Clean is Sexy and 58 Other Bits of Advice for Sons

If your life is filled with boys staring into the precipice of adulthood, stay right here, read on and then give us your thoughts. This is what we have wanted to tell our almost grown sons, if they would ever start listening.

1. Having good friends is a blessing. Being a good friend is obligatory.

2. Females have a better sense of smell, need I say more?

3. Covering your tracks reveals a faulty character. Real men own up to their mistakes, apologize, and try to put things right.

4. Do not photograph your private parts. The picture will end up in places you cannot imagine and I promise you, you do not want to go there.

Boy wearing baseball shirt shaving in tiled bathroom
Advice for our young men-clean is sexy. (

5. You are not what you eat, or what you drive or where you work. You are you. And if that is not working out for you, changing your diet or car or job will not fix the problem.

6. Clean is sexy. Thoughtful is sexy. Being blindingly drunk is pathetic.

7. Video games may not cause you harm, but they certainly do not make you a better son, student, or friend. Play them sparingly.

8. Sleep will not solve all of your problems, but not sleeping will create new ones.

9. Make a reputable news site the home page on all your devices. You will be smarter for it.

10. Junk food is for teenagers, by the time you are twenty you will understand that your body wants real food. Give it what it needs.

11. Playing sports will make you happy and help keep you healthy. Keep games in your life.

12. Choosing a spouse is the most important decision you will ever make, do not let your heart ignore your head, nor vice versa.

13. If you are shopping for clothes and wondering if you are the kind of guy who can get away with a certain trendy style, then you most certainly are not.

14. Saving a few dollars on a bad haircut is something you will regret instantly.

15. Your girlfriends, the women who befriend you, love you, and will never sleep with you, will be some of the most important people in your life. Treat them beautifully.

16. Never let your siblings down, they are irreplaceable. They will be the longest friendships in your life and, one day, will be the only people who remember your childhood.

17. When you have the nagging feeling that your parents would disapprove of what you are about to do, pause, make sure you are completely sure you have answered for yourself all the questions they would ask. Then proceed, using your own judgment.

18. Your 20s are the time to discover your tolerance for risk, don’t pass up the opportunity.

19. Spend the extra few dollars to buy decent shampoo. And deodorant.

20. Own one perfectly pressed white shirt. You never know when a job interview or a partner’s parents will arrive.

21. Own lots of underwear, it will ultimately determine your laundry schedule.

22. If you sleep with a someone, contact them the next morning, even if it is just an emoticon. And if you even think of pretending you don’t know them, envision my face.

23. Buy gifts for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and any other special occasion that arises. Small offerings, bought with care and thought, go a long way to making a partner feel like they are on your mind. However, if they shows a hint of disappointment that you did not spend more money, drop them.

24. When you get the chance, be the kind of boss, teacher, father, and friend that you had, or wish you had.

25. Finish what you start. That goes for tubes of toothpaste, expensive entrees, and commitments you have made to others and yourself.

26. You are only as good as your word, anyone who says otherwise has proven my point.

27. Technology will not make you happy. The people it connects you with will. Do not confuse the two.

28. When a partner sets out to change you, head for the hills. If they don’t like who you started out as, they won’t like who you ended up as any better.

29. Your manners will say everything about you and will reflect on your parents every day. Don’t make us look bad.

30. Life will disappoint you. People will disappoint you. You will disappoint yourself. We are here to ease those blows anytime you need to talk.

31. Piercings for men will go out of style, if they haven’t already. Don’t be fooled into believing otherwise.

32. Aspirin, water, and black coffee solve a multitude of problems.

33. Education is expensive, and not using it is even more expensive. Make the most of the talents you were given and the hard work you have done.

34. If your friends are jerks, you will not be far behind. Choose wisely.

35. Be nice to your parents, it will be a long time before you can afford your own vacations.

36. Answer your mother’s texts promptly, or as long as you want her to keep paying your cell phone bill.

37. With shoes, quality always wins over quantity. Ditto suits.

38. Toothbrushes do not last forever. Neither do razors.

39. Learn to swing a golf club, cook one great dish, and ride a bike, it will come in handy.

40. Do not ever use your physical size to intimidate anyone, male or female, unless it is in an organized game of sport. If you do, I will send you back to the cave where you belong.

41. Drugs will make you stupid, waste your money, introduce you to people you do not want to know, get you in trouble with the law, and become a habit you might find hard to break. Am I clear?

42. Smile in all photos and don’t look like a jerk, you never know where the picture will end up.

43. If you get a rash or a cut or a burn, photograph and text it. Moms diagnose, even digitally.

44. When you come back for a home cooked meal, your old bed, and laundry service, remember to bring a good attitude. These things are not your birthright.

45. Calling your parents for no special reason is always, always a good idea.

46. If you only share the good and never reveal the bad, no one will really know you.

47. Never assume anything about another person’s wealth, health, or happiness, all too often we are mistaken.

48. Put the seat down, don’t argue, just do it.

49. If you don’t use a top sheet (why, oh why) then you have to wash the duvet cover. It is just the rules.

50. The Social Network was right, the Internet is written in ink. Remind yourself of that every time you touch a keyboard.

51. If you think you are ready for children but are not sure, get a dog.

52. No one is ever completely ready to be a parent, it is always a bit of a leap.

53. It is best to have children within 50 miles of at least one grandparent. In parenthood, emergencies are the rule rather than the exception.

54. House gifts will always be remembered and appreciated so never accept a dinner invitation or weekend’s stay without a small token of gratitude.

55. Soon enough you will be in a position to help those younger than you. Offer a hand up quickly and generously.

56. Remember that you are a product of your upbringing and schools. Show gratitude and loyalty for the teachers and institutions from which you graduated.

57. Check your mail and email! As old-fashioned as it may seem, there are some letters and emails that must be opened. Letting things pile up only creates nasty past due surprises. Grappling with paperwork is one of adulthood’s biggest but unavoidable headaches.

58. Be the kind of person others turn to with their troubles. People in pain seek out those with good hearts.

You Might Also Want to Read:

50 Things You Can Do at 18

About Lisa Endlich Heffernan

Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan is the co-founder of Grown and Flown, the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author.
She started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and is co-author of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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