99 Tips for Raising a Son

By Orvin D. Burma, August 7, 1995

To Jason, my first grandson, who is the inspiration for this passing these on. And to Jason’s father, Craig Burma, who validates the value of doing these things in the way he lives his life every day. I love you.

In the final analysis, Jason will be composite of his choices. However, his ability to develop good choices and intelligently pick the best alternative will be influenced by the simple items listed below.

One is lucky whose son grows up to be his best friend. I am very lucky to have Craig and Lance as my best friends! I will continually pray for that success in Craig’s life.

  1. Be kind
  2. Be gentle
  3. Be fair
  4. Never punish in anger
  5. Read him a bedtime story each night
  6. Take him to a house of worship regularly
  7. Tell him that you love him
  8. Teach him to whittle
  9. Teach him to whistle
  10. Lay on your back with him on a clear night and wonder at the stars
  11. Take him camping
  12. Play ball with him
  13. Take him to work with you
  14. Let him make his own peanut butter and jelly sandwich – then help him clean up the mess
  15. Jump in a leaf pile with him
  16. Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong – but only when you’re sure you’re wrong
  17. Teach him how to love, and how to allow himself to be loved
  18. Teach him the value of friends
  19. Teach him the higher value of family
  20. Be quick to praise and ready to pardon
  21. Be sparing with rewards lest they become bribes
  22. Be proud of his achievements and tolerant of his weaknesses
  23. Teach him to love God
  24. Earn his respect through your actions
  25. When it is his turn to speak, LISTEN
  26. Treat him with dignity and respect; he should never have to earn it
  27. Teach him to refer to his elders as “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” and “Miss”
  28. Let him become an adult at his own pace
  29. Let him see you loving your spouse
  30. Involve him in family decisions
  31. Teach him the fun and value of learning
  32. Protect him from the world without isolating him from it completely
  33. Allow him to evolve into making his own decisions
  34. Stress the importance of truth
  35. Hug him when he hurts
  36. Nurture his imagination, but be sure he remembers the difference from reality
  37. Send him to summer camp
  38. Discuss his school subjects with him – make them come alive
  39. Measure his accomplishments by his abilities, not by your expectations
  40. Help him remember Mother’s Day, Mom’s Birthday, Christmas and other occasions
  41. Make your home the place at which he and his friends like to spend time
  42. Teach him to earn money
  43. Teach him to save money
  44. Teach him that it’s OK for men to cry
  45. Teach him respect for his Country
  46. Let him climb a tree
  47. Let him build forts in the family room
  48. Go sledding with him
  49. Carry his picture in your wallet
  50. Pin up a growth chart and date each mark
  51. Take him fishing
  52. Let him take his bike apart and help him put it back together
  53. See what he sees
  54. Feel what he feels
  55. Instill in him a thirst to not only see what things do, but how they work
  56. Let him have a puppy
  57. Write to him when he is in college and enclose a little money
  58. Go for walks with him
  59. Develop in him a taste for healthy foods
  60. Teach him to swim
  61. Take what he says seriously. Never laugh at him in a group
  62. Teach him to love books
  63. Let him choose his own career
  64. Teach him to play the piano. If he has no interest, establish a time limit of 2 years
  65. Play classical music for him and tell him about the composer
  66. Introduce him to your financial planner and your banker; let them know the his value in your financial planning
  67. Involve him in team sports
  68. Take him to the zoo
  69. Ride a roller coaster with him
  70. Take him hunting
  71. Let him help decorate the Christmas tree
  72. Teach, by example, the value of physical fitness
  73. Be accepting of his friends, but be honest in your opinions of them
  74. Show him how to make snow angels
  75. Make a snowman with him
  76. Look at the clouds on a summer day and see what images he can see
  77. Take a family vacation each year
  78. Attend as many of his school functions and athletic functions as humanly possible
  79. Walk with him in a warm summer rain
  80. Share an ice cream cone
  81. Let him fly a kite
  82. Pin playing cards on the wheel of his tricycle
  83. Color pictures with him
  84. Make home-made ice cream
  85. Teach him the value of sending “Thank You” notes
  86. Keep up his baby book and photo albums
  87. Keep a diary of his activities
  88. Teach him safety with equipment and firearms
  89. Hear what he is saying and why, not how he says it
  90. Teach him the beauty of poetry and art
  91. Teach him to take care of his own belongings
  92. Take a lot of pictures
  93. Trace his family tree, in writing, as far back as you can
  94. Subscribe to youth activity magazines
  95. Visit museums
  96. Play board games with him
  97. Don’t let him win in competition with you. He will legitimately beat you soon enough
  98. Buy toys which are both fun and educational
  99. Pray for him each day


    Coda by Craig Burma 

    Each time I read these I can remember the times my Dad and I did every one of those things; all 99 and probably a hundred more.

    My sons Jason Burma (17) Brian and Scott (both 15) are thoughtful, respectful, do well in school and activities. And they still hug me of their own free will every time they see me. My step-children Connor Keating (12), Madeleine Keating (10) and Joel Keating (9) are great kids and provide me “bonus parenting time” as part of falling in love with their Mom, Tina Burma.

    Being a parent is not a highlight reel; it is day-by-day actions that imprint a way of connecting to each other, helping their world and worshipping God that will guide them for the rest of their lives.

    Thanks, Dad. I love you.


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