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Parental and sisterly advice to a son leaving home for college


I recently found a document on an old external drive. In 1993 we were living in London and our son was leaving to attend his first year at university in the USA. At the time, several books were offering advice on life, often just one sentence per page. So, my wife, 8 year-old daughter, and I decided to write a similar book for him, printing it and stapling it together in a size that could fit in his pocket.


We came up with 63 pieces of advice, some personal to him and some that have stood the test of time.


A sample from my wife and me:

- Continue to improve your writing skills

- There is a fine line between constructive argumentation and being disrespectful.

- Walk the line between exhibiting self-confidence versus egotism. The former creates charisma, the latter engenders antagonisms.

- Retain your sense of learning for learning’s sake.


Our daughter demonstrated wisdom beyond her age:

- Don’t look down, look forward and be brave.

- Don’t tell lies.

- Help somebody if they need help.

- Have pashents. (patience)

- Lisen (listen) when people talk

- Make lots of new friends. Keep the old friends.

- Get ready for the Futsher (Future)

She added, “One more thing, don’t forget to by (buy) me lots of presents.”


We also included two quotes that still resonate:

- “It is a funny thing about life. If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” Somerset Maugham

- “Vad du gör, gör det helt icke stykkevis och delt.” (Be what you are, compete and whole, not a divided, piecemeal soul) Henrik Ibsen


Our son continues to make us very proud; as does our daughter, and her spelling has improved.

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