On Monday morning Michael came to me, very sheepishly and said “mom, I need to you ask you a question. How do you get a girl to like you?” And after I almost spit my coffee all over the table, I looked at him and said, “Michael, the most important thing to do, to get a girl to like you, is to be yourself. But you also have to respect girls. And listen to them.”
And I almost said, and when they say no, they mean no. But I didn’t, because he is 7.
But the thing is, when do you teach that? How do you teach that?
The thing I don’t say on this blog, the thing I have never said on this blog, is that I worked in family violence, and child abuse for almost 14 years. And that shaped so much of who I am. And I am cognizant of the fact that I am raising a boy. I am raising a boy who is going to go out in the world with young women and who even at 7, knows that that means something. Who, even at 7, wants girls to like him. And sometimes, we all know, that goes too far.
We spend so much time teaching girls how not to get raped. How do we teach boys how not to rape? I want to teach my boy, that women are to be respected and listened to and valued and never, ever hurt. That there are lines that you don’t ever, not ever cross. So when Michael asked that very first question, that oh so innocent question, I wanted to start to plant a seed, a seed that he knows right from wrong. Because he wants girls to like him now, at 7, I can’t imagine what 13, what 17, is going to look like.
I am raising a boy who, if I have anything to say about it, will be respectful of women. Who will be respectful of all people. Because while we can teach women to be careful and say no and not walk to cars late at night and go to bars in groups, it starts with the boys. And it should starts with the boys young. I’m starting with my boy.