“I REALLY like her swimsuit!”
These are the words my three-year-old son said to me recently. He was staring at an advertisement, fascinated by this scantily clad woman. Now, some dads would hear this and exclaim, “HEY, that’s MY boy!!” Followed up by a fist-bump, high-five, or some other physical affirmation of their sons newly attained “manhood” status.
As for me, it honestly stopped me in my tracks.
The first thing that came to my mind was, “HEY, that’s TOO early!!” Followed by throwing away the advertisement, locking my son in his room, or some other physical affirmation of me not knowing what to do with my newly attained worried parent status.
Of course, I’m humorously exaggerating.
Children are curious about EVERYTHING and I want both of my sons to be able to express that feeling. But his reaction that day did really make me pause. All I could think was, how this could be a pivotal moment in his life? A father extolling his young son for objectifying a half-naked woman could cause that same boy to become a man who views women as sex objects.
Allowing of this behavior has been excused time and again by one phrase I ABSOLUTELY hate:
“Boys will be boys.”
You know what? Neither of my children will ever be one of those boys. They are young individuals who will become empathetic men. They will always fight for their own rights, as well as the rights of others. But most of all, they will ALWAYS respect women.
So, you’re probably still curious as to how I handled my son ogling the woman in the ad? Instead of a high-five, there was a hand on his shoulder. There was a father, sitting down and asking his son why he liked the picture so much. There was a son, explaining that he really liked the color of the woman’s swimsuit. There were no feelings projected upon this child.
Finally, there was a father, remembering the innocence of his son. A father who was looking forward to always lead his children down the right path, no matter how rough.