It made me look at the way people parent. And while everyone is welcome to parent their kids as they see fit (barring outright abuse), for me, I am choosing to raise an empathetic little boy who is not molded in my image but loved for his own special personality.
Our society is still programmed to stereotype boys. Boys don’t cry, and boys aren’t meant to be expressive with their feelings. Boys are meant to be taught the hardships of life and be super-responsible. What emanates from this mentality is that these boys end up becoming grown men whose suppressed emotions manifest through anger and aggression, often to the detriment of the people who choose to get involved with them romantically.
My son is unconventional and cannot fit into a neat little box. He spends a lot of time dreaming and his imagination creates exciting stories for him. He has zero coordination (much like his mother) and comes out last at sports. He is willful and affectionate and loving and demonstrative. He cries openly to me, and his cries are received with cuddles instead of criticism. He is complimentary and kind, and thoughtful and funny. His speech is weird, and he pronounces his “r’s” as “w’s”. He can only focus on one thing at a time, but that one thing has his complete and utter attention until he moves on to something else. He is incredibly talented with puzzles and building stuff and his attention to detail is admirable. He is observant and questioning and loves chocolate (much like his mother).
In lots of ways, society defines him as being an anomaly because we are conditioned to raise boys to be hardened, disciplined, sport-playing, emotionless men as a measurement of success as a parent.
Why don’t we embrace their quirks (like hair cutting), their differences (like confused speech) and their own personalities (like being bad at sport)? Why don’t we encourage emotion and demonstration even if that means them wanting to play with dolls or wear dresses?
Our boys are sadly modeled according to our prejudice, our antiquated thinking and our ideals or misspent dreams. What if we put OUR beliefs aside and opened the door for more?
What if we made it possible for them to feel ENOUGH, just as they are, instead of funneling them into a system into which they don’t belong?
I am choosing to raise an empathetic loving child who is compassionate and brings much needed kindness and joy and fun into this world. I care little for academia or sport or defined gender roles. I am instilling the freedom for him to choose to be whatever he wants to be, and I will love him regardless. Even when he chooses to cut his hair before his first ever school photo.