Our Sons Are Watching Too

This past winter I had the privilege of attending a conference called “Shine” where the main speaker was the talented pastor and author, Bo Stern. Recently Bo also wrote a blog post discussing one of the main points that she spoke of at the conference. To summarize, both were about the shame that surrounds women and their personal perception of their outward appearance and how the only way to truly overcome that shame is with a heart change. I absolutely agree with everything she said….almost.

How many times have you heard the following?

Women need to get their thoughts of their appearance in check because our daughters are watching. (Something similar was also said at the Shine conference)

Or…

Be glad you don’t have girls because you don’t have to be careful about what you say/do regarding appearance, exercise, weight loss, etc.

Now I may be sensitive to this issue because I have boys, but I believe strongly that it isn’t just our daughters that are watching.

Our sons are watching too. My boys watch everything I do. True, boys are far less likely than girls are to have an eating disorder to attain societal perception of perfection. However, it is important to recognize that our boys are watching, our boys are listening, our boys are learning how to be men, and our boys are learning how to treat women. Our actions as women and men and our interactions with one another are teaching our boys most everything they need to know.

Now, this may be a stretch here but not really. Just as Bo said, objectification is partly what grown men do when they are looking at porn. They have separated the woman from what makes her human. They typically aren’t thinking about looking at someone’s daughter, or her being someone’s mother, or that she may be someone of substance or someone that might be funny, or smart. No, they have taken away all human qualities and are just focusing on one thing. If we, as women, aren’t careful, we can be teaching not just our daughters, but our sons too, from a very young age, that objectification is okay and in turn that porn is okay.

I am completely guilty of this. Despite being thin, I have always struggled with body image. In the days I felt sorry for myself that I didn’t conceive girls I wondered if it was because I continued to struggle with body image and God didn’t want me to pass them along to girls. Since then I have realized that I have a HUGE, important job in raising boys to be men. And in that, I have a responsibility to know that they are watching everything I do, just as a little girl would. I’ve allowed my self consciousness to hold me back from having a lot of fun with my kids. I never wanted to get in the water with my kids because not only did I feel self-conscious in a swimsuit, but I also didn’t want raccoon eyes. Objectification at the core. By not taking note that my boys are watching my perception of self and the shame I have had surrounding it then I could be teaching them that objectification is okay. Instead, I want to teach them something else.

Lead by example. I want to teach my boys to respect women. And in order to do that I first need to respect myself (and then teach them that chivalry should not die). I want my boys to know how to say I’m sorry. So I must be willing to say I am sorry to them. I want my boys to see how much their daddy loves me. So I will race them to the door when he gets home at night and never speak an ill word to them about him. I want my boys to know love; to know how to receive love, how to give love, and how to be loved. To know that love does not come from a computer screen. And I must therefore also love myself.

I can’t think ill of myself and then in the same breath want all those other things for my sons. I want my boys to know that there is depth to women; that women are so much more than good looks. In order to do that I must first recognize that I, too, am good looking.

Bravely stepping forward with confidence. This year, on our annual trip to Kauai, I made the conscious decision to go without mascara and to bravely wear a swimsuit despite being my heaviest non-pregnant weight in a long time so I wouldn’t be held back from having fun in the pool with my kids. Because I want to be the fun mom. I want to be the mom that got in the pool not just sat on the side. I want to be a part of their memories. I’m tired of striving to attain societal perfection. I just want to be mom. A confident mom. Because I AM intelligent. I AM funny. I AM pretty. I AM happy. I AM strong. I AM nurturing. I AM real. I AM fun. I AM blessed. I AM a mom of boys.

So, because our sons are watching too, I want to lead them by example, and will therefore be bravely stepping forward with confidence. And that right there folks, is my heart change.

P.S…doesn’t my 5 year old look adorable in his googles?

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