A brilliant, heartwarming and serious look at the way gender hyper-stereotypes may be crushing our children’s spirits, from The Good Men Project:
“Time to clean up your toys and come downstairs to say our goodbyes.” I yell upstairs as two sweet boys come sliding down the stairs, giggling—still covered in markers and delight.
“Give your friend a great big hug and a kiss and tell him we’ll see him soon,”
“Mom, I can’t kiss him.”
“Why not?” I ask with a smile, imagining some funny, as-only-kids-will-say statement. Sadly, my smile withdrew as I heard the following response come out of my child’s mouth.
“Because Sam’s mom said that boys aren’t allowed to kiss each other.”
Fear. It creeps in like a villain who, even after dying one thousand times over by the hands of the comic book hero, manages to live on.
This incident left me befuddled. It felt similar to a time when my son showed a love of dance that was so intense it only made sense to enroll him in lessons. At three years old, he was the only boy in a class of all girls. Comments from other parents were surprising. My husband was particularly frustrated when one mother said, “Wow—that’s great of you. I just don’t think I can enroll her brother in dance. My husband would kill me.”
As a mother of a boy in a post-feminist society, I stopped a sole focus on career aspirations and cracking that ever-present glass ceiling and instead, altered my sightline. Raising a boy is one feat, and requires presence of mind and reaction timing surpassing that of an NFL quarterback. To raise a man, however, requires forethought and an open mind. It made perfect sense that Tom Matlack started Good Men Project—what struck me in my desire to better parent a boy, is how little support and information there is out there to do just that.
You may remember the story about the kid whose mom let him dress up as Daphne for Halloween– this essay is just as frank, just as important and asks some very important questions.