The importance of raising a child can never be minimized. We are entrusted with helping the next generation flourish and can be a large factor in determining what kind of people our children become. I like to think that everything I teach my little boy will someday benefit himself, society and most importantly the loved ones he will meet and share his life with in the future.

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That being said, there are some things that I want to make sure he knows before he one day leaves my side. Some are easier than others but all can be worthwhile to him in the future… I hope.

1. His dreams are greater than his fears: We are often the greatest hindrance to pursuing our goals no matter how lofty or simple they may be. He should know that as long as he is willing to work hard, dream big and learn from his mistakes there is nothing that cannot be done. I’m still learning this lesson day by day.

2. Feelings are not a taboo subject: For many men, it can be hard to voice how they feel, or they can simply be afraid of how they are perceived for feeling a certain way. I want my son to know that feelings are natural and wonderful. Being “manly” is not hiding your feelings, it’s being brave enough to voice them.

3. No man is an island: No matter how hard we try to be completely independent, we can always use a helping hand at times. Surround yourself with good people and be good to people in return. We all need each other to get through the craziness of life and it is absolutely no fun to go through life alone.

4. There are no elves that take care of our life responsibilities: Teach your sons practical life skills from an early age. While I absolutely love to take care of my little man, I also want him to be learn how to wash his shirt, make his meal and care for his home. I want him to recognize that taking care of himself is rewarding but taking care of his family is an honor.

5. Love  with all of your heart: I want my son to find someone who cherishes him, supports him and respects him. He can only find that person when he is willing to cherish, support and respect them in return. Giving yourself fully into love is scary, but when you find that special someone don’t be afraid to go all in and let them know how much they mean to you.

6. Life’s road has a few bumps…but also plenty of beautiful views: There are going to be times that my son will struggle in life. I don’t want him to be so unnerved by these times that he cannot cope, nor do I want him to think there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. While life may toss some bad stuff his way, the amount of good he will encounter will make him forget all the hardships he went through.

7. He is as special as his mother says he is: I may brag about my son at any chance I get, but I don’t do so without cause. He is an absolutely unique creation and a beautiful snowflake of mankind. We all are. I want him to know that there is no reason to compare himself, belittle himself, or criticize himself for being special. We are all one of a kind and should spend our days honoring what makes us special and in turn, what makes us great.

I may not always be able to hold his hand and help him make life choices, but I can make sure that he has the confidence to pursue life with gusto. There will of course be a lot of other lessons I hope he learns along the way, mainly that he ALWAYS puts down that darn toilet seat.

>> Read more: 14 Lessons Every Mom Should Teach Her Daughter