Mom rant warning, proceed with caution! When I first found out I was going to have a boy, I freaked a little. Yep, it’s true. I didn’t know what in the world to do in boy world. I had been so used to glitter and princesses, tea parties and hairbows that I didn’t know how I was going to parent without them. Turns out I couldn’t have been more off base. I don’t know what in the world I would do without my crazy little dynamo. He is 3 foot 50 and bullet proof, even though he is barely 3 years old. I realized early on that in the world we currently live in, I was going to have to give special attention to how I parented this man cub of mine. I have worked so hard to raise my daughter, who is now 9, with a backbone and not a wishbone. See that post here. I knew from the start that I was going to have to ensure that my tiny man would grow up to respect women with backbones, value them, not be intimidated by them.
This is probably one of the most important things I do with both of my children. I talk to him and not at him. It is important to me that I talk to him – without baby talk – so that he hears and values strong women’s opinions. I make sure he feels valued and loved with the words I use and the time I spend with him. He comes to my office with me and sees me at work. He knows he is loved, is secure and happy in that knowledge, and knows that even when he makes mistakes I still love him. I know this because he tells me. “I’m sorry Mommy, but you still love me.” Absolutely I do.
Equally important, I work with him on understanding and expressing emotions properly. We are focused on using our words right now rather than our hands. He is tiny but mighty, let me tell you! He has no issues lashing out at his sister. The problem with that is it isn’t appropriate at all. I put him in time out and then talk to him about how to tell his sister he is angry rather than use his hands to communicate. This is important for any tiny person, but especially one that is going to grow up to be as big as we think he will be (Papa bear is 6’4 and I’m 5’8 – not petite by any means). He must learn from an early age how to express himself and his emotions properly.
Finally, I try to raise him by example. I want him to see strong, competent women in positions of authority and respect them. I want him to know that there is value in perspective and diversity. The most important thing I can give my children, especially the man cub, is a firm understanding of who they are. If they are secure in themselves, they will not be intimidated by the strength of those around them. To the contrary, they will surround themselves with strong, competent people and be better for it. My goal for both of my children is to provide them a firm foundation. A firm sense of self, and a solid basis for self-worth. This is going to be with them for the rest of their lives. How many of us still remember moments from our own pasts that we could have used a solid sense of self-worth – especially in our teen years. I certainly do. I want them to grow and develop, firm in the knowledge that they are loved, cherished and supported. Does that mean that they are always right? Absolutely not, but we learn from mistakes, not hold grudges. We learn that it is ok to be upset with someone but that doesn’t mean you don’t love them anymore. It simply means you need to talk out your problems. We focus on forgiveness and grace. We support them as they grow and learn. Life is about learning curves, not penalties.
Most importantly, I am raising him to be respectful of anyone different than he is. We are not just limiting this to gender. I want him to grow up in a household that values all family structures, even those that are different than ours. I want him to grow into a man that doesn’t feel the need to place labels and judgments on things that are not familiar to him. He will be a man who is able to self reflect when he is out of his comfort zone and realize that there are many ways to “do” this life – none are good or bad, none are right or wrong, they just are. I want him to grow into a man that can live his life with integrity and purpose – valuing all perspectives. I want him to grow into a man that is secure enough in his own knowledge and abilities that he is able to be kind, empathetic and nurturing to those around him. I want him to grow into a man who lives a life of service and develops a strong sense of social justice.
I have so many hopes and dreams for my man cub. He is going to change this world. Not through force and bullying, but through empathy, quite strength and a love for all of humanity. I am not a perfect parent by far. My temper is, all too often, too short. I internalize so much more than I should. But what I am, is a mom who loves her children with all of her heart. Because of that, I want to provide them with the best foundation I can possibly give them to set them up for success in the world of tomorrow.