“I don’t care about the lipstick or nail polish, but do you have to use so much perfume?”
“Just how many skirts do you have on right now?”
“Quit shaking your pom-poms and clean your room!”
“Is that mascara you’re wearing?”
“Your Hannah Montana wig is shedding all over the house.”
“Take off one of those dresses and come eat dinner!”
It would not be unusual for a father to utter any of the above things to his young daughter. No one would be surprised to hear a man make any or all of those comments to his little princess. Eyebrows might be raised, however, if someone were to hear a dad saying those things to his son. Why is that?
When a boy rolls in the mud to fetch his toy truck or a stray football, people say, “He’s all boy.” But does that suggest that a young male who likes to play with My Little Pony toys or Barbies is somehow not “all boy?” What does that even mean? If he is not “all boy,” then does that make him inferior in some way to other boys?
Being a father to three delightfully unique kids has caused me to rethink some of the old-fashioned ideas that I grew up with about gender. A real eye-opener for me came several years ago when I went shopping for a gift for my youngest son’s birthday. I searched every one of the aisles stocked with toys marketed to boys. I passed over all the Nerf guns, action figures, monster trucks, and sports equipment I would have loved to have received as a kid, finding nothing that would have been of any interest to my son. Making my way to the pink and purple aisles, with some hesitation, I finally found the perfect gift: a Strawberry Shortcake playset. The birthday boy loved it. Parenting win!
I am aware that there are quite a few closed-minded folks out there who would consider my purchase to be a parenting fail. I would respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree with them. I am also aware that there are people who would question a boy’s sexual orientation based on his interest in things traditionally embraced by girls. To those people I would say, “First of all, in regards to young children, it’s a little too early to start worrying about who they may or may not be attracted to when they get older. Second, love is love, and I personally am not worried in the slightest about who any of my kids may or may not be attracted to.”
What does worry me is the possibility that an ultra-conservative Supreme Court might one day rule against marriage equality—regardless of whether such a decision will directly affect any of my children or not. I believe, as Thomas Jefferson and the other signers of the Declaration of Independence did, that all men (and women) are created equal and born with the unalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I am deeply concerned for LBGT citizens because of the very real threat to their civil liberties revealed in the intolerant attitude of the current administration. