Raising a son

With 12 days until our anatomy scan and likelihood of discovering Falco’s sex, topics related to sex, gender and parenting have been swirling through my head. In conversations with friends last night and throughout the previous weeks, I have disclosed what I am about to tell you: raising a child with a penis terrifies me. My goal is to unpack some of that here.

I feel that raising a feminist son is one of the hardest and most important jobs in the world. I have no doubt that if our child ends up being a boy, K and I are equipped and motivated to raise him with respect for women. This job, however, feels really daunting at times. K and I have spent the majority of our lives experiencing gender privilege from the side of the have-not’s. I understand what it’s like to experience white privilege and I feel confident in my ability to parent our children as intentional, thoughtful allies to people of color, but some of my internalized gender oppression creeps into my confidence to parent a feminist son and translates into self-doubt.

I know that surrounding ourselves with like-minded parents will help me to express and address some of these issues, and that our collective consciousness will help us all to better raise feminist children. That’s why I am super grateful to have feminist parents in our lives that we respect, admire and trust. Some of them even write really phenomenal blog posts on the issue, and I highly suggest that our readers who want to parent feminist sons check out this link. I hope you find it as motivating and thought-provoking as I do.

Beyond the topic of feminism as it relates to raising a son, and I feel silly admitting this, I truly fear having a child that is born with a penis. Neither K nor I have penises, and our past experiences with people who were born penises have all involved circumcised ones (our decision would be to not circumcise our child), so there are some large limitations to our real-life experiences with this anatomy. Starting from early on, this presents some challenges, though not insurmountable ones, such as making sure we don’t hurt what I’ve heard can be a rather sensitive part of one’s flesh. As a child grows older, we’ll then address some awkward yet critical topics like sex drive, consent, safer sex, etc., and I really only know first-hand how these topics relate to having a vagina.

I’m sure that as parents, regardless of Falco’s sex, we will have moments of humor, doubt, hesitation, joy, outrage and more. It’s wonderful to know that we have this healing and cathartic space in which we can openly air and process it all so that we can be the very best parents we possibly can be.

6 thoughts on “Raising a son

  1. I just found out two weeks ago that I am expecting a baby boy in March. After 2 girls I am very excited to have a boy. However I am super terrified of how to raise a son! Thanks for that link, I found it really helpful. And hopefully having two sisters, a mom, and 5 grandmas lol will help keep this little man in line.

  2. “I feel that raising a feminist son is one of the hardest and most important jobs in the world.”

    I can identify with this, and your anxiety, so, so, so much. I sometimes feel ill-equipped to help my son navigate his way through life, especially when it comes to treating women respectfully and becoming a voice of support for the women he cares about. It just seems like the messages sent at young boys about how they should be, and should treat women, are endless and impossible to overcome.

    And yeah, I felt weird about my kid having a penis at first too. I mean, I am married to a (circumcised) dude, but I didn’t know how to care for an uncircumcised penis. It’s not too difficult though!

  3. as a lesbo with only sisters, and a women’s college graduate, i have, literally, ZERO experience with boys and men. i felt, though, totally sure that any baby i made, would come out a boy. i still had some pretty strong feelings when i learned that he would be a boy…but i have to say: back then, the thought of eliza and i raising a smart, respectful, creative, white man carried me through. (if we were all doing this, that’s some pretty big change to be made.)

    now, 2.5 years in, i can say that i have thought of ollie as a “boy” NEVER. he’s a kid. he’s my baby. he has trucks and dolls. he’s shy. he’s incredibly athletic and coordinated. he’s gentle. he loves kisses and snuggling and reading under the covers. we won’t be able to keep the crazy world’s influence out forever, but we are certainly doing our best to give him an incredible foundation. and i think that’s one of the most revolutionary things i’ve ever done. and i’m sure you guys will make your way through it, too. can’t wait to read more!

    (btw: Hi- nice to meet you. We’re This Mama. That Mama.)

    • Hi there! Great to “meet” you! Hearing this really puts my mind at ease. I know that I’m likely fixating on something ridiculous, but I want to be as thoughtful and intentional a parent as I can be. Thanks for the support and kind words!

  4. I’m anxiously awaiting the news of Falco’s sex.

    In the meantime I thought I’d share that we are also raising a boy, and although some of our parenting decisions are very intentionally non-traditional, most of the time, we’re just raising this little person whose sex and/or gender don’t matter too much. He has cars and dolls, a kitchen set and a ramp for those cars, hockey jerseys ans a tutu. He loves giving hugs and kisses and climbs like a monkey. I guess that when he starts school and becomes more aware of social “norms”, we may have a little more work to do, but for now, we pretty much follow his lead as far as interests, toys, activities. (He’s almost 18 months) You have a whole community of people out here ready to help you navigate raising a son or a daughter. πŸ™‚

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