Chris Bernholdt was an art educator for ten years in the suburbs of Chicago. He is now a stay at home dad — or “dad in charge” as he likes to call it. Being with his kids has allowed him to see them growing up at a time that he might miss if he was still teaching. He now lives outside Philadelphia with his wife Susie. When he isn’t taking care of his three children he writes about his adventures as a stay-at-home dad on his blog called DadNCharge
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I am afraid for my son. I want him to be a gentlemen to women, but this online life people are living today may corrupt him unless I do something about it. So here is an open letter to my son about the way women should be treated.
I am about to cock-block you. I’ve had it with posts talking about a lack of quality guys with good values. Tired of the way that some men these days treat their women.With the advances in technology and the instantaneous gratification that this sort of life provides, you guys have this sense that if things don’t happen automatically or instantaneously, it is not worth waiting for and you move on to something else.
Let me tell you, that some things are worth waiting for.
Now, here is the part where I talk about walking to school, both ways, up a hill. If you are looking to date someone take the following advice, try to be as old school as possible without completely losing your modern self. When I was in college, I didn’t have a computer. I used a word processor. The internet was in its beginning phases and if I wanted to access it, I had to walk to the lab and sign in to use a computer where logging on and getting messages from a Pearl Jam listserv blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that I was interacting with people from South Carolina and other states, talking about my favorite band! To you, this music is probably considered classic rock, so I hope you are listening to it still.We didn’t have digital cameras or cellphones that you carried with you at all times. Thank God for that. Bringing a camera to a keg party was one of those unwritten rules like no photos during your bachelor party or ANY trip to Vegas. I think about all the stupid crazy things I did in college and can’t imagine the ability to broadcast any of it to millions of people in an instant. Don’t do it. You are going to need to learn restraint.
I know that in this age of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter that everyone is sharing anything and everything about themselves but that doesn’t mean you will actually know that person at all. Online relationships are not always what they appear to be. Believe it or not, I was in on Match.com before I met your mother. I met some cool people and some who weren’t at all what they seemed. Get to know people one-on-one. Don’t learn about them through texting or creeping their profile, find out the old-fashioned way by doing activities with each other and formulate your own opinions about what you learn along the way.There is lots to be said about having a one-on-one conversation with someone. You can read their body language and expressions and not rely on some emoticon to tell you that. You can’t learn inflection from a computer, you won’t hear their sarcasm, and you might miss their wit.
Texting is easier sure, but you are not hearing what they are saying.Your mom and I talked on the phone every night when we weren’t together. Sometimes we even talked until one of us feel asleep. Have conversations with a girl. Find out her interests and LISTEN. Bring up something you learned about her later to show you really do care.Dating has changed a lot. Flirting has changed even more. People text instead of talk on the phone and since images can be sent as instantaneously there is that temptation to share more of you than they will want to see. Don’t be a dick and send a picture of yours, that’s just gross. If a girl wants to see your business, you are going to want it to be happening IRL.
Call girls on the phone. Not when you are driving or bored but when you have set aside time to really talk. Here’s one that you might want to Google or Bing or whatever the search engine you use in the future is; I used to have to use a rotary phone to call girls. By the time you got the courage up, you had to slowly dial that number building up the pressure and nerve. The push button phone revolutionized that, so you won’t have to deal with the torturous dial.Go out with girls on a date. Make sure they know it’s a date. Don’t go with a big group and assume she knows you like her. Never buy her flowers because you are in trouble. Buy her flowers all the time so it seems like second nature. Find out what are her favorite ones are and if she would rather get an Edible Arrangement because she can’t keep them alive. Find out what she likes and plan an activity with her. Have backup plans, know how to get there. Basically, all those skills your mom taught you–use them. Get outdoors and experience something. Don’t rely on a dinner and movie. While those are good, you can make a bigger impact with something cool. You’re smart and creative and girls are going to love that. Don’t act dumb because that’s what you think girls like. Don’t be an asshole. While girls may like that in the short term, ultimately that is not what they will be looking for in the long term. In short, be yourself and don’t let anyone dictate what that should be.
Make her feel special. Always offer to pay. Hold doors open for her. If you would do all these things for your own mom or your sisters I would expect you would do it for every girl. As an eight-year-old boy you already do these things, so I hope it doesn’t change.
Mind your manners. Wow her with your intelligence. All people love to talk and you are one of them, so find something to talk about. Don’t call her dude or bro. Don’t swear.
Don’t get hung up on any one girl. Don’t obsess. This is not a good basis for a relationship. She should feel like your best friend but someone you are attracted to. If it doesn’t work out or something doesn’t feel right, don’t force it. Don’t despair that you won’t meet anyone. There are lots of girls in this world who will be looking for a guy like you someday. I hope that the way I have treated your mom and the example I set for you as a gentleman is going to stay with you. Treat girls the way you want your sisters to be treated. In short, define who you are by being yourself. Don’t let anyone dictate how you should feel about a person. When it is right, you will know. Be a gentleman, a super man, and love will find you.