Among the fears I have for my son, one of the greatest is that he’ll limit himself to gender stereotypes.
I DO NOT WORRY about this with my daughter. She spent the majority of the years in which these are traditionally ingrained being raised by her father alone; she was by default exposed to everything I do that are considered, today, “man” things. My concerns with her revolve around typical ambition issues of a 12-year-old who thinks she is a 22-year-old heir to a wealthy throne. She may not do the things she’s learned, but she knows how to do them.
Maybe it’s the times and what’s going on in the world today; it could be part of me has bought into the latest wave of women’s suffrage movements, but I really don’t want my son to buy into this whole “men don’t do that” thing when it comes to behaviors and activities. I don’t want him believing men aren’t supposed to clean, cry, bake, sew, do laundry or be “overly” tender.
I SEE ON FACEBOOK all of the time fathers who clearly buy into traditional stereotypes and are well on their way to passing them onto their sons. I have no interest in judging them because, truthfully, my son is the only son who’s my responsibility. But just as I’ll be sure to post photos of Kalob’s hunting expeditions down the road, I’m also going to share photos of him baking cookies with me.
That’s right. I bake cookies.
My mother, a year or so ago, bought Kalob a simple baby doll with a toy bottle when he stayed overnight at my parents’ house. I remember her hesitation discussing the purchase when I picked him up. She was almost defensive when I saw it, seemingly convinced I was going to have a problem with it.
“Now Justin,” she said, “there’s nothing wrong with giving a little boy something to nurture and feel like he’s taking care of.”
If I had an expression on my face that reflected my feelings at all, it was more “that’s actually a great idea” than anything. Perhaps she misinterpreted this.
While his doll has accepted a role similar to the multitude of stuffed animals he’s lost interest in over time, he is still drawn to the thing when it pops up from out of a pile somewhere … nurturing, embracing and holding it just as he was the day I first saw him with it.
I BEGAN THINKING ABOUT these things tonight, as I sewed shut a tear in a small stuffed cow that was left in the yard and fell victim to our young, chewing dog. It is one of the few stuffed toys Kalob consistently loves. It cannot die at this time.
And while it looks like it was repaired by an EMT treating a victim in a bumpy ambulance on the way to the hospital, it gets the job done. My eighth-grade home economics class has finally paid dividends.
I believe it would be a disservice to my boy if I did not teach him things traditionally reserved for women. It would be a disservice to his future partner. It would be a disservice to society in general.
The world is full of tasks that require delicate hands – male or female.