2017 was a marker year for women. We found voices. We found each other. We lead a movement that will not soon be forgotten or ignored. The lions among the lambs were ousted. A strange wave of power runs through the hearts and minds of women collectively. Women everywhere are rising up and taking a stand.
It’s also scary.
Woman are leading the way for younger women to understand they don’t have to be scared. They don’t have to be used and don’t have to give in for the sake of their job or position or anything of the sort.
But what about the boys?
As a mother of a growing, impressionable young man, I wonder if I should be doing more. As sad as it may be, this is a man’s world. Sooner or later, my son will realize exactly what that means. Maybe when he’s off at college and experiencing his freedom first hand. Maybe it’ll be when he enters the dating pool and notices how much influence he can have over women with a smile and a few funny lines. Or maybe it will be when he enters the work force and he sees that his gender is basically a fast-pass to bigger and better opportunities compared to his female counterpart.
Whatever the case, with great power comes great responsibility. That is true not only of my son, but of me. It is my job as his mother to talk to him about these things. The problem is I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what to say or how to say it.
This article published by ABCNews in the wake of the #metoo movement gives some incredibly helpful hints for parents to use to help raise their son with a healthy outlook on the roles of women in their lives.
Here are some of the standards I’ve adopted to do my part to prevent the #metoo movement from spreading to younger generations:
1. No Special Treatment
My son, an 8-year-old athlete, naturally gravitates towards his group of friends, all of whom are boys. I encourage my son to include the girls in his grade, in our neighborhood, and in our social circle, especially when playing sports. If my son can see a girl as an equal in sporting situations, that will make a tremendous impact on how he sees them and treats them outside sports.
2. “Do Unto Others…”
As the above article points out, chivalry doesn’t have to be dead. It also doesn’t have to be strictly between a man and a woman. My son will understand common courtesies, such as holding open doors, but it won’t be just for women. Holding open the door is a courtesy he can extend to ANYONE. He should approach any exchange with another person carrying the “do unto others as you’d have done to you” mindset.
3. Stand Up and Be Heard
Though this post is about #metoo, this point has come up in many conversations I’ve had with my son about bullying. He knows if he sees someone being mistreated, hurt, or threatened by another person, he has a responsibility and obligation to stand up for that person. I’m confident if, as an observer, he can identify icky situations, he’ll have a clearer introspective on the situations he puts himself in, fostering better decision-making abilities.
4. Choose Your Friends Wisely
Good, reliable, and respectable role-models and peers are a crucial ingredient in this formula. Like-minded friends can help my son keep his thoughts and actions in check when I’m not around. This also means you have to talk to your kids about their friends and hope that good decision-making is happening on both ends.
5. Understand Boundaries
It’s no secret that boys are rough. There isn’t anything wrong with having a tough exterior if I teach him that it’s what’s inside that counts. He can be the strongest, fastest, most physical athlete in the eyes of his friends and the community, but it doesn’t mean anything if he’s not a good person. This is also an important point when it comes time to have the “touching” talk. He needs to understand how people can and can’t touch him, as well as know what kind of touches he should be handing out to others.
6. No secrets
As a mother, I always fear for the day when my children start keeping things from me. I know it will happen. So, until then, I am constantly reassuring my son that he can tell me anything. Nothing is off limits. If he is ever hurt or violated, he needs to know that he has someone to talk to about it.
These conversations aren’t easy. But it is part of our job. Part of our commitment to making our sons the best men they can be.
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