Things l’d like my Son to know 

Things I want my son to know. Lesson #12 – Have Courage, But don’t be afraid to cry.

“Big Boys Dont Cry”is something I used to hear a lot when I was growing up.

When I was 22, my granddad died peacefully in his sleep. He was someone I loved so much, someone who taught me the art of DIY, allowed me to drive his cars all the time, sit with him and play with him.

I remember getting the news at about 3am when I heard the house phone ring, and I immediately sensed he was gone, and it was confirmed by my mum’s crying. I jumped up in bed and burst into tears. My dad walked past, knocked on the door and saw me crying and said “Let it out now, but be strong when you get to the house” but there was no time. Granddad lived 3 doors from us, so I quickly got changed and had to dry my eyes and “be strong” for my family.

“Man-Up”, “Grow a pair” are phrases heard so frequently in todays conversational dialogue, and I’ve had the same phrases directed at me on occasion, each time making me feel sick to my core. There are so many societal demands placed on modern man from all angles, from your partner, family, work, friends, off-spring etc etc, and each role, demands you to be a different version of yourself. Your partner will want someone who is strong but gentle, take charge but not too controlling, hardened but communicative, burly but emotionally aware. Your work will want someone who is confident, in control, dependable, trustworthy, and with your colleagues in the pub, someone fun, a jack-the-lad, cocky. Your children will want someone who is there to be the nurturer, reader, repairman, builder, dancer, comedian/clown, and at the same time someone strong and who never tires and so on..

We are told to be so skewed towards the angle of being strong, so much that we often neglect the fact that as men, we also have a heart that needs to be cared for, emotions that need addressing and balancing. It isn’t easy to deal with the expectations without dealing with the consequences.

If you’re sensitive, you’re classed as a metrosexual…or even gay…

I was acutely aware of all of these expectations from a very early age, however never really understood how to balance these in my life. It came to a crunch point when I went through a very private fight which I had to keep quiet about, a fight that took all my energy to overcome and win. 

Yesterday I was told to “Let him play with transformers, turn him into a real boy, a tough kid” as I allowed my son to play with his minion bag… much to my frustration, I had to laugh it off, secretly wanting to throw a pie at this guy. My son loves LEGO at the moment, and loves cooking. He loves being cuddled and play-fighting. He loves the park, animals, and occasionally will play with his mums make-up, using it as paint, her brushes as paint brushes. 

All of these things make him special.

Son, The most important person in your life is YOU. The demands of this world seem like they will destroy your mental stability. Take time for yourself. Your mind and emotional health are as important, if not more important than your physical health. You will be called upon to show strength when the proverbials hit the fan, but also if you need to shed your own tears, do so. Do not carry the burden of your own heartache. Boys and men all cry. I’ve not met one that hasn’t. At some point in our life, we reach a point where we can no longer handle the pressure and so we cry. The point is to try and maintain an healthy mind set and emotional balance so that you don’t reach the point where you get pushed over the edge, but manage the emotional trauma healthily.

I remember a quote shared by a spiritual teacher from India, who said – “The way to assess how strong you are (he was talking about Spiritual Strength) is to look at how often you are disturbed during the day.”. Find time to meditate, to regroup your mind and focus on the positive, the more you do this, the more your mind will veer to the positive in the world. If you want to handle the tribulations of this world, you will need to find your inner strength, your inner courage. But this comes from finding a teaching that channels your spirit to balance courage, and emotion. There is no weakness in saying “I need help” or “I need to talk to someone about something that is bothering me”. The moment you realise that YOU are important, will make it easier, to be of value and be of support to others.

Things I’d Like my Son to Know. 

Lesson #11- You are You in Everybody. 

The golden rule; “Treat others how you too wish to be treated.”

The age old saying of treating others how you wish to be treated was one that I was taught many years ago.  It underpins cohesion and almost subtly enforced a social contract that I see you as someone with the shared values as I have and therefore will treat you as I expect to be treated. 

The problem lies here, and this is where it all goes pear shaped.  What if the others don’t share my values, conditioning, culture, behaviour? 

Well then I’ll just have to wing it I guess, right? 

Wrong.

See there’s another rule. The platinum rule that says, “Treat others how they wish to be treated”.

Knowing what I know now, that seeing myself in others doesn’t mean seeing them as me, but as an extension of me, with all their own hopes, desires, aspirations, expectations etc. 

Son, if you want to truly succeed with people you need to know a couple of things. Firstly, you are you, with your own personality, dreams, hopes etc. And that others have their own. 

