Raising Sons in the “Me Too” Era

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When my husband and I found out that our first child was a boy, we were elated. I think the standard answer to the, “What do you hope you’re having?” is, “Oh, we just hope the baby is healthy, gender doesn’t matter!” Secretly every mom has a hope for a boy or a girl, for one reason or another.

When we found out our second child was another boy, I just laughed. It was my lot in life (thus far) to be surrounded by boys (we have 2 male dogs, as well). I was truly thrilled–  I had hoped for a boy for my husband. I saw so clearly he and our sons out fishing or working his 1968 Chevy pickup truck, fostering a deep, special bond that is only shared between a father and son.

As I looked out on my future as a “boy mom”, I knew I was in for a wild ride.

I saw something else, too, though. I saw the crucial responsibility that “boy moms” have- to raise their sons in a way that wipes out the “boys will be boys” stereotype. My boys will not just be boys- they will be kind humans.

The rise of Me Too

R, our first, was born in spring 2017. N was born just a mere 18 months later, in the summer of 2018. At the time of R’s birth, “Me Too” was just a bud of a movement, just a thought in a woman’s head. This woman wanted and needed change, and demanded action after years of none.

When N was born, “Me Too” was in full swing, a tidal wave of stories and courage. I was amazed at the bravery of these women, some I just knew from movies and television, and some I knew on a personal level. I watched as woman after woman stood up in solidarity with the others, with the hashtag #metoo.

October 2017 was a viral sensation of change. These women promised change for the daughters of the next generation; no longer they would stand by and allow sexual harassment and abuse go unnoticed.

But I have sons…

And then I started thinking. I started thinking that I have to promise change, too—but I don’t have daughters. I have two sons.

What was I going to tell R and N about this wave? What was I going to instill in them to make sure that my sons grew up believing the survivors, acknowledging their privilege, and taking a stand against this kind of abuse? It was a daunting thought.

And then I remembered what I promised myself when I found out that I was going to be a mom: that I would raise kind humans.

Raising kind humans

The character I want to instill in my children transcends the Me Too movement. It is a character of respect for ALL humans, regardless of gender. It is treating others with dignity, standing up when they see injustice and disrespect, and not turning their head and ignoring the bad behavior of others.

I knew an easy way to start teaching these values was to teach and model respectful behavior from the start: using good manners, being a good role model, and taking turns and sharing. These simple, effective ideas (that we hope our toddlers learn anyway) are a great foundation for good character.

The Me Too talk

I also know that when my boys are old enough to understand the conversation, I will sit them down and discuss consent. No means no, silence means no. The only thing that means yes is yes. (Let it be known that we are nowhere near having this conversation, but just knowing this is a conversation I will one day have is enough for me to think about it).

I am confident though, that I will have a solid enough foundation that I can have this conversation with my sons and it not just be them saying, “Moooooooooom stop!”

I will raise my sons with a deeply ingrained frame of reference for how he is supposed to treat not only women, but people everywhere.

But I may be getting ahead of myself; after all, my boys are 2 years and 9 months old. The biggest worry they have in their lives right now is where R’s lovey is or when N gets his milkies. The biggest worry I have for them right now is potty training and sleeping through the night.

However, going into parenthood prepared and aware of societal issues just means I will not be caught off guard. My husband and I will work together to model respectful relationships, how men and women should treat each other, and what kindness looks like. The Me Too movement has just given me another way to ensure I am raising men I will be proud to call my sons.

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