Raising Boys

February 18, 2010

in no manual for parenting

As much as I lament the lack of girl presence in my household, I know I am blessed to have my boys. They tug at my heart even though they bruise my sides sometimes when they roughhouse; They have no control over and are unaware of their own growing limbs.  They are protective of their mother even though I am often the butt of the joke made by them. (“Ha ha. You said Butt!”) They crack me up with their antics even though at least once every day I have to use my most unpleasant voice in order to be heard.

I am a tomboy. Magenta makes me physically ill. I am scared of dolls. It is probably for the better that I do not have girls. (I know I am committing gender stereotyping here. Guilty as charged.) On the other hand, what do I know about boys that equips me with the wisdom and strength to bring them up to become upstanding world citizens?

I know there are many excellent books out there on how to raise boys so they become well-adjusted, whole persons. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, as has been recommended to me when the kids were little, is one of them. I have to admit though, I haven’t read any of these books. I am wary of reading parenting books. It’s probably the aftermath from reading dozens of books trying to teach me the right way to get my babies to sleep through the night and every single one of them failing me. Unfair judgement and gross generalization? Probably so.

That being said, the title of the book Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys has been on my mind ever since I heard about it.

First of all, the title itself is misleading: Not only do we need to make sure we construct an emotional life for them, afterwards, we also need to make sure to nurture and protect it. The premise of the book is that boys have been pressured by this society to be isolated from their emotions, and that it is becoming more and more important, with the increasing violence committed by young men to their peers in mind, to provide our sons with a well-rounded emotional education, to allow them to learn a vocabulary of emotions to express themselves.

As much as I agree with the above statement, the way I see it, this book, and all the other books, failed to ask the first question:

WHY does the emotional life of our boys need to be protected? What does it say about the society we live in?

We need to protect the emotional life of our sons because this society we are bringing them up in is obsessed with an uber macho image of itself. Instead of challenging the hegemony, they simply took it as a given.

Frankly I am tired of this bullshit. This cliche. What defines a man in this country.

We have never told the boys to stop crying because they are boys.

We encourage reading and writing. The appreciation of arts and music.

We allow them to like and own cute stuff. (Thank you to Japanese pop culture which provides ample supplies of cute imagery and items that do not churn one’s stomach).

We allow Mr. Monk to declare that his favorite color is pink. And then purple.

We allow loving rainbows.

We still snuggle with the boys now that they are no longer toddlers.

We have always engaged in frank conversations about our emotions with the boys.

We tell them we love them every single day.

We don’t watch sports on the weekend.

We don’t push them to go outside and play ball with the neighborhood boys.

My husband does not go fishing.

My boys do not play any ball-related sports.

They watched and LOVED ice dancing, realizing what an athletic accomplishment it was.

My oldest is in competitive gymnastics, a sport, frankly, as athletic as it gets, and yet, he gets teased by girls for doing a “girls’ sport”. (Fortunately we have managed to provide him with a well-rounded emotional life that he does not care…)

I know we are considered to be “odd” in the neighborhood, our being an interracial couple aside.

Once when a neighbor dad invited Mr. Monk to his backyard to play football (or some other ball) with all the other boys, Mr. Monk looked him straight in the eye and declared, “I don’t like sports.” He turned around, walked away, and then stooped to pick up a dandelion. The poor man looked dumbfounded. I didn’t allow him a chance to show me his “sympathy”. “I don’t like sports either.” I said nonchalantly as I walked away.

I am tired of how all these experts failed to question what’s defined as properly masculine in the US society.

Why doesn’t anybody wonder WHY it is perfectly okay for a man, any man, say, to wear pink, carry a purse, comb your hair in a European and Asian society? And yet it is a NO NO here in the US of A?

What happened in the relatively short history of the forming of this country that caused this? Surely Andrew Jackson could not have done this single-handedly. Could he?

