Friday, January 4, 2008

So Happy to Have Boys

When I was first pregnant with my first child it felt like hundreds of people asked me, "Do you want a boy or a girl?" which is a totally lame question to have to answer. Because if you say you want a boy and you end up with a girl, then everyone thinks you're sad that you have a girl, which we all know is usually not the situation.

In my case I wanted a girl. More than I probably let on. I didn't know anything about boys. I had never known much about boy children except that they were often dirty, they didn't have ponytails (usually), and everyone claimed that their clothes weren't as cute.

For me, one of the reasons I wanted to have a girl was because I thought it would be really cool to raise her in a world that was getting more accepting of women, in a world where the glass ceiling was a little higher than it had been before. I wanted to raise a little girl who believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could do anything she wanted.

Well, if any of you have been following my life, you know that I didn't get a girl. I, in fact, have three boys. (And, honestly, I couldn't be happier. There is absolutely no part of me that is sad because I have no girls. If you've met my kids, you know why. They're pretty cool.)

But I've found out one of the advantages of having boys: I get to help raise the kind of man who respects women, who encourages women to do anything, who tries to raise that glass ceiling some more.

I don't know yet what kind of men my guys will be, but we've started the process of trying to raise respectful boys. "No means no" is such an axiom in my house that my oldest will say "no means yes" in the same way he'd say "my hair is purple" to piss his brothers off.

Early on I threatened my husband with his life if he ever said to my son, "You're the man of the house while I'm gone. Take care of your mother," or any variation thereof. (And to his credit, I probably never had to threaten him to begin with.) We're teaching them that, yes, men are strong. And women are strong too.

We try hard to give equal props to all kinds of families: moms who work, dads who work, moms and dads who work, adoptive parents, two moms, two dads, grandparents, dads who stay home, moms who stay home, and whatever else we can think of.

So I was really pleased when Sam brought home from school the book he'd chosen from the school library last week: Seven Brave Women by Betsy Hearne.

It's not that I think my six-year-old is a feminist because he chose this book. I'm just happy because of the teaching moment it inspired and the illustration of his character that it illuminated.

This book is about several generations of women who made a difference, each in their own way. Each woman is strong and doesn't follow the given path for women of her era.

Sam had some questions when we were done reading, and I took the opportunity to talk to him about the way women were looked at in the past, and sometimes still today.

When I told him that people used to not believe that women could do the same things men do, the look of incredulity on his face was one of the best parenting moments I've had.

There's a lot of years between now and his adulthood, but it is a wonderful thing to have a son who is old enough to talk to about feminism. It is a wonderful thing to have a son who doesn't understand why someone would think a girl can't have a job. It is a wonderful thing to have the potential to influence these boys, these boys who will grow up to be men. Men who respect women.

This is cross-posted at DC Metro Moms Blog. (Or it will be soon.)

14 comments:

  1. THIS TOTALLY ROCKS! What an amazing perspective you bring to parenting boys...and what a moment, that look of incredulity...priceless. Way to go, Stimey!

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  2. And I want this for Bird too.

    Great post.

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  3. I love having boys too. Great post, I couldn't agree more.

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  4. OK, since I am deep cleaning the boys' / guest bathroom right now... one reason I am NOT happy to have boys? Having to chisel urine from places I didn't even know urine could get. I think I am going to barf.

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  5. Stimey,

    Congratulations! You've just won my prize #1 from my give-way; a free copy of one of my cartoons that I've published on my blog. Your name was drawn out of the hat by my youngest daughter.

    There is contact information on my blog for any questions and so forth...

    I look foward to hearing from you.

    Rick

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  6. Respect is so important
    an important lesson to teach

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  7. As a rabid feminist, I could only picture myself as the mother of girls. Having only boys for me has also been a transformative experience in a zillion ways that make me grateful, including addressing my own feminist SEXISM and seeing how badly our schools had shifted in the direction of actually favoring girls in many obnoxious ways. But I remember the first moment like you describe, as well, of realizing I was raising a nonsexist boy. We were watching TV, educational of course, when my 3 or 4 year old oldest heard the word Mankind and he looked at me puzzled and said: "Why not womankind too?" Yay for us!

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  8. Look at all of us with fun boys! Yay for us and our will-grow-up-to-be-great-men offspring. Boys are great!

    Except for that urine chiseling thing. That truly does suck.

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  9. People keep asking me if we are going to try for that girl. As if having 3 beautiful boys isn't enough!!
    I'm trying to raise them to be good husbands someday too. They love to cook, I'm teaching them to clean, trying to teach good manners and respect.

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  10. Kelly, I get that a lot too. It bugs me because the assumption is that I can't be happy without a little girl.

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  11. I love this...what a wonderful job you're doing with your little men.

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  12. Wow - just read this as a link from today's post, but have to comment. With my two girls, the comment I got (even from my own mother) was, "your husband must be so disappointed not to have a son." Actually, his only disappointment is that neither is left handed. I hope my daughters can marry men that are raised like your sons. It is a gift to watch them grow!

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  13. I loved reading this and your take on having boys! I TOO have just had my first boy and LOVE it more than anything. AND I TOO secretly wanted a girl in the beginning of my pregnancy and (all the fun stuff that you hear about having a girl) couldn't have been more thrilled to find out I was having a boy. I can't wait to teach him to be respectful of women and watch him grow. I can't imagine it any other way. What a great blog you have!

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