On Raising Young Men
It’s Jon’s and my anniversary. Typically, I’d repost the our story of coming together, with all its twists and turns. But thirteen years in, seems it’s less about how we met and more how we’re keeping it together.
It really comes down to this: We see each other as equals. (Equals who disagree and fight and don’t always connect. But equals, no doubt.)
The other day, in the car, I was describing the brilliant infographic that Reebok released in response to Donald Trump’s latest (or probably not, by now) gaffe. The boys, listening from the back seat, asked what I was talking about. I told them that our president, upon meeting a woman (leaving out details of who she was) for the first time, said “You’re in such good shape … Beautiful.”
My kids were appalled.
"That’s just rude,” the older one blurted. “People shouldn’t talk about other people’s bodies,” his little brother agreed. “But if you know them, you can talk about what you’re both interested in.” Or you can start talking to discover what you’re both interested in, the conversation continued. Maybe soccer or baseball. Farm camp. Art. Music. The weather. World affairs. Whatever. So many options. No need for creepy harassment. These boys are nine and seven years old.
I share this anecdote not to brag. Last weekend, one of my boys was picking fights with friends half his age; yesterday, the other one threw his bike into the woods, kicked it, then screamed at his grandmother—because he was feeling frustrated. Despite lots of yoga practice, I am emotional and reactive. I yell at my kids a little every day. Not awesome, but true. Sometimes, I yell at their dad. I most certainly am not doing everything right. Perhaps, I’m doing most things wrong.
But conversations like these (and this New York Times piece on raising a feminist son) give me hope that we’re raising young men who will treat women and men and children—all women and men and children—with respect. (Even if they will sometimes yell at people they love.)
And for that, on the 13th anniversary of the day Jon and I married, I am grateful.
PS: For inspiration on equal partnerships, listen to this awesome interview with my friends Amanda and Eric, who comprise one half of the band Swale.