With this thorn on my back, you could imagine my excitement when I came across a book called Boyhoods: Rethinking Masculinities. Oh Boy, was I ever! Especially since it has the endorsement of Judith Butler and Tony Kushner, I couldn’t wait to read some scathing argument against the preconceived notion of masculinity and perhaps there would be some explanation on why the American society is so distinct in its homophobic tendency. Yes, it is homophobia, hand in hand with this cultural obsession with machismo. Our men are so concerned with NOT being labeled as gay that they would go to great length to prove otherwise.

I was disappointed yet again.

The author basically preaches the concept that it is ok for boys to behave feminine since some of them do. And it is ok if they are gay since most of the feminine ones turn out to be.

While I agree with 75% of the statement above, I take issue with this automatic equation between Feminine Boys = Gay

Before I go on further, please allow me to invoke “The Seinfeld Disclaimer” first: “Not that there is anything wrong with that!”

The “feminine” tendencies as identified in the book did not trigger my “OMG something is wrong with my kids”-dar at all. Perhaps because I did not grow up in this country and of course, I am not male, I do not have all these nerve endings that automatically warn me against what will inadvertently be taken as “inappropriate boy behavior”. To me, things such as “dislike for sports”, instead of being a label for femininity, should be counted towards individualities and personal quirks.

Who defines what is considered feminine vs. masculine? I am not so progressive as to suggest that donning a woman’s dress is not sufficient enough to identify a male person as “against the norm”. However “simple matters” such as the preference of certain colors (pink), activities (knitting, cooking, arts & crafts) and companions (little boys liking to play house, or other quieter play in general, with little girls) as “signifiers”? We need to stand up and cry foul. The arbitrary, rigid line needs to be challenged.

I try. As they grow older, especially as my first born looking towards entering Middle School after the summer, I fear I may be fighting a losing battle. Soon, as dictated by the reality called Living in the USA, I will need to gear up to protect his emotional life for him as he slips further and further away from his emotional self so that he could be strong enough to face his reality called School Yard.

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Makeup
February 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

{ 61 comments }

Fernweher February 18, 2010 at 2:12 am

yes, American society is very strict with what it considers feminine vs masculine behavior. I agree that certain things should be left up to individual preference, but this does not mean society will accept our liberal views. Mainly for men now, there is still a lot of teasing and gaping that will result from things like liking pink, picking dandelions and doing gymnastics while claiming to be straight. its really annoying and i hope that as younger, open minded generations take hold, society’s prejudice will change.
.-= Fernweher´s last blog…Alli, Weight Loss via Suffering =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Ever since I heard about the 11-yo boy who killed himself due to bullying and taunting, I feel like I walk on thin ice every day. But I know I am being paranoid. I hope I am…

Caro Webster February 18, 2010 at 4:20 am

LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. This has been written from your belly and your heart and your soul. It is a reflection of a balanced and loving parent. Go you good thing. xx

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Thanks!

Andrea February 18, 2010 at 5:22 am

Excellent post here. You often bring up issues that I avoid thinking about too much, and I love that!

I think my 7yo would fit in well with your boys. He has zero competitive drive and less than zero desire to play any sort of sport. I am the same way, so I get it. I think my husband was slightly disappointed at first when our son refused to sign up for basketball or baseball or football, because my husband is sports-minded and would love to have that in common. But he realized that’s just not our kid, and he loves him for who he is no matter what. I do sometimes worry about middle school too though. I think you are right, that we have to arm our boys with enough assuredness to not care so much what others think when they pick gymnastics (which is kick ass, for boys too) or opt out of football. My son loves cute things too, small dogs and kittens, and he reminds me of Ferdinand the Bull — picking flowers while other boys play baseball — and those are qualities in him that have value and that I adore and hope to nurture as he grows.

Thanks for the food for thought and for challenging lame social norms!
.-= Andrea´s last blog…"Bad romance" =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm

As Naptime pointed out below, “Raising Cane” makes the point that as the generations go on, perhaps the society will become more open and less rigid? I do notice that mothers are ahead of dads on the curve…

Andrea February 18, 2010 at 5:24 am

And also, I think that it sucks that it’s solely up to us to arm our boys with the emotional confidence to be who they want to be. Society should do more to love them as they are, as we do.
.-= Andrea´s last blog…"Bad romance" =-.

