I’ve been thinking a lot lately about raising boys with respect, both mine toward them and theirs toward everyone else and themselves. I’ve been thinking about it, partly, because I know someone who is coming to terms with having a boy instead of the girl she really wanted. I will admit that I fully expected to have daughters, and was surprised when I didn’t. With Nicholas, I was surprised because all the kids that my generation were having were girls, so I expected him to be a girl. With Tobin, William and I had just completely convinced ourselves that we were having a girl. I mean, who needs science when you have conviction?
I wanted to raise girls who wereÂ self sufficient, who had male friends, who had female friends, and who didn’t “need” to be attached romantically to feel complete. I wanted to raise girls who knew their self worth but weren’t conceited, who knew how to have fun without being dumb, who knew how to help other people be comfortable. I wanted to raise girls with a good body image, or at least make it through their teen lives without being completely convinced they were whales even if they were fit. I wanted to raise girls who were kind without being doormats. I wanted to raise girls who knew their own minds, but never stopped learning.
And then the sonographer said my baby had a penis. And I went, “Huh.” And then, sometime during the pregnancy, it happened! I had the most obvious “a-ha” moment ever. All those things I wanted to help my girls learn? I should teach those exact things to my boy. Because they are just as likely to need those lessons as girls are. Sometimes, I think I need to teach them those qualities so that they will be good boyfriends, husbands and fathers. While that is true, I think if I can manage to teach them those qualities, and they are happy men, then they will be good to women by default. And they will be good to other men, and to themselves.
The hard part is raising them in a way that helps to do all those things.