Personal perspectives

Letter to my son

Two minutes
Patrick Chin-Dahler Thursday, June 17th, 2021

I have been reflecting for some time about what schools should focus on, and more recently what kind of life I want my one-year-old son to have.

I believe that schools play a seminal role in shaping people’s lives. I found it useful to create links between what I wanted for my son, what I believe schools should achieve, and where I want society to head.

Patrick Chin-Dahler and his son, Luka
Patrick Chin-Dahler and his son, Luka

To help clarify my thoughts I wrote a letter to highlight my beliefs about the world and my desires for my son. I encourage others to follow this writing process and reflect on what they want for their children.

From this position we may develop a clearer vision for what we want schools and society to be.

Letter to my son


I should say from the outset that I have no idea what the future has in store for you. I do not know what great events will shape the future and what smaller things, both planned and unforeseen, will shape your life. While I trust that you will want to find your passions and live a meaningful life, I do not know what these things will entail. I do not know how you may find them. I do not know what kind of life you will want to lead.

I believe that the opportunity to pursue a meaningful life lies in freedom of choice

I am okay with this situation. I already know that the world is full of ambiguity. Meeting you has helped me better understand that each person’s interests, motivations, and path to happiness will unfold differently. They will change over the course of their lifetime.

Despite the various influences on your life I do hold some foundational beliefs about what I want for you. I want you to be a decent and happy person. I know that your interests will change. Your values and beliefs will shift as you wrestle with your identity and navigate the world. A meaningful life lies amidst this change and this freedom of choice. You will want to have the freedom to pursue your passions, and I hope that you are given these opportunities.

With this context in mind, I want you to be able to observe events objectively and clearly. I want you to distil arguments and remove extraneous rhetoric that clouds one’s judgement. I want you to regulate your emotions, but be able to feel and intellectually understand what others deal with. I want you to learn how to deal with ambiguity and to overcome feeling uncomfortable. I want you to seek truth and justice in the world. Yes, these are ideals that I want for myself, but I also believe that they will help you deal with the world. They will help you find your own pathway to happiness.

Your mother and I believe that these principles will give you the opportunity to explore who you are and become the person you want to be. We also hope that the seminal experiences in your life — your relationships, school, work, travel, and hobbies — will round out who you are.

Luka, there are many paths to happiness and fulfilment. I trust that you will find yours. You will continue to reflect on your own experience and the world around you.

I am very proud to be your father and I will always love you.


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