Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Raising a son; raising an ally

I would like to think of myself as an independent, motivated woman who has fought to form an identity not limited by my sex or gender. I read of Gladys Aylward and Amy Carmichael as a child, and was shaped by their brave self-determination and sufficiency. Aside from my books, I have felt very alone as I've pushed through cultural and familial beliefs concerning the roles of women, the pursuit of education, and the creation of my own entity.

As I've envisioned being a parent, I've desired to take the support and encouragement that I lacked and fortify and encourage my daughters to become the strong, self-reliant women they are supposed to be. I've imagined a gaggle of girls: each unique, living life fully and passionately because they are free from doubt about their capabilities and identity. They are beautiful, not because they fit a "beauty-mythed" standard, but because they are confident, self-aware, and motivated.

But I have fallen short in looking beyond this. I have questioned myself since I looked at the image on the ultrasound machine. When I saw the masculine shape, I grasped my husband's hand and looked into his eyes - searching for something, reassurance, perhaps. How does my vision translate into raising a son?

How do I want my son to relate to women in a world where women are dehumanized? How do I teach him to respect and be an ally to those with less privileges than he? I want him to possess all of the qualities that I had hoped to instill in my daughters, but I also want him to be an encourager and an enabler: to help create these qualities in others, and not to contribute to the deconstruction of human beings' dignity and self-worth. The answers seem murky and jagged, if there are answers at all.

Perhaps this is set before me to prevent complacency and boredom. I need this challenge. And I am sure I will blog along the way. So as I prepare for the birth of this new being, I present my thoughts openly as I embark into this new phase of life.

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