In October of last year, when I was told by my doctors that the baby I was carrying was a boy, I have to admit that my naivete led me to let out a little sigh of relief. After all, girls are such complicated beings! The body issues, the first periods, the unruly curls to be tamed before school, the cattiness amongst friends, the pregnancy scares, the inevitable heartbreaks – God! Being a girl is hard as hell; I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be to be the mother of a girl. But a boy… a boy will be different. More dirt, more nudity, more talk of “poo-poo faces”, more broken bones – but none of that scares me. This whole ‘boy’ thing will be a piece of cake.
Well the longer I had this little man taking up real estate in my body, the more the immeasurable responsibility of having a boy came to light. As women, we are magicians of the most wonderful variety. Give us a house and we’ll turn it into a home; give us food and we will turn it into a meal. Now I was being given a boy, and I knew it was my responsibility to make him into a man. But I don’t want him to be just any kind of man; I want him to be a good man, a smart man, a kind man, a sensitive man – a gentleman.
Recent events that have been prevalent in the media have made it painstakingly clear to me that it is now more important than ever that we, as mothers, declare our commitment to raising men who we can be proud to call our sons. It will be through our example that they will learn the value of a woman and the importance of respecting a woman’s strength of character. We need to raise men who will stand up for themselves, their families, their friends, their lovers, and their beliefs. We must instill a strong set of morals. We need to teach our sons to admire a woman’s beauty but to also take the time to understand her soul.
We need to be acute listeners for our sons. We have to be wise enough to know that despite our best efforts to raise emotionally secure men, there may be things we unintentionally let slip through the cracks, so we need to be vigilant for their subtle cries for help. Perhaps even more importantly, we need to acknowledge that sometimes, we won’t have the tools to help them and in those situations, we need to encourage them to enlist the help of professionals. We must teach them that doing so doesn’t make them any “less of a man” and should in no way be a source of shame or embarrassment.
We need to raise boys who don’t feel the need to hide or smother their feelings. We must establish open lines of communication; and hopefully in doing so, give them no choice but to acknowledge the infinite wisdom that lies within the creators of life. We need to raise boys who aim to lift people up instead of dashing them down in a sad attempt to make themselves feel powerful. We must teach them not to express their emotions through acts of violence.
We cannot let our boys think that it is acceptable to cat-call women on the street. We cannot let them think they are entitled to objectify the female body. We have to raise leaders who will inspire their peers through their actions to respect every living soul – to have empathy and to refuse to associate themselves with bullies.
Our load as mothers is already heavy, believe me – I know, but we have to commit to trying our damndest to raise a generation of men who will differ from their predecessors. Hopefully, our boys will be the ones to stop the cycle of misogyny and sexism. Hopefully they will participate in a revolution that will bring mental health issues to the forefront so we can stop trying to fix behavioural problems solely by punishing symptomatic behaviour. Mothers, let’s use our magic for the greater good and create the kind of men the world so desperately needs.
What do you think is the most important thing we need to teach our boys in order to create a world of gentlemen? Leave a comment and let me know – I’d love to hear everyone’s imput on this one!