Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Burden, Reminder and Plea to all the Moms of Boys

People have said for years that becoming a parent changes your perspective. It changes the lense with which you view the world. It changes the way good and in this case bad news affects you. 

Yesterday I read the letter written by the survivor of the horrible rape to her rapist. He doesn't get anymore description in this post but that. I don't care where he went to college. I don't care what his athletic accomplishments are. 

This news has hit me differently than similar news has in the past. The reason is because of these two blossoming swimmers who are the main focus of my day and time. 

As I sit and digest this incomprehensible situation, I feel a great burden as a mom to these two possible future swimmers (who knows what avenues and sports they may pursue).

As their mom, I have the burden to help them gain a healthy respect and view of women. I have the burden to teach them how to put the needs of others before their own needs. I have the burden to teach them how to be a gentlemen. 

I cannot wait until a week before they head off to college to teach them how to be a gentlemen. I cannot put off expecting them to value others. It starts now. It starts in how we talk about friends at school. It starts in teaching them respectful ways to describe and talk about others. It starts in teaching them to watch out for each other and protect the vulnerable. It starts in learning healthy and safe ways to treat others, speak to others and even play with others. 

As the years go by, I cannot dodge the hard conversations that will come up when a boy is making fun of a girl in their class because of her weight, skin color, hair, clothes or anything for that matter. I must, we must, sieze the opportunities with our kids to teach them that degrading others, in action or speech, is simply unacceptable. 

When the dreaded teen years come, I will be the mom that insists they dance with the girls who don't have a date at the school dance (and yes I will find out if they don't). I will be the mom that will not tolerate crude or sexual remarks made to anyone. I will also be the mom that discourages them from hanging out with others who think this behavior is acceptable or funny. 

I hope to raise our boys to be like the young men on the bike who stepped up to protect this woman in scary situation. I hope to raise them to offer to walk their female friends (and not just a girlfriend) back to their dorm or car after hanging out past dark. I hope to raise boys who give their cell phone number to all their female friends in college so those girls know they can call them should they find themselves in a scary situation. 

I am SO grateful to the moms of the guys I was good friends with in college. I can think of 10+ guys who always offered to walk me to my car in the big dorm parking lot so I would never go by myself at night. I remember a good friend who took the same class as I did always making sure we left together to walk to our exams that were at night. Thank you for raising your boys to look out for others, to protect others and to be gentlemen. 

We live in a broken and fallen world and the stories in the news this week are just another reminder of this fact. Sometimes it is overwhelming to think that we cannot do anything about it. In part, that is true. One single person cannot change the culture, except Jesus himself. But, I firmly believe that the way true change happens is in each and every home. It happens in the conversations around the dinner table. It happens in the conversations in the car. It happens at the baseball field and at the swimming pool. It happens only when we make a conscious effort to teach them because our culture will teach them quite the opposite of what we want. It happens by beginning now and not waiting until it is too little, too late. 

I'm new at being a "Mom of Boys" but to all my fellow moms of boys, let's stand together to raise our boys different. Let's rally together and not against each other to show them how to be gentlemen and servant leaders. We have to do it together because your boys will be in my house and mine will be in yours!