Blog · It's not always pink

Notes on motherhood #3: Sometimes you’ll be speechless (don’t say that to my son)

First-time mothers sometimes do silly things without knowing so. In my case, I’m guilty of having bought a navy blue robe for my one-year-old son. His father and I thought he looked adorable, so we snapped as many pictures as we could of him walking around in his pyjamas and robe. We then proceeded to send some of them to our family and friends.

Instead of receiving comments such as ‘So cute!’ ‘Adorable’ or ‘Look at that gorgeous face’, we got ‘He looks like royalty’ – apparently I bought the robe because I wanted my son to look like Prince George – and ‘Future Hugh Hefner’. The latter was the most common, and it infuriated me.

This, however, isn’t the first time that such comments have been made. In every occasion, I have been left speechless. These, however, are the answers I wish I had said in each case.

‘Future Hugh Hefner’
How would you feel if you dressed your daughter as a bunny for an Easter party and I said ‘She looks like a future Playboy model?’ Would you like that? I guess not.

The same applies when you suggest that my son may become someone who makes a fortune by objectifying women and spends his days in a mansion, dressed in a robe, seeing almost-naked women parade around.

We need to make sure boys don’t objectify women and they have to be taught from day one, so please don’t tell my son that being a playboy is okay. If you are fighting for gender equality, start here.

‘Boys can have harems’
My son was the only boy at Mothers’ Group. He is the only boy enrolled in swimming lessons and he’s usually the only boy in music class. Why does this keep happening? I don’t know and don’t care because I think it’s great.

Boys need to learn how to socialise with girls. They need to play together and understand that not every boy-girl relationship equals romance. But not everyone gets it. I’ve gotten the very annoying comment: ‘Oh, your boy is so lucky, he has his little harem’. Really? Really!

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Credit: Kozo Tada/Flicker

For years most of my dearest friends were (and still are) male. The five of us, four men and I, would go out for coffee, to the movies, and no one ever mentioned how lucky I was to have a harem because it wasn’t one.

Boys and girls can be just friends. They can share games, toys, life experiences, whatever they want. Boys can and should have friends who happen to be women and the other way around. If we don’t show them how to treat each other like equals and let them share responsibilities and work together, how are they supposed to do it when they are adults?

Please stop feeding the idea that every boy-girl relationship equals romance.

‘Girls hit boys’
When my son turned six months old, I took him to a playgroup. I thought both of us needed to socialise a bit more. His favourite activity was sitting in a bouncy mat. More than one baby could play there, so another mum and her daughter approached. The mum sat her daughter next to my boy. They were more or less the same age. Both of us were making sure the little ones didn’t fall, so there was no amicable exchange. But, out of the blue, her daughter hit my son.

These things happen at playgroup. Children are children and most of the time it’s not on purpose. An apology and seeing the mother of the guilty child reprimand her offspring in some way is enough for me, but that time around this is what I got: ‘I’m sorry D but you have to get used to it. Girls hit boys’. I was speechless; imagine if it had been the other way around and I had said: ‘I’m sorry little girl. Get used to it boys hit girls’. The message sent is just appalling.

In Australia one in three victims of family violence is male; and one man dies every 10 days because of domestic violence, according to the One in Three Campaign.

It’s our obligation as parents to stop domestic violence and the only ways to do it are leading by example and making sure our children understand that violence is just plain wrong.

‘You’ll have to be super careful, he’ll be a heartbreaker’
Every time someone says this, I imagine my son as the next The Bachelor. But, why do I need to be careful?

Yes, my son is cute. Chances are he will be a handsome young man. One day he’ll fall in love and someone will break his heart. Perhaps he will also break someone’s heart, but that is part of growing up and being madly in love for the first time.

A man who respects himself and others won’t give false hope to women (or other men). Such a man knows how to differentiate love from friendship and make it clear to others. The goal here is to make sure he doesn’t objectify women.

I’m doing my best to make sure my son understands that everyone deserves respect and the truth. His father and I are teaching him to respect women. But women should also respect him — a handsome man shouldn’t be objectified either.

What do I have to be careful about? I teach my son to be respectful; you teach your offspring the same and we’ll all be happy.

Have you gotten similar comments?

 

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