Letter to the Boys

That's why I’m writing you, son. Because I can see you, right now. I’m sitting in a restaurant booth behind you. You’re sixteen, maybe seventeen, dressed nice. You’re on a date at a swanky Italian joint. 

Boys, I’ll make this short: treat her good.

Real good.

Treat a girl the way you’d treat the most expensive valuable you’ve ever touched. No. Treat her like the most rare thing you’ve NEVER touched. 

Try to think of the most valuable object on earth. A Rembrandt painting, an 11th century Bible, the Cup of Christ, the Stetson of Willie Nelson.

Treat your girl like that.

Treat her like she’s been removed from a bullet-proof case and hooked to your arm by Billy Graham himself.

Open every door for her, pull out every chair, hold her pocketbook when need be. Admire her like a painting—not a magazine.

When you spend time together, look straight into her eyes. After all, her eyes lead to her mind, which leads to her heart, which leads to her soul.

Above all—and I am governmentally serious about this—do not look at your damn phone. Not even once. I mean it. Don’t hold it in your lap, don’t set it on the table, don’t keep it in your pocket, don’t make trips to the bathroom to send texts.

When you’re with her, leave your smartphone in your glovebox. Then, place your car in neutral, lock the doors, set the vehicle on fire, and push it into the nearest muddy ditch.

You’re in public with a famous Rembrandt painting—on loan from the Louvre. Don’t waste time.

See how the light hits the angles of her face. Watch the way she wrinkles her forehead when she laughs.

Listen with big ears. Let yourself drift upon the harmonics of her voice like you’re tubing down the Blackwater River with a cooler full of Budweiser and Doritos.

Ask questions. But don’t ask common ones. Be original.

Ask how old she was when she lost her first tooth. Ask about her dog, and where it sleeps.

Would she rather hang-glide or flea-market? Winn-Dixie or The Pig? Kroger or Publix? Barbecue or chicken and dumplings? Cornbread or biscuits? How’s she like her eggs? These are important.

The less you talk about yourself the better.

That’s not because you don’t matter. You do. But because you don’t NEED to say anything to prove what kind of man you are.

Besides, she’s already paying close attention to you. This is because girls, you see, are among the most intelligent creatures on the planet. That’s not opinion, that’s scientific.

Recent medical studies have demonstrated that the most structurally complex brains in the solar system—brace yourself—are female brains.

The second most complex cerebral architectures belong to the North American possum.

So, she’s watching you.

She’s taking notes on how you treat waiters, waitresses, cashiers, and children. How you refer to your mother. How you pet animals. How high-pitched your voice gets when you talk to babies.

That’s why I’m writing you, son. Because I can see you, right now. I’m sitting in a restaurant booth behind you. You’re sixteen, maybe seventeen, dressed nice. You’re on a date at a swanky Italian joint.

A brunette sits across your table, but you don’t even see her. You can’t. You’re too busy looking at a glowing digital screen.

And as your humble brother, I just want to tell you that you’re missing the greatest part of your life.

Which is having the privilege of loving a woman.


  1. Debbie Phillips Hughett - November 11, 2017 12:16 pm

    Love this. Applies to 50+ year old men as well.

  2. Rachel Lindsey - November 11, 2017 12:17 pm

    Wow. You always say the exact thing that speaks to me. Always touches my soul

  3. Trailer md - November 11, 2017 12:23 pm

    Kroger, duh.

  4. Debbie Taylor - November 11, 2017 12:26 pm

    I’ve been happily married to a great man for 43 years and, like you, he “gets it”. Lucky me. Sure don’t take it for granted, or try not to most of the time. Would love for you to write something similar for us women about our men. You could do justice to a piece like that. Thank you, Sean.

  5. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - November 11, 2017 12:31 pm

    Well, you did it again — teary-eyed at breakfast. WOW!! That is some letter but you know, Sean, it takes two to tango. Perhaps a mom should write a letter to a girl to BE and ACT like that painting so that young man wants to treat her that way. Your writing tugs at my heart.

  6. Judy - November 11, 2017 12:38 pm

    Excellent! One thing I would add…texting your girl does not replace calling her. Texting does not replace picking her up and going somewhere together for face to face conversation. Thank you Sean.

