1. He can’t (and shouldn’t) get everything he wants all the time, and he should be okay with it.
I don’t want a spoiled 10-year-old throwing tantrums or locking himself up in his room just because I can’t get him the latest gadget or a pair of expensive shoes. I want him to appreciate whatever he has and make do with what he can afford, rather than constantly wish for things he cannot have. Children who easily get everything they want may grow up with a sense of entitlement and may not learn the value of hard work.
2. It’s okay to fail in school. Sometimes.
Because children need a taste of failure every now and then to prepare themselves for the bigger disappointments that will come later in life. I’m not saying I’ll let my kid perform poorly in school and not do anything about it; I just don’t want to be the kind of mom who forces her kid to study on Saturdays when he really should be out playing with his dad or friends. I’ll tutor him on the subjects he finds difficult, but I won’t give him a hard time if he fails. Failure’s a part of life, whether in school or later on at work, and he has to know its repercussions at the early age of 10 so that he’ll know how to handle them in the future. I will praise him when he excels, but also comfort him when he fails.
3. He shouldn’t neglect the value of reading.
My son will probably grow up in a faster-paced, more technologically advanced world than the one we’re living in today, where books are scarce and apps are plenty. I want him to spend the early years of his life reading the books I will buy for him and those he can find in his school library — because that was how I spent my childhood as well, reading novel after novel and staying in the library for hours almost every day. I hope my son finds reading to be an interesting hobby.
4. Writing is a skill he must develop.
I want my son to fall in love with words and express himself through writing. Because I believe a man who writes well is a man of substance. Because I know for a fact that writing can give a person solace and comfort. Because words can sometimes be his only company in times of loneliness. Because writing will take him far and wide, to places he can never reach, to lands that exists only in his imagination. And because perhaps every job there is requires exceptional writing skills.
5. He shouldn’t let his friends define who he is.
I want my son to be himself and know that real friends will accept him for who he is. I don’t want him to turn himself into a person he thinks his friends would like; he would only lose himself and live a life of pretense. I want him to choose his friends wisely and forge genuine, long-lasting friendships. And I will tell him that he shouldn’t go out of his way to please other people because he definitely cannot force everyone to like him. Rather, he should live his life in a way that will earn people’s respect.
6. Peer pressure may sway him in the next few years, but he should stand by his values at all costs.
Peer pressure starts early, so I want to warn him of its dangers and consequences. I want him to know that he may lose friends and risk social exclusion when he resists the pressures of his peers, but I will teach him to be strong enough to take a stand and to always choose right over wrong. I know that he may make some poor choices in his life when he gets older, but I believe that he’ll still find it in his heart to go back to the values he has learned as a kid.
7. Every person deserves respect.
Women, men, children, the elderly, people with disability — I want him to know that every person, regardless of status, gender, and race, deserves to be respected. In a rather unfair world, I want him to realize the value of equality and its significance in society. He should treat everyone fairly, not favoring one over the other due to racial or social prejudices.
8. Violence does not solve anything.
I want my son to know that he shouldn’t let his temper get the better of him. He should understand that it’s okay to be angry once in a while, but he should never, by all means, let his anger control his knuckles. He must know that it’s never okay to hit anyone and that he should only do so when his safety, or those of his loved ones, are threatened. I want him to handle his issues maturely, rather than resort to violence when things don’t go his way.
9. He should love only when the time is right.
I want my son to fall in love at the right time and only with the right person. I know — this happens only in the movies. But I will remind him of this again and again. And maybe 10 might seem a little young to start talking about the birds and the bees, but if not now, when? I want my son to avoid the pitfalls of love that I have stupidly stumbled into during my youth. I want my son to guard his heart because I know how painful love can be. No mother ever wishes to see her son in pain.
10. He can always come home to his mom.
More than anything, I want my son to take comfort in the knowledge that he can always come back home to me no matter how far he has gone or how successful he has become. I want him to know that can always rely on me, that other people may come and go, but he can be assured of my constant presence in his life. I will let him explore the world on his own, but I want him to know that he can always come back home to a warm cup of coffee, a delicious meal, and a comforting hug when life becomes difficult.