Friday, November 12, 2010

Do Boys Need Men?

I've been thinking about my Fathers Have Power blog and decided it would be really neat to see what other single moms of boys think.  I put a poll up on my page to see if I could get some opinions.  In the meantime, I'd like to share my own experiences on how I parent my boys as a single mom.

When Caden (my older son) was just a baby, I'd panic at any clumsy move he'd make for fear of an injury.  As he grew, he climbed and ran and skipped and hurled himself off of the couch.  I learned very quickly how to handle any of his tactics without having a heart attack.  Not that I sit back and watch him climb a refrigerator, but when I do catch him in the act of doing something potentially dangerous I'm quick to get him.  If he falls and scrapes his knee at a park, I give him a thumbs up for being a boy-- after putting the band-aid on.  These boys have definitely toughened me.  But there are still things I can't teach them the way a man can.

Peeing standing up.  I don't have a penis.  Sure, I could stand him on a stool and toss some cheerios in the toilet bowl and tell him to shoot them with his urine.  But a man could show him how to do it by being an example.  And what about when he gets older?  When he starts the whole "wet dream" phase and the porn phase?  Or just the simple male society vs. good male society?

As a woman, I can teach him how to treat the ladies.  But a man understands what it feels like to be a man and he can communicate these types of things in a way that boys can relate to.  Man-things that are taught by men just have a little more weight than if they were taught by a woman.  Not that we don't empathize or comprehend man-things, but we can't fully relate to them the way a man can.  As a single mom of boys, as a mom in general, I think it's my responsibility to make sure that the men in our lives represent the men I want my boys to grow up into.

Now I can't control everything my kids see.  When we go to parks or grocery stores, of course we're going to run into people of all stripes.  But the people I bring in to our family like friends and co-workers (the military is like a family, so we're always around my unit), I CAN control their presence. 

Right now, they're living with my brothers.  If my brothers' behaviors and livestyles were questionable to any extent, I wouldn't bother will trusting my kids with them.  Fortunately, I have wonderful brothers who are great examples of the men I want my kids to emulate.  They are respectful of women, responsible with their money, work hard, are great family men, kind to people and animals alike, and are really just great cool guys.  They're fun and loving too.  And the people my brothers hang out with are of the same stripe.  It saddens me that when I return from my deployment, I'll have to take them away from my brothers and get us back to pre-deployment life.  And then I'll have to make sure that our social life only involves the same type of men.

Patrick is a great guy in our lives.  He brings the same type of "good man" qualities my brothers do with just one difference- he's in love with me.  :)  I just had to throw that in there.  :P  Seriously, though, even if Patrick and I don't work out in the future, any man I bring in to my life has to be someone that I would want in my kids' lives.  It doesn't matter whether I'm just looking for fun or I want a partner.  My choice of men really says something to my boys. 

So, ladies, what do you think?  Do boys need men in their lives?  Do you think you can lead them into manhood without a male role model in their lives?  Do you think they need their dad despite or because of his own man-qualities?  Answer the poll and leave a comment.  I'd love to hear your thoughts about this!


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