September 2, 2021

Life Lessons for My Teenage Son: Always Remember, You Are Perfectly You

By Elham Raker

I decided to write a letter to my son before he started high school. I started to think about all the pressure he may face (and all the pressure I may face). I wanted him to know that he shouldn’t let himself be measured by “things”. I wanted him to know that he is not his grades, he is not his sports, he is not the college to which he eventually gets accepted. He is not any of those things…He is him and he is perfect.  But as I started to think about the letter and what I wanted to say, I realized I’m writing to myself as much as I  am writing to him! And maybe you can relate too…

Elham Raker and her son traveling. Courtesy of Elham Raker.

Dear Son,

You are starting a new and exciting venture. But it can also be filled with uncertainty and pressure. You have new responsibilities and new expectations. So much more will be left to you, communicating with your teachers and coaches, knowing your schedule and assignments, preparing for exams….I have no doubt that you are completely up for this challenge. I have gradually let you take over and you have always come through. So, why am I writing to you?

To tell you three important things…three things that you must remember for the rest of your life.  Not just during your high school years.

First, you are not your grades, you are not your trophies, you are not your awards or accolades. You are you! Nothing about your accomplishments make you the person you are.  Nothing that you do can make me love you more or less or differently. My love for you is unconditional. And you, my son, are perfectly you. Don’t ever mistake the pride I feel for you, as the pride I feel for your grade! Don’t mistake my smile at the end of one of your games as my smile for your performance. My pride, my love, my smile is for the person that you are, for the effort that you put into everything you do, for the accomplishment you feel. I know you will always put forth your best effort and that is all I ever ask.

Second, you are whole and complete. Period. You were born that way. There’s nothing you can do to change that. There’s nothing you need to do to have that. As soon as you were placed in my arms you fulfilled every dream I could ever have for you. You were you! Your job is to find your unique gifts and share them with the world. You don’t need to search anywhere but within yourself because you were born with all that you ever needed!

Third, you will fail. You will fall. You will be rejected and told you are not welcome or wanted.  Those are also not a reflection of you, or who you are. Failure is not final, falling is only a stepping stone, rejection is only fuel to get you to the right place where you will belong and be valued. You cannot go through life without the stumbling blocks and obstacles. Believe me, you don’t want to. Your success is only a success because of the hard work that got you there, not because it was handed to you.  

As a mom, I know I will sometimes want to clear your path and get rid of the obstacles but I know that will not help you in the long run. But I will always be there to offer you a hand. I will always be there to help you look for the right path. And I will ALWAYS be there to cheer you on during your journey. Your path will not always be obvious but always trust yourself in choosing the right one for you; regardless of what others say. Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams and believe that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

Love always and forever,


Elham Raker’s life lessons for her son. Courtesy of Elham Raker.

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