect everybody who respects you. With the role model that you’ll have, I’m confident that you’ll also know never to think anybody ‘beneath you’ is beneath you. You’ll treat a homeless man the same way you would a CEO. You’ll be shown what it means to be humble and to be respected. You’ll be taught what it means to be a man.
As a consequence, I hope that will translate into the type of person you become. I don’t want you to be popular for the wrong reasons, popular with girls, popular for being an idiot. I only pray that in your adolescent years, popularity isn’t something you reach for.
For a lot of boys, men even, life is a competition.
In the younger years, it’s largely about how much sex they’re having, how many girls they can say they’ve had. Don’t. It’s disgusting and I may disown you (I say this very seriously). Yes, it’ll make you popular for a few years, make you feel great for a few years, you’ll feel like you’re way ahead other guys in this weird testosterone race. But eventually it won’t matter and you’ll be stuck with all this meaningless baggage that you can never get rid of. Be a loner, be a nerd, play video games, play sports, be anything that makes you passionate about something, but don’t be that guy. Be a loser. Be anything but that. Because that’s not my son.
Later on it becomes about money. And it pretty much stays like that. The only way to win this competition? Is to not partake in it. Don’t watch what other people are doing. The success of one man is not your failure. People who are showing the world one success may be hiding 10 failures, and where you succeed is where another doesn’t. Remember, everything is subjective. Mostly.
What matters is having a plan and sticking to it. Have goals, have ambitions. Don’t speak with other men and boast about power, money and women. Have specific goals and focus on them. Don’t let too many guys think they can call you a friend, and don’t let too many girls say “we used to talk”. Because all of that will come back and bite you in the ass. The man you are when you’re 25 will most likely be wildly different to who you were in your teen years.
Now, relationships. One girl will arrive. But not if you’re entertaining girls left right and centre. If a boy boasts about ‘side chicks’ to you, dissociate. If your friend has cheated on his girl, delete him from your life. If a girl throws herself at you, reject her. If a girl tries to make you cheat, embarrass her in front of everybody and show her she ain’t got shit on your girl. Don’t entertain the hoes. You’re better than that. Imagine having to tell your wife about the hundreds of girls you’ve slept with? Imagine looking at your daughter and remembering the hundreds of girls you had been with before her mother? Yeah, I don’t think so. You want the woman you spend the rest of your life with to feel safe.
Someone will come along and make you wish you had never known another girl before her, make you never want to look at another. Live your life preparing for that. When you find her, hold her tight. If you were a sleaze, which you won’t be, make her feel safe. That is so important. No girl wants to know you have the memory of a hundred before her in your mind. Show her off, to everybody, especially to the girls that want you. Focus on your life with her and never entertain another. And ‘bros before hoes’? Unless you plan on marrying your bro, kick that saying to the curb.
No, your wife isn’t a trophy, she’s your partner. Make sure she knows this. Make sure everyone knows this.
Another brief thing? Mother-in-laws. Aka me, being a mother in law to your wife. I’ve seen firsthand what it’s like to be trapped between a mother and a wife, and rest assured that won’t be you. But if me and your wife ever have a disagreement? You’d better put her above everything. At least that’s what I would say if I didn’t know that I would never get in the way without a legitimate reason.
I feel like this is all I can say at the moment. But if you were ever to exist and read this, you would have already gained an abundance of knowledge from the right person, making the majority of my advice and threats of disownment redundant…