Diane February 18, 2010 at 7:22 am

You rock. Your Mr. Monk sounds exactly like my oldest son. My middle son used to cry in school pretty much every day through fourth grade. In second grade, it really freaked out his teacher, who in one of our many conferences told me I needed to encourage him to “hold it in” and pull himself together during the school day. “I will not,” I told her. “The world needs sensitive men and maybe this is my mission to provide one more. His wife will thank me.”

Your boys will grow up to be the BEST men. My brother and his son hunt, fish, run, golf, sew and quilt. My nephew, 6′ 2″ macho man, proudly shows everyone the curtains, crib quilt and matching bumper pad he made for his baby’s nursery. They are the manliest men I know.

You rock.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Thanks! xxoo You are too kind. I actually suck as a parent on most days… I am trying to do the right thing, and the right thing seems to change every day!

Wicked Shawn February 18, 2010 at 9:05 am

I think our boys really get their sense of self less from our society and more from inside their own home. Their emotional well being is so much about how we feed their souls. Mr. Monk and his sense of self and ability to announce his disdain for sports then blithely admire that dandelion (I can just see this scene play out in my head) with not a trace of hesitation, that is fed by the fact that he lives in a home where his parents have taught him that this is the way life is led, you choose your loves, your passions and others choose theirs, with no judgements placed on either side.
I think that only then can life be lived fully, I have a well balanced home, sports, art, music, plays, movies, you name it, we have it all going on. We love it. Daughter and son. Both participate in it all. I wouldn’t have it any other way. They will both be prepared to take over the world someday. :)
.-= Wicked Shawn´s last blog…A Whole New Respect =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:34 pm

With such a strong mother (aka YOU) as a role model, I’d be surprised if they don’t turn out to be well-balanced! 😉

Robin February 18, 2010 at 9:31 am

I have to say, my husband and I have both said we don’t know what we’d do if we got pregnant with a boy. My own husband is more of a girl than I am and boys are a mystery to me.
.-= Robin´s last blog…Skinned Alive =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:34 pm

We need to hang out. :-)

TheKitchenWitch February 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

He’s entering middle school? F%$k. Middle school is evil.

Thank goodness he has such a good mom and such a firm upbringing. Maybe he’ll be able to weather it okay.

One of my favorite things about my high school was that it was actually “cool” to be in the musical theatre productions. Really. The guys that did the musicals were also in sports or academic clubs and whatnot, but it seriously was cool to be good at singing/acting.

And I agree–an affinity for the more “feminine” areas of culture does NOT make you gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
.-= TheKitchenWitch´s last blog…Scotch Butterscotch Sauce =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm

You mean you were in High School Musical?! 😉

I didn’t go through schools here in the US and that just makes everything seem worse in my mind… *sigh*

38traci February 18, 2010 at 12:39 pm

So well put! I couldn’t agree with you more. Sometimes my son wants to dress up in his sister’s princess costumes. I let him. Sometimes he wants to play Batman and Transformers. I let him do that, too. Because I don’t think either is necessarily an indication one way or the other of masculinity or feminity. He is a kid playing. Exploring. Learning who he is in this world. And I hope that he will grow up feeling balanced and that he is appreciated no matter who or what he becomes.

P.S. I love the Seinfeld disclaimer. Ditto for me. :-)

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I watched it again. I really love it. But I wonder whether some people may consider it offensive, and against the “cause”…

Jane February 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm

And while you’re fighting society – I’m fighting my husband. We just had a discussion about t-ball that made my blood boil. #1son doesn’t want to play this year (and he’s only 6) and my husband “put his foot down” because he HAS to play a sport. Fine, I nodded, and then promptly missed the sign-up deadline. Passive aggressive? Yes. But it’s buying me more time to figure out a new strategy!
.-= Jane´s last blog…To Are Or Not To Are – THAT Is The Question =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:41 pm

LOL. Whatever it works, m’lady. We “lucked out” because my husband had a horrible experience in Little League and he had vowed that he’d not force his own kids into any sports. I hope everything turned out ok!

