A few months ago, my 10 1/2 year old son, ran into my bedroom to make an announcement that made me choke on my water, literally. I sat there with my mouth wide open and really didn’t know what to say. I asked the first thing that came to my mind, “Well, where did you put it? I hope you didn’t touch the doorknob.” Needless to say, he informed me he hadn’t and already washed his hands.
That moment will never be forgotten by either of us, I’m sure. That night, I actually laid in my bed, and cried, because that was one of the moments where I wished I wasn’t a single parent, raising my son alone. It was at that moment, even though I always thought I’d be able to ‘raise’ a man, that I formed my first few doubts.
Sure, I’d be able to tell him how women should be respected, how he should always be a gentlemen and basic things like that, but I realized there were certain things that would probably be better if there was a man around to discuss with him.
I went on Twitter a few weeks ago, and reached out to other single women raising boys. One of the most poignant responses to a question I had in regards to women being equipped to raise men, came from @DaughterofPriam, she stated:
Being a “man” is one of those things that, as a woman, I know it when I see it, but I don’t know how to teach it. I don’t know exactly what I need to teach my son in order to teach him to “be a man.” There’s that balance between that natural desire to protect my son from all the “evils” of the world and makings sure he knows how to deal with them on his own. There are different societal expectations for men and women, and I’m just ill equipped to fully teach him how to meet those expectations.
Another mom, Carolyn B. stated:
Unequivocally yes. But I think women need to be honest with themselves that they cannot really empathize with what their sons go through in the same way they can with their daughters. I do think raising boys requires the presence of male role models, and that is something that I need to do a better job of finding for my son. Women should also seek advice from male friends when something comes up with their boys that they don’t really know how to handle. In some ways, I think single moms have an advantage in being more free to allow their boys to be in touch with their emotions, without having to fight with their husbands/partners who insist that the woman is making him “soft” and that he needs to “be a man.” But I think women have to be careful not to make their sons the “men” in their lives. So, in short, as long as women remain aware of their limitations in raising boys, and seek out male guidance/perspective where possible — including male role models — I think women can raise boys to become strong men.
I am in agreement with both of these women. Having strong male role models around my son is something I make an effort to do. My son has been involved with the Big Brothers program, since he was 9 years old, and has been matched with pretty great men during the past couple of years. Even though participating in these programs will never replace a full-time male role model/father, it definitely gives him the opportunity to hang out with men and do ‘guy’ stuff.
I appreciate the fact that my son felt comfortable enough to come to me and discuss his bodily functions that day. The next day, we actually sat down and discussed what it meant, he went over with me what he learned in health class that year. I truly hope that the openness that my son and I share is something that will always remain. Sure, I may not be able to properly throw a football, or relate to him when he’s going through stages of puberty, but I will definitely instill in him the common courtesies that all people need to have to become successful adults, regardless of whether they’re a male or female. Also, I have to instill in him, that women like the toilet seat left down. After all, it’s the simple things that count.