Secondly – everyone is equal. In that I mean that when you see yourself in others, remember that you are no more than then, and certainly no less than them. 

You taught me a lesson today. You built a train out of lego, and placed all the individual people onto it. They all had different faces, jobs, ages, and you didn’t see any of these. For you – there was room on the train for everyone. 

See beyond the facade of the exterior and find the commonality between you and the other.  You will find that placing everyone equally, you yourself become included in this. It takes you out of the inferiority or superiority complexes of the mind. But be wary of the fact that although you might see others as equals, others may not see you as their equal. Rise above their insecurity or complex, and keep in mind- you are you, in everybody. 

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson 10 – Friendship is priceless.

They say that you can identify the characteristics of a person by meeting the 5 people they are closest to.

I was talking to my wife some days ago, about how as we grow older, some of the friends we had as children, teenagers, young adults, seem to drift out of our lives, and we are, we hope, left with a few, strong ties, peers, family extensions we call friends.

I grew up with a few close friends.  I wasn’t particularly inundated with friends, but I had taken the decision (somewhat much to my regret) to have a few close friends, and not to cast the net out too wide, incase I became friends with someone that took me down a wild path of drugs, booze, promiscuity, for which my parents would surely whoop my ass.

No, I chose the normal path.  My closest friend in secondary school, or high school as it is known now, was a guy called Jonathan.  You may have seen Harry Potter right? Well basically this kid was the spitting image of Harry Potter, brown hair, glasses and sharp as a tack.  As we grew up, he seemed to age in much the same way as Daniel Radcliffe did in those films.

Yes JB was a good friend, perhaps the best mate a guy could ask for.  The thing I regret the most happened when we completed our GCSE’s and we were all deciding on where to go for 6th form, and much to my sadness, JB moved out of the school to a better 6th form, leaving me to, at this late stage, to start to formulate new friendships.

I really found it difficult to relate to the groups and cliques forming at school, and felt somewhat as an outcast.  It just so happened to find friends in my faith circle, and I now have, of the friends I have made during my life, kept 4 or 5 people closest to me.

Son, take each connection you make, as an opportunity to better yourself and the world around you.  Each person you meet will teach you something about yourself, and the people you keep closest to you will be your support when you need . They are your companions to share laughter and memories with.

Friends are like family that we find along the journey of life.  Family that have different parents, backgrounds, cultures, norms – but ones we see beyond because there is something we connect with within them. It might be difficult to understand what I’m saying – but remember this;  Make good friends, and make time for them.  Take time to understand them and be there for them.

Good friends are diamonds that we collect in the journey of our lives that make us all the more richer.

 

Things I’d like my Son to Know

Lesson #8 – No, Means No.

I was asked to comment on the topic of “Sex Ed – Should schools improve their delivery, including the topics of relationships, consent, abuse, sexting etc” on the BBC Asian Network. 

 I was thinking about my own experience of sex-ed at school and how poorly it was delivered. We never got any relationship advice, no support with dealing with the emotional turmoil that was puberty, and then counter that with the only relationship and sex ed that we did get -Growing up with Bollywood movies meant watching nearly each and every lead actor trying to win over the heroine of the film, and so on ….

Every single movie had this theme.

No matter what genre the actual movie was supposed to be, be it horror, or thriller, or even comedy there was this underlying seedy romance.

Now the problem with these films was that, they very nearly always had the male lead chasing the female lead, and no matter how much she rejected his advances, he pushed and pushed and pushed, and even through all the songs and dances, she would still say “no” or a variation of “bugger off”, he would still persist, and ultimately win the woman.

This left most guys with a warped viewpoint on how to score with women, and that was this.

“If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying, and even if she says No, she really means Yes.”

I remember an incident at school.  I was about 12 years old.  It was a regular Tuesday (maths was after lunch) and I remember some sort of commotion in the class room while the teacher had gone for the whiskey break.

See I remember this one guy, we’ll call him H, and this girl in class, we’ll call her K.  Now H had a crush on K, but K couldn’t stand him. After a lot, and I mean A LOT of encouragement from the other guys, he decided enough was enough and he was going to “pounce”.

And I remember this crazy chase around the classroom tables where H was chasing K and eventually he caught her, and kissed her, among the raucous applaud from the other kids in class, and I remember seeing K, thoroughly disgusted and stressed.

It was a given in school then, and it seems like it is now too, that if you want to get the girl, you keep chasing.

Son there is a massive problem here with this.  Sometimes a girl just isn’t interested.