KeepingYouAwake February 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I’ll drink to that. Although, I’ll drink to almost anything. But I fit a lot of this criteria too, so extra drinking… Wait, do your children drink? Maybe less similar than I was thinking. Do they ramble? Well then more similar.
.-= KeepingYouAwake´s last blog…It’s About to Get Ugly =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm

When we went back to Taiwan… Well… No minimum drinking age there. 😉

Ry Sal - aka @bwdstudio February 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Yes! Thank you for adding more justification behind my do it yourself philosophy. Although I do admit to speed reading the book jackets – I am always of the opinion that our boy is an individual and that a book can’t dictate that… blah blah blah… theory. I’m glad to hear that you are finding happiness thus far — we’ve only begun!
.-= Ry Sal – aka @bwdstudio´s last blog…Nana Inspired #1 – The Brooch Cronicles =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Not even into teenage years yet, and I am already being run ragged. I am a wuss!

Terresa Wellborn February 18, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Allowing loving rainbows is a good start. :)

We have 2 boys in our house (age 2 & 6). And while our kids aren’t into sports, we are violin & piano pushers.

My dear friend has 2 high school aged boys. She read “Raising Cain” some time ago and highly recommends it. But first I need to dust off the pre-K books I bought years ago & had planned to read when my 3 older kids were that age. (sigh) At least I still have one baby I can use as a guinea pig…
.-= Terresa Wellborn´s last blog…Bloggers to watch in 2010 =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I really need to check out the PBS special based on this book. (Blockbuster has the version with John Lithgow. I figure that’s not the one!)

Miss B February 18, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Fuck the heteronormative standard, say I!

This is why — despite being exceedingly un-fond of putting labels on things and putting the neatly labelled things in to neat little boxes — I am so very excited by the genderqueer movement, in general. Because even though it is sort of a case of putting more — albeit different and more interesting, certainly — labels on things…at least it is encouraging one to think beyond the typical heteronormative labels that we are, most of us, bound by. And, if we can’t actually do away with the labelling altogether…well, at least it’s a start.

(Oh, and don’t even get me started on the whole “Well, it’s okay for some people to be abnormal, because that’s just how some people are” sentiment. Do the — ostensibly well-intentioned — proponents of this concept not realize that it is even worse than the people saying it isn’t okay to be _abnormal_ — because in supporting the abnormal, all you are really doing is way, way, way enforcing the basic idea of NORMAL???)

((Why do you always bring out the rant-y in me, hmmm?))
.-= Miss B´s last blog…Tigers =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Because you are super HAWT when you are mad? LOL.

Maureen@IslandRoar February 18, 2010 at 8:56 pm

God, I love this post. My 22 year old son, who rode horses and liked to sing and act (and play basketball and wrestle anyone who’d allow him to), had a 5th grade teacher who assumed he was gay because of all this. Oh, and that he wore turtlenecks(?!). You’re right; society has a problem with gender identities. I think it’s better than it was 50 years ago, but still not great.
I also have 2 daughters, so I’m so inspired to know there are moms out there like you, raising amazing sons to be amazing men, who may (if they so desire) be amazing husbands one day.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:00 pm

That was so awful for the teacher to be making assumptions like that. (Not that being gay is awful… These topics have a way of turning into land mines, don’t they?) I’m sorry you and your son had a teacher like that.

You are too kind. I am still working on “making sure they don’t grow up to be serial killers”… 😉

Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities February 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm

This is such an important, thought-provoking post. As the mother of two girls, I find myself asking some different questions and weathering some different frustrations, but so much of this is a universal struggle.

How in the world has it taken me so long to find your wonderful blog? Beats me.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! Thank you for the praise. *blush* There are so many blogs out there on the Interweb! I try hard and even now that I have found many great blogs, I am not able to visit all of them regularly!

Amber February 19, 2010 at 12:14 am

I don’t read parenting books either. I feel good about this because my professors told me not to. (I will swear by that until I die.)

Anyway, I am glad you raised this issue. I want to avoid socializing my babies to be on thing or another based on gender stereotypes. YET I think that gender is an important identity. YET I don’t want my wild girl to be labeled as wild and my wild boy to be labeled as a boy. Does that makes sense? No? As you can see, I am confused. What my husband and I plan to do is to not emphasize gender differences. Rather, we want to rear upstanding citizens of the world.
.-= Amber´s last blog…I Am In Time Out =-.

