Originally posted: Oct. 3, 2015
It has been raining all day and my son, Taylor, has been walking around taking care of his baby - that happens to be a plush tiger. The fact that I hesitate to promote this at times is a testament to the problems with the ways that we socialize our young boys.
Some may think that I am rushing him into fatherhood and this means he will grow up to be a young father because I said it was okay at an early age. It nearly goes without saying that young fatherhood implies irresponsibility and suffering for both him and my future grandson. I wonder what they would say if he was a little girl. We all know the children's toy industry goes as far as having actual baby dolls that urinate and require pampers and food, that are meant to be taken care of by baby girls who act like mom's - unless you know something I don't know about who buys these for who.
While it is easy to disregard these as toys as simply toys, what is happening here is the socialization of little girls to prepare them for motherhood. It is obvious, I know that, you know that, but sometimes we have to be explicit. This is not the way that we socialize boys. We teach boys to be policemen, presidents, CEOs, and even good brothers, but very rarely do we teach them fatherhood. It is feminized to the point of discomfort. Try imagining your son with a baby doll, feeding and cleaning it. It is uncomfortable. I have asked myself more times than I can count why this discomfort exists. I've come to understand that it is because we have attached parenting to motherhood. Parenting is wired in our minds as feminine and therefore emasculating (more to come on this idea in the future) and the last thing we want to do is emasculate our boys before they become men so they can be sure to become masculine men - with hairy arms and all that.
We are quick to blame fathers (especially young Black/Latino fathers) for being absent, underprepared, etc., which we know are mostly lies due to these findings. That debunked, we all have improving to do and I'm exploring one way to make this improvement by not shutting my son out of exploring fatherhood as he wishes. Afterall, how can I expect him to be a better dad than I am if I don't embrace his urge to practice. Plus, it is beautiful, isn't it?