Moms, we have an important job. And not that it’s not a job that shouldn’t also be shared by dads, but let’s face it, this job is near and dear to our hearts. We have a job and an important responsibility to raise good sons. Sons that will grow up to be men that understand providing for a spouse goes well beyond bringing home a paycheck. They need to be evolved men who treat women well at home and in the workplace.
I have had several talks with my son about his relationship with his girlfriend and tried to pry out of him how he feels about her. She’s a lovely young woman and I can tell she adores him. The thing is I’m not sure he is as head over heels for her as she is for him. I told him it wasn’t fair to lead her on and she probably has expectations after so many years together. I told him to not break her heart. And I hope he’s not afraid to show or share his feelings.
I recently dated a man for five months who suddenly went dark. After several WTH emails, he finally answered me that he wasn’t sure we were compatible and he was still not over his prior girlfriend and thought getting involved with me would help him get over her. I told my son this was exactly what I had been advising him about. It’s not fair to use another human being this way. I’m not naive. I know this happens all the time. But I want my son to know how wrong it was to treat someone that way. I want him to know the right thing would have been an in-person conversation, not a cold e-mail.
I also want my son to not fall into the old gender stereotypes of man earns the money and woman cleans and takes care of the kids. I’ve made him go with me to the grocery store and sent him there with a list. I make him clean the bathroom he uses and help around the house. And I had to go as far as showing him his parent’s paychecks to get him to believe I was the breadwinner and not to believe what he sees on TV.
I want him to treat women in the workplace as equals. He is already showing that he is a born leader. And as a future leader, I want him to judge co-workers for promotions on merit and leave gender off the table. I hope that based on having a mother who had senior level jobs, and seeing the stress and the long hours that he will be more supportive of his future wife and whatever path she is on.
Mary Susan Murphy said, “In the modern economy, it is no longer realistic to teach our sons that the scope of their job as a man is to make a paycheck, and he should consider his paycheck to be a license. Reciprocal relationships require both the man and the woman to be thinking about all aspects of the relationship in totality, with shared responsibilities and mutual give and take. Unfortunately, in many ways, our society still teaches boys to simply aspire to be financial providers. Not only is that not realistic, it leaves women responsible for carrying the weight of everything at home and at work. And at the end of the day, it creates an inequitable relationship”.
And Mary Susan is right. We do these stereotypes exist and an important component of change starts with our sons…and our roles as mothers.