Dear Parents Raising Boys

Dear Parents Raising Boys,

I’m writing you this letter, because our actions over the next 18 years of our son’s lives are pivotal to the future of this country. It is important that both parents take responsibility for the actions of their son. How we and society shape them will impact how we move forward as a culture and human race.

We just said goodbye to one of the worst misogynistic, sexist men that ever served in the White House. I don’t know what his relationship was with his mother, but he clearly has a very damaging view of women. I imagine this viewpoint came from his father. Sadly, he shined a light on a culture of men in this country that share his points of view and they aren’t going anywhere.

As I watched in horror as the Capitol building was overtaken by the mobs of mostly white men, I shuttered in fear for a moment that our worst nightmare as women would come true. We would be subjected to some form of Handmaids Tale reality where all of our rights to our bodies would be stripped away. As women we watch these tv shows, and at the back of our minds we aren’t thinking that will never happen, we are thinking shit if that happens…I better be prepared to fight like hell.

Thank god our democracy didn’t fall to those crazy men in red Trump hats, or we would be waking up to a very different world as mothers and daughters today. Thankfully, instead, we saw the first woman and woman of color be sworn in as our Vice President on January 20th. And I cried! I watched my 14 month old son clapping as he watched the screen and I cried so hard.

As a boy mom, I feel such a strong duty to change the future for women. It’s not enough these days to raise our daughters to be fierce and strong to survive in a man’s world. Those of us raising sons owe it to your daughters to change the story and make sure our sons value and respect women. Boys can no longer just be boys, they have to be feminists.

The one thing all men have in common is they were birthed by a woman. Mother’s coddle their sons far more than they do their daughters (for some reason) and yet those same boys can grow up into men who don’t value women. I don’t get it! Does it have to do with the messages they receive from society and/or their fathers? How can these sons turn around and mistreat women and strip them of rights, after their mothers raised them with such love and care?

It seems to be a combination of factors like the role their father played in their lives and how he or other men treated their mother. It also has to do with media depictions of women and how society talks about the roles of men and women. We have definitely evolved, but it is still very clear that women are still not viewed as equals to men.

Women are what makes the world go round, and yet it took 46 Presidents before we had a female Vice President in the White House. In addition, one of the strongest, most qualified women in politics ran against an imbecile and lost, because our country was too sexist.

As one of my favorite artists once said,

And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it's time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don't we'll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies
And since a man can't make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get up
I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up- 2Pac

He is spot on. Why do we hate our women? When I look at my son, I know he will do fine in this world as a white male (this isn’t to exclude the fact that he may be gay or transgender and thus won’t have it as easy). If he ends up being a straight, white, cis-gendered male, I know he will not lack in privilege.

Still, I want him to experience some hardships and some challenges that shape him into a good man and I hope that he is forced to come face to face with his own privilege and realize it isn’t fair to the rest of those people who don’t have the same privileges. Of course, I plan to teach him to be a feminist, antiracist, but experiences speak louder than words.

I think as parents of boys, we owe it to the world to teach our sons to see girls and women as equals. We cannot allow them to feel superior to women. And for those who are white, we cannot allow them to feel better than anyone of a different race. We need to teach them love, respect, compassion, consent and empathy.

Empathy is so important. We should let them cry and express emotions, instead of toughening them up and telling them boys don’t cry. If they hurt someone they need to learn remorse and not just how to say their sorry and move on. If they like a girl or boy, we need to teach them teasing and hitting or picking on the object of your affection is not an acceptable way of showing it.

Little boys also need to learn about consent from a young age. If we teach them early on that they must respect other children’s boundaries and bodies and respect their own boundaries and bodies, they won’t grow up thinking they have any right to touch someone else without their consent. If we also teach them that no means no and not maybe or chase me, they will not believe that it is acceptable to pursue women that don’t want their attention.

As mothers and fathers we need to display the equality we seek our sons to see in the world, in our homes. Our partners need to help us by showing their sons how to respect women and also that household chores are not just women’s work. Boys need to be taught to help out with chores typically viewed as domestic like laundry, cooking, and cleaning.

If you have a daughter and a son, buying them gendered toys sends the wrong message. If we tell our sons they can’t play with dolls, they may never learn how to be caring or gentle. Just like telling your daughter they can’t play with tools, teaches them they aren’t allowed to learn male-typical skills.

I know I’m sounding preachy, but I think we have a real duty here to raise sons to not become men who disrespect women or see them as inferior. Our society will never change if we don’t change the way boys are raised. These same boys we tell are special and strong, could grow up to be a misogynistic pig like our ex-President. We need to raise the next generation of boys to see women as strong, equal beings that can run the country.

Feminism always gets misconstrued as women’s desire to flip the coin and be the top gender. This isn’t true. Yes, there are some man haters out there that would prefer women be on top and men cower at our feet. This is not the goal or viewpoint of most feminists. It is simply a desire to be equal to men, to get paid equal wages, to have the same opportunities, and to not be treated like our bodies are the property of men/the government.

Also, why are we not praising our mothers and giving them the respect they deserve as the vessels of humanity. If boys were raised to see the importance of women’s contributions in society, then we wouldn’t have employers holding out on paid maternity leave or childcare benefits that would keep women in the workforce during their most productive years. Of course, women should also be valued who choose to leave the workforce and raise their children for a few years.

There seems to be no value for mothers and the need to bond with our children, yet we expect children to grow up and be raised well with no attachment issues. We have such a backwards society. The only way to change that is by changing the way we raise the next generations of children who shape society. If we raise our boys and girls to see themselves as equal and to value their mothers and the role they play in their lives, then maybe the entire makeup of government and society will change.

So let’s get to it parents! We have a huge job to do. Also, those making history right now will be helpful in shaping the minds of our children as they see more women and people of color in positions of power. It is also the responsibility of those in power to be more empathetic, and to be role models to the children who are watching for instructions on how to live right! We can all do better!

Sincerely,

A Determined Boy Mom

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