The other day I wrote about a movement on Twitter, #ToTheGirls. The premise is what would you want a girl child to know? As the mother of two young daughters, here are ten things I want a boy in their life to know. Funny, how similar it is to my list for the girls:
1. It is okay to not know the answers. It is not cool to think you know everything. Listen to those around you, learn from them. It is okay to ask why, to follow-up and say I still don’t understand. Smart people are not the ones with all the answer. Smart people are the ones who ask the question.
2. You do not get respect, you earn it. How you compose yourself will have impact on how you are perceived. This is more than respecting your elders and teachers. How you respect your friends is important. Respect their privacy, respect their confidence and most importantly respect their person.
3. Just because you are a boy does not mean you cannot be bruised. I want you to know that bruises do not equal love. Bruises, whether verbal or physical leave lasting scars. Do not ever be misled that it was a “mistake” or a “one time” thing. Girls can maim as easily as boys. Remember not to be isolated, that you have friends and family that will care and protect you. Do not be ashamed, the bruise is not your fault but the fault of someone who should have cherished you and not harmed. Just because you are a boy doesn’t mean you have to take it.
4. Explore: your home, your backyard and your world. Take with you the sense of adventure you found when at just 2 years old you discovered that forgotten cabinet. The world is huge and full of experiences you bigger than your imagination. Take advantage of our Globe and experience all it has to offer. Except, drugs. Don’t explore drugs.
5. Be kind and show kindness. That boy that is weaker? Be kind and include him. Or at least stand up for him. That girl with a disability? Stop and hold the door. The older person who is so old they smell? Talk to them. Not only will you learn something you will teach something. Your friends will emulate you and pay it forward.
6. No woman (or man) is worth more than your pride, your esteem or your health. Your partner should love you as you are, build a life with you and not for you. You will grow in relationships. Sometimes at different speeds. Your partner should be willing to wait for you to catch up or cheer you on as you grow. Remember to wait for them, too.
7. It’s okay to cry. It is okay to ‘appear’ weak. Strong men know that emotion is more powerful than being stoic. That in order to experience this world you have to feel it and embrace it. You do not have to be strong all the time. You are allowed to lean, to break and to sometimes doubt. All of this is how you do become stronger, not the reverse.
8. Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t play whoever drops the lit match first loses. (Quick, go read my friend and cast-mate Ronna’s post. Then you will understand!). Be your own man, not the man your parent or your coach or your friend thinks you should be. Follow your heart, listen to your head. And for God’s sake do not play chicken in the car.
9. Success isn’t measured by other people’s perception of you. Do what you love. Don’t conform into society’s (or your parents) view of what boys must do or succeed at. If you love sports, great. If you love drama, great. If you love science, great. You will not succeed if you do not love what you do.
10. Dreams do come true. But not by dreaming. Dreams come true by believing, by trusting, by following your gut, by learning and most importantly by working hard. Work hard at your dreams and you will succeed.
That is what I would say to a boy in my life. What would you say to the boy in your life? It doesn’t have to be your boy. After all, we all know a boy….