Well, Father's Day is Sunday and I wanted to do a few things in advance for it. As you can tell by the name of my site and my content, I take being a father very seriously. You know when people ask 'What do you want your legacy to be?'...usually my answer is 'my family'. I love them that much. I won't get TOO much deeper because I'm working on some content that I will add to the site in the next few days including a special treat FROM a few fathers coming soon (I have some awesome stuff that I can't wait for you guys to read and take in). So, for today's topic, I am going to address raising a feminist son. Yep, a feminist son. You see, when I was growing up, that word wasn't used in the world as much and as freely as it is today. However, it maybe one of the most important lessons that dad's can teach their sons while raising them to be responsible men in the world.
Let's talk about Trey. My son is probably one of the most kindest, giving, sensitive, thoughtful, creative, smartest people (and I can go on and on) I have ever met. I know that I am super biased because I'm his father, but Trey leaves an awesome impression on everyone he meets. And while he still carries himself like many describe as 'all boy' (very energetic, rough, doing dumb stuff like jumping off of steps) there is something different about him. Its hard to explain, but I definitely can feel it. Here's the thing: most of Trey's best friends while he was in 'school' as a baby all the way up to where he is now, about to go into Kindergarten, have been girls. Yep, girls. And most of the girls who are his friends aren't the quiet and shy type of little girl either. They are mainly: 'A' personalities, super smart, and full of ideas which I think rubs off on Trey. Trey enjoys a lot of stuff like movies, shows and book that the 'traditional' little boy maybe doesn't or have been exposed to. I'm willing to admit, that as a dad, I was a little taken aback at some of the things he liked and wondered if I was doing something wrong as a man.
For example, in the evenings after dinner, we now usually allow Trey to put on his pajamas by himself, which means he goes downstairs to our basement where his room is and puts on his PJ's. After which, he turns on the TV and is allowed to watch a few minutes (or shows) before he goes to bed. When I am ready to put him in bed, I come down and watch a few minutes of TV with him. For about two weeks, he was really into 'Barbie and Friends' on Netflix. At first, I would get frustrated and just say 'Alright man, time for bed' without watching it. One day, I said nothing and just watched with him. But I did ask him (without alarming him) why he liked this show so much and he answered 'I like it because Barbie has a lot of friends and they all do stuff together in her big house and its like me and my friends'. Made perfect sense. Barbie did 'regular' stuff like hang out with friends, work, having fun going to different places in the world. Little boys don't really have that outlet early on. I was all ready to jump into that 'Macho Dad' role and force him to watch 'Transformers' or some other cartoons I watched as a little boy growing up just because that's what is expected of little boys. I believe that through Trey's friendships with other little girls, its making him realize that girls/ladies are human beings also and that they should be treated as such.
Another example (seriously, I have endless awesome stories about Mr. Trey) that sticks out is: one day, we are at the playground and its packed. Trey finds a group of little boys around his age and they run around and do what they do at the playground. The group of boys (plus Trey) they make their way to the monkey bars. Its a tough set of bars to cross. There is already an incredibly athletic little girl there going back and forth. I see her mom off to the side kinda watching, but mainly just happy to be getting some fresh air. I do notice one thing about the mom....her hoodie. It says on one sleeve 'Proud' and the other sleeve 'feminist'. I make a note of that. Anyway, each of the boys (including Trey) give it their best shot, but can't do it. The little girl then crosses REALLY fast so that the boys can see her do it. Most of the little boys just shrug it off and run off, but not Trey. He is mesmorized! She sees that Trey is still standing there watching her so she does it again but slower so Trey can catch how she is doing it. She then is like 'You try!' Trey gets up there and on the first bar, swings his body too much and falls. The girl points this out. 'You swing your body too hard on the first bar...don't swing as much and I think you will be able to do it' At this time, the other little boys make their way back to the monkey bars and are watching too. But before Trey tries it again, little boy 'A' is like 'Don't listen to her, she's a GIRL!' and the other little boys all kinda laugh and mock....but not Trey. He gets up and does exactly what she said and while he doesn't get all the way across, he gets further. The little girl is locked on Trey and is now his personal coach 'Move your hands closer' At this point, the other little boys are 'mimicking' her voice like 'put your hands closer...nwah nwah' Trey never takes offense to her giving him advice. After like four or five tries by Trey and tips from the awesome little girl, Trey makes it across! He looks at me like 'I made it across!' and then the little girl is like 'C'mon! Let's go over here now!' and Trey has now left the boy group and is playing all over the playground with the lil athlete girl. Her mom makes her way over to me like 'I really applaud you on the job you're doing with him. The last thing most little boys your son's age would want to do is take tips from a girl on how to perform a physical task.' I think back to all of the things that I was a little frustrated about him liking and realized that he is just being himself rather than conforming to what 'usual male' things are.
Now, I'm not just going to say that I am super dad and that everything I have done as a father has moved my son into the next generation of open-minded and rational boys and men. But I feel that I have started to take steps in that direction. That's all we as fathers should do not only with our sons, but our daughters also. Be present to help them become better people overall. I feel that as a dad, my job is to lead by example with my actions and words. Am I going to be guilty of pushing Trey to the things that I like and am comfortable with like basketball and sports? Yeah, probably. But I know now that having Trey (and Eliet) express themselves to be....themselves are just as or maybe even more important. I mean, so what that Trey watched a Barbie cartoon....he's now into 'Transformers Prime' really heavy. Dads have a hard job of trying to teach their sons how to become a true man, but also equipping them to love and respect women in the process. I encourage Trey to cry if he's frustrated and I make sure to not discount his feelings when he does. I make sure to ask him questions about what he's thinking when he sees a woman holding her own on 'American Ninja Warrior' (another Trey fave). I want to make clear that I'm ok with seeing strong women in action and you should too. Judging by how its going so far.....I have nothing to be worried about.
I did want to mention an awesome story/write up from the New York Times about raising a feminist son (click on words to go into the link):
ts a long read (kinda like this post...lol) but worthwhile.