When I was growing up I was never one of those kids who dreamed about my wedding, planning the color of my bridesmaid’s dresses or coordinating floral arrangements. I did, however always assume I was going to be a mom. This I could definitely imagine. But when I did, I saw myself as a girl mom; raising empowered mini me’s….girls who, unlike me, felt whole unto themsleves, knew their worth, and didn’t let anyone fuck with them. My daughters would know exactly where their clitoris is and would know the priceless gift their sexuality is, not only the first time, but every time she would decide to share that gift with someone else. I could relate to girls. Raised with
a sister, mother and father (who I def wouldn’t call guy’s guy), boys were still a mystery to me when I became a mom. I knew how to seduce a man, but I had no idea how to raise one. Yet when my eldest (a son) was born, I was game to figure it out, even when I became a single mom by the time he was two. I was convinced I would raise him to be sensitive new age guy who respected women. He would be gender neutral. As a baby I happily put him in pink onesies, and purchased an array of montessori-approved gender neutral toys. There were no weapons in our hourse, toy or otherwise. But by the time he was 4 years old, Ethan was making guns out of his carrot sticks and feeding his paper dolls (only after undressing them), to his dinasours.
Then my second son came, followed by my third male child, just 14 months later. What the hell was I going to do with 3 boys? Well, I figured God gave me a XY chromosomes for a reason. So I decided I would take my boy mom job seriously by teaching THEM where the clitoris is (heterosexual or not every guy should have that knowledge) . I would raise three boys who knew how to treat women (and everyone else) with respect, and who felt very comfortable expressing their emotions. Their EQ would be as prized in our family as IQ.
It hasn’t been easy or straightforward and I have often been out of my depth. I got used to the fact that everything (golf clubs, umbrellas or skis) could (and likley would) be made into a weapon. Despite my aversion to team sports, there would be endless sports played and balls thrown and caught. And there would also be a lot of talk of balls…And penises..lots of of it. For literally decades of my mothering career, penises were their favorite form of creative expression; really their favorite thing period. There would be hundreds of penises made out of playdo, decorated onto the Christmas cookies and carved into Halloween Pumpkins, and even (once) finger drawn into the dust on the television screen. I would witness their smack talk and wrestling my little girl self could never imagine carrying out, much less recovering from.
I definitely wasn’t a perfect mom; not even one of the best ones. I’m still reconciling the mistakes I made and places I know I failed them. I still struggle with guilt, especially after loosing Sammy; all the woulda coulda shoulda’s. But what I can say is that I definitely raised truly amazing young men. My husband helped too of course lol. I am continually proud of the way my boys respect women (and they all know where the clitoris is too). They express their feelings in a healthy way and , they know how to love and be loved with an open heart.
It’s not easy raising boys into men in a society that for generations encouraged them to cut off from and bury their emotions; to show no weakness. At the same time, more recently we must manage to teach our boys how to honor themselves in a world that has been avidly calling out “toxic masculinity,” unfortunately misdirecting reasonable anger in unreasonable ways by shaming men (often before their even open their mouths) as being mysogenists to their very core. I have watched my boys be bullied for crying when sad in middle school, and shamed by their teacher in hight school in front of the class as “a typical selfish man” when they forgot to pick their notebook off the classroom floor. I digress but here’s a note to that cruel teacher btw: It’s ADHD not toxic masculinity that leads my boys to forget their school supplies and shame is the shittiest motivator for behavior change.
In this week’s f you are raising a man, identify as a man or love a man this episode will mean the world to you! I know it means the world to me as a mom of 3 boys and a wife of one man.
In today’s Language of Love Conversation, actor, director, author, and father Justin Baldoni unpacks how this question motivated him to write his recent book, Boys Will Be Human. Justin shares the insights and clarity he wishes he had been given as a young man about how to become a conscious and emotionally whole man in today’s world. We connect over our experiences as parents as we struggle through trying to help our sons become the people they’re destined to be.
Check out our conversation where we break down:
- How social pressure and our own unconscious conditioning can act as a barrier to helping our boys grow into healthy men
- Tips for teaching boys to move through feelings rather than ignore or hide them
- How to tackle bullies and bystanders who squelch our boys’ creativity and self expression
- The unexpected effects Porn has on developing brains and how the idea of sexual consent plays out in boys’ sex education.