This past weekend, my 16-year-old daughter attended her Homecoming dance with her very first date ever. It was an epic moment in her life, starting from the night she was asked to the formal with a serenade and a trail of rose petals leading up to our doorway, and ending, sadly, with a wilted corsage and teenaged heartbreak.
Mothers of boys . . . we need to talk. First off, I am glad it is you and not me raising them. They say that God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle, and that is precisely why I have two girls. I’ll take intermittent mood swings over roughhousing and awkward, bumbling boy energy any day.
Ladies, you are a special bunch, having been handed a tremendous obligation to shape the men of our daughters’ futures. What kind of men, husbands and fathers your sons will be someday is all up to you.
So please, teach them well.
Show them how to treat women with kindness and respect. Instruct them on how to be equal partners in a relationship, starting with them doing their own laundry, cleaning their own bathrooms and making dinner for the whole family, on occasion. There comes a day when you will need to stop mothering them so that unnecessary responsibility doesn’t get passed on to our daughters down the road.
Teach them that it’s not OK to hit a woman or cheat on someone to whom you have a sworn commitment. Educate them in the importance of responsibility and that it’s not OK to abandon your children. At the very least, make sure your sons understand that it is most certainly not OK to leave a 16-year-old girl alone at a dance that your son invited her to so that he could go to a party with his buddies that she was never invited to — especially when this young woman had been dreaming about getting her first kiss from your son that night.
Mothers of sons . . . do your part, and we, the mothers of daughters, will do ours so that your sons can find the ideal mates with whom they can start their families and thrive happily in a healthy marriage. We will teach our daughters to be generous, loving, helpful and selfless – like the mothers who we hope we are. We will encourage them to plant seeds in their own garden so that they will grow strong and resilient spirits. And we will teach them to honor themselves and their bodies, and understand that they don’t have to go all Miley Cyrus on a boy to capture his interest.
October is domestic violence awareness month. Changing this cycle of violent and disrespectful behavior toward women— and sometimes men, too— starts at home. It starts with us, the mothers, our children’s first teachers.
Lynn Armitage, a freelance writer in Northern California, is the mother of two daughters. She is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. She welcomes your feedback at: Boatfolk@aol.com.