Being the mother of a grownup son, it was very important for me to guide my little boy towards the fullness of manhood, to help him get in touch with that part of him that would allow him to have good relationships.
Here are ten things I believe mothers must teach their sons.
1. First and foremost, it is important to teach your son about intimacy. No matter what your son achieves in life -- wealth, power, or material things -- if he can't be intimate, he will never find happiness. Intimacy requires the ability to open and commit, allowing the vulnerability of surrender. This requires suspending control, while merging with another emotionally.
2. Teach your son to about authenticity. Teach him that when you can be yourself, only then will you be loved for yourself. And stay connected to your emotions, expressing them freely, rather than burying them so deeply that they either interfere or influence your behavior or break out inappropriately.
3. Teach him to be respectful. Sons who respect others, respect themselves. The outer examples are: holding doors for females, the common courtesies of pulling out a chair at a dinner table, and all the outer trappings that go along with chivalry, or just good manners. However, just as important, is valuing what another person says to you, validating his or her feelings, and being reliable. These are all important behaviors for your secure son.
4. Teach your son to have empathy for others. Don't be a bully and never be possessive. Empathy allows you to put yourself in another's moccasins and see the world from his or her perspective. Only then can your buddy feel that he or she is seen and understood. Teaching your son to have a strong sense of self, allows him the freedom to be empathetic. Remember bullies have low empathy, and empathy is the one thing you can teach to your son.
5. Teach him to take responsibility for making mistakes. By teaching your son to recognize and acknowledge his mistakes, he will learn that his real muscularity comes from within, and that his behavior can have lasting effects. For example, it's easy to damage a reputation, but very hard to rebuild it. His good character is created through the consequences of taking responsibility for his actions.
6. Teach your son generosity. When your son learns to be generous with things, he also learns to be generous with his heart.
7. Teach your son social skills, including dancing. If you practice and rehearse with him at home, he'll be comfortable when he's out with others, whether at a school dance or party.
8. Teach your son to follow his inner voice, instead of being vulnerable to peer pressure. A son that learns to trust and value his own inner thoughts, can lead others. Leadership qualities will present themselves when he has good self-esteem, and confidence and security in his own ideas and goals.
9. Teach him to have good coping skills. Teach your son to manage stress, to not be reactive and, in essence, hold his water.
10. Finally, teach your son kindness. The Dalai Lama once said that kindness is his religion. It's important to teach your son that words really do hurt, so they should be measured and used wisely. In times of conflict, it is important for your son to learn how to put his head in his heart, and let both be his guide. And tell your son, when he gets his first award, thank his mother first.