My husband and I are blessed with three amazing children. The point of this post is that not only are they all living good lives–it’s that ALL THREE ARE SWEET! Why is that a big deal?
HOW TO RAISE A SWEET SON in an ERA of ANGRY MEN
Faith Salie, author of the Approval Junkie, published a piece with the above title in TIME MAGAZINE. I LOVED WHAT SHE SAID. I wish I’d written that piece. So I looked her up. Faith is an American journalist, writer, actor, comedian, and contributes to CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! SHE’S A SMART WOMAN.
Faith has damn good insights. Her first child was her son and when her husband greeted the newborn, he said, “Hi Sweet Pea” not Buddy or Little Man and Faith felt great comfort. She saw from the beginning that both of them would be committed to raising a sweet boy and Faith, like many other mothers, realizes that this is what the world needs now–millions of them.
Faith now has two children–her son is five and her daughter is three. She uses metaphors for the trajectory of their individual lives: the girl deemed a makeshift kite to be a fencing foil and raced around the yard proclaiming “En grade!” At a birthday party, the boy asked the balloon artist for a heart, instead of the usual sword.
Here’s the point Faith makes: “Boys have always known they could do anything; all they had to do was look around at their presidents, religious leaders, professional athletes and at statutes …in cities big and small.” “Girls always knew that they were allowed to feel anything–except anger.”
Yes. But now girls, led by women, are allowed to be angry. They can feel all emotions and use them to determine their futures. LIKE MY TWO DAUGHTERS. Christine had to deal (and did so expertly) with egotistical, obnoxious men when she worked in the film industry. Caroline had initially wanted to major in architecture, but found her way to city planning and landscape as a more wide-open choice for her. They are both powerful women in their own right.
BUT WHAT ARE BOYS TO FEEL?
Faith states it clearly: while now girls are encouraged to take on the roles that were once only for men, boys who already knew they could be all these things–astronauts, tech giants–their parents often fail to help them access their emotions, understand them and how to work with them. Faith points out that boys are still dressed in trucks and footballs. She saw a onesie for a baby boy that read TOUGH LIKE DADDY and would much rather see one that read RESILIENT LIKE MOMMY. (Also consider how many men around the age of 27 commit suicide or go on a murder rampage. The statistics are chilling.)
There is nothing wrong, but absolutely right, to raise a son and foster his innate sweetness. Because this boy will grow up to see that there is strength in being vulnerable and empathetic. (Empathy, which is now one of my favorite words for all time.) Faith states that when boys grow to be men and understand their emotions they:
- aren’t threatened by criticism
- don’t perceive COMPETITION from people because of their skin color or sexual orientation, religion, education or as Faith writes WHATEVER!!
When boys feel everything without shame it is because their parents and hopefully the wider society have given them permission to access their emotions, welcome them and understand them. There is NO SHAME in having and expressing emotion for males or females.
Faith writes: “Parents must invite their sons to be sad, afraid, hurt, silly and affectionate, and embrace them as often as they snuggle their daughters. Sweet boys learn early on that they can defend themselves against loneliness by reaching out and asking for support rather than turning into people who, literally grab for power. Sweet boys evolve into openhearted men who aren’t confused about consent and sexual boundaries, because they experience women as equals.”
I kept a baby book for each of my children. I recorded their birth weights and size, taped in their foot print sheets and went from there. Their growth, new teeth and first words were all recorded. Their illnesses, birthdays, funny and amazing proclamations–all were recorded. My husband and I realized that we were raising two girls and then a boy–but that pattern for each was the same.
HOW DID OUR THREE TURN OUT? I could go on for hours, but I’ll make it brief.