Baby Niklas and I turn up the Christmas music and start dancing beside the Christmas tree. He has no idea how awkward we look. He squeals and smiles. I know life won’t always be like this, so I’m seizing the moments as best as I can. Part of that, for me, is documenting our journey in a journal. Another part is thinking about the type of boy I hope I can raise.
These are 10 things I that I’ll be trying to teach my son, as best as I am able. I want to share with you, hopefully to serve as a point of inspiration. The goal isn’t for our children to be THE BEST. It’s to be their best, with the greatest happiness possible for them and the people around them. So here we go!
1. Teach him to love the water.
It doesn’t matter if you teach him to swim in a lake that feeds from a glacier or you take him to a fancy heated pool with instructors or anything else. What matters is that he learns to love, not fear, the water. This lesson will make his summers so much more fun for the rest of his life.
2. Teach him to be comfortable dancing the way he dances.
My husband, Martin, and I have four left feet between us. If our old ballroom dancing instructor were handing out grades, we probably would have gotten an F. But we didn’t care! We have a blast, awkwardly dancing and swinging our hips. (Wait, you don’t swing your hips in ballroom dancing?) The best dancers aren’t necessarily the most trained. They’re the ones getting on the dance floor and giving it what they’ve got.
3. Teach him to be strong and tender at the same time.
The best hugs come from a man who deeply hugs with his whole arms. He snuggles his children when they cry. He holds his mother when she needs someone to lean on. And he hugs hello.
4. Teach him how to express himself.
“Martin,” I asked. “If I didn’t own the Gadanke journal shop, but rather I just discovered it online, which journal would I immediately want?” He didn’t pause: “The mother son journal.”
5. Learn team sports.
A boy doesn’t have to be the best athlete on the field or court. But it’s so important for him to get out there, learn the rules of the game, and know you are cheering for him from the sidelines.
6. Learn individual sports.
Some of my favorite memories are downhill skiing with my family as I grew up. It’s a sport I can share with them, with my family now, and most importantly… by myself. We don’t need a whole team to take on physical activity or have fun.
7. Call your mother.
Set the example. Call your mom on her birthday, on Mother’s Day, and on any old day. She has time. She’s always had time for you.
8. Treat women kindly.
It shouldn’t matter if he knows her or not. Teach him to open the door for her. Help her load groceries into her car when she’s trying to wrangle her kids. Lift heavy things for her. Look her in the eye, not up and down.
Teach him to read, and teach him to try new things. It’s hard to step out of our comfort zone. Yet that’s where some of life’s greatest experiences begin.
10. Accept failure.
Help him learn that success is awesome, but sometimes failure can be, too. What can we learn? What can we do better? What can we change?