Let Them Be Kind and Let Them Be Strong

“Mom, is it cooler to be a girl than it is to be a boy?”

I looked up from the stove where I had been making dinner. Noah was looking at me with his big hazel eyes and the question was asked in complete earnestness. “What do you mean, buddy?” I asked.

“Well, it’s just that whenever you watch t.v. or see the clothes people wear- like t-shirts that say ‘Fight like a Girl,’ or whatever, it feels like people think girls are more special than boys. There are songs about girls being stronger than boys and it seems like everyone thinks girls are more important. I mean, I thought we are the same.”

“Oh, Noah…Yes you’re right, God loves boys and girls the same amount. And we should all treat each other with love and kindness. But for a long time, some people thought girls were actually less special that boys. They thought our words and our thoughts were not as important. The leaders of the world didn’t let women vote, they didn’t think women should get paid the same amount of money for working the same jobs as men. So a lot of that is changing now. But the bad part is that some women think it’s their turn to treat men like they are less special or important than women to make up for all those bad years. It’s not right. Because God loves us all the same so we should all respect each other the same. Does that make sense?”

“I guess so,” he said, clearly unconvinced, looking slightly dejected, and walked back to the den to watch cartoons with this brother and sister.

I actually wanted to cry for him. I have wondered so many times lately, how I am going to be able to raise sons with positive self-worth in a time where the reputation of men is tarnished by the news, peppered with the stories of men who have committed horrific acts against women. In recent months, countless women have stepped forward, with jaw-dropping accounts of injustice committed by men. The #MeToo movement, and others like it, seek to bring these victims’ voices to the forefront and justice to those who have wronged them.

Of course I am fully behind the concept of all people being treated with respect and dignity. But I have to agree with Noah, it is starting to feel like the scales are tipping the other way. I have sat down to watch shows with the kids and the men on these newer kids’ sitcoms are made to be complete imbeciles. The fathers are always portrayed as these ditzy losers who are only capable of slapstick and dumb jokes. Why are we not giving our boys positive role models to look up to? The world needs less Homer Simpsons and more Jack Pearsons.

We, as mothers, have not only an opportunity, but a responsibility to show our sons how to respect women but also remind them of their self-worth. And we are not going to be able to do that very effectively if we are constantly screaming “Girl power!” or “Men suck!” Because let’s be real for a minute; it’s not just men. There are just people in this world, men and women, who are making poor choices by disrespecting the opposite sex.

Even though I’m trying hard not to let time pass any faster than it has, I sometimes think about when Noah and Luke will be young men and want to ask girls out on dates. I am hopeful that I will be able to impress upon them the social graces to know to ask respectfully.  I also pray that they aren’t afraid to ask because of society trying so hard to emasculate them.

I was at a get-together just this weekend talking to a friend about all of this and she told me she has the same concerns for her kids. She said that her husband does the majority of the cooking and household tasks and she reminds her kids constantly that they have a very involved and helpful dad. This is what we need to be doing, ladies! While we all need a minute to vent about our husbands, let’s try harder to raise up these guys, especially to our children. And men, it helps if you give us reason to feel inspired to sing your praises.

The media is not ever going to be quick to report the happy news of the world. The most sensational, best-selling news stories are the ones that make your skin crawl. Thankfully, most young kids are not really watching the news as their window to the world. They are, however, watching us. So the responsibility falls on us as mothers and fathers to show our children the goodness in the world and it starts at home. We need to be loving to our spouses. We need to be fair to them. We need to stop passing blame and start taking responsibility for our part in it all. The score-keeping game that so many couples engage in is harmful not only to our marriages, but to our children’s perception of the world because we are shaping it right here, right now.

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I am so proud of my two little men. Let them be both kind and strong.
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