Dear Son: Carry These 5 Gems Through Life With You

A few months back, I did a blog about the 5 lessons I’ll teach my daughter. Now that I have a niece, I have so many hopes and dreams for her life. I want her life to be a reflection of the family she comes from and the love that surrounds her. But I’ve also been thinking lately that now there’s another girl in the family, how much I really want a son.

Having grown up with my dad, I constantly think of the conversations we’d have every Sunday after watching a Giants game. I remember when I’d stay outside until the sun spread out across the horizon, shooting 3 pointers; and my dad would come outside and lecture me about how “this world doesn’t owe you shit”. Now, having him not be here, has made me really analyze those talks and think about what messages I’ll instill in my own son. I wrote this letter awhile ago after my dad passed. When the time is right, thanks to the internet, I’ll read it aloud to mini-J

1) Don’t let anyone tell you that their “good enough” is good enough for you: In the animal world, you’re either born at the top of the food chain or you’re not. For those who are not, they’re in constant competition with their own species to keep a stake. For humans, it’s the exact opposite. The only competition we face is what we see in the mirror. Our forefathers (regardless of your ethnicity) have struggled the most so that we can be the absolute best. If you want to be a doctor, you can study hard, apply yourself, and go to med school. If you want to be a rapper (please son, don’t choose this career!), you have to refine your story telling talent and keep a thesaurus nearby. As a black man specifically, the world already has many doors with a “do not enter” sign addressing you. Son, show yourself as an equal with ambition and the opportunities will fall in your lap.

2) Respect women, even if they’re acting in the way you know is wrong: Growing up in S. FL, T&A hanging out in the middle school hallways was common. It only got worst as we all got older. Even in this time, guys still prescribe to the notion that “if she dresses like a h0 and acts like a h0, I’ll treat her as such.” It may sound crazy, but even strippers deserve some level of respect. Son, it’s not  your job to dictate how someone deserves to be treated. Always think about the words you use to, with, and around a woman. If you wouldn’t accept a man treating your sister or your mother that way, don’t treat someone else’s sister or mother that way.

3) Jay Z has a song for every imaginable mood you’re going to go through: The 1st song I plan to play while I’m holding you is “Beach Chair”. I’ve been a Jay fan since I could remember. When my brother got his 1st car, a 1992 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, we took a ride down to South Beach blasting Reasonable Doubt. By the time you’re born, Jay will have retired from doing music. But with his exhaustive catalog, I promise there’ll always be a song you can throw on and nod your head to.

4) Your mouth can either be a golden tongue or a mighty sword: I’m a hothead and to a fault, my temper is extremely short. That has put me in some predicaments that were avoidable. Teenage boys lose their lives daily because they don’t know how to make their mouthpiece work in their favor. While battles are fought with great brute and egos, wars are won with empathy and compromise. Son, even if your peers are pushing you to knock heads, understand that taking the high road will give you the upper hand in life.

5) Put God in everything you do: It took a long time for me to “get right” with God. And admittedly, I still try to get in the ring with Him to square up. But your grandmother is a devout Catholic. Even through the darkest times, she believed that a flicker of light was there. I don’t expect you to go to mass every Sunday or make confession a habit. But understand that prayer can only help you. When the devil is pulling you down deeper into the abyss of temptation and sin, all you have to do is ask for God’s help and watch Him work in your life. It’s ok to make mistakes and fall short; trust me, I’ve made alot. No matter what, God will forgive when everyone else won’t. Your grandmother had a lot of favorite scriptures, but the 1 that is sticking with me as I’m writing you this letter is

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

If I’m not here by the time you’re old enough to read this alone, know that you were the best thing that happened to me.

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