From Minimalism To Tech

Guide For Sons

Guide Versions: English | Español | 中文

After researching the Millennial generation and iGenz, I began receiving a few questions from parents and educators about young men. Parents felt concern that their young men were performing poorly in school and some educators didn’t understand why their material didn’t connect with young men. Initially, these concerns seemed to reflect the idiom of girls mature faster than boys, but data began to show concerns with young men and the implications. To help parents, I wrote a short and free guide on a few suggestions that will help sons succeed.

Are Young Men Struggling?

This depends on who you ask. Some of what we observe with young men reflects the old idiom – girls mature faster than boys – and I heard this from an older person who grew up in the early 1900s, so this idiom has been around for at least 100 years. Some of what we observe may reflect a poor understanding of what some cultures expect boys to know. For an example, some cultures expect young men to initiate relationships (including romantic), therefore these boys in these cultures need to learn social skills early in life. They also need to learn related social skills to social initiation. Most schools in these cultures do not teach this. In a sense, some of the perceived failure is a disconnect in what is expected of boys and what boys are actually learning.

In addition, the below information may be of interest to some readers:

  1. “Women earned the majority of doctoral degrees in 2016 for 8th straight year & outnumber men in grad school 135-100.
  2. “Three male college graduates for every four women college graduates.” Link
  3. “For the current graduating class of 2013, the Department of Education estimates that women will earn 61.6% of all associate’s degrees this year, 56.7% of all bachelor’s degrees, 59.9% of all master’s degrees, and 51.6% of all doctor’s degrees. Overall, 140 women will graduate with a college degree at some level this year for every 100 men.” Link

These measure success in terms of educational achievement, which one may challenge. My own research showed that the median Millennial female made 6-8% more than the median Millennial male (while using ceteris paribus variable measurements). Overall young women are doing well – and I expect this to continue.

Books Covering Young Men’s Struggle

Outside of my short guide, other authors have written about young men struggling with some of these books offering suggestions. When I’ve mentioned some of the below books to parents, they’ve expressed concerns, one of which is that the books don’t offer them useful suggestions about what to teach their sons.

Still, if parents want to seek further research on the topic, I highly recommend the above books.

Legal and Medical Note

Before reading this guide, be sure that:

  • Your son is not suffering from a psychological, chemical, or medical issue.
  • You have a doctor that you visit regularly for your son.
  • You live in an area where all the advice is within the confines of the law.

. If you see anything listed in this guide that is forbidden in your jurisdiction, skip it. For example, some jurisdictions may not allow you to learn other languages, so you can skip this section. If you see a section that is not allowed in your jurisdiction, skip it and move on to the next piece of actionable information. Also, if anything is required or recommended before an activity – such as seeking medical approval before starting a physical activity – get the recommended or required help. If your son is struggling, always start with medical and psychological help, as hormonal issues, or medical issues cannot be solved by mastering skills or learning valuable information.

The Guide

Guide Versions: English | Español | 中文

The short guide addresses some of the following concerns that parents of boys have:

  • What skill will significantly increase your son’s social pool?
  • What technique can your son use in every situation to prevent wasting energy in any action?
  • What is one action your son must do daily to prevent stagnation and to increase his happiness?

I wrote this short guide to help parents with some actionable recommendations for raising boys. The guide is free and available in multiple languages and most parents will be able to read the guide in less than three hours. My hope is that most parents can find several suggestions useful for their sons. This guide only gives parents some insights into useful skills their sons can use – how parents implement that or find that is up to them. As a parent, you have insight into how your son learns and the feedback you receive from him, so you’ll know how he can learn the recommendations.


While I appreciate the offer, if you want to help, send this guide to any parent who’s been searching for help with their son. You can also make a huge impact on your community by sponsoring scholarships for low income young men in educational or health opportunities before college, like paying for low income kids to attend a self-defense class or learn a language. Finally, there are foundations that help men, such as the Movember foundation.

Questions & Answers

Below are some popular questions I’ve been asked related to the topics in the guide.

I live in a rural area with few options for my children. How can I do some of the suggestions considering the limited options?

Rural environments offer more challenges to parents than urban environments because of what you mention – few options in the area. The advantage a rural environment carries is skill concentration: some of the most talented people in the world in respective fields are from smaller environments where few distractions exist. As you determine your child’s passions and talents, help your child concentrate on these skills. Also consider:

  • If you live near a large or medium size city, set aside one day a week to do activities in the city that will help your child build the skills mentioned.
  • Research cost-effective ways for some of the skills mentioned. Like in the case of exercise, some YouTubers have built great physical playgrounds for their children at a very low, which has helped their children complete daily exercises. An example which cost less than $40:
  • If you have access to the internet, consider that some tutors teach through Skype, so this is an option for people in rural areas. Some forms of teaching may also be done through email or messaging.
  • Look for organizations that teach children practical skills like 4H, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, Camp Fire, Pathfinders, Navigators USA, or similar organizations. If you are open to religious organizations, you may find some groups such as Awana, Royal Ambassadors, Royal Rangers, and SpiralScouts International. Some of these may be local to country, while some exist in many countries. For instance, while Awana is a religious organization, it is a worldwide organization. If none of these exist in your area, look for ways to start one. For an example, 4H can open a world of opportunity in practical skills for many children in rural communities.
  • Leverage the skills you do have: rural areas can teach kids how to grow their own food. Four college friends from a rural area rented one house and completely grew their own food through college – saving them money on food (plus reduced rent).

