1. Give him the tools to put his feelings into words.
Your son will get angry as a result of frustration, hide from embarrassment, cry out of fear and scream from excitement. Allow him these physical releases, but also explain to him what he is feeling and the appropriate response to that emotion for future reference. Acknowledge that other people go through the same gammet of emotions and point out how they are showing their feelings and how they might differ from your son's techniques. Be honest with him about your own emotions so that when he's an adult he'll know the difference between embarrassment and anger, disappointment and grief.
Be the loudest person on the side lines at his soccer games. I am 100% sure there will come a time when he will tell you to stop shouting at him that he's got the ball under control. I also have absolutely no doubt that he will be mortified when you show his girlfriend his naked baby pictures. I'm also pretty sure he won't be telling his prom date about your blog where you consistantly brag about everything he's done so far in is life, from spontaneous, random hugs (yup those are brag worthy when they come from a teenaged son) to winning the most improved student award in Grade 8. He will tell you to stop cheering for him, he'll tell you you are embarrassing him. But, deep down, he will know, without a doubt, that there is at least one person that will always root for him.
3. Read to him and read with him.
There is no better gift to give than the ability to travel to foreign and make believe places, show them how to become someone they aren't, meet people they would never cross paths with, learn tons of new things. There are so many possibilities when you read a book. Let him see you reading. Talk to him about what you read. Teach him that when you write words down, you will be present forever. Writers are the transcribers of history and memories. Readers help preserve and pass along those memories.
4. Teach him that dancing is fun and definately ok.
It doesn't have to be good it just has to be fun. Encourage your son that when he feels the music in him, it's completely acceptable to just go ahead and bust a move! There is some truth in that saying, "Dance like there is no one watching."
5. Ensure he has examples of good men who are smart, determined and have integrity.
Your son will be bombarded with images of heroes with big muscles and a uniform from pratically birth. It's your job to make sure he also knows about men who are heroes because of their brains, their words, their determination, their ideas, their integrity, their fearlessness and their ability to keep their mouths shut when everyone else is shouting.
6. Ensure he has examples of women who are beautiful because they are smart, determined and have integrity.
Examples of what society traditionally deems as a beautiful woman will also surround your son from birth. Make sure he also knows that there are women out there in the world who are beautiful from the inside out because of their brains, their words, their determination, their ideas, their integrity, their fearlessness, and their ability to open their mouths and take a stand when everyone else is silent.
7. Be an example of a beautiful woman with brains, determination, and integrity.
We, moms, are pretty amazing. We already are all of those things and more. Never doubt yourself. We have grown a life inside our body and we managed to get it out of our body. Or we've taken someone elses child and loved them with our whole hearts because she couldn't. We have taken care of a newborn with little to no experience. We can miraculously make pain go away with merely a kiss. We have likely taught someone how to read. We have taught a toddler manners and how to eat with utensils. We have cleaned up diarrhea and vomit without gagging (or we have hid it well) We love a child enough that we are willing to give our own lives for him. We have found ways to remain strong even when our sons are hurting. We are amazing women.
8. Teach him manners.
Because its nice. And people with manners made the world a better place to live.
9. Give him something to believe in.
Someday he will be afraid, or nervous, or heartbroken, or lost, or just need you, and you won't be able to be there. Give him something to turn to when it feels like he is alone, so that he knows that he will never be alone; never, never, never. No matter what it is that 'thing' may be.
10. Teach him about those times when he needs to be gentle.
With babies, flowers, animals and other people's feelings.
11. Don't fret ruined clothes.
Make the conscious decision to be totally cool about dirty and ruined clothes. If you don't, you'll be fighting a losing battle. Being angry about something that is inevitable is a waste of time and energy. Boys tend to learn by destroying, jumping, spilling, falling, and making impossible messes.
12. Learn how to play with them.
Do you know how to throw a football, use a hockey stick, draw kitty cats or zombies or guns, or play video games? Do you know the difference between Gryffindor and Slyterin, or the lyrics to his favourite song? Do you know why one Beyblade is stronger than another? Be in his life, as a main player, not only as a fan.
13. Go outside with him
Occasionally turn off the video games, put your cellphone on vibrate and don't answer it. Go outside and demand to play with him. Check out his world. Watch his face. Follow him as he explores. Answer all his questions. His world will be magic.
14. Let him lose.
This is one of the hardest ones I've had to do and frankly I'm not very good at it. There is nothing fun about losing but, not everyone can be a winner all the time. "Helicopter parents" have taken over this generation. Even if you are tempted to tell him he's a winner just for trying, please don't. Sometimes it's ok for him to not feel like a winner, to feel sad and disappointed. As awful as it sounds, that's a good thing, because he needs to know that sometimes life also sucks, no matter how hard we try to protect our kids. In reality, this will be good for him later in life when he loses again (and again, and again, and again, and again). Instead take the opportunity to make sure he understands that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But he needs to learn that he should never give up.
15. Give him opportunities to help others and to be charitable.
Try not to force him to help, but assist him in understanding that helping others is giving him the opportunity to make someone's life easier or better. It's about not being selfish. Set an example by helping others with your own actions, by helping members of your family and by teaming up and helping others together.
16. Show him that practice makes perfect.
This motto is appropriate for everything he is going to face in his life, not just activities like sports and music. You become better at things by doing them on a consistant basis. You should begin to show your son this when he is very young, likely shortly after birth. Go through the routines with them before doing something. Like practice trick-or-treating with him before sending him up to his first door to beg for treats. Teach him how to answer a telephone or order a Happy Meal. Practice, practice, practice!
17. When he consistantly asks you "Why?", answer him.
Or look for the answer together. Teach him where he can find the answers, books, internet, libraries, newspaper, other people... Ask him questions to aid him in thinking about the answers for himself. Someday, he will need to ask a question that embarrasses him, teach him where to go to find the answer when he can't ask you.
18. Give him something to do to release his energy.
Swimming, sports, musical instruments, working out, a diary, trampoline, pets, hang out time with his friends. Let him go crazy with all those things. If you don't, he will use your stuff. And that never ends well.
19. Travel with him and take him to new places.
It will leave him with fond memories of time spent with you. And it will show him the world we live in is a marvelous place and so much bigger than him.
20. Kiss him.
It's a pretty common consensus that any mother of a son will tell you how loving and sweet little boys really are. Yes, they can be crazy and annoying and wild and destructive for most of the day. But there are moments when they are so kind and sensitive and tender. It makes many of us wonder when we look at grown men and question what happend in between "then and now". Make sure you kiss them. When they are 2 months old, 16 years old or 40 years old. You're their mom, they'll let you. Show him you love him.
21. Be their home base.
You are home to him. He will hopefully never stray too far from you. He always managed to toddle his way back to you as a toddler when he was learning to walk on his own. Never traveling too far from your side. He will always look for your proud smile when he's trying something new. You will hear the same book over and over and over again once he learns to read. And he will do that because you'll be the only one with patience enough to stand it. When he plays his sport, he will be looking for you in the stands. When he is sick, it is you and only you he will call for. When he really messes up, hopefully he will call you. When he is all grown up and big and strong and tough it will be you he comes to when he feels like crying, because a man can cry in front of his mother. You will always be his home base even when he grows up and has a new woman in his life and gets his own place to live. You will be one of the only contants in his life. Like the sun. Keep that in your heart and everything else will fall into place.