On the heels of international women’s day last week I wanted to write about something that has been heavy on my mind for some time. You may already know that I’m the mom of 3 boys. One is 14 and while he doesn’t live with us full time, I’m a part of influencing his actions and moral compass. Then there are the 2 little men I was charged to raise by the man above and I’m here to share that it’s not easy, and not because they’re rambunctious and boisterous boys that have an infinite amount of energy, and may one day hang me from a ceiling fan to laugh while I spin in terror, but because raising a man in today’s world is incredibly challenging.
We spend so much time telling our girls that they can be whoever they want and can accomplish whatever they want and rightfully so of course, but what have we done to encourage our boys? What strides have we made to teach our young men to be strong but empathetic, courageous but gentle and intelligent but humble? None! Where is the movement to raise courageous influential men of our future? The old age expectation is that we raise our young men to be masculine, valiant and unemotional yet respectful, but we are not doing our part to push them to be more. On the contrary, we perpetuate them to be “Boys“. “Oh he did that because that’s how boys play” or “he’s loud and obnoxious because he’s a boy”. I regret to share that I have heard this too many times and am equally guilty of using it as an excuse..
You don’t get a pass to be little a**holes.
All kids have their moments. The uncontrollable hour or hours of acting like they were raised in the jungle with no sense of calm or tranquility. I get It, but please let’s try refrain from saying things like “They’re boys, it’s how they act” It’s an excuse!
I’m confident this feeds into the mentality that allows men to think they can get away with being disrespectful, unemphatic and sometimes straight jerks later in life. They begin to feel entitled to be excused for inexcusable behavior. (ie, breaking a woman’s heart with no remorse, telling a distasteful joke, or worse.. #metoo) Too many women are revealing the actions of boys and men they trusted that found nothing wrong with their actions until now. Why? because it’s been accepted in our society for way too long, and partly or primarily because of the way they were raised.
All behavior is conditioned from very young. Good and bad. And yes kids have inherited traits but overall they model behavior. They do and replicate what they see.
This post was prompted by a super tough day I had recently with my boys and how I decided its enough with allowing them to be out of control toddlers because they have a penis.
I went on a playdate with my cubs. At Sebastian’s 3rd birthday, a nice mom who attended with her husband and son invited us over for a two-hour play date. I was very excited. We don’t have many friends in the neighborhood. They lived four minutes away and we made our way over. I had the “mom” talk with them before arriving. “NO running or fighting guys and NO jumping on furniture, you hear me!.” We walked into the house and it was as if they literally heard ” definitely slide on their wood floors like Tom Cruise in Risky Business, fight like the WWF and run a marathon around their island!” I was so embarrassed, I wanted the floor to swallow me whole. I had a stern conversation with them in the bathroom and it didn’t work so we left and the meltdown that occurred was something from a movie. I looked around, “was I was being “PUNKED”
When we finally arrived home I called my closest confidants to cry on the phone. I sincerely doubted my motherly skills. Was I raising the kinds of kids I talk about? (note to self: no more judgment) But the conversations I had with family and friends had a similar saying with an Identical theme; “They’re boys, its what they do.” After the 3-4 times of like comments, I stopped being sad and became angry. NO! It’s not because they’re boys. They are not supposed to get a pass to be jerks because it’s what it’s expected. It’s that attitude that has conditioned many men to feel they get a pass to do whatever they want no matter how it makes people feel around them.
As parents, we have the power to start or break the cycle of behavior that gives our young boys the feeling of entitlement. As mothers, we have the influence to give boys the space to feel vulnerable, to show emotion and NOT emasculate them but also teach them boundaries and limits. We can teach them to be competitive but lose gracefully, to be models of masculinity but still be tender and kind-hearted.
There may never be a movement that inspires our young men to step out of the antiquated mold that is expected of them. So as parents of our future generation we need to be better. As fathers, uncles, teachers, and coaches we expect you to model positive and inspiring behavior. As mothers, female mentors and exemplars we need to nurture our boys, help them navigate through their feelings, and simply check bad and unacceptable behavior.
Our men can be better and it starts with our boys!
**Photos all by www.realdepthoffield.com **
2 thoughts on “Being a Boy doesn’t make it alright”
Totally agree with this! there is no reason to accept poor behavior from a child, regardless of their gender. I recently got into a debate with some male friends about the importance of making boys kinder, more empathetic and vulnerable. It didn’t go well… we all agreed to disagree. Glad you are raising your boys with broader expectations.
Reblogged this on Ojala Threads.