I remember my Mom always speaking over me that I can do anything a boy can do. She never pushed me to be ultra girly. She actually she encouraged me to get down and dirty with the boys; this could be due to the fac that I grew up with mostly boy cousins. Whatever her reasoning was, I have the same talks with Aria. Although I don’t use comparison in teaching her to be limitless and fearless, I more try to guide her into thinking that girls can do that, too! Whatever “that” is.
Aria wants to be a police officer. She does not like dolls. She thinks the color pink and dresses are “nasty.” I find so much humor, strength, and power in her choices. Although I was given a how-to in encouraging and supporting a girl’s masculine choices, I have no direction in doing the same for my son, Hayes. I never heard the opposite that boys can do anything girls can do. When it comes to raising a son, there is confusion in allowing a boy to embrace femininity.
Without a doubt, there is a double-standard with a male embracing femininity. The “accepted” masculine stereotypes are very dangerous to the development of a young boy.
Boys don’t cry.
Boys don’t show emotions.
Boys can’t like the color pink.
Boys will be boys.
Blah, blah, blah.
I feel ashamed and sad by what society deems as the norm for masculinity. I believe the toxic, masculine traits are emphasized because of society’s fear and misunderstanding of LGQBT. Essentially, this fear has stalled the development of boys because parents have let gender roles drive the upbringing of their child(ren). Displacing fear onto a child early into childhood creates room for adult suffering. Fear is limiting. Fear affects the mental, emotional, and mental well-being of children. Childhood is where self-confidence and self-love begins, but fear is a box and as a society we continue to place boys into a box built of toxic masculinity. The time is now for us to break apart this box.
Although I do not have a how-to in raising my son, it finally dawned on me to stop overanalyzing and to give him the same encouragement, support, and inspiration as I do with my daughter. He’s a curious four-year-old that is very much still discovering the world around him. As with any baby or toddler, he spends most of his time with Mom, so he witnesses me getting dressed, doing my hair and makeup, cooking, cleaning, etc. So there is no surprise in his curiosities or interests. Hayes wants to be a Dad when he grows up. He loves cooking and helping me clean. His favorite toy is his vacuum cleaner. He makes his own bed. He is very affectionate, kind, selfless, and knows how to express himself emotionally. Instead of seeing him as soft or weak, I see strength and inspiration. Hayes showed me that boys can do anything girls can do, as well.
Boys CAN cry.
Boys CAN like the color pink.
Boys CAN be emotionally equipped.
Boys CAN cook and clean.
Boys CAN play with dolls.
Boys can do anything girls can do. Showing interests in girl hobbies and activities does not denounce their masculinity as it is vice-versa for girls. If anything, this makes boys more open and confident. My experiences in Hayes’ boyhood is very mild compared to other parents whose sons wear dresses, nail polish, etc. The experience may range but the conversation is still the same and to quote a great article, Imagining A Better Boyhood, “Boys can like beautiful things, too!” I know society likes to think fathers are more important than mothers to boys, but boys need their mothers, too.