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This post is more about questions than about answers.
See this picture?
I took it months ago but every time I look at it, I feel like I’ve been given a glimpse of Big Roo as a teenager. The tousled hair. The deep eyes. His skater shirt. All of it.
And I start thinking.
About boys. And about gentlemen.
I remember two posts about little girls. One from Jill from Scary Mommy and Brittany from Mommy Words. Jill wrote about her daughter sneaking food and claiming certain clothes made her look fat. Brittany wrote a few months back about her daughter thinking she’s not beautiful enough to be a princess.
Both stories punch me in the gut. For a second I said to myself, THANK GAWD I don’t have girls.
But then it hits me.
I have boys.
And as kids grow into tween, teens, college kids and, well, FOREVER AND EVER, boys will be part of the reason that girls will feel like that.
That shoots off a flurry of questions in my brain.
Am I doing the right things so they grow up to be gentlemen? To open doors for a lady, see inner beauty not just outer, be an equal partner in marriage and in parenting?
In the nearer future, what can I do to prevent my boys from calling a girl fat or ugly in the schoolyard? Or from going all Brett Favre on some chick? (shudder) Or from being the college punks who slip girls roofie at a party? (double shudder)
I imagine part of raising gentlemen just happens naturally in good parenting. And I try my best to be a good parent. But I grew up in a house of three girls so I’m learning as I go in the realm of raising boys.
Some things I teach are gender-neutral lessons in just plain being nice. I teach Big Roo to say “please” and “thank you” and to help a teammate up when he or she falls on the soccer field. Kids learn by watching parents too and I’m proud to say that I have a strong marriage. Daddy Roo treats me as an equal partner. He knows that it’s not a “woman’s job” to cook, clean, get the kids to bed or any of that. And he sure as heck doesn’t “babysit” the kids when I go out on a rare girl’s night. He’s their parent not a babysitter.
But etiquette and role models only go so far in a world of peer pressure, especially when it’s fueled by technology and social media.
I don’t have the answers. But I do have lots of questions about raising gentlemen. And given the fact that Jill’s daughter was five and Brittany’s was four, I don’t think these questions are too early to start asking.
I just wanna raise good boys. The ones that will tell others to back off from picking on the shy girl in class. The ones that will make a teenage girl forget all about her latest diet or the acne on her face. The ones that will one day make the love of their lives feel like the most special women in the world.
I just wanna raise gentlemen.