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“He’s going to be a heartbreaker.”
I say it, my friends say it, and strangers at the grocery store say it when Ilyas flashes his signature crooked smile, brown eyes shining like decadent hot fudge.
And I have to catch myself.
Do I want my son to grow up playing the field?
Do I want my son to leave a trail of emotional wreckage behind him?
Do I want my son to be more experienced at ending relationships than building them?
Or do I want my son to leave people better than how he found them?
Do I want my son to connect and unite others?
Do I want my son to build bridges that overcome prejudice and historical hatred?
I’m challenging myself to speak words that set Ilyas up to be the person I know in my bones he is made to be. The person that was so needed and intent on coming into this world.
If you see or hear me, doing otherwise, challenge me on it.
We spend so much time these days talking about our words to girls — telling her she’s smart instead of pretty. A leader instead of bossy. And I’m not knocking those efforts, they are spot-on.
But let’s also be sure to raise our boys to be empathetic, kind and emotionally intelligent.
Beyoncé said it eloquently, “I want the same things for my son. I want him to know that he can be strong and brave but he can also be sensitive and kind.”
What else are we saying to our children that we should reevaluate?