13 Things (Wo)men Want: A Life List for My Son on His 13th Birthday

Today, I heard Sam on the phone with a girl. He sounded a little nervous and it was cute. This post came to me after that. He will turn thirteen tomorrow. Know that the “she” in this post can easily be a “he.” It is applicable to girls, boys, hetero and homosexual relationships.
It is not about sexual roles. It’s about healthy, fulfilling relationships.

13 Things (Wo)men Want

1. Laughter: Make her laugh often and then laugh at yourself. Life can be serious enough. I guarantee you if you are laughing, you are not fighting.

2. Honesty: No, not when she asks you if she looks like a cow. But, in everything else. If you make a mistake, own it. If you are upset, tell her. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Ever.

3. Attention: until you have kids, she will be your number one. Tell her. Show her. Listen to her. Spend time with her. Then when you have kids, keep doing that, she will need it more.

4. Respect: Not just the basic human kind that everyone deserves. Give her the respect owed your LIFE partner. You get ONE life. She’s moving through it with you. That is huge. Don’t discount what she says. Don’t belittle her opinion—even in matters of cars and tools. I guarantee you will say some pretty dumb stuff about color boards and the cost of accessories one day.

5. Freedom: Let her be herself. Even when that means letting a little of what you want go. So there are 110 people in your back yard when you want to read a book and have a beer? See that smile on her face…that is why you need to let her be.

6. Support: She will be wrong. Support her anyway. She will be irrational. Support her anyway. Have the conversations, be honest, but never ever let her feel alone….even in her mistakes.

7. Kindness: It is so simple. Smile. Kiss her on the cheek. Tell her you missed her. Kindness leaves little room for anger.

8. Understanding: OK you will have days every month when the world seems to have turned upside down. Accept that. You will know the baggage she comes with. Understand it. It is a lot like school. Memorizing the answer will only help you for a while. But, if you really UNDERSTAND the concepts, those answers will always be at your fingertips.

9. Help: of course when she is sick or in pain –that goes without saying. I am talking more about the mundane stuff. Help with the house and kids. Help her with her bag. Help her with her situation at work. Help her be her best.

10. Forgiveness: Don’t be a grudge holder. When she apologizes, accept it quickly and move on. She will do the same for you.

11. Joy: Show her your beautiful dimples. Show her your favorite place. Show her the world. Plan your life out loud with her. Make. Her. Happy.

12. Trust: Without this you will have nothing. Trust her with your car, your money, your kids, your life. No exceptions. The minute you can’t, all is lost.

13. Love: As in the action, not the noun. Love her completely, deeply, passionately, and permanently. Love her so much that the thought of life without her makes your stomach hurt. With time your love should grow not dwindle. You will both change. Love the new her all over again. And then when that new her changes, love the new one even more. I love your dad more today than ever before and trust me, it is not because he has grown more hair and less belly. It is because in the 22 years since we met, he and I have grown. Period



  1. Beautiful piece. So basic yet so true and timeless. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Marlene says:

    Very true in every sense of the word. Good post.

  3. Wow! That was really on point. I sent it directly to my husband. Thanks for sharing :-)

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