  7. Connie - November 11, 2017 12:55 pm

    Thank you. For all the women who are treated like they are disposable, like they don’t matter, like they are stupid and worthless-thank you.

    • Janet Mary Lee - November 11, 2017 5:17 pm


  8. Robina - November 11, 2017 1:15 pm

    I’m absolutely in love with your writing.

  9. Suzette Allen - November 11, 2017 1:24 pm

    I’m sending this one to all my nieces and nephews. My best friends’ children. That’s probably about 25 people 22 years of age and younger. Maybe they will all listen to you. Male and female. Everyone can learn a lesson from this one.

  10. Ellen Brooks - November 11, 2017 2:32 pm

    Awww Sean, everyone should tak these words to heart! You are precious!! Love you!!!

  11. Mary - November 11, 2017 2:57 pm

    This,world needs MANY clones of You!!!! You really , really, KNOW!!!! Excellent ! Mary

  12. Martha Taylor - November 11, 2017 3:02 pm

    I am in awe of how you describe the important stuff that is nearest and dearest to the heart. Your phrasing and your analogies are so original, so simple, yet so complex. Thank you for being a writer. I feel as if I have discovered someone who is a rare painting or a haunting melody. The images linger. The emotion uplifts.

  13. Jackie Darnell - November 11, 2017 3:13 pm

    I’m with you here Sean! I want to send this to my sons who missed what I tried to SHOW them, I should have told them. They are both in their 50s now, and single. One did not pick well and NEVER faced a Rembrant. The other had a GEM, she still is, we love her, but she is an ‘ex’ because I never got it across to him that it is US not ME.

    I look into the eyes of an 80 year old wife and see her at 17. She is still my Rembrant.
    This is a VERY good post. Thanks for a pointed reminder.

    • Deena - November 12, 2017 3:54 pm

      Jackie, I think you are awesome too.

  14. Marty from Alabama - November 11, 2017 3:19 pm

    This should be mandatory reading for all males from the time they can read until the message is totally ingrained in their brain.

  15. Paul Click - November 11, 2017 3:21 pm

    Amen! Couldn’t have said it better myself, and I’m qualified. Won’t bore you with details. Write on, brother!

  16. Rachel Eggleston - November 11, 2017 3:57 pm

    Beautifully written!! Our world is in need of your voice and writing. Sharing this with so many today and praying they will share it in their fields of influence.

  17. Sue Cronkite - November 11, 2017 4:10 pm

    Right up there alongside the one about mothers. Top of the mountain. Keep writing, young man. You are getting better and better.

  18. Sue Cronkite - November 11, 2017 4:11 pm

    It’s 11:10 eastern time here. On what planet, or time zone, is it 4:10?

  19. Linda Chipman - November 11, 2017 5:42 pm

    If only young men would take this advice. Personally I’m glad I grew up in a time when there were no cell phones. Thanks Sean.

  20. Jack - November 11, 2017 9:51 pm

    “governmentally serious”…for sure!

  21. Sarah Nealis - November 11, 2017 10:24 pm

    I don’t understand your comment section. How am I seeing a comment from Jack posted on 11-11-2017 at 9:51 pm, when it is now 5:23 pm? I notice that often in the mornings also.

    • Cathy Duncan Wahl - December 7, 2017 12:38 am

      The writer is posting in a different time zone. Could be anywhere in the world!

  22. Tammy Moody - November 11, 2017 11:14 pm

    Thank you Sean. That’s all I can get out right now, being so choked up. Thank you/

  23. Beki - November 11, 2017 11:58 pm

    As a single mother of a 16 year old boy who has preached this to him over and over I would love to see you write something similar to girls to tell them it’s ok to let a guy treat you this way. To be treated with respect and admiration and devotion. To know That maybe the boy who isn’t the star athlete or most popular is still okay to date and that will one day, God willing, make a perfect husband for his wife because his Mama is doing her dangest to teach him these traits now. I expect these traits from him and so should she.

  24. Shannon Andress - November 12, 2017 12:40 am

    You will be an amazing Dad someday, to some blessed child.

  25. Susan Hammett Poole - November 12, 2017 5:47 am

    You hit the jackpot with all this great advice. THANK YOU, sir. Now, to share it with my grandson. As many of your readers have commented, it sure would be wonderful if you’d write a similar piece for girls so I can share with my granddaughters. Hope you will consider it.