Amanda@Brilliant Sulk February 19, 2010 at 5:10 pm

I’m so glad to know my husband is not the only man on the planet who dislikes balls. I mean sports. Perhaps one day they can get together and pick flowers…

Your boys sound like well rounded little humans. My two girls don’t play with dolls, they much prefer their stuffed animals and Matchbox cars. Just like me when I was a kid.
.-= Amanda@Brilliant Sulk´s last blog…Hire Me. I’m Extremely Qualified =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I had a huge matchbox collection when I was a kid! :-)

Velva February 19, 2010 at 7:16 pm

My oldest son turned twenty-one years old today. Wow! Where the heck does the time go? I have another son who is in middle school and in puberty….. I don’t pay attention to the books. After raising one child, if they are happy, healthy productive citizens then my job has been successful. Each child is unique and you parent from instinct.

Your kids are fabulous! Sit back and enjoy the ride.
.-= Velva´s last blog…Nigerian Chicken Stew-A Shout out to Kitchen Butterfly =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm

“Each child is unique and you parent from instinct.” Great advice. I need to remember that. 21 year old?! You had him when you were 14 right? LOL. 😉

Elly Lou February 19, 2010 at 9:57 pm

It’s beautiful, thought provoking, heart wrenching pieces like this that make me think I should stick with cats.
.-= Elly Lou´s last blog…Grumble =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm

LOL. You are going to be a great mom, and Rocco is going to be an awesome dad. And your family? Any kid would be lucky to be surrounded by a family with so much love to go around. :-)

Unknown Mami February 19, 2010 at 10:19 pm

This is why it’s wonderful that you have boys.

P.S. My husband wears pink shirts. I’ve always had a thing for men in pink.
.-= Unknown Mami´s last blog…Fragmented Fridays =-.

secret agent woman February 20, 2010 at 9:04 am

I’ve always been uncomfortable with the term “tomboy” because it suggests that girls who are active and interesting in the outdoors and so on are somehow not true girls. I was a girl who might have been called a tomboy and yet I think of myself as feminine AND strong. I don’t want limits placed on me by silly names, and think that being womanly can encompass a wide range of possibilities.

All that said, I only have sons and I am raising them as I would daughters – to be strong and competent and sensitive and compassionate. If you do that, you don’t need to worry about the “right” way to raise a girl versus a boy. You just focus on raising a healthy person.
.-= secret agent woman´s last blog…Tết Nguyên Đán =-.

Kristen @ Motherese February 20, 2010 at 10:10 am

Love this post. Something I think about all the time. As you know, I have a sensitive older son. I’ve taken a glance at some of these boy books and most of them seem to encourage shaking the sensitive out of boys so that they can make their way in our macho culture. Like you, that doesn’t come naturally to me.

What I am interested in learning more about is single-sex schooling. I wonder whether boys would do better or worse surrounded by each other in a place where there wouldn’t be the possibility of being labeled “feminine” just because a boy likes art or theater.
.-= Kristen @ Motherese´s last blog…On Pea Soup and Edgar Pine =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:17 pm

My perspective is skewed because I didn’t go to school in the US and I went to all girls schools (as is the norm, or was? in Asian countries) I have read studies showing both girls and boys doing much better in single sex schools. But you know, I am sure there are counter arguments for that too. Sometimes I wonder whether I am going backwards since I am liking the idea of having uniforms in schools now, whereas I hated, HATED, our ugly uniforms (and hair styles!).

