A father’s letter to his son’s teacher

For a poor listener, yesterday it turned out that I am an avid eavesdropper. At the inconspicuous tailoring shop, I overheard a mother drilling and harassing her 3 years old in order to prepare her for the interview to get admission into the “big school”.  Its not a “big school” that matters, but a “good school”; and I was reminded of something that I once read.

A father’s letter to his son’s teacher

He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that
for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish politician,
there is a dedicated leader…
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend.

Steer him away from envy.
If you can, 
teach him
the secret of 
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick…
Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books…
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far honourable to fail 
than to cheat…
Teach him to have faith 
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him they are wrong…
Teach him to be gentle with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon…
Teach him to listen to all men…
but teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good 
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad…
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness…
Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag 
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight 
if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test 
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient…
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have 
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do…
He is such a fine little fellow, 
my son!


Very often the authorship of this profound letter is spuriously attributed to Abraham Lincoln
but its authorship is inconsequential
It is the beauty and sincerity of the words
that one needs to imbibe.


  1. most wonderful !!! Young people should be able to face this world of difficulties. This letter ia a right step in this direction.

    Prahlad Varshney

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