If you don’t know, I am the mom of three wildly imaginative and independent young girls. They have a wide range of interests that include everything from fairies to construction projects. We start some mornings in long flowing dresses that we accompany with our foam swords and pirate scarves. We build castles out of Legos and cities with our train tracks and blocks for our dolls to live in. We sit on the sofa and cuddle under soft blankets as we read stories about Olivia, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Aslan. We go to the park and see how high we can climb that one tree that whispers to us. We paint and draw and color. We rescue each other from “bad guys.” We write stories and put on plays, fashion shows, and highly choreographed dance routines. We challenge each other to games of basketball. We take ballet and tap class. We go to soccer.
|Photo Courtesy of Austin Upton http://asharedlens.smugmug.com/Free-Stock-Photography-/Food/Food/i-2pMNphS/A|
We do these things, because those three, wildly imaginative and independent young girls are growing into something. They are growing into…..adults.
Yes, someday these girls of mine will be adults.
But because they are females, they are also going to face challenges.
Currently 1 in 4 girls experience teen dating violence. 1 in 4 womenare abused by a partner in their lifetime. 1 in 6 women are survivors of rapeor attempted rape.
It is sobering and it completely affects how I parent my girls. I am raising my girls to be brave and bold and daring and kind and truthful. I am raising them to be the person they were created to be. I am raising them to go after their dreams. I am raising them to make the world a better place. I don’t want these statistics to follow them into their teen and adult years. I need them to be strong. I need them to be able to use their voice. I want them to feel safe.
So can I let you in on a secret? Not many things get me going like the hashtag, “mom of boys.”
“Started my morning stepping on Legos.” #momofboys
“Found a car in my pocket.” #momofboys
“Look at all the blocks and train sets.” #momofboys
Look, I get it. You are raising men. Your experience of coming alongside your children may be different than mine. I don’t want to minimize it or gloss over it. But for those of us who are raising preschoolers and young elementary aged children, do we really have to start all of this now? Really?
I know you. I know you care about women. So I don’t understand why we start giving the message to little kids that leaving out Legos or playing with cars or trains is something that at the age of 4 is relegated to those children who have a penis.
Can we put our cards on the table here? When you use the hashtag, “momofboys” when describing behavior that has been traditionally attributed to boys, you are enforcing the stereotypes that boys do “this” and girls do “that.” It’s wrong. And it hurts girls. You would not believe how often my little girl questions an activity because she’s been told by classmates that it is something that “boys” do.
Moms of boys, I need you. I need you to raise children alongside me. I need you to teach your boys girls can play with Legos, trains, and cars. I need you to raise boys who will ask my girls to join in on a game of soccer or tag. I need you to raise boys who will let my girls dig tunnels in the dirt with them. I need you to raise boys who don’t have preconceived ideas of what my girls can and cannot do. Because I am raising my girls to play with your boys. And they will play cars and Legos with them. They will get dirt underneath their fingernails and they will steal the ball from them in a game of basketball. But they might ask them if they want a spot of tea beforehand. I want that to be okay.
I want to celebrate you, moms of boys. I want to encourage you. I want to support you. I want your boys to know that they can do whatever it is that they want to do whether it is sports or art or playing dolls. I want us to sit together and share stories of raising children. I want us to be able to nod in agreement, even if you have a boy and I have a girl.
I go back to those statistics, the ones that haunt me. And they won’t change, not unless we work together.
How about instead of spending time reinforcing these ideas of what boys and girls do, we spend that time teaching them to see the inherent value in all people. How about we allow room for emotion. How about we speak up when we hear someone perpetuating stereotypes.
How about we raise….people.