Dear 16 year old Zac…

I had originally planned to write a sentimental letter to Zachary full of all the heartfelt things I would want to say to him on his 16th birthday. And I wanted to write them now  before he is actually a teenager (read: before he can actually speak), so that my sentiments are not colored by his…. teenager-ness (read: jack-assity).  But I am not feeling like a schmaltzy letter today. My mood is shaping a far more matter-of-fact list.

You see, I am surrounded by teenagers– all day– Monday through Friday. What America’s youth is lacking in terms of character is my area of expertise. (That, and teachin’ them youngins how to talk good.) So anyway, as the regular source of my work stress comes from the parental guidance my students’ lack, I’m trying to get a head start. Here’s what I’d like to tell my 16 year old Zac…

1. Use please and thank you, ma’am and sir, and hold doors for people. It’s called manners, not being a kiss-ass.  That being said, sometimes it’s a good idea to kiss a little ass.

2. Pay attention in school. Use the resources that are provided for you. And don’t you dare waste a teacher’s time with lame excuses… they’ve already heard them all and they don’t believe you anyway.

3. The world is a scary, scary place, bud, and very rarely fair. And sometimes disappointments are more frequent than rewards, but all you can control is YOU. So ask a lot of questions and think before you speak or act.

4. Your dad and I love you very much… even when you’re an idiot. So turn to us first when you’re in a bind. We’ve probably been in similar (or worse!) ones.

5. If you let your underpants hang out of the top of your pants…so help you, god.

6. Take people for who they are and know that you aren’t going to change them. Only allow people to add positivity to your life. If someone is only dragging you down, cut em’ loose.

7. That being said, family is family, and they come first. Regardless of how busy you get or how annoying they may seem to you at the time. If your life is too complicated to make time for family, then uncomplicate it. There WILL be a time when you wish you had spent more time with them, and regret is a messy roommate.

8. You’re better than a lot of people, son. (We raised you to be!) But don’t you ever for one second act like anyone is beneath you. No one likes “that guy.”

9. Always do your best… And never let anyone convince you that your best is not good enough. If someone tells you that you can’t do something, work your tail off to prove them wrong. There is, at least, satisfaction in that.

10. Be safe. One poor choice could change everything.

I take my job of raising a son very seriously. Seriously enough to plan 14 years, 3 months, and 4 days ahead to give good advice. (And seriously enough to wear celery sticks as walrus tusks when need-be. Pppfft!) This is a work in progress. I know there will be a lot of additions and revisions to this list over the years as Zac grows and changes…

Hopefully by June 10th, 2026,  I wont be handing him a manuscript as long as War and Peace.

Feel free to add a comment below with any advice you would give (or have given!)  your 16 year old son or daughter. all the mommy friends that helped contribute ideas to my advice list! I appreciate what you add to, not just my blog, but to my life.


About dramafreemama

My name is Deborah. I am a former teacher, turned education consultant for a technology company; I am a writer; I am a wife to a blue-eyed beard; I am an animal lover and rescuer. But the most humbling and moving role in my life to date is that of a mama. My sons, Zac and Jett are 4 and 7, so every day is an adventure and a lesson in survival! This blog is about the daily juggle (and struggle) of the working mom… I'm glad you stopped by!
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12 Responses to Dear 16 year old Zac…

  1. Sarah Douglas says:

    Love this! I’m literally crying as I think about my little guy and all the life he has before him! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I may have to replace “he” with “she” and share this with my daughter/your niece very soon!

  3. Sarah (last comment) is crying and as a grandmother and teacher, I’m laughing hysterically, especially about the pants. Four of my grandchildren are boys and all are over 18. Been there! They’re worth every minute. I like your blog and your writing style. Stop by and read my post, Aging in Track Shoes!

  4. Amy Eichelberger says:

    I really love this. Can I share it with some friends? Amy E.

  5. martha m. says:

    My son, Zachary, is 15 1/2 years old. He is am amazing young man and I wouldn’t change a thing about him and I wouldn’t change a thing on your list. You are right on. I would give my son this list without a single change.

  6. I would add for our son: Believe it or not, your father and I do not want to ruin your life. The things we say are to help you, not hurt you. It might not make sense now, but later you will be glad you listened. (This is actually what I would tell my 16 year old self if I could go back and do it haha!)

    • I agree that teens never seem to realize that the adults do actually have their best interest in mind, not a plan to sabotage! LOL. I would tell my 16 year old self not to take everything so seriously. Especially boys.

  7. Sandra Beaulieu says:

    I think this is a great list, as a friendly reminder, for my son who is headed off to college and away from home for an extended amount of time, for the first time. With all the emotion and overwhelming feeling that going to college and being away from home brings, this is a list to remind him of the person we raised and the person I know he is. Thank you for this post, it will also help me in a way to let go a bit, in the fact that yes, I did raise a great kid and now I need to trust in that.

  8. Asheli says:

    Thank you for posting this. I am writing a letter to my godson for his 16th. This will help!

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