I’m raising my son to be a man. A man who respects both men and women. A man who knows that working hard reaps rewards and life doesn’t come handed to you on a silver platter. A man who puts his family first and knows sometimes that means going to work and sometimes that means staying home.
Raising a man is hard work. It’s frustrating, tiring and dirty. But it’s also the most amazing thing I could ever do in my life.
In Australia at the moment we have a lot of media attention on Domestic Violence. More than one woman each week dies at the hands of a man she once loved. She dies in fear, she dies in pain and she dies because that man does not respect that woman.
It started me thinking about all the things I want to teach my son about women. Not just in a way to show respect, but in a way to show love and compassion. To all women. Always. There are so many day to day lessons I want to teach and show him, but these I believe are the most important to me:
1 – Men are not superior to women. We are all equal.
It may be taking society a while to catch up to this notion but my son will be raised to know that men and women are equal. I hope by the time my son enters the workforce there will be equal pay, equal rights and the debates we have today will be long forgotten.
This goes in all aspects of life. Women are not meant to ‘just stay at home and raise their children.’ My son will know that both men and women have the right to choose to work, as both have the right to choose to stay home with their kids.
He will know that women are not less, they are equal.
2 – Don’t mistake kindness for weakness.
It’s often seen in the corporate world in particular that kindness is a sign of weakness. This is so far from the truth.
My son will be taught that kindness is a choice all people make. And that choosing to be kind is one of the strongest gestures anyone can make. Particularly when you’re met with hostility. Anyone can spread hatred and distain, it takes true strength to spread kindness.
3 – Being emotional is not a sign of weakness.
A woman carries many emotions all the time. She loves, worries, is excited, proud, scared and hopeful – all at once. Women are often ridiculed for their emotions, being told that being upset makes them weak. Caring makes them weak. Being emotional makes them weak.
In what way can this possibly make a woman weak? She carries all of these emotions with her every single day and still manages to be successful in life. Her mind constantly has 10 tabs open, running at full capacity from waking moment until last thoughts at night. And she still manages to be kind, successful, loving, caring and compassionate.
Emotional is not weakness. It is strength. It is honesty. It is to be respected.
4 – Just because you don’t understand, it doesn’t mean you can’t show compassion.
There are many things in life you will never understand. As many men will attest to, women are one of these. We are complex, just as all people are. But just because you don’t understand something, it doesn’t mean you cannot show compassion.
You may not understand why a woman is crying while watching Ellen, but give her a hug and tell her you love her.
You may not understand why she is terrified to leave your child at daycare for the first time, but wrap your arms around her shoulders and tell her everything will be alright.
You may never understand why finding that recipe her mother gave her is so important but don’t argue, just help her find it.
You don’t need to understand to show love and compassion.
5 – Never, ever underestimate the fierce love a woman has for her children.
We may be civilised and advanced, but never ever underestimate the complete primal instinct a mother has when it comes to her children.
Women are known to do incredible things for their children. They survive when others would give up, they love when others would scorn, they forgive when others would walk away.
A woman’s love for her children will outlast and over power anything and everything. Have respect for this love.
6 – Feminism doesn’t mean burning bra’s and lesbianism.
Am I a feminist? Of course – I’ve been a woman all my life, I’d be mad not to be supportive of women. Does it mean I think women are superior to men? Absolutely not (see point #1).
To me, feminism means embracing all things that make me a woman.
Just because men and women are equal, it does not mean we are the same.
Celebrate her curves, marvel in the body that is able to carry life, tell her she is beautiful when she feels it the least.
You may never realise it but a woman’s love and her strength will get you through your darkest days and support you when you need it most. That is because you are part of a team. We aren’t mean to go through life on our own.
7 – Always treat the woman you love like a lady.
Open doors, never swear at her, run her a hot bath when she is feeling unwell and sit with her at night while she nurses your child. This has nothing to do with the role of a woman or the role of a man. It has everything to do with love, compassion and kindness.
The women you have chosen to spend your life with is the other half of your team. You are in this together. She is not your maid, your personal chef or your mother’s replacement. You are equals experiencing life together. Embrace your differences and celebrate your similarities. But above all, always show love, compassion and respect.
What lessons do you want to teach your son? Share with us in the comments below.
If you’re in Australia and seeking help with a Domestic Violence situation, White Ribbon can help. You can find more information here.