Friday, September 11, 2015

Life Lessons for My Children

As my children get older and enter young adulthood, or as I like to think of it, "*sob* I don't want you to go away to college!! *sniff*," I've tried to impart important life lessons to each of them.

However, since I never pay attention to anything I say — no one else does either — I'm not sure what I've said to which child. So I've compiled it all into one easy-to-lose guide that none of them will actually read.

1) Don't put your money and energy into possessions. You'll spend your money on things you never really needed or wanted, and you'll end up throwing half of them away in three years.

Instead, spend your money on things that make memories, like an HD TV and satellite subscription, with a Major League Baseball game package. Oh, and a nice recliner. I remember the recliner my parents had when I was a kid. It was so comfortable, I could take deep, satisfying naps in it during baseball games.

See, nice memories.

2) The best things in life are free, but only when the other person isn't looking.

3) Author Sherwood Anderson once wrote to his son, "Above all, avoid taking the advice of men who have no brains and do not know what they are talking about." He was referring to small businessmen who had achieved a modicum of success, but as an entrepreneur, I disagree. Instead, avoid the advice from people who work for the government, for large corporations, or start sentences with "I saw on Fox News last night. . ."

4) Do not depend on another person to make you happy or complete. We have repeatedly told my daughters, you do not need to depend on a man, wait for a man, or take directions from a man. Learn to live independently for a while, because if you bring a young man around the house, I plan on frightening the hell out of him.

For my son, find a woman who is strong, independent, and won't wait on you hand and foot. If you're not sure of what that looks like, ask your mother to make you a sandwich.

5) Most importantly, if we do let any of you get married, find someone who makes you laugh. Not a polite little titter, but a great braying ugly laugh that only your family has heard. Your mother has always said she knew I was The One because I made her laugh. And also, because I didn't make her feel like throwing up.

Which, now that I think about it, "I married you because you didn't make me throw up" is not the lovely sentiment I had previously imagined.

6) Find a hobby you love. Something that you can throw yourself into and enjoy. Television is not a suitable hobby. Neither is playing games on your phone. Consider things like cooking for the elderly, dispensing medication to the aged, or maintaining a guest room for long-term guests who come to live with you when they're in their 70s. You have 30 years to get good at these things.

7) Don't openly revel in the misery of others. Do it quietly where they can't see you.

8) Don't worry about being the most popular kid in school. Enjoy being different and not following the crowd. Recent studies have shown that the popular kids often don't live up to their self-expectations later in life. Instead, it's the geeks and weirdos who go on to do amazing things. Celebrity astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson was not a popular kid in high school, Miley Cyrus was.

The big difference? Nowadays, Neil deGrasse Tyson is respected for his intellect and talent, Miley Cyrus is, well, not.

9) Kurt Vonnegut once said, "Go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable."

This is a terrible idea. Go into a sensible profession. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. As a professional writer, I speak from experience. When I'm old, I'll be counting on you and your family to make my life more bearable.

10) On the other hand, make sure you have a job you love. As my father used to say, it's better to have a job you love that doesn't make much money than to make a lot of money at a job you hate.

I'm happy to pass all this advice to you, because I love my job so much, it's pretty much your entire inheritance.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.


  1. Astute advice Erik. And I couldn't agree more with #5!


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