If there’s one thing I need you to fully equip your mind with, that is that No means No.

We will always tell you “No you cant do this” or “No that’s not appropriate” and we may back down.  That’s because we’re your parents and sometimes just want an easy life.

However when a member of the opposite sex says it, back off. Immediately.

The world we’re in now is very different to the one I grew up in.  Nowadays, its all about texting and sexting, body-shaming,  unrealistic expectations from the opposite sex, relationship dysfunction and poor self esteem as a by-product, cyber-bullying and so on, and I can’t imagine what life will be like in 5-10-15 years time. Kids are being pressured into revealing things about themselves that they shouldn’t (because at this age its very illegal) sharing things about themselves that should stay very private, and being ridiculed, harassed, blackmailed and abused as a result.

If there’s one consistent rule I want you to live by, it’s that You are Your Own Property, and No-one is Your Property.  No will always mean No.

We all have our own boundaries.  Never allow anyone to cross your boundary. Never cross anyone else’s boundary without their say so. This goes for emotional and physical.

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson #2- Have Gratitude. 
Thank you.

Two simple swords carrying a complex and deep emotion. Being appreciative of an act for which one may not consider themselves worthy of. Both humility and acceptance in immense bounds. 

I sat in my car today, and listening to a hymn written by a poet from North India, “what means do I have to understand your ways” , and that was it. I was flooded with tears and finally, the strength to breakdown.

Release. 

I didn’t think I would ever get the energy or the trigger to allow me to express an emotion like that. But it happened. Finally.

Son every emotion is to be experienced, appreciated, understood and then dealt with. Don’t hold any emotion in which may harm your mindset or heart set later. 

Each time you get the opportunity to experience an emotion, be thankful. 

Be grateful that you witnessed a feeling, because not everyone gets to do so. 

Thank God for everything. 

It’s all the Lords gift. 

Remember. There are 7.2 billion people on this planet. He can choose to do anything from anyone. 

Do something great and thank the lord that you were present to do so. 

Things I’d Like my son to know 

Life lesson #1- Life is precious. Each moment is a gift. 


I love being a dad, and sat with mum in hospital, she just schooled me about what I’m doing wrong as a dad. 

She stated the obvious, something I was missing with my son. 

Although I spend time with my son, I need to spend time with my son. 

I understand now mum. Thank you 

Son, make sure you find time, and make each moment a memorable one. Don’t spend lots to compensate. 

Just make sure your moments with your own children are beautiful. 

It sounds simple. 
Play with them, make them laugh. 

Life is precious. Each moment is a gift. 

Top 10 Beach Safety Tips from a Pro

We heard on the news that 5 young men tragically lost their lives out on Camber Sands Beach in Sussex, England while in the sea yesterday, 24th Aug. They appear to have caught out in a possible rip-tide which dragged them out to sea.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost their sons, siblings who have lost their brothers in this tragic accident.

Speaking on the BBC Asian Network this morning, I was joined with Aaron Dhanda who is a Community Drowning Prevention Officer with The Royal Life Saving Society UK who gave some great advice on safety when out at the beach, and in particular this applies to parents with young children.

Here are his top 10 tips for beach safety shared with daddydze.co.uk

  1. Seek advice from your travel agent when booking a holiday to ask if the beach is safe and whether trained lifeguards will be on duty
  2. Be aware that the most common time for children to have accidents on holiday is within the first hour of a holiday when parents are unpacking and distracted. Parents should take care during this time to make sure that they know where their children are
  3. When you have unpacked, visit the beach and look for yourself what the potential dangers are before going into the sea
  4. While at the beach, never let your young children out of your reach –supervision is the key to preventing serious accidents
  5. Always ask for local advice, for example from lifeguards, tourist information offices, local coastguard stations, or even local fishermen, on where and when it is not safe to stroll on the beach or enter the water
  6. Do not swim near or dive from rocks, piers, breakwater and coral
  7. Water safety signage can be very different in different countries, so find out what local warning flags and signs mean – and adhere to them
  8. Inflatable dinghies or lilos are a well-known hazard – there have been drownings as people on inflatables are blown out to sea and get into trouble. Do not use them in open water. Use them in sheltered and confined spaces, such as rock pools
  9. If you get stuck in quicksand or mud do not stand up. Lie down, spread your weight, shout for help and move slowly in a breaststroke action towards the shore
  10. If you witness an emergency, whether it is in the UK or overseas, know how to call for help

This is not an exhaustive list – but with all things, be sensible, know the risks and precautions, and be safe.