• Raising a 'Sweet' Son Is Equal to Raising Brave Girls. Here's Why

    Equality is not putting one over the other; it's giving all children the opportunity to be whoever they want to be.
    by Rachel Perez .
Raising a 'Sweet' Son Is Equal to Raising Brave Girls. Here's Why
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  • Parents have the burden of molding their children into good individuals. I call it burden because, one, it is HARD. And raising a boy is tougher and trickier especially in this age of women empowerment. 

    Don't get me wrong. I'm all for girl power. Growing up, I've always hated that my brothers were allowed to do so many things, but I couldn't for the simple reason that I am female. But now I am raising a 13-year-old boy in a world that says girls can be anything (thank God), but "boys will be boys." What does that mean exactly?

    I wish more experts can preach how boys should not be shy about owning their feelings especially one of vulnerability (in our society, a sign of weakness in the male gender). What are the chances that a young boy will be called out by his parents or other people for wearing pink or playing with a baby doll? Highly likely because boys aren't supposed to do that.

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    Faith Salie, the author of the book Approval Junkie: My Heartfelt (and Occasionally Inappropriate) Quest to Please Just About Everyone, and Ultimately Myself, wrote an essay for Time. The mom of a 5-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl was at a loss for words when her daughter asked why girl shirts are pretty while boy shirts are boring.

    "We don’t need to raise kids with gender neutrality or deny intrinsic differences between boys and girls," Salie said. "We do need to recognize that children, regardless of gender, harbor innate sweetness that we, as a society, would do well to foster and preserve," she stressed.

    Salie points out the daily little things that people, not just parents, can do to avoid gender stereotyping:

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    • Don't stop a boy from doing pretend play that you think is play for girls (like playing with dolls). 
    • Don't assume that a boy prefers dinosaurs and cars over butterflies and flowers, or vice versa. Let them choose. 
    • Don't shut down boys' feelings. Stop telling them crying is for the weak.  
    • Don't think that boys will not find a princess book nor that there is nothing for him to learn when he reads it. 
    • There are no colors just for boys. The world isn't pink and blue. 
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    I've been told before that sons are generally sweet and affectionate to their moms even when they're playing rough, and, yes, that is true in my experience. How Salie defines "sweet boys" though is something I truly appreciate. I can only hope I can raise my son this way. 

    1. "Sweet boys grow up to be men who recognize the strength in being vulnerable and empathetic." 
    They are men who are confident in themselves who aren’t threatened by criticism, skin color, sexual orientation, religion or education. 

    2. "Sweet boys are children who’ve been given, by their parents and wider society, the permission to feel everything and to express those emotions without shame." 
    They learn early on that they can feel hurt or be upset or lonely, and they can reach out for help. 

    3. "Sweet boys evolve into open-hearted men who aren’t confused about consent and sexual boundaries because they experience women as equals."
    They know respect, and they choose NOT to take advantage of others.

    The mom of two then wrote: "Boys will not be mere boys. If we let them, boys will be human." Human and empowered ones, just like how we want our girls to grow up to be. Equality is not putting one over the other; it's giving all children the opportunity to be whoever they want to be. 

    Parents need to be their children's first role models if we are to effect a societal and cultural shift. Our kids need to know we have their backs. No matter what the outside world says, boys and girls will know there's nothing wrong with crying or wearing pink, or even hugging and kissing both their parents in public.

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