Just a few weeks ago, Nathan, Elizabeth, and I found ourselves in a darkened room meeting the newest member of our family. The excitement, especially from Nathan, was palpable as we saw a beautiful and healthy little child growing stronger in my belly. At this point it was anybody’s guess, was this little one a boy or a girl? When we saw that this little child is a boy we were so excited!
On the drive home one of us, and I honestly don’t remember who mentioned the challenge of raising a little boy in the era of Trump. With toxic masculinity front and center in our news cycle at almost every single moment, how can we find our way toward raising a boy who is the opposite of so much of what we’re seeing? I have to admit I feel more strongly about protecting Michael from the influences of our world than I do about protecting Elizabeth and Ada.
As Nathan and I talked through these challenges on our drive home, I had the opportunity to remind him of everything we have going for us in our quest to (essentially) raise a feminist. Our child is being born into a family with two parents with advanced degrees (or, almost, in my case), examples of demonstrating gentleness through many of the men in his family, and parents who are already well practiced in giving voice to emotions and are comfortable talking through them in a developmentally appropriate way.
I can’t help but consider those who don’t have the benefit of a lot of education (and the loans to prove it) or those who are first-time parents. How do we raise children in a world where there is so much toxicity? Ultimately, I think that the best thing we can do is to let gentleness rule the day. While there is some data to back up the idea that being gentle and present is a really good idea, I don’t think we need data for something like this. Regardless of their chromosomal makeup, babies want to be “hugged and cuddled and loved.” The Golden Rule, present in many cultures and religions, is truly a good rule to live by.
Am I nervous about raising my children, boys or girls, in a world that seems to encourage us to embrace the worst parts of ourselves? You bet I am. But more than that, I think there is great reason to hope because there are people like those in my family and those who are part of our community here on The Good Men Project who are showing us how to be the best versions of ourselves.
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