We are a low income family with few resources for education and our public schools do not offer many opportunities for our children. Are there ways to get access to private schools in our area?

This heavily varies by jurisdiction and the above books that I link to, such as Why Boys Fail, do a better job in this discussion. You may find scholarships at local private schools, though this isn’t a guarantee and the jurisdiction matters. Also, some public schools offer magnet programs, so these may be available in your area.

What are some examples of non-seasonal physical activities my child can do?

Here are some examples of activites that can be done anytime during the year and numerous other activities exist. Aim around your child’s interest level when considering activities:

Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:

CrossFit and Power Lifting:

Gymnastics and Bodybuilding:

Running and swimming:

While many of the above videos contrast these disciplines, they all carrya advantages and disadvantages and some children will gravitate to some and avoid others. All of them can be done throughout the year. Sports, like football, baseball, etc, can be great for your child, but they are seasonal.

Where can I find resources about non-US universities online?

This will generally require knowing the other language. For instance, if I wanted to find good colleges in Mexico, I would search by using Spanish. Most English-oriented sites about non-US schools hold very biased and outdated views of non-US schools. This should be expected: attending a non-US school will be a major challenge and when people can’t overcome a challenge, they create rationalizations for why they can’t overcome it (“non-US schools aren’t good!”).

As your child builds fluency in the language, searching for these opportunities and communicating with people in positions at these universities will become easier. Initially, I would simply keep an eye on various lists of universities for the countries you think will be good; such as keeping a list of German universities, if you’re open to your child attending a German university.

As you discover universities that you may be open to your child attending, contact them and discover what their requirements are. Be skeptical of any university with a low list of requirements or low expectations of students, as these will not be environments where your child will thrive.

My child wants to attend a university where all his friends are going to (in the US). I don’t want him to stay in the US for the reasons you list in the guide. What can I do?

Your child will make the final decision. As a parent you can choose to fund your child’s education or not, if you don’t approve of the choice (though if your child obtains a scholarship, this won’t matter). Non-US colleges will offer more opportunity in the long run and come without kangaroo courts that prosecute without evidence. However, do young people care about this? No. Young people tend to follow their friends and do what’s popular.

This is part of why I emphasize the importance of regression to the mean; your child should understand the value of not following the crowd in some circumstances. Attending a non-US college will be much more challenging and less popular – this is why it will carry more value in the long run. I would simply state that you’ll fund the education, provided the institution is not in the United States.

Help! My child has been accused of (something) at the university. The university won’t grant our child an attorney and has kicked him out without evidence. What can we do?

You educated your child in a system that allowed this and you may not be able to do anything. I would recommend consulting with an attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction, but there may not be guarantees and the attorney may charge for a consultation. In addition, your child may have lost focus in learning and may be distracted by this situation, which could hurt your child’s potential.

The United States college system may give a young man no legal rights if accused. If you educate your son in this system, be prepared to deal with the full consequences of him having no legal rights whatsoever, regardless of what the United States’ constitution states.

I’m a single parent with few resources available to do some of the items you list. Any suggestions?

First, talk to other single parents, as there are many of them and they may have suggestions. You can find resources both locally and online.

Second, whether time, money or some other restriction for opportunity (like location), identify the issue and do everything in your power to negotiate where you lack. For an example, if you don’t have money for your child to join a gym, negotiate with local gyms and be as honest as possible:

“I’m a single parent and I want my child to build a healthy life. What can I do to make this possible? I have no extra money, but would be willing to offer help to make this a reality.”

I know people who would pay for your child on their own, provided that your child visits the gym regularly. People like to help others, though exceptions exist. The key is to be honest about your situation and negotiate for your child. Whatever you do, don’t abuse this though. If people discover a pattern of manipulation, they will resent helping.

Third, some religious groups – if you’re open to them – do many services for single parents. If you’re open to these groups, seek them out and ask for help by being honest about your situation.

Finally, use your limits to teach your child the value of resourcefulness. Confucius once stated that “If you do not economize, you will agonize.” No matter how restrictive our opportunities are, we can either make the most of them, or resent them – though the latter will do absolutely nothing for us. This provides a great lesson for your child that your child will be able to use for life.

Other than teaching my child a foreign language while teaching our native language, what activities things can I do to help my child learn other languages?

