What my 11-year old son needs to know about the road ahead…
Children are a reflection of their parents, and it becomes a parent’s responsibility to show them the right path.
If you have children, remember that once you finish with them, the world has to live with them…so teach them well. Consider them as a mirror where we will be able to see all our mistakes and misses that we could have avoided.
I have a 11-year old son. Gem of a guy — warm, extremely caring, thoughtful, sharp memory, intelligent, and a sportsman. Can I rest up thinking wow! he is so much up there, I can hang up my hat and take it easy? No way…there are many qualities that make a man, a gentleman, and I want him to be one. After all, at-least for a few years, he will be referred to as Snehal’s son 😁😍
Here are 10 things I am going to ensure my son knows and does:
- Respect women: This one quality can transform him completely. Starting from his mom to his grandmother and later his wife, he should respect woman as an individual and a strong support system in his life. He should be made to appreciate that a woman may take care of the family and home, but she too has her own needs and wants from life. They also have aspirations, ambitions, and a dream of making it big and create their own space. A woman needs to be referred to by her own identify and not as so-and-so’s mom, or so-and-so’s wife, or Mr. X’s daughter! A man and his lady decide to live a life together as husband-wife which is a lifelong partnership, and this should be a true hand-in-hand relationship. A good life partner or a son understands that no work is defined as his wife’s or mom’s work. Raising kids, managing house chores, earning and saving, maintaining society relations, friends, extended family, etc. should all be a joint effort. Understand that if being physically strong is a man’s thing, it has been given to him so that he can do those strength related jobs and not display arrogance and senseless power.
- Education is not a formality, it’s a lifeguard and a fallback: I have been citing examples to my son of some celebrities who could safeguard their careers after their status was gone. They were able to work somewhere or start some venture because they were properly educated. No need to give them examples of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as they are exceptions and life cannot be built on exceptions 😆. Co-curricular and extra-curricular activities add to the value of education but cannot be independently relied upon. An educated sportsman or a performing artist is more reliable and bankable then the opposite. So…studies is a must and nothing can ever take its place.
- Loyalty always pays: Loyalty in terms of personal affairs or be it professional world, loyalty always pays. It not only pays in terms of the ethical angle, but by being loyal you get to understand the person or the work profile more better. You get to “know” the person or the company or the profile. That helps you perform and handle the situations better. Being loyal gives peace of mind and allows one to sleep well and think constructively about other positive things in life. It helps others to establish a trust relationship with you.
- Don’t let society direct your life, let that north star be your happiness: Agreed that we are social animals and we need to live within the framework of our societies. However, respecting the societal boundaries is one thing, getting pushed back due to it is unacceptable. We don’t live for the society, the society is made for us that has to be imbibed in my son’s mind. One needs to be a respectful and responsible citizen but finally it’s one’s happiness that counts. Sometimes if you need to do stuff which might be against societal norms but would give you genuine happiness and joy without hurting anyone, do it. To distinguish and make them understand this boundary and the thin line, is a parent’s job.
- Hard work never fails | No Pain No Gain: Oh my! Nothing can be more truer than this. Probably the most important factor for any success is hard work. Hard and consistent work will never fail you. On this topic I can give my son probably a hundred case studies of my own career as well as personal life. And the fact that needs to be made to understand is the joy or pride one feels when they achieve success. The sweet taste of success is possible only if the ingredient is hard work. The pride that we experience after years about what all efforts had to be put in will easily surpass any pain or hurt you would have faced then.
- Whatever happens, happens for good: There is a catch in this. Some people say “So tell me, should we not try to plan for better stuff in life. Should we just sit and accept that why worry, whatever happens, happen for good?” Well not really. As humans, we have the responsibility to make things better for us and try to keep improving and excelling in life. However, sometimes things happen which on the face of it we see no logic in what is happening and why? We tend to blame it on life saying life’s not fair. But Life is Fair, my dear friend (https://snehalkaria.medium.com/life-is-fair-it-isnt-unfair-681af128937a) and it’s on us to make it better. My son needs to learn to accept failures and keep faith in life that things happen for a reason which might not be so obvious in the beginning but slowly we come to know the reason behind it and then we would utter…Ah ha!
- Health is wealth — period. Whatsoever success one achieves or whatever prosperity one earns, health will always remain the #1 priority in anyone’s life. Imagine you keep running after money the whole life neglecting your health and when the time comes to enjoy this wealth, your health fails and you have to use all this money for hospital bills and medications. Yes, you have your insurances. But what about the problems and issues that will come up because of poor health? And what if you become dependent on someone to just pass your days? My son needs to understand that our mental as well as physical health are both of utmost importance and nothing…nothing is more important than that. Regular workouts, healthy food habits, and disciplined lifestyle can never ever be compromised.
- Never stop learning. Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (Kierkegaard et al., 1983) wrote a couple hundred years ago that “Life is the constant struggle of being versus nonbeing.” From the moment we are aware of our existence, the creation of our lives is a struggle of attitude — to maintain hope, and to remain courageous enough to live.” And to win this struggle it is necessary to keep learning. Learning from experience as well as learning from other’s experience. Education may stop once you complete your graduation, etc., but learning should be lifelong.
- Experience is the best teacher ever: I want my son to know that he should be always working — either as a volunteer or an employee or self-employed because nothing can ever beat experience. He could be a graduate from the best university but without experience that knowledge is like a purchased trophy from a store. People who have seen more Christmas or Diwali have definitely more experience and this experience gets translated to wisdom and knowledge. If he wants to have a confident personality and talk with conviction, he should have an in-depth practical knowledge which can come only through experience.
- Work smart and not hard: Make weekly plans, do not multitask, keep your phone away, prioritise and organise your work, observe results and not time, use technology to the max, never leave a task unfinished, manage your time well and always keep your word. The efforts you put in should always be result oriented and not with an aim of completion.
Being human entails a lot. Just because you were born a human, doesn’t qualify you as a human. A true being should be compassionate towards others, considerate towards the lesser beings, sensitive to the needy, emphatic towards the less fortunate and mentally weak persons.
As a parent, it becomes our responsibility to guide our children become good humans. They never asked us to be brought into this world…it was our decision. Well, then own up the responsibility and that would not just be for your children but it would be a responsible act towards the society as a whole.