My wife and I have always savored our privacy with the most intimate family milestones. We opted out of having bridesmaids and groomsmen at our wedding, and when baby time approached, we gave a thumbs down to the ubiquitous gender reveal party. To let me know the news of what we were having, my wife gave me an Easter egg, and inside a blue sock with a Lego figurine of Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. I’ll never forget that moment. The day I found out I’d be a father to a son.
I admit I was pleasantly surprised to learn we were having a son. I had grown up as the youngest of two older sisters and I had way more girl cousins and aunts, not to mention a more matriarchal upbringing. I suppose I had always pictured being a Daddy to daughters. But what a blessing our first son was, and our second. Now, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Having boys has instilled in me, as a man, a sacred biological and societal duty to guide them to gentlemanhood. It’s the most challenging job I’ve ever had, and it only continues to push me.
The pull, however, of having boys, requires filtering out the past, and aligning for the future. While drawing from the strength of the women and minimizing the potential harmful patterns of the men in both my immediate and extended families, I have a new sense of what it means to raise a boy in this day and age. The notion of having boys as being a blessing—with males having been a rarity in my family—still holds true, but now it is all the more distinctive with the inherent responsibility of imparting decency.
I thank the men in my family for shaping me into what I am today. I appreciate their sense of humor, their ingenuity, and independence. They too held me up as a new king long ago and made way for those other bouncing baby boys to come into the family. What they may have lost along the way, however was upholding the community of men that’s required to develop interdependence among men. We should build this into the new generation of baby boys to expect more from the men before them—the signal that we need them now more than ever.