For Our Boys

Photo by moodboard via Flickr
Photo by moodboard via Flickr

Moms, it’s time for us to unite.

I don’t care what color your skin is, or what color your sons’ skin is — we all share the same hopes and dreams for our sons, and together, we stand a much better chance of making them happen.

This morning, I read the plea of a white mom of biracial boys, worrying about how to protect and equip her sons for the world. She says she has “heavy boots” on her soul and heart as wonders and worries about what the future holds for her sons. She knows that her sons will likely face obstacles and discrimination due to the color of their skin, and it hurts her that she can’t protect or shield them from that harm.

My heart hurts too, as I hear and feel her pain, and that of so, so many mothers.

Every single mother I know — black, white, brown and every shade in between — wants her children to have a chance in this world. Every mom wants her children to be treated with respect and to treat others with respect. Moms want their children to be recognized as unique individuals, and hope and pray that others’ will value her children’s gifts. Moms hope that teachers and community members will be tolerant and understanding of children’s challenges, that they will help — not hinder — our children’s growth.

Together, we can do this. Together, we can make the world a better place for all of our sons.

Middleofthemadness writes:

…world change has to begin with me. And you. And everyone. Together…

Please….don’t assume. Don’t judge. Begin the conversation. Open up. Be real. Invite others into your home and into your life. Share the fears, the heartaches, the pain. See beyond the surface and honor the person within. Lift each other up. Love. For we all need to be about the business of changing the world. There’s no sitting around hoping.

Let’s start, today.

Today, park your assumptions. It will take conscious work and effort, but do it anyway. When you see a mom using EBT or FoodStamps, don’t automatically assume that she’s lazy, that she’s playing the system or that she doesn’t want to work. Instead, only accept and acknowledge the reality in front of you: Another mom is feeding her kids.

When you see another woman’s child having a meltdown, don’t assume that her parenting skills are to blame or that your parenting skills are superior. Only accept and acknowledge the reality in front of you: Kids struggle. Parenting is a challenge, and a work in progress.

Offer help, not judgement. If another mom seems overwhelmed — if her kid is tantruming in the park and you can see in her eyes and body language that she’s exhausted and doesn’t know what to do — toss her a lifeline. Instead of shooting her dirty looks, try a sympathetic glance. Try saying, “Yeah, that age can be challenging,” or “My little guys hates to leave the park too” or whatever. Sharing your reality and vulnerability can go a long way; sometimes, when we share our challenges, we give permission for others to admit that they don’t have it all figured out either.

When we pass judgment, either via our words or actions, we put others on the defensive. They feel obliged to defend their choices. But when we admit our vulnerabilities, we make it OK for others to ask for and accept help as well. We forge human connections. We learn from one another.

Share what you know about boys, with teachers, with grandparents, with community members and with other parents. I can’t tell you how many times other parents have expressed a sigh of relief when I tell them that my boys also climb on furniture and bicker and wrestle. Because we live in a world that too often demonizes boy behavior, we sometimes think that something is “wrong” with our boys — and schools and communities, unfortunately, often reinforce that message by punishing boys far more often than girls. Share what is normal and real about boys. At the same time, continue to teach your boys respect for rules and for others.

Listen to others moms’ concerns with an open heart. Most of us live in very small worlds. We glimpse the larger world through news reports and interactions online, but we have no idea what it’s like to live in other realities. I live in a mostly white Midwestern town of 5000. I am raising light skinned, blue eyed boys. I don’t know what it’s like to live in the inner city. I don’t know what it’s like to raise a dark-skinned child in a world that’s still filled with prejudice. That’s why I listen to and trust the words of other moms when they share their experiences. Please, don’t ever write off another mom’s story just because you’ve never had that experience, or because you’ve never seen what she’s describing. Instead, listen. Let her words wash over you, and let your heart feel the truth of her story.

Moms throughout the world want their children to survive and thrive. We all have that common. Let’s keep that in mind and work together for the good of our sons.

The Building Boys Bulletin

The Building Boys Bulletin Newsletter gives you the facts, encouragement, and inspiration you need to help boys thrive. Written by Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four sons and author of Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World That Misunderstands Males, Building Boys Bulletin includes:

The Building Boys Bulletin is funded by direct subscriptions from readers like you. If you’d like the full experience, please consider becoming a paying subscriber.

“I learned a lot about helping boys thrive over the past 20+ years — most of it the hard way! I’m eager to share what I’ve learned to make your path a little easier.”   – Jennifer

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for sharing my writing and my heartache on behalf of my sons. You are so right in saying that all moms want the same thing for their sons when it boils right down to it. I love your expansion, advice and ways that moms can support each other. I’m thrilled to have found this site. Keep up the great work. Thank you.

Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World That Misunderstands Males

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