  • Mix up the stories you read to your child before bed, or at your preferred designated time. For instance, one night read an English story, the next night, read a Spanish story.
  • Listen to a mixture of music with different languages.
  • Surround your child with images involving multiple languages, such as English and Spanish posters.
  • Put your child in situations where people don’t speak the native language.
  • Let your child play games or watch entertainment in other languages you want your child to learn.
  • Search and find other parents who teach their kids to be multi-lingual. These parents provide great resources and are helpful when you’re trying to teach your child more than one language.

One technique many people use for learning another language, which is helpful, is memorizing 5 words a day. This technique sounds simple, yet it results in learning over 1,800 words a year, which adds up over time (most people don’t use more than 25,000 different words in a language within a month). By making the memorization a part of conversation, this becomes even easier. As a person builds a foundation in any language, they begin to pick up other words through reading and conversation without needing to look up a definition.

My child hates losing/failing/experiencing rejection/negative events. I know this is important to learn at an early age. What can I do to communicate to my child the importance of accepting the situation?

I would suggest asking other parents this question about communicating the importance of these negative events. In general, one reason people handle these events negatively is because they haven’t experienced enough of them. Using martial arts as an example, when kids have practice matches each class, most of the time they will lose the match (especially if they are new). This failure teaches them to learn what they can in the failure and try again. If they have four practice matches in a class and fail four times, they begin to learn to how to handle the failure and learn from it (three classes a week with four guaranteed failures per class means they are failing twelve times per week).

Most of us don’t wake up one day and say, “Wow – failure has actually taught me to be a better person.” We all hate failure. I hate failure as much as the next person does, but failure will happen. We train to learn from failure and bounce back from failure. Your son’s reaction to failure is normal; training him to respond the right way – learning from failure and bouncing back – are what’s key.

Some of the best ways to train for handling failure, rejection, losing, experiencing negative events: any competitive endeavor or any sales endeavor.

One last point: don’t reward participation. The parents of Millennials did this and now the generation expects rewards for just “showing up.” Rewards only go to winners because rewards incentivize winning. If you reward everyone equally, there is no meaning of winning. This is training your child for the ultimate failure, as your child will be in situations where someone wins and someone loses.

Is entertainment good for my children?

You can evaluate your experiences with other parents on this topic. I’ve seen and heard arguments for and against entertainment. Ultimately, each parent will decide the best route for their children regarding entertainment. Entertainment can be useful for adding spice to instruction, or it can be useful for unwinding from a challenge – such as reading fiction before sleeping. Generally, entertainment used for an escape creates a barrier to success.

Should I homeschool my children?

I would research homeschooling before you proceed. Not all legal jurisdictions allow home education, while others encourage it. Beyond the legal question, make sure that homeschoolers exist in your area, as they will be a key resource for you, if you’re not familiar with it (if you are from a homeschooling community or were homeschooled yourself, you probably know quite a bit).

In rural communities, it may be more challenging to homeschool children while providing them with a social environment. By contrast, homeschool communities in urban communities tend to be large (about 3% of children are homeschooled in the United States and we’ve seen a huge rise in homeschooling communities in cities). Provided that your children are learning useful skills and you are complying with the appropriate guidelines for your legal jurisdiction, homeschooling can provide children with a strong background.

On a research note, children who tended to enter college at younger ages than normal in the United States (such as someone entering college at 16 as opposed to 18) tended to be either homeschooled, or homeschooled for a period. Still, homeschooling doesn’t guarantee success – children must learn valuable skills.

My child won’t read books at all. What can I do to get my child to read?

Does your child want to read? Are the books interesting to your child? Why should your child read what you (or what others) want? To quote a friend from high school who hated reading, “My teacher always wanted us to read incredibly boring books like Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare plays, and other boring books.” You can’t force a child to read something the child hates.

Find books on topics your child likes and test those books. Your child may never become a reader though, as we have more ways of engaging with people than reading. In the past, reading communicated knowledge to audiences, but we have many ways of doing this now, such as video, applications, etc. Video didn’t exist in the 1600s, so reading made sense for people. Now, people can see video of lessons, like they can buy an application that teaches them skill or communicates information as well.

Reading can be useful for learning, but some people will prefer video or application-based learning. This is one of many parental misunderstandings about video games: some fictional video games engage kids more than fictional books. Books made sense in the 1600s and we have many alternatives now; some people will prefer more active forms of learning. Finally, consider that people tend to retain more knowledge when they experience the knowledge and not when they read it or hear it. This means that reading may not be the best way to retain information.

I’m a Kindle reader and would like to read your book on Kindle. Can I find it on Amazon?

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, the Guide For Raising Sons is available for free for Amazon Prime members since it’s a part of Kindle Unlimited. If you are not an Amazon Prime member, get the book from the free links above this. Amazon informed us that they have to charge because they cannot host a book for free – which makes sense since hosting costs money. However, Amazon Prime members can get this title for free.

Questions? Email fintekneeks with the plus sign (+) parenting at gmail dot com. Only questions related to this guide will be answered and questions that meet the criteria or reflect that the questioner read the guide.

This page does not follow a few of the items listed on this site’s disclosure and is intended only as a placeholder for this free guide for parents.

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