Dear Oliver,

It’s amazing feeling so close to somebody without having been closer than a few thousand miles in over three years. I hope you and Rachel achieve a life you’ve desired. Take as little as you can, and give a lot back. Lead a simple life sustaining yourselves as much as you can through your own means. Teach your child how to find pleasures in simple things in life, not through buying expensive things.

Wake them up to watch the sunrise- they need to understand the beauty is always there, but they’re not always there to see it. Take them to a church, a mosque, and a synagogue and teach them about religion but let them know that the most important thing is loving nature, and that although religions appear very different when it comes down to it it’s about the ‘God’ you have in your heart, and organised religion is people’s way of understanding it.

Help them to understanding the Native American saying “when the blood in your veins returns to the sea, and the earth in your bones returns to the ground, perhaps then you will remember that this land does not belong to you, it is you who belongs to this land” by showing them life, death and everything in between.

Show them a map of the world and pictures of your youth; they need to understand the world existed before them and will also continue to live on after them, but it’s not something that needs to be feared.

Let them light candles to teach them Buddha’s saying about sharing happiness.

Teach them that words are more powerful than anything else in the world; they have the power to change lives and rewrite history; teach them to use words well and understand that negative words breed negative thoughts, and to try and think positively about things.

Teach them to question everything by always talking through ideas with them. Be interested in the world around you, so they mimic your curiosity; there is nothing more beautiful than a curious child.

Let them play in the mud, and be naked, and climb trees and build tents out of fabric; let them be wild, as it’s the only chance they will get before it’s deemed socially unacceptable.

Don’t teach them gender binaries, there is nothing worse than parents who tell their little girls they will be suburban housewives, mothers and neighbours- let them be who they are without navigating them through toys and media. If your baby is a girl teach her to be a somebody instead of somebody’s. If your baby is a boy teach him to respect women and to not be afraid of showing his emotions.

Teach them how much they’re worth by how much they were wanted; they need to value themselves so that when the time comes they will find someone that values them, too. But it’s also important to teach them to be happy in their own skin and on their own; they don’t need anybody else to make them feel good about life.

Take them to an orphanage to let them understand how fortunate they are, but not to feel sorry for other people if they’re not making an active attempt to help; encourage them to share their toys, particularly if they don’t have siblings to aid in ‘sharing’.

Encourage time to sit and just be, the monotonies of life can often be the most simple pleasures when you open your eyes and ears to what is going on around you. Don’t let them get attached to many material items, they need to understand eventually they have to let go. Teach them to be patient when times are tough, and to have a good attitude when they are not.

Teach them to love and be loved, always.

Image Credit: Father and Son by Graham Crumb