naptimewriting February 20, 2010 at 11:19 am

I love this post because of the challenge it offers to cultural assumptions. A couple of thoughts: Raising Cain seems to argue for protecting the emotional life of boys so that, in a generation or two, we can change the cultural assumptions and mandates. Create a generation of boys who have the strength to know themselves by protecting the humanity that gets squashed by a macho culture, and we’ll have future fathers who don’t need to think twice about treating children like children, not like small stereotypes.
I’d also offer, though it’s of small consolation as I raise my own son (a lover of pink and cooking and dolls who is baffled when the parents and girls around us all tell him they love his shoes but the boys tell him they’re just for girls) that in a lot of ways the U.S. is more progressive on challenging gender assignments than most other cultures. Latin cultures, Middle Eastern cultures, Indian culture, Asian cultures, and most European cultures have much more intense machismo requirements, blatant homophobia, and strict lines for gender performance.
Doesn’t change the reality of what you’ve outlined, nor the unwillingness of 99.99% to even question not just the default but the reasons behind the hegemony that allows society to enforce its own arbitrary and harmful boundaries. But maybe there’s a tiny silver lining as we parent our boys to a new generation of being a person rather than a gender.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Thank you for visiting and commenting! I really should actually read that book… Baby steps right? Every day we make it better. I sure hope so. :-)

Miss B February 20, 2010 at 7:13 pm

@naptimewriting — Ah, but in other cultures, while there might be definite ideas about machismo and a man’s place vs. a woman’s, men are also allowed to be much closer and warmer with each other than they are here. In the Middle East and Africa, for example, men hold hands and embrace (and yes, there are a lot of extremely unpleasant issues also involved in a lot of those cultures regarding how women are treated — and what sort of treatment men are encouraged or expected to give women — that one could discuss as well, but all of that aside for just a moment, men are allowed to be tender with each other without it implying some sort of lack of manliness or any homoeroticism, and that is a very fine thing, I think). In Europe, male friends are much more physically affectionate with each other — even in very Catholic and homophobic countries like, say, Italy, it is nothing for adolescent males to walk with their arms around each other’s shoulders and that sort of thing. The only time men are really allowed to be physical with each other in our culture is when sports are involved (at which time patting each other on the butt is somehow manly and encouraging and not at all indicative of romantic/sexual desire — this is something I find very confusing about sports in the US, since I would say that majority of men who play/seriously watch sports are often the most heteronormative of the bunch, who would cringe at the hint of homoeroticism in any other aspect of their lives). @Kristin — Maybe this all has something to do with how common it is for boys and girls to be in gender-segregated schools in a lot of these other countries/cultures — so that boys are allowed to share interests and activity time with each other in non-athletic/competitive areas? That is an interesting thought, actually…
.-= Miss B´s last blog…Scales =-.

naptimewriting February 21, 2010 at 1:10 am

@ Miss B: dang. You’re right. I was fighting my better nature to try to find a silver lining, but I’m back to being frustrated about our culture. Would love to read a more in-depth analysis of this, depressing though it would be.
.-= naptimewriting´s last blog…All I know today =-.

Shelli February 21, 2010 at 1:40 am

*Standing up and crying foul with you!*

I have raised my Son much the same way you have. He has ZERO interest in sports – ball sports or otherwise. I would have loved to see him in gymnastics (my father was a gymnast, and so was I) or karate, but he’s not interested (for the record, I’m a tomboy, and I hate competitive sports). He LOVES music – plays guitar and piano and is truly obsessed with listening to music. I love that about him! And so do the rest of his middle school friends. I think you have nothing to worry about with yours about to enter middle school.

Things are starting to change in this country, though not as fast as I’d want them to. Actually, things have changed for the worst since my father’s generation (baby boomer), and are starting to come back around full circle again. There’s hope for our boys, yet! :-)
.-= Shelli´s last blog…Are You Being Served? =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Thanks! It’s interesting that you mentioned some sort of backlash before it seems to start getting better again. Well, you know “Backlash” the book… The 80s… That’s when there was a movement to turn the tide back to the Good Old Days…

38traci February 21, 2010 at 12:39 pm

There is an award waiting for you on my blog. I hope you have a lovely Sunday!
:-)
Traci
38andgrowing.blogspot.com
.-= 38traci´s last blog…Day 176 or I’m Still Dancing =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Thank you so much!!!

A Vapid Blonde February 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I find dolls to be completely scary as well. I hated them as a child. And I think just growing up in a household that encourages whatever likes they have will make them well rounded with a full emotional life. Middle school however is rough!
.-= A Vapid Blonde´s last blog…Pussies, Pigtails and Glitter =-.

