My first grader is an active, rough-and-tumble imp who picks his nose and likes to pass gas as loudly as possible. He’s my youngest child, and my only son. Learning to navigate being a Boymom has been interesting because it is different than parenting girls in significant ways.
Of course, all of my children were taught to say “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, and “I’m sorry” from the time they learned to speak. But in light of the devastating wave of sexual misconduct allegations in the media lately, I’m feeling an even deeper urgency to train up my son to be the best man he can be. My prayer is that he honors God in all he says and does, both publicly and privately.
In order to help my sister out, I started picking up my niece, a kindergartner, two days a week. Without being asked to, my son takes her backpack and carries it to the car each day she comes home with us. He tells her “I’ve got it, Abby”, which just melts my heart. This sweet little kindness of his reverberated within me after I heard yet another lascivious news item this week.
It seems a high-profile morning show host was fired for alleged inappropriate sexual behavior, shocking the nation and calling even more attention to the serious issue of sexual bravado on the part of powerful men.
As a young single woman in the early 1990s, I experienced this firsthand at my workplace. When I told my supervisor about the unwanted advances, her way of handling it was yelling down a corridor “Leave my girls alone!” to the offending party. And that was that. I’m grateful for today’s open dialogue on this serious and painful topic.
Parenting boys is a challenge in an age of such boorish behavior. In the wake of all this unrest, our family must continue to be diligent in maintaining dialogue in our home about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Most recently, we have been talking to my son about “When someone says stop, you stop”. This, in response to his tackling or whacking his sister in a pesky little-brotherish fashion.
While siblings inevitably bicker and engage in childhood fisticuffs, that doesn’t make it acceptable. Time outs, stern talkings-to, and loss of privileges are all part of our parenting process of reining in behaviors that show disrespect and cause harm towards others. But above all, we explain that that is not how kind, respectful boys behave. Small aggressions left unchecked have the potential to become egregious behavior later.
Small aggressions left unchecked have the potential to become egregious behavior later.
For some time now, “locker room talk” and grabby behavior have been tolerated, even winked at. This normalizes it and this is NOT normal behavior. This is not healthy behavior. Men are capable of controlling themselves and conducting themselves like gentlemen.
When we shine the spotlight of truth on deplorable behavior, ill deeds have little recourse. The backlash of survivors speaking out is positive motion in the direction of calling out and calling to task those who abandon their dignity and violate the dignity of others in the process.
When we shine the spotlight of truth on deplorable behavior, ill deeds have little recourse.
While there is breath in my lungs, I will continue to sing the refrain of how a young man should behave. I’m grateful that my husband will support me in this and continue to model positive male behavior for our son. Violence and unwanted sexual advances are things I will speak to my sweet boy about, in an age-appropriate way, for the rest of my time as his mother.
Until then, I’ll praise him for carrying his Batman backpack on one shoulder and the navy one with tiny rainbows and hearts on the other.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.