An open letter from a father to his son


A Letter to my son Michael J. Santiago Jr.

So now you’re a teenager, taking a big step toward being an adult – being a man. 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</v:shape><span style='mso-element:field-end'></span><![endif] I bet that’s SUPER exciting and also a little scary too. This letter may seem a little long, but I hope that it helps with the scary part… it is a letter I wish that I had received at your age.

Maybe the most important thing I can share with you is that the answer – about what it means to be a man – is that you already are. The hard part is to accept and truly believe it. I know, it sounds crazy! By now you probably have learned that most people assume that to be valuable, guys need to be MEN. The really sad part is that the kind of “man” they think they’re supposed to be, isn’t even possible – and more importantly, you’re already good enough. You’re valuable; you’re the center of your mom and dad’s (and even big sister’s) world because you’re amazing, kind, and love-able person, not just because they’re your family. Understand that in life you will face many challenges, some may require you to show emotion, and it’s ok. As men we all are human and have feelings, I do not want you to ever think it is not ok to show emotion when your happy or sad.

Friendships are something to treasure and maintain throughout life. Remember that you allow good and bad influences by who you choose to call a friend. Be selective in opening that door and allowing someone special into your life. There is such thing as having female friends however, they are to be treated with such respect you would show your grandmother, mother and older sisters. They may be a time you may become upset with a woman later in life, be very careful in the manner you choose to speak to her. Always remember that just as I did, you may also father a little girl someday and would not like for her to be mistreated.

So if I were to offer a list of my tips for how to be a man, it might look like this:

1. Take a long look in the mirror, and see the tender heart, the love, strength, and courage that make you a great person. See the brother that Tricia and Myleen see – the most incredible person they know.

2. Commit to love yourself, even when you don’t feel like it. You already know life isn’t always easy, and sometimes it is really hard. But, never let yourself believe the lies that you aren’t enough – you already are.

3. Commit to love others, even (or especially) when you don’t feel like it. This can be SUPER hard, but the truth is that being mad at someone else is exhausting and doesn’t help you be happy. And, you may help them see that they can love themselves too. Sometimes being open and caring is dangerous to you, but sometimes it is free-ing for you and others. Strive to learn the difference.

4. Believe in and chase your dreams just because they’re beautiful – no matter what others say. What is the point in living a life that’s just ok anyway – nobody goes to Disneyland and just sits on a bench right? Your life is a precious opportunity – like Disneyland with no lines and no closing time, or not just seats at your favorite pro-sports games, but playing time too!

5. Know the real meaning of Courage. Courage (isn’t) not feeling fear. Courage is being terrified, and still doing what you know is right because it is right… it comes from love for yourself and for other human beings. THAT kind of courage is rare, and is what real strength looks like.

6. Know that you’re a leader – especially when it seems impossible. Even when you feel like nobody cares what you think or do, you must remember that people are always watching to see what you think. We all influence people – ALL the time. And this is especially true when you live with real courage, because it is so rare.

7. Expect the best from yourself, but never perfection. Striving to be true to your expectations for yourself is important, but so is giving yourself permission to make mistakes. Those mistakes often teach us important lessons, which we could never have learned otherwise. Just remember, you’re enough and try again.

I Love you with all my heart Son,

Love Dad

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