My son has taught me so much. During his four years of life, I've learned that it's possible to be entirely similar in some ways (we're both organized, like our alone time, and prefer to be in charge), and, at the same time, totally different. Maybe it's just that children are always their own people, no matter how much they might look like us, but my son constantly surprises and delights me with his humor, resilience, optimism, and indifference about things his older sister values highly.
Because I've learned so much through him, I would like to think that I could teach him a thing or two. Sure, there are lessons he'll only get from his father, his grandparents, his teachers, his friends, and his sister, but as his mom, I have a different perspective and a unique set of rules I hope he will adopt. From being respectful toward all humans to being tender, here are 11 rules I'd like to make for my son.
- Believe in yourself, despite what others say. You, and only you, get to decide what your life is going to look like and what your future holds. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something that you believe is vital to your happiness, and don't let anyone break you down. You will face obstacles and there will be failures in your future, but you have the power to get back up and try again.
- Be kind and respectful. You will encounter a lot of people in your life that are different from you. Treat them all with the same level of compassion and kindness. Make the world a kinder place through your actions, and I promise that you'll make both others and yourself happier.
- Be mentally strong. A lot of people will tell you that you need to be physically tough, but I'm more concerned about your mental fortitude. Take the time to figure out who you are and what you believe in, then hold tight to those principles and morals, even when it isn't easy, even when it means going against your friends or coworkers. Never be scared to take a stand.
- Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Vulnerability probably won't come easily to you, just as it doesn't to me, but in order to make true, deep connections with people, you need to feel comfortable expressing your fears, your biggest dreams, and your insecurities. Make sure the people you're opening up to are as kind as you are.
- Find your passion and follow it. I want you to live a life that is fulfilling, and a big part of that is going to be finding a career path that feeds your soul. Spend time exploring the world and yourself to figure out what it is you love, then find a way to turn it into a career (I promise you it's possible). Remember that you'll have to take on monotonous jobs and tasks as you make your way to that final goal; work just as hard and cheerfully at them, and keep your eyes on the objective they're getting you closer to.
- Take risks. Do something that's out of your comfort zone. Take a dance class, learn to cook, try yoga, run a marathon, whatever. New things will help grow your worldview, introduce you to interesting people, and teach you more about yourself.
- Don't stop learning. Never decide that you're done learning. There's always more to explore and observe, and attempting to make those discoveries will keep you young, engaged with the world, and open minded.
- Only invest in people who lift you up. At some point, you will realize that not all relationships are created equally. Some of the people you let into your world will make you stronger, better, and happier, and they will celebrate who you are. Others will tell you you're not enough and pull you down. You get to choose who you surround yourself with. Make good choices.
- Know the real meaning of "being a gentleman." I believe in gender equality, but I also believe that being a heterosexual man, and given all the privileges that entails, means that it's also your job (if you grow up to fit into that category) to be excessively good to women and all humans. With small acts (standing up for that pregnant woman on the bus or train) and big ones (supporting female coworkers, speaking up when you see harassment), be a champion for equal rights.
- Ask for help, and help others. No one gets through this life without the support and assistance of others, so don't be afraid to ask for help. It does not make you weak, but instead proves that you are self-confident enough to admit your shortcomings and self-aware enough to know what they are.
- Call your mother regularly. I'm aware that you probably won't call me every day, but I'm thinking about you more than you know, so check in and let me remind you of how proud of you I am and just how much I love you.