Lately there have been tons of blogs about raising daughters. Teaching them to respect themselves, demand respect of boys, focus on education and more things along those lines.
While I understand all that, there needs to be more about raising sons to respect women and at the same time put less of a focus on being "macho".
I've been dealing this with the past few days with Nixon.
Last week, Nixon lost one of his ghost shrimps. He (Midnight) died and Nixon was heartbroken! I found him before bedtime and Nixon almost cried himself to sleep. Poor kiddo. It was his first dead pet. We talked about death. I made sure he knew that even if Midnight was gone from his life, he'll live on in his heart.
Today in the car, Nixon mentioned Midnight and got quiet. I asked him if he was okay and he says to me "Yeah, I'm okay. I just need to be a big, brave boy." WHAT?!? Where in the hell did he get that idea? I've NEVER said anything like that to him!
I told him it's okay to be sad and even cry if he's sad and misses Midnight. That being sad and crying doesn't mean he's not brave. I told him even "big, brave men" sometimes feel sad and cry, and it doesn't make him any less of a boy for admitting he was sad over a lost friend.
It bothered me. It really bothered me that my son thought he had to be brave around me, of all people! Why do boys have to be brave all the time? Why can't they show emotions and be called names? Boy or girl, we're all humans and we have emotions, some are emotions of sadness and they're all normal.
The second issue I've been facing head-on with Nixon involves other people and respect. It's a tough issue to address. It's hard to know how to bring up the topic, especially with a 6-year old! But, I'm doing it and Mac is helping.
The issue is really all about consent and respect. We are a very touchy family. We hug, kiss, tickle and "tackle" each other all the time. And sometimes, Nixon doesn't stop when he hears "no" or "stop". I decided this weekend, after Nixon throwing cotton snowballs at me for almost an hour, even after I'd said "STOP!" more than 3 times, that I needed to step up and talk to him about it.
It happened again, when Mac was tickling Nixon. They were in Nixon's bedroom and I heard Nixon laughing and then he'd say stop, but laugh again. This was the perfect moment! I walked in and asked Mac to stop tickling Nixon and asked Nixon to look at me.
I tried to keep it simple, "Nixon, you know how Dad just stopped ticking you when you said stop? That's because Dad respects you and your body, when you said stop he listened." I went from there, explaining that he needs to have the same respect for us and everyone in his life, even friends at school. I explained "no" means no and if he hears "no" or "stop" he should stop whatever action he was doing when he hears those words.
Ultimately, we spend so much time empowering girls an blaming boys biology for their actions, that we forget that, with early talks we can also change boys and help them realize/respect girls. We need to raise boys to see girls as equals and we need to raise girls to believe they are equal to boys!
For me, it's a struggle. I never heard positive things from either of my parents about myself. My emotional well-being was not considered and I had more than one unhealthy relationship as a result. I love the relationship Nixon and I have. I love that we hug and kiss and play together, because I have few memories from my own childhood and my parents like that with me. I hope that, because we have such a strong relationship, Nixon and I will continue to have these conversations and he'll retain the information and come to me if he has questions. I take every opportunity I have with him, to teach and share. I want him to be a wonderful, kind, caring and respectful person in society, when time comes for him to leave me.