When we first found out we were having a boy, we were both over the moon! Then the next day, anxiety set in for me. Although I was excited to get to know the person we were bringing into the world, I also starting wondering how I would approach raising a boy.
As a woman and with over 10 years of experience in women’s health, I know I'd feel confident raising a girl. I'd look forward to teaching her self awareness and how she could use her emotions to better navigate her world. But with a boy, I didn't know where I would start.
I needed something tangible to kickstart this journey, so I went to the mall to pick out some baby boy clothes. Having cute wardrobe items ready and waiting for him would help me visualize the future and connect with the fact I was bringing a boy into the world.
As I shopped, I realized that I could teach him everything I could teach a daughter - self awareness and a better understanding of the people in his life (in particular, girls and women).
That Friday night, Tyler and I were driving to the grocery store to prepare for #quarantinedatenight. Tyler knew I was feeling anxious about our recent news and said, “most boys grow up knowing less than 1% about women. If our son knows at least 3%, he’ll do just fine.”
He went on to talk about how much it will benefit our son to understand the changes a woman goes through monthly - from her mood, energy, thought process, what she likes/doesn’t like, etc. In order for our little one to respect others for their differences and get to know himself at the same time, he also needs to know that women are not designed the same as men.
Here are a few ways we plan to teach our son about the beauty and complexity of women:
1. Don't hide our conversations about my cycle.
We want our son to witness his parents articulate what they want and need. He will hear his mother vocalize what she wants throughout the month, and we hope he will encourage women to do the same. He will see how his father reacts with respect, and he will notice that his mother does the same for him when he asks.
We hope he will learn to express his wants and needs in a healthy way, and we will do everything we can to teach him the differences in communication with women. We want our son to be a cheerleader for women (and men!) expressing their needs.
2. Talk openly to him (when he’s ready) about how a woman’s cycle is far more than her period or having babies.
A woman's cycle is still largely misunderstood. Most people - men and women - think it's just about a period or PMS or having babies. I want Dylan to know that the girls he goes to school with or works with focus on tasks differently depending on where they are in their cycle.
Men go through a daily hormone cycle, compared to women who shift monthly and week-to-week. Our son will understand that hormones affect people in different ways and that women's minds and bodies function differently than his.
3. Explain how and why a woman may act differently and what he can do to help.
Dylan will encounter women of all ages as he grows. From his female friends, teachers, aunts, cousins, and future wife (if he wants), we want him to be a grounding support for them.
I will teach him what a woman's cycle looks like. I will share how it feels and how our emotions change. I will tell him what to look for in her emotions so he can have empathy. I will instill the importance of the power all of this holds and how magical it is for women to live in their truth.
Then I will explain how a woman may change during pregnancy, postpartum, and when she goes through menopause when she's no longer having a cycle.
These are all topics boys are maybe briefed on but rarely given time to discuss. So when they grow up and are going through puberty, fatherhood, and aging into an older man, they're left confused and not equipped to fully support or understand the situations themselves. We want to make it easier for him to lend a helping hand.
4. Encourage him to express his own thoughts and feelings.
Just like girls need to understand their emotions - where they come from, why we have them, and how we can use them to our advantage - boys need to know how to do this too.
Tyler and I want him to know how to use his masculine and feminine energies for his own balance and success in life. This will empower him to find his own rhythms and live in harmony with his ever changing emotions.
When Tyler and I first started dating he said something to me I'll never forget: "I'm a person first and a man second."
At the end of the day, we want to raise Dylan to be a good person. We have many values to instill in him. And then we'll layer on how he can help himself and others navigate this world to be a more peaceful place.
Now seeing Dylan grow before my very eyes, I see why he was gifted to me. Our world needs more men like the one he'll grow up to be. I am his mother because I was the perfect person for the job :)