Posts Tagged ‘clueless’

Letter to a Teenage Boy

July 1, 2010




Last year, one of my best friends shared her concerns about her teenage son. I had known Alex (not his real name) since he was born and we had always had a great relationship, so I wrote him a letter. With my friend’s permission and encouragement, I am reprinting that letter here in the hope that other parents will share it with their sons.

The teenage boys of today will play a big role in shaping all of our tomorrows. May they come to know the value of love, compassion and empathy sooner than the generations of men that came before them.




Dear Alex,

When you answered the phone the last time I called, I heard a deeper voice than what I was accustomed to. When your mom later confirmed that your voice had recently changed, my thoughts flashed back to my teenage years . . . and I found myself cringing. At fourteen, I was incredibly naïve; to make matters worse, I didn’t have a clue that I didn’t have a clue. Thankfully, you are much more mature and wiser than I was at your age.

As I reminisced, I found myself wishing that an adult friend of our family had taken it upon himself to pull me aside all those years ago and give me a heads up on what to expect from life and how to handle myself as I approached adulthood. If you would be so kind as to indulge me for a few minutes, I’d like to share with you what I wish someone had shared with me at fourteen. Even though you have been blessed with great parents who I’m sure have already told you all of this, sometimes it’s helpful to hear the same thing from someone outside your family.

Do you know why I was so naïve and unaware as a teenager, Alex? It’s because I was (more…)

What Do Women Want? Here’s the Answer, Guys!

December 23, 2008

bald-guy-scratching-his-headI was two weeks shy of 22 when my daughter was born. I was naïve and blissfully immature. My wife was five years older than me and an outspoken feminist. Not surprisingly, she often became exasperated with me because I just “didn’t get it.” And though I didn’t much like the way she expressed her frustration at times, I disciplined myself to pay attention to what she said rather than how she said it. And so I learned.

I also received quite an education simply by keeping the lines of communication open with my daughter as she grew older. She shared virtually every detail of her life with us, which afforded me the opportunity to get an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at how teenage girls viewed boys and life in general. I paid attention when she said things like, “Dad, I don’t want you to solve my problems, I just want you to listen.” And so I learned.

What I learned is the answer to the question, What do women want? If you’re one of the three billion men on this planet who claim to have no clue, the answer is very simple: Women want to be cherished.

But you already knew that, didn’t you? You’ve just been pleading ignorance because you think becoming a true life partner with a woman requires too much work. After all, looking out for number one is a full-time job and then some for most men.

It’s all about perspective. Women liken a relationship to a plant that needs daily watering. Men liken a relationship to a cactus that only needs watering every few months. (more…)

Still Clueless Perhaps, But Making Progress

November 26, 2008
phil-tom-endres-college

My buddy Tom Endres (left) and I hosting a college talent show in our wild and crazy days


One February, when my daughter Erin was five years old, I picked her up at a friend’s house where she had been playing after school. As we arrived home, she mentioned that when spring arrived, she’d like to grow a plant that she had received as a gift since it was dying now. I said, “Better ask Mom how to do that. She knows a lot about plants and flowers.” Erin paused, then said, “You don’t know much, do you?”

It was true. Erin was a perceptive kid and even though she loved me dearly, she sensed that I had as much growing up to do as she did.

I had always been the life of the party in high school and college, cracking jokes and hamming it up. In my late twenties, however, I began dreading parties, especially those where intelligent conversation was expected. Surrounded by smart, successful people, I’d feel like a one-man island, disconnected from everyone else and largely ignored. No wonder others had no interest in talking to me; I had nothing to say. I was immature and self-absorbed. I had grown stagnant. (more…)

I Was Young, Carefree and Clueless

September 9, 2008

clueless-is-no-excuse-road-signThere are people who don’t have a clue that they don’t have a clue. No matter how gently and compassionately you try to tell such people that they don’t have a clue, they act insulted, get defensive and accuse you of being arrogant.

Their response proves the point: the more unenlightened someone is, the more they will take offense when told they are unenlightened. Someone who is enlightened and mature considers criticism objectively; he or she either accepts the criticism as true and changes his/her behavior accordingly, or judges the criticism as lacking in merit and dismisses it without a second thought.

I know this to be true because I used to be among the chronically clueless. I was wildly (more…)