As i watch my son grow i often wonder what sort of a person will he grow up to be and whether i am doing my job of parenting well.
And then i saw this in one of the mails i received from a friend:
At times when my son refuses to do as told or throws tantrums, bites or hits, notwithstanding the fact that he’s still a toddler and such behaviour is perfectly normal, i feel like i am failing at my job.
I want my son to grow up to be honest, sensitive and strong.
Honest – in his communication, his relationships and his dealings with the world.
Sensitive – about others’ needs and feelings.
Strong – the sort of inner strength that sees you through a difficult time, that allows you to stick to your values and that enables you to stand up for whats right and good.
I realise it all sounds too clichéd. But despite the fact that this is repeated oft enough to make it a cliché, it is not implemented enough to raise good men. I know from personal experience how weak-willed and fickle-minded men can be and how important is a good husband, a good brother, a good son, a good man.
A child who is unconditionally and deeply loved, who learns to acknowledge his feelings and is well equipped to express them, and who learns to take responsibility for his actions, to value compassion and live it daily—this is the boy who will grow into a man who’ll make a loving companion. That’s good for the woman he marries. Even better for the man he becomes.
But it’s not all about what he grows up to be. It’s also about what sort of mother i become as i journey through this process. Because it’s the very mother who loves and raises her son, who can make or break her son’s life.
I am afraid of two things:
- failing to raise my son as a ‘good man’
- becoming a jealous and insecure mother myself
I have known single mothers who by the virtue of having taken the pains to raise their children somehow feel entitled to be at the top of their children’s priorities at all times. When her son finds a love interest, she is the one who ensures that the love he has found does not stay in his life for too long. And then these mothers manipulate their sons into believing that by choosing her above all else, he is being loyal to her and mindful of her sufferings.
Then again, these sons do not mind, or perhaps do not have a choice because of the shackles their mothers have bound them into, their mothers ruling their lives. They cannot or will not see that the very person they are trying to protect is the cause of their world falling apart and there’s nothing you can do to make them see it.
It’s a complicated world and many times i am so overwhelmed by my responsibility that i am reduced to tears and prayers. Parenting, as i now realise, is an enormous job of being responsible for another human being – his emotional, spiritual, physical and financial well-being. And a mother’s job is doubly sensitive and profound.
Culturally, empathy, nurturance, talent for friendship and relationship are considered feminine traits that are somehow lesser than independence and other kinds of strengths traditionally associated with men. However, instead of gender-ising these traits it is important to accept that these are valuable not just in women but in humans.
It may sound like a lot to expect from men, but when we get down to it, we find that it’s not so after all. Why should being loving and perceptive be expecting a lot? Aren’t these the very traits that set us apart as humans? Above all else these are the fruit of the Spirit. It’s what the Lord has commanded us to be.
And especially with raising a son, where the women of the future depend on us mothers doing our job well, it is important that we break the mould that defines masculinity as being aggressive, lacking empathy, repressing feelings and let the men be.
Only time will tell how far i succeed with my son. But i pray that my son grows up to be a good and God-fearing man.