As this new season known as the teen years is now officially upon us, here is the advice I have for you, my sweet teen son…
- Be respectful. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Have a firm handshake and look people in the eye. Face the flag, take your hat off, and be quiet. Think before you speak. Always thank a veteran and everyone in uniform. Until you’re a doctor, don’t bring your phone to the table. Always say thank you, especially when you have been given time. Compliment the cook.
- Work hard and remember, no one owes you anything. You are not entitled to anything based on who you are, where you come from, or what you look like. If you are willing to work hard, hustle and go the extra mile, you can and will achieve great things based upon your own merit and grit. And when you do… embrace humility.
- Be a gentlemen with your words and your actions. Pull out chairs, open doors, and learn to dance. Be a good listener, don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Use your manners; please, thank you, you’re welcome, yes ma’am and no sir. Chewing gum is usually rude. Take out the trash without being asked. Offer your seat to a lady or anyone older than you. Leave things better than you find them. Chew with your mouth closed. Be on time. Push in your chair when you leave a table. When you are with people, be fully present.
- Be wise with your money. Always use the give, save, and spend system. Prepare for a rainy day. Err on the side of generosity. As the seasons in your life change, read and reread Dave Ramsey’s advice in his book, The Total Money Makeover. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Be a good tipper. Always pay cash; the borrower is slave to the lender.
- Believe in your yourself and have integrity. Dream big dreams. Do hard things. Attempt the impossible. Be brave. Take chances. Be optimistic. Don’t be a quitter and don’t procrastinate. Don’t compromise your character by lying or cheating. On the field, don’t sit, take a knee. Suck it up. When things go awry don’t panic, keep your cool. You practice like you’ll play. Don’t always take the shot, sometimes make the assist.
- A man is only as good as his word. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Speak truth even when it costs you something. Remember that actions speak louder than words. When entrusted, keep a secret. Finish what you start. No one likes a know it all. Sometimes silence is the best option. Avoid gossip.
- Know your place. Know when to be the gentlemen and when to be the jokester. (Learn to laugh at yourself.) Know when to help someone up off the field and when to lower your shoulder and lay them out. Know when to be silent and when to speak up. Know when to dress down and when to put on a tie.
- Do the right thing for the right reason. Be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, even if you stand alone. Sit with the kid eating lunch by himself and stand up for the little man, even if it’s not the “cool” thing to do. Give credit when it’s due and take my advice… don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
- Come home. When life gets hard, come home. When you find yourself in a sticky situation, come home. When it’s just all too much, come home. Friends will come and go, but family is forever. (Invest wisely.) Always have your brother’s back in public, even if he’s wrong… we’ll sort things out when you get home. Remember, Mom and Dad are here for you and this place we call home, is a safe place. In all seriousness, there is no food like a mama’s comfort food. It’s science. When in doubt, just come home.
- Make good hygiene a priority. Teen years can be smelly. Brush and floss your teeth. Comb your hair. Keep your nails clean and trimmed. Deodorant and breath mints are your friends. Wash your P.E. clothes regularly. Use Axe in moderation.
- Unplug and be still. Find time to be bored. Embrace the quiet. Savor the silence. Read, write, draw, think, listen to music, explore the outdoors. Enjoy your own company.
- Ask forgiveness without an explanation. When you make mistakes, and you will, own them and learn from them. Don’t water down your apology with your justification. Give forgiveness too. Resentment makes you bitter and enslaves you, forgiveness will set you free.
- Remember who you represent; Jesus Christ and The Spratt Family. Time is your most valuable asset, spend it accordingly. Remember; you are who you hang with. On that note, you are blessed with lots of wonderful grandparents, be sure to cherish your time with them. They know some things.
Take this advice and make it your own. In the next few years you will live, learn, make mistakes, achieve great things, and maybe even have some regrets. I want you to always remember Dad and I will be here to guide, support, encourage, and love you all of our days.
Your biggest fan,
*This piece was originally published at christenspratt.com