So now I am raising 2 boys and I have realised there is a flip side to this culture of 'girls can do anything' - what is special about being a boy? .... this is one of those questions that I have thought about quite a bit. Boys have to be special and important too. They can do anything too but society doesn't let them do some things, at least not without sideway glances and whispered comments. Unfortunately in our kiwi sport-obsessed culture it's a 'norm' that boys are expected to be loud, sporty and drinkers..... and it's also normal to criticise men as being emotionally crippled, immature, unhelpful, clueless.....
If men said such critical things of women in public there would be fury and backlash - as there should be - but what of men?
What of these boys I am bringing up? Are they going to be subjected to the playground chat of mothers who bemoan their 'useless, like another kid...' husbands and partners? Will they be receiving these kind of messages subtly and not-so-subtly as they grow up?
Do we realise these boys we love so much are growing up to be the men they hear us describing? Hello???
This makes me super sad. I want my boys to feel validated in their gender. To hear the messages of Dads who work hard, love them, know how to have fun, are kind and strong and interesting, and men who are leaders, and servant-hearted and clever and heroes ..... and all the other things that are labels I want them to grow into.
From the outside,* I think the challenge for mothers raising girls is to model healthy strong self-love but I rarely feel concerned for girls growing up into labels of being immature, or incapable, or not being able to do something because it's too 'masculine'..... but I hear these words and judgments being used of men all-too-often.
So today B.M.W.B comes in the form of a letter to my boys:
I am so glad God gave me boys. You are so precious to me. I think you are both clever and smart and kind and helpful and generous. And you know what? I hope you keep being all those things as you grow up.
I know you can be wonderful men because Daddy is a wonderful man. He is kind and helpful, he makes us all laugh everyday, he knows how to say sorry and when to be strong and he works hard. On the days he doesn't want to be at work I think he thinks about how much he loves you and me and that's why he goes to work and that's why he comes home with a smile on his face. Dad was so excited to be having you both. He loves you just as much as I do, because daddies love children just as much as mummies.
Boys are good at lots of things. Boys are funny and skilled and friendly. Boys have good ideas, they are creative and interesting and smart. As you go through your lives always remember the world is full of wonderful men - men that have set slaves free, made wonderful inventions, been terrific fathers and told really good bedtimes stories. The world is full of men who are really, really different to each other but all of them have something good to give the world. You can be one of these great men too.
Be strong, be proud of being a boy. I am proud of you and I am very excited for the men you will become. I hope you are a lot like daddy and a lot different too, because you are supposed to be different. You are unique.
Love your mama. xxxxx
Becoming the Mama I want to be is about taking time to enjoy the journey of parenting, to honour it's value and to hopefully inspire and encourage each other.
Simple. Achievable. Intentional: becoming the mama I want to be
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Love you more than an easy answer to a tricky question xx* I don't have girls so I know there are other complex issues for raising girls. Okay? I'm not reducing how special girls are (I am one too!) or saying their needs are less important. Mama of boys speaking here!