Teach him the words for how he feels.Your son will scream out of frustration and hide out of embarrassment. He'll cry from fear and bite out of excitement. Let his body move by the emotion, but also explain to him what the emotion is and the appropriate response to that emotion for future reference.
Point out other people who are feeling the same thing and compare how they are showing that emotion.
Talk him through your emotions so that someday when he is grown, he will know the difference between angry and embarrassed; between disappointment and grief.
Be a cheerleader for his lifeThere is no doubt that you are the loudest person in the stands at his T-ball games. There is no doubt that he will tell you to "stop, mom" when you sing along to his garage band's lyrics. There is no doubt that he will get red-faced when you show his prom date his pictures from boy scouts. There is no doubt that he is not telling his prom date about your blog where you've been bragging about his life from his first time on the potty to the citizenship award he won in ninth grade.
He will tell you to stop. He will say he's embarrassed. But he will know that there is at least one person that is always rooting for him.
Teach him how to do laundry..and load the dishwasher, and iron a shirt. He may not always choose to do it. He may not ever have to do it. But someday his wife will thank you.
Read to him and read with himEmilie Buchwald said, "Children become readers on the laps of their parents."
Offer your son the opportunity to learn new things, believe in pretend places, and imagine bigger possibilities through books.
Let him see you reading — reading the paper, reading novels, reading magazine articles.
Help him understand that writing words down is a way to be present forever. Writers are the transcribers of history and memories. They keep a record of how we lived at that time; what we thought was interesting; how we spoke to each other; what was important. And readers help preserve and pass along those memories.
Encourage him to danceDance, rhythm, and music are cultural universals. No matter where you go, no matter who you meet, they have some form of the three.
It doesn't have to be good. Just encourage your son that when he feels it, it's perfectly fine to go ahead and bust a move.
Make sure he has examples of good men who are powerful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrityThe examples of men with big muscles and a uniform (like Batman and LaMarr Woodley) will surround your son from birth. But make sure he also knows about men who kick butt because of their brains (Albert Einstein), and their pen (Mark Twain), and their words (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), and their determination (Team Hoyt), and their ideas (The Wright Brothers), and their integrity (Officer Frank Shankwitz), and fearlessness (Neil Armstrong), and their ability to keep their mouths closed when everyone else is screaming (Jackie Robinson).
Make sure he has examples of women who are beautiful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrityThe examples of traditionally beautiful women (like Daphne Blake, Princess Jasmine, and Britney Spears) will surround your son from birth. But make sure he knows about women who are beautiful from the inside out because of their brains (Madame Marie Curie), and their pen (Harper Lee), and their words (Eleanor Roosevelt), and their determination (Anne Sullivan), and their ideas (Oprah Winfrey), and their integrity (Miep Gies), and fearlessness (Ameila Earhart), and their ability to open their mouths and take a stand when everyone else is silent (Aung San Suu Kyi).
Be an example of a beautiful woman with brains, determination, and integrityYou already are all of those things. If you ever fear that you are somehow incapable of doing anything, remember this: If you have done any of the following: a) grew life b) impossibly and inconceivably got it out of your body c) taken care of a newborn d) made a pain go away with a kiss e) taught someone to read f) taught a toddler to eat with a utensil g) cleaned up diarrhea without gagging h) loved a child enough to be willing to give your life for them (regardless if they are your own) or i) found a way to be strong when that child is suffering.
You are a superhero. Do not doubt yourself for one second. Seriously.
Teach him to have mannersbecause it's nice, and it will make the world a little better of a place.
Give him something to believe inBecause 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.
Teach him that there are times when you need to be gentlelike with babies, and flowers, and animals, and other people's feelings.
Let him ruin his clothesResolve to be cool about dirty and ruined clothes. You'll be fighting a losing battle if you get upset every time he ruins another piece of clothing.
Don't waste your energy being angry about something inevitable. Boys tend to learn by destroying, jumping, spilling, falling, and making impossible messes. Dirty, ruined clothes are just par for the course.