Mother’s Day and toxic masculinity
Published 5:49 pm Friday, May 10, 2019
By Danny Tyree
So, thanks to the recent arrival of baby Carter, our niece Emma will be celebrating Mother’s Day as a mother for the first time.
(Ah, new mothers: the low-hanging fruit for new HYPNOTISTS. “You are getting sleepy … you are getting very sleepy….”)
And as luck would have it, the day before my Mother’s Day column deadline, the Wall Street Journal reviewed Michael C. Reichert’s book “How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men.”
The book seems benign enough, with its roadmap for the parents of boys; but the world is also full of extremists who see “toxic masculinity” behind every door. (“Oooo, toxic masculinity just beat the snot out of that communist behind the door!”)
Emma, I’ve seen the deer-hunting photos of you and husband Adam, so I know Carter has good odds of a red-blooded upbringing, but only if you take life one day at a time and resist the siren song of the doomsaying busybodies.
I know you are a resourceful young woman and will persevere even without the most important of the “What To Expect When…” books, namely “What To Expect When You’re Not Living Up To The Expectations of Some Childless Women’s Studies Major Who Lamented The Holocaust Of Course But Got REALLY Riled Up When She Learned About the Time Hitler Held A Door Open For A Woman.”
As Reichert pointed out, this is a challenging time to raise a boy. Of course, I am hard pressed to think of a time when it WASN’T challenging to raise a boy. (“Son, before you and the other draftees go off to fight the Vietcong, let me share the amusing anecdote of how your great-great-grandfather almost got his first haircut from a Sioux raiding party….”)
Don’t worry. It’s okay if Carter’s first words are something traditional like “Mama” or “Dada.” They don’t have to be “I’ve been meaning to apologize for this whole breastfeeding thing. I’ve brought along my lawyer to get your retroactive consent in triplicate.”
Emma, find teachable moments about shared household chores, unrealistic body images, bullying and respect for other people; but don’t miss out on those first steps, crayon scribblings and cute sayings while calculating the carbon footprint of the Monsters Under the Bed.
Sure, watch for warning signs of troublesome behavior (“Here, imaginary friend, hold my formula bottle and watch THIS!”), but I think y’all know that “Watch out! He’s got a blue toy truck and knows how to use it!” is not a helpful reaction.
The nervous Nellies of the world are hyperventilating because boys display a tendency to become addicted to technology. But they don’t want boys being cavemen, either. I guess parents of boys are supposed to meet somewhere in the middle. (“I am Robin of Locksley, and with my blunt-tipped arrows, I shall poach the kale of the Sheriff of Nottingham.”)
Don’t encourage Carter to bottle up his feelings but do teach the importance of context. The soul-cleansing catharsis achieved by unloading all his hopes and fears isn’t worth offending someone who merely requested, “I’ll need to see your license and registration, sir.”
I trust that with love, patience, common sense and the help of extended family, little Carter will turn out just fine.
Even if an EXPERT hypnotist cajoles him, “You are feeling patriarchal … you are feeling very patriarchal….”
Love, Uncle Danny.
DANNY TYREE welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page.