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Marie Roker-Jones realizes that there is a lot to teach her sons about women and she hopes she’s doing her best to raise men of character.

As the mom of two boys,  I often have to remind them (and myself) that I’m a woman first, a mom second. I remember when my teen son was little and he said he wanted to marry a woman just like me. I was flattered and scared at the same time. On one hand,  he must see good qualities in me that he would want in a future wife but on the other hand was it fair to expect his future wife to be a  Star Wars, Pokemon, Hot Wheels, Lego, SpongeBob loving ninja?  I now realize that at that age, the thought of his wife being like his mother was the coolest thing in the world. Now that he’s a teen, he sees me through different lenses and I just pray that I’m giving him (and now his little brother) a balanced view on women.   Here are some things I want to teach my sons about women:

1. All Women Are Not The Same

The last thing I want is for my sons to make the assumption that all people are the same.  It’s easy to make judgments about others when you don’t have all the facts. Appreciate the differences in women based on their character, talents, personality, and interests.  Don’t try to change a woman because of your unrealistic expectations or preferences.  If you can’t accept her for who she is, find someone else who is more compatible.  Also, be mindful that there are good and bad people in the world, regardless of gender. Don’t let a bad experience with one woman influence your perception of all women.

2. Women are Funny

Tina Fey, Aisha Tyler, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Wanda Sykes, Mo’Nique, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris, Loni Love, Kym Whitley, Betty White, Carol Burnett, Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Cho, Roseann Barr, Chelsea Handler, Amanda Seales,  Kathy Griffin, Lisa Lampanelli, Sarah Silverman, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Sandra Bernard, Sommore, Jennifer Coolidge, Gilda Radner, Rachel Dratch, Joy Behar, just to name a few.

3. Appreciate a Woman’s Strength, Don’t Use It Against Her

Both genders get mixed messages about strength. Don’t get caught up in archaic views of traditional male or female roles. While men are expected to be strong, assertive and fearless, these same qualities are not always valued in women.  Be confident enough to admire a woman’s strength and not see it as a threat to your masculinity.

4. Listen but Don’t Rush to Solve a Woman’s Problem

Sometimes when a woman is talking, she is venting to release her frustration, anxiety or anger. She just wants you to listen. It doesn’t mean that she wants you to solve her problem or save the day.   If you’re unsure if a woman wants your help, just ask.

5. Don’t Call a Woman Crazy Because You Don’t Understand

Most conflicts arise because of miscommunication. What is spoken or written can be misconstrued. If you’re unclear about what a woman is saying, ask for clarification. Don’t dismiss what she’s saying as irrelevant or “crazy talk” because it doesn’t make sense to you. Feelings are real and just because you don’t understand or can’t relate doesn’t mean she’s being overly sensitive.

6. Be a Gentleman

Being a gentleman is not just about chivalry. At the core of being a gentleman is respect and love for self and others.  Treat people the way they want to be treated.  It takes a man of integrity to be a gentleman, so say what you mean and mean what you say in all forms of communication.  Your words and actions reflect your character, so think before you speak and act.

7.  If You’re Unsure, Ask

It’s the lack of clarity that can get you into trouble.  If you’re unclear, ask for more information. Asking questions helps you to set boundaries and helps you to better understand a particular situation. Respect the response and don’t  use manipulation or pressure to get your way.  As a follow-up, be clear in your responses.

8. Show Your Appreciation

A simple ‘Thank you” or acknowledgment of a gesture goes a long way.  Don’t take for granted what anyone does for you. Also, don’t let people take what you do granted.

Above all else, I want my sons to have self-love so that they are true to themselves.  Yes, it’s important to me that my sons are strong, loving, compassionate companions in the future but I also want them to be appreciated and loved for who they are as men.

Photo: BFishadow/Flickr

The Good Man Project

This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project. Republished with permission.

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  • Deebo

    Oh I was ready to pounce in here….lol. But this is some well thought out and positive advice for young men. Well, except for the one about “feelings matter.” They don’t always, but this is a great list so I’ll leave that for another day.

  • MyThoughts

    I appreciate your giving thought to how you can teach your sons to be men that you and they can be proud of. I wish more women would do the same. So many dysfunctional people are running around these days. It just contributes to a very dangerous society.

    I’m sure you’re aware of how peer pressure comes into play as young people get older, especially with young men. That means they’ll need consistent positive reinforcement and examples they can relate to. You go, Mom !

  • cbmts

    it sounds like if you teach your son to be a decent human being, all that would be taken care of.

  • Me

    i think for me i’m gonna teach my sons AND daughters to treat everybody the same. i just feel like the trap people keep falling for is having different rules for different people. like it’s not ok to hit anybody regardless if they’re girls or boys… and it’s not ok to base your opinion of people on their bodies or use your body to get what you want… or it’s not ok to use body parts to insult people (“he’s such a d**k” or “quit being a p***y”)… stuff like that. i think if everybody was taught that everybody is human & that all humans are capable of being smart, beautiful, rational and emotional, and that the only difference between men and women is the body parts we’re born with that make it possible to have kids (but neither one of those body parts is better or worse than the other b/c they’re both just two pieces of the same puzzle) then people would stop putting each other in boxes and mistreating them b/c “women do this” & “men do that”…

  • TR

    Good luck with your sons. I will say this though. As men a good deal of what we learn in regard to behavior toward women comes from what we see. Boys ingrain what is modeled in front of them. Whatever they see the men around them do is what they are most likely to pick up. And what they see women respond to is equally important.

    In short, teach him as do already do. But it has to be modeled for it to truly stick.