25 Things I’d Like My Sons to Know

  1. It’s harder to take a punch than to throw one.
  2. Find the people who make you laugh and follow them around like a golden retriever. Laughing is like a vitamin.  You can never get enough of it.
  3. A guy who hugs a lot is comfortable in his own skin.
  4. Read poetry.
  5. There’s nothing wrong with looking at porn, but having sex with someone you care about is a thousand times more fun.
  6. When you feel like crying, for joy or out of pain, let ‘er rip. If you don’t those tears out, they will calcify in your chest and make it harder to love as fully and deeply as you would like to.
  7. Crank the tunes when you have to clean the house.
  8. Look deeply into the eyes of the one you are falling for to get a glimpse of his or her soul.
  9. Spend a chunk of time every year with people who are much less fortunate than you are. It will fill your heart with gratitude.
  10. Never lie about anything really important. The first lie will cause you to have to lie again and again to cover up the truth. And each time you’ll chip away an important piece of yourself.
  11. Find work that makes you happy. If you can change the world in the process all the better.
  12. If you get the chance to travel across the country or across the globe, take it.  You will learn way more from people who are different from you than the ones who are the same.
  13. Doing nothing is better than doing the wrong thing.  But you are going to make mistakes. Tons of them. The real question is what you will learn from them.
  14. Don’t be in any rush to get married. Divorce really sucks. A good marriage can start when you’re 21 or 61.
  15. There’s nothing wrong with a Cuban cigar once in a while.
  16. Money and power look good, but they won’t fill your being with joy the way your family will.
  17. If you like guys, I will fight for your ability to have equal rights in every way.
  18. Find a way to move your body that gives you pleasure. You don’t have to be an athlete to be a man, but your body is a temple and you need to care for it, enjoy it, and use it to express yourself.
  19. Drinking can be fun in moderation. Just make sure to ask for help if you find yourself blacking out or doing things you regret.
  20. Radical honesty will get you very far in this world. Most people don’t have the guts to speak their mind, regardless of the consequences.
  21. Always give your spouse birthday presents in bed.
  22. Find a spirituality that you can wear like a loose coat that keeps you warm no matter the weather. God should provide you comfort not make you feel ashamed of yourself.
  23. Sex is great but holding your spouse in the middle of the night is one of the best feelings any guy can have.
  24. Live passionately. Dream big. Don’t back down.
  25. Always remember I love you, no matter what happens. You cannot lose me. I will always be there.

If you enjoyed this piece you might like Tom Matlack’s Raising Boys (A Dad’s Advice for Moms)
About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. This is a great list with a lot of great reminders to all of us dads. If I were making a list, which I won’t because your list is fantastic, my list would include to apologize when you’re the offender. I always tell my kids that I’m sorry when I mess up and let them hear me say it to others when I offend another person.

  2. Karen O'Connor says:

    Tom, how about a corresponding list of what you’d like your daughter to know about life/men/dads?

  3. This brought tears to my eyes. Never thought I’d say this, but thank you for making me cry.

  4. Jeff Coulter says:

    Tom, Thanks for writing this article. I admit I teared up. My parents divorced when I was young, and I never saw my dad again. I wish he had been around to teach me some of these lessons along the way, and say some of these words. I’m glad someone’s father says them, and that I at least got to read them.

  5. this post made me cry. My son has an absent dad and feels that affects him very much. I wish I had a man that could tell him these things. I’ve tried, but it doesn’t mean the same. He’s an amazing child, I wish he had an amazing Dad too.

  6. Number 10… Ugh! Never lie. For every good reason there is to lie, there is always a better reason to tell the truth, even if it simply means employing the choicest words and tact. Plus, it (number 10) then contradicts number 20. All-in-all, great stuff as usual. Keep up the great work!

  7. That was a nice list. My parents were not very open with their children and that affected our communication, even to this day. We weren’t allowed to show “negative” emotion..no tears could be shed unless you were spanked. I’m just glad you encourage your children to express their feelings..whatever they may be.

  8. Ola k ase says:

    I find this very, very accurate, I’d only wish to add one more thing:

    Wouldn’t all these great advises apply to daughters too? Cause I really think they are as good for men as for women.

    (I apology if it is indeed addressed to both males and females, I actually don’t know if it is or not, hence the question)

  9. Glad to see some people have called out the “there’s nothing wrong with looking at porn” nonsense. If you want a son who sees women as equals and is not a lousy, self-centred, unimaginative lover, don’t encourage porn use. We can all pretend “it’s just looking at sex” but we know that in reality porn is about abusing women (and supporting an unethical, exploitive industry), calling them degrading names, banging and hurting and acting contemptuously of their bodies and is also about older men preying on as-young-as-you-can-get-away-with girls.

    Not cool at all. Try a little hand cream and your imagination, son.

  10. David Wise says:

    And don’t forget the sunscreen! Hee, hee. My apologies to Baz Luhrmann.

  11. Bonitto says:

    that was awesome.. 😀
    — but… isn’t #15 kind of illegal? LoL ~ hand-made/hand-rolled cigars from Puerto Rico (a USA territory) would be better… The Don Collins line, Don-Collins.com, are made by the oldest cigar company in the world, Puerto Rico Tobacco Corporation (founded in 1506).
    I was told that most of Cuba’s tobacco isn’t native to Cuba; some major fire wiped out most of their crops; they had to import from PR and other places and replant… a Cuban cigar, technically, isn’t likely to be really/authentically Cuban (well, other than it was assembled there). :-)


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