Absence Alternatives February 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Sigh… You guys are going to hear a lot of whining and freaking out then after this summer when my oldest enters Middle School then… *sigh*

Diane February 21, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Great blog post; great comments thread. Nice to know that we’re not alone, eh?

Absence Alternatives February 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Thanks. Yes, it is indeed very nice. That’s why I love the Interweb.

Heather February 24, 2010 at 10:58 am

this read has been appreciated here in the midwest…we are in the throes of raising three boys in a community that can have, at times, very archaic world views. we plod on, trying to do the best by our little men. our latest proud moment was just last night when our oldest (8 yr) picked his top choice for his “leader unit” a school…Joan Baez. she met all his criteria: artist and activist “mom, she marched with Dr.King!” was his ah-ha moment…i will be shopping for a wig and bellbottoms for the presentation!

cheers to arming our boys with all the tools they will need to be the change we need!

Absence Alternatives February 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! Joan Baez is an awesome choice, may I say! Cheers to you too! Rock those bellbottoms! :-)

Absence Alternatives February 24, 2010 at 5:51 pm

I forgot to mention how much I love this line: “arming our boys with all the tools they will need to be the change we need”

So much packed in such a short sentence. That’s indeed all I can hope for, or rather, what we are striving to do here.

Thanks again for commenting. I really appreciate it.

Jen @ NathanRising February 26, 2010 at 10:02 am

“Why doesn’t anybody wonder WHY it is perfectly okay for a man, any man, say, to wear pink, carry a purse, comb your hair in a European and Asian society? And yet it is a NO NO here in the US of A?”

Ugh, this is something that has always irked me. Boys and girls have these misguided preconceived notions on how they are “supposed” to behave and parents try to squish their kids into these predefined molds. Well, when a parent tries to force a child to be something they are NOT, then I assure you, there will be some SERIOIUS REBELLION in the teenage years.

And I also think that fear drives a lot of these gender roles, especially the fear of thier kid “turning gay.”

I think some people are simply idiots who lack foresight and common sense and they just cannot wrap their brains around the fact that no matter what mold you try to force your child into, they will be who they are meant to be, and trying to prevent that will cause complete chaos, bitterness, anger, and rebellion.

Just my two cents. :-)

-Jen
.-= Jen @ NathanRising´s last blog…Mommy Brain =-.

submom February 26, 2010 at 10:41 am

Your two cents are worth tons of gold. :-)
.-= submom´s last blog…Do you know what you are reading to your children? =-.

Kathy March 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I am the parent of a very unique and amazing 8 yo boy who has been bending the gender stereotype since birth. He is becoming very self aware at this age and noticing how different he is. He plays almost exclusively with girls, sings opera-like songs, still loves to dress up and play with dolls, identifies with Elphaba from Wicked, loves musicals and theater, loves to bake, ride his bike, swim, is bored by team sports, balls, star wars. I could go on and on. He is so wonderful, funny, sensitive, and creative. To add to his feeling different, he is adopted from Guatemala and his dad and I are both Anglo (he does have a little sister who is also adopted from Guatemala) I wouldn’t change one single thing about him and both his dad and I let him know it everyday. BUT I am terrified as he is going to be leaving his comfortable magnet elementary where differences are celebrated and he is accepted and encouraged in his uniqueness. We live in a medium sized town in the northwest US. It is mainly white and as homophobic as anywhere in this country. (Of course I have no idea what his sexual orientation will turn out to be but will support him in whatever lifestyle he finds himself belonging in. ) We can’t afford to send him to a private middle school. Anyone out there have advice regarding: reading material, personal experience, anything?? I loved this post and I completely identified with it.
I’m thinking of taking the family out of the country for a while but that is challenging too as my husband has health issues.
Kathy

Absence Alternatives March 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Thank you so much for commenting and for sharing your story here. I don’t know the answers, and I could identify with your anxiety as well. If I come across any helpful books or info, I will definitely pass it along to you. Good luck with everything! {{{Hugs}}}

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