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raising boys

imageSome say parenting boys is much easier then girls. Well mostly only the parents of girls. Though being a girl myself and being a single parent, there are often issues that arise that I am unsure of how to deal with. The issue of gender equality is close to my heart, and though I understand there are differences which make us unique, I want to live in a society where there is no discrimination based on our genitals. Toys for girls and boys is one of my pet peeves, I love that meme someone made that says how do you tell if a toy is for a boy or a girl? Do you operate toy with your genitals? No? then its for boys or girls. Yes? then its not for children!
Back to the issues that come up as a mama wolf raising man cubs. First off was the issue of circumcision. Fresh out of being a Jew living in the holy land, before I gave birth to my firstborn, there was no doubt I would have a brit mila. The first moment I held his tiny perfect body in my arms, I had doubts. Their father was around at that stage, and he was vehemently opposed to circumcision, so my doubts grew, and the 8 days came and went. I just couldn’t go through with it, especially without the support of family or community. Now almost 6 years later, I am so glad for this, as I have learned so much in that time about it( for a noter post). Following on from there, most infants are much the same regardless of gender. Only as my son grew older, did there become an issue of what to do with the foreskin, as well as teaching him to pee without getting pee all over his feet and clothes.
More recently I was part of a conversation about handshakes. The consensus of the discussion is that a man learns how to give a handshake from his father, and the way a hand is shaken imparts a dearth of knowledge about the mans character. I found this so interesting, as t was not something I had ever given much thought to. Also due to my past jewishness, I rarely shook hands with men, as it is not customary for women to shake hands. I really had no idea about what a hand’s shake imparts about its owner. As I discovered, a handshake should be strong and firm, conveying strength and respect. A soft shake says just that about the rest of the body attached to the hand, that the man is soft and thus less then manly.
So, I am not entirely sure what I want for my boys in regards to the image they present to other males. I do want them to embrace their masculinity, as well as be embracing of the divine know when to be hard and when to be soft so to speak. Like everything I strive to reach the duality that is so central to our existences. They say you shouldn’t marry a man if you don’t want kids like him, which is fine as we weren’t married haha, but all the same there are parts of him that I don’t want my kids to be like. I wonder if he would teach them about things like a mans handshake. I wonder what sort of men they will be without a fathers guidance. I know that for the most part I don’t want them to be guided by their father, who has a history of disrespect to women, violence, womanising and substance abuse. Of course like most narcissistic sociopaths he does have his charms and redeeming qualities, but I don’t think I could pick and choose which if those he would impart on our children should they spend too much time together.
The boys love their father, and they are aware of his issues and the trouble and stress he has put our family through, in front of them many times. I worry for them, having a warped view of what it means to be a man, a father. Sadly it seems positive male role models are few and far between. My own father is a fantastic role model, but as he lives in another state, we only see him a few times a year. Of course I may end up meeting another man who could be a father figure for the, but honestly I am too scared that he would end up being a false hope and walk out them too, which I can’t deal with, for the sake of their fragile little hearts. I know the world is a harsh place, and children are adaptable and resilient, but when your understanding of the world is limited too and guided by those closest to you, having your world abandon you for no understandable reason is bound to have long term repercussions on their ability to have their own successful relationships.
So on I struggle, trying my best to enhance and strengthen their own masculine and feminine identities, and be a role model for how humans should treat each other regardless of physical anatomy. In a world where gender fluid is now becoming an accepted state, which is an identity I can identify with in terms of sexuality, I wonder it it falls to me to be the shaper of the next generation of humans for whom man and women are truly equal, and we can all shake hands how we choose and still be respected for it.

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