How can it be a bad thing to encourage a son to do the things which this poem encourages: "keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you," "trust yourself when all men doubt you," make allowance for their doubting (tolerate others), and more. The implication, of course, is that the world is hard and accusing and intolerant; however, encouraging words can never be a bad thing.
I agree with it in a lot of ways because I think that it tells us that we need to be strong even when things go against us. It tells us not to lose our heads when things start to get tough. I like the idea that we should be stoic and persistent. To me, that is the main message of the poem.
The message of the poem as one where there is advice given to a child is a powerfully compelling idea. Kipling depicts it as a rite of passage, a voice of experience speaking to one of innocence. The notion of how to be an adult or how to survive in the world of more mature choices with greater consequences is a very persuasive message. The presentation of examples or situations where these choices must be made is powerfully effective. The different scenarios presented are ones where choices have to be made and the blue print being provided help dictate these choices and break them down into their most effective and meaningful elements. I like the format of how only when all of these choices have been made can one be called an adult. The message of successful navigation of consciousness as one where individuals are defined by the choices they make and the use of one’s autonomy is something with which I do agree.
'If' is also a moral guide, part from just being a philosophical poem. It talks about maturity, growing from boy to man. 'If', as a poem, talks about the proogression of one's mind from young to old, and the change from childhood fantasy, into the aspirations of adulthood.