Alright, dads of boys. I know what you’re thinking. ‘I’m so busy with my son’s schoolwork, sports, dance classes, tutoring, LEGO pieces on the floor, and every other damn thing, that it’s hard enough parenting a boy, imagining what it would be like to have a daughter would be insane.’ I get that.
But you have an important role whether you realize it or not.
You set the stage for boys who will become men. You can reinforce or tear down false assumptions about girls and women. You, in your own ways, can help your boys be great partners with women in all respects. Whether your boys decide to become fathers or not, their actions guide cultural norms, and belief systems. They’ll hold positions of power. They’ll decide on legislation. They’ll work for women. Our sons will walk into a world feeding them messages laced with all kinds of hidden meaning.
And these preconceptions can be subtle. Let’s take the subjects of advertising and commerce, for instance.
Whether it’s noticing a missing key female figure on the shelves for one of the greatest sagas ever made, or pushing for greater diversity of representation available for kids, men still wield powerful influence over the world and can be active voices in these discussions.
In case you’re wondering, I’d like to see Dad-bod Ken from the Barbie line. Because representation. Ha!
I’ve recently been part of some really important conversations about girls, princesses and the future of entertainment brands. At first, I wanted to keep my mouth shut. What help could a white guy with two sons offer about the fate of girl culture around the world? But after some reflection, I realized as the son of a single mom, and ardent supporter of women, I needed to look closer. My sons will help usher in a more equitable, fair society where men and women can both given opportunities, and women defy expectations because of their sex or gender.
I know the exploration of these issues goes way deeper than commerce or simple gestures, but it’s a start. A call to action. Fathers of boys, stand up for girls. Sometimes that will mean simply listening, hearing what must be said from a different vantage. You can do it. You can gain greater understanding, and pass it along, at no cost to your masculinity or your pride.
I’ve never been prouder to be a man than when I’ve supported other people in my life, especially women, and shown my sons what it means to be a man.