  26. Deena - November 12, 2017 3:50 pm

    Ahhhhh, old romantics like me dream of such love and attention…. your wife is as blessed in your love as you are blessed to have hers….. write on and keep blessing the rest of us who believe in the good and kindness in this world- and in True Love, even if we don’t have it in our lives any more.

  27. pihey - November 12, 2017 6:02 pm

    Amen just a loud amen.

  28. Summer Hartzog - November 13, 2017 2:55 pm

    Wow. Printing this off and saving it for my son. He’s not quite 12 and right now a little disgusted with me for enrolling him in Cotillion (manner’s classes). But one day he’ll thank us both 🙂

  29. Amber Elledge - November 13, 2017 5:41 pm

    WOW. Thank you for this. I am raising boys and although I planned on recommending these very practices, this is a beautiful summary that I can’t wait to share with them (when they’re old enough). And it’s written by a dude – so that helps. Bless you, Sean.

  30. Pam - November 15, 2017 1:05 am

    Thank you

  31. @timholman - November 15, 2017 2:45 am

    As a father of a sixteen year old daughter, I approve of this post. Any boy that starts slinking around better know, or at least be willing to learn, the art of real conversation that doesn’t have it’s footing in what he can get to satisfy his over zealous and sexually minded ends.

  32. Mike welch - December 6, 2017 11:24 am

    That right there my son is a generation passable article!

  33. Laurie Duplantis - December 6, 2017 12:05 pm

    As a woman I say “Thank you” for this. My son is almost 21 and I’ve told him these things from the start. I would add, however, to women: If you have a man who treats you like the queen you are, return it in kind! If your man (husband, boy friend, whomever) is a good man who takes care of you and treats you like this, be grateful and let him know it’s appreciated! Take care of him in return and your relationship will last a long time! Men like to be pampered and spoiled too. They may never admit it, but they do. I’ve been blessed with an amazing man for almost 34 years and we take care of each other!

  34. Vicky - December 6, 2017 1:10 pm

    If I weren’t already married………… I hope that you follow your own advice. And I believe that you do!

  35. SmartmouthSLP - December 6, 2017 2:11 pm

    I am printing this out, laminating it and attaching it to my two grown boys’ foreheads. It’s absolutely true and I have seen this in how my 77 year old father has always looked at and treated my mother (and why they have been married more than 50 years). Love, love, love.

  36. Elaine Lowry - December 7, 2017 4:24 am

    I just broke it off with someone who couldn’t put his phone away. And no, he did not have a business to keep track of. Well said!

  37. Elizabeth - December 7, 2017 12:54 pm

    I love the sweet sentiment and your stance on how important it is to treat a woman with respect, but I would also like to not be compared to the most expensive “object” in the world. Because I am a human being. And like you said, we are smartest creatures on this earth. So the respect we deserve exceeds all “objects” or “things,” regardless of how rare or expensive. Unlike objects, we are not fragile or delicate, we are strong and empowered. We should be treated like respectable human beings.

  38. Martha - January 12, 2020 4:56 am

    Life with the one you love never last forever or long enough. Time is never time enough. Never skip a moment or put off an opportunity to be fully aware in their presence. Watch them as they walk by or sit & breathe & commit it to memory. Someday it may be all that remains…. of when you were there in the moment……

  39. Carolyn Molyneux - January 12, 2020 1:13 pm

    This applies to older guys too. Big time!

  40. Jennie Stultz - January 12, 2020 1:53 pm

    This should be part of the wedding vows!
    Spot on, Sean!

  41. Judith Robb - January 12, 2020 2:11 pm

    Sean, I love this post. I wish you would write a companion piece — Letter to The Girls — describing, from your point of view, what boys need/should want from girls.

  42. Joe Blow - January 12, 2020 5:20 pm

    I’m just waiting for someone to write an article about how women should act. Never mind, that will never happen – they’d end up dead the next day!

  43. Ann - January 12, 2020 6:09 pm

    Beautiful..example is only good when it’s received….congratulations!

  44. Anne Arthur - January 13, 2020 2:02 am

    Dead on.


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