How do parents deal with other people when they do not understand that your son enjoys things that don't conform the social norm?
As posted previously, one of the followers of this page emailed me to encourage me to make sure I discuss the bad and frustration alongside the good and supportive.
So tonight I feel helpless and I guess slightly bullied. I started this page as I was frustrated by the opinions of other people that had had an impact on my own son.
My son like many of yours enjoys so many things; playing in the park, playing barbies, playing dress up and characters, playing and making up puppet shows, singing dancing, rugby tots lesson, swimming and Bath times, playing with his dolls house - rearranging furniture and re styling the room with his characters all being a part of the story he's telling, likes being read to, doesn't like reading haha, loves films and some TV shows, likes being outdoors on the beach, doesn't like long walks, loves welly boots over trainers and wishes his trainers were glitter ones because they are super cool and shiny. Enjoys dancing specifically contemporary style of dance, tries to recreate it all the time, wants to be in lion King stage show but when he's older like 7 not at 4. Likes being Moana or Cinderella when just chilling at home, doesn't like the spiderman very much. Doesn't like ice cream but could eat all the cake. And he is just so funny and creative and inspiring. He has his own stance on the world and it's wonderful to watch and be a part of.
I wish the world could see my son for all the treasure that he is.
Innocent and finding his own way into the world. Taking in everything like a sponge and developing it into his own unique way of him. Defining his own ideas, likes and dislikes and being himself without too much thought of what that is or care on what anyone else thinks.
Then the comments started: "he shouldn't be wearing princess dresses" "boys don't do ballet" "you're gay if you do that" "boys don't wear nail varnish" "boys can't wear that" "why you got a Barbie for" "boys can't love boys only girls" "boys can't kiss boys"
Yes at age 4, he has heard all of these comments. AND the glances I've seen from adults and older children (normally from people that are close to us as they feel themselves and able to express themselves fully) and without them even thinking - they have created a negative opinion or self doubt that this isn't normal.
And I ask you - at age 2-4 what is normal?
I've never been someone who thought much about raising a child or the impact of people, social constraints or stereotyping UNTIL I felt like I was having to defend my child for just being allowed to express himself. UNTIL other people made their opinions heard and my opinion disagreed or didn't support that opinion they had. And I realised the social constrain on boys in particular to be and act a certain way otherwise they are automatically considered other!?!
Other - the opposite to the social stereotype, the individualist that doesn't conform to the social norm and is therefore unable to be seen or discussed as a normal boy. His masculinity is questioned over and often I am then questioned to my parenting ways for allowing him to be 'different'. And yet all I see is a child being allowed to express himself freely and creatively without judgement, social conformity and allowed the freedom of play.
I started this page because I needed the platform to say I have a son who is a boy, male and I want him to know I'm proud of who he his and his choices. I'm not afraid if this means celebrating in being a boy who isn't quite the social stereotype that is fed to him. I enjoy in his creativity and passion for all things colourful, fun and imaginative. I want him to know he can be whoever he wants to be and I will support him. That for me was why this page was so important because I also knew we weren't the only family out there who felt this way or had sons like mine or felt masculinity could only be defined by the social constrain. And we found you - you have shared with us so much already and it makes us feel heard and understood against the negativity we stand against in our lives.
And yet I can only share through words my story, I can only paint the image of the wonderful little boy who sparked this page off and introduced me to the discussion needed for changing the ideal of masculinity. In opening up the support needed for our boys to start saying My Boy Can instead of being told he can't or shouldn't.
And for me tonight--it frustrates me and I feel helpless. I'd love to show how amazing our boys can be through my daily insight into our world where we can be both a Knight and a princess and be just a perfectly normal boy. I'm just so grateful to the families who have shared with us their stories and photos.
We want our boys to be supported and stop with the negativity of saying they can't or shouldn't be and start saying My Boy Can.
My Boy Can Campaign is only here because you reached out to us and said we hear you and we want that change too.