To My Boys
I have three boys, now. Three of them. I love their spirits so, and when I think of before I had children and how often I wished to have at least one baby girl, I realize I could never trade any of my sweethearts to make that wish come true. My life has taken a better turn. And now that our family is complete, there are a few things on my mind.
In the middle of all this hubbub in the news and media, when people are just now starting to realize that sexism, racism, and all the other -isms are still alive and well, I’m fully aware that my procreative contribution to this world is three more white males who will probably never know how it feels to be as marginalized as so many of their brothers and sisters out there. My boys couldn’t control being born into privilege, and I never want them to feel bad for being who they are. So I want them to be aware of several things:
First, more often than not, change comes not because of the loud minority, but because of the listening majority. Yes, you will be privileged, and what a gift it is to have that privilege and be able to use it for those around you! To speak up when something unkind is said (ignorantly or otherwise), to validate others’ injustices, and to strengthen those who feel beaten down are the privileges of which I hope you will take advantage.
Second, regardless of how prevalent the stereotype might be, I am starting to take offense to the low intellectual, spiritual, and emotional standards we place on your gender. “Boys will be boys,” “Men are pigs,” and other common phrases may be used to excuse the behavior of a boy we know who doesn’t try, doesn’t care, or doesn’t love. I know people sometimes use this jargon to build up girls and make them feel strong, but it is only true when you boys keep hearing it and then expect it of yourselves—it is a SELF-fulfilling prophecy, nothing more. So, regardless of what you may hear, your mother does NOT expect you to be mindless, unmotivated, animalistic, immature, or unengaged, and I do NOT expect the girls around you just to put up with your negative behavior. You have a choice to be kind. You have a choice to try hard and care about things. You have a choice to be gentle with others’ feelings and with your own. You are not creatures, you are my sons.
And third, be like your daddy and you’ll turn out just fine.