Recently, a friend told me about a t-shirt she saw on a little boy. It said, “Anything Dad can do, Mom can do better.” I wasn’t at all surprised. That’s the kind of world we live in now. We want a world of strong women, of gender equality, of real feminism. We want a better world for our daughters, a world that will treat them fairly, where a girl will only be limited by her own thoughts, fears, or lack of ambition. And if that was all we wanted, I’d want that world for my daughter, too. But that’s not all there is to the modern women’s world.
We want strong women and we wrongly create them by making weak men. To achieve equality, we’ve forced sameness. We want feminism, but only the kind that encourages women to “have it all,” even when they don’t want to. That’s the modern world we live in, and I worry about my daughter living in it. But I worry about my son more. It’s not easy raising a son in this girls’ world, but here are a few lessons every boy still needs to learn.
1. Boys are strong and girls are strong.
It’s a mistake to believe that boys are strong and girls are weak (or vice versa). The truth is that strength comes in a variety of different forms and it exists in both women and men. Strength should not be something to fear in men but should be celebrated in all. It’s OK for boys and girls both to be strong.
2. Women might object if you open a door for them. Open it anyway.
Moms raising a son: it’s important to teach him that being a gentleman does not degrade women. By opening a door for a woman, or letting her go first, or offering her your coat, you are not suggesting that she is weak. You are telling her that she is worthy of respect, that you value her, that you saw that she was cold and so you sacrificed your coat because you believed her to be worth the sacrifice.
Moms raising a son: it’s important to teach him that being a gentleman does not degrade women.
3. Feelings don’t make you weak.
A man who can be open and honest about his emotions is attractive. Strength doesn’t mean being cold as ice, as unfeeling as a rock. You can be strong for your loved ones, for your siblings, your parents, your spouse, but that doesn’t mean acting as if you don’t have feelings or bottling them up. It means acknowledging your feelings, trusting a person or two enough to be open about them, and praying through them.
I want my daughter to be treated fairly, to be loved, to be respected. But I also want my son to grow up in a world that tells him it’s OK to be strong, and polite, and a man. I want him to believe he can be better than a girl in some ways, and that a girl might be better than him in other ways, and that it’s all OK because it doesn’t change his worth or hers. I want both of my children to know that their worth is infinite because they were created and are loved by an infinite God.
How do you teach your son about strength and masculinity?