This blog started quite a while ago with little direction until I wrote my weekly email based on the same topic. In fact, a lot of what I'm sharing with you today is based on that email with a few minor changes. I want to begin today by explaining my business name which may seem like a strange way to start but I believe by the end of this post you'll understand why I chose to begin in this way.
"The Hall of love has 10,000 Swords. Don't be afraid to use one." - Rumi
In the process of parenting both boys and girls, I've learned that it takes more than patience and hugs, it takes all 10,000 swords of love to guide, protect, influence, and encourage each child in their own unique way. I have two daughters and two sons and to say that I have parented each of them the same way would be an outright lie. I have no apologies for treating my oldest son differently than my oldest daughter, my younger son or my younger daughter. They are not the same person and they do not communicate in the same ways. We are blessed to be an in-tact family who does things our own way. We are not our neighbors or our friends and what works for us, works for us. I have four strong, smart, and hormonal teenagers in my house. It's messy and it's magical and it takes everything I have some days to keep my wits about me. This is parenting.
It's a great and wonderful thing to be raising daughters in a time where opportunity is growing every day. While it never occurred to me to feel deprived when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, and I'm not sure how I feel about the whole feminist label, I definitely believe that each and every little girl on the planet deserves the same opportunity, pay, and respect that her brother deserves. I believe in powerful, emotionally strong, and forceful ladies. Better yet, my son doesn't even understand why anyone else would believe otherwise and his sister will take on any boy in her way. The world is lighting up in GIRL POWER and as a mom of two girls, it is a bold and wonderful future that I see for them. But here is the thing...
I also have two boys.
When I watch the news or see all of the power and poise of the women running for office, telling their stories of their strength, or celebrating their success, I'm bursting with hope for my own to girls in what they will have as a path to follow. Women are making their own ways in record numbers. Certainly men are still in strong fields and holding the deck but I can't help but wonder how their perception is changing while simultaneously hoping it changes alongside the women of the world. With the idea of mothers as breadwinners, taking charge, and leading, what do our boys see for themselves in a world where those roles were traditionally saved for them? I have two amazing young men. They are strong, caring, genuine, and intelligent too, just like their sisters. They are going to be wonderful husbands and fathers and they will change the world in their own ways - just like their sisters. But where are they left in the scheme of things?
In my classroom, as well as in my home, I've seen a decline in boy morale and confidence in their direction and in relationships. I think if you ask any teacher they will tell you that boys are struggling now more than ever in their confidence, direction, and purpose. Caught between being chivalrous and presumptuous, cordial and cold, loving and too touchy, boys are trying to find their way in a world where the rules their fathers and grandfathers followed don't necessarily apply anymore.
While I certainly wouldn't go back to a time when girls couldn't play football or let their voices be heard in Congress or the business world, I also worry about how we, as an adult society, are helping our boys step forward with the same bold and inclusive attitude. Consciously, I realize that boys have had these rights all along and that making room at the table is far beyond due. As a mom, I wonder how our boys are being helped to adapt at the same time to a shift in their traditional roles.
Boys are struggling!
I've always been a bit of a softie for my boy students, not because I don't like the girls I teach but because the boys are easier. They are less dramatic, less hormonal (usually), and more matter of fact. I think if you'd as a teacher 20-30 years ago, they would have said the exact opposite. Whether the increased confidence, social expectation, or a loss of morale is the cause, boys have changed. As a teacher, I've been curiously watching them learn their place and their role in the classroom, while also watching my own children's growth and attitudes. When the book, The Boy Crisis was recommended to me by my friend and coach, I knew that I had to pick it up. In this age of labels and traditions, both breaking and hanging on tightly to traditional roles, I've seen our girls excel at a rate that reciprocates the decline of our boys and it has been a big concern of mine at school and at home. The Boy Crisis is a must-read for anyone who deals with boys; from parents to teachers to mentors and grandparents. Our boys are struggling to know their place and their role in this brave new, wonderworld of girl power. I don't believe this was the intention or that it has to be the outcome. Our boys are not less because our girls are more but there has to be a balance of power and that requires effort and acceptance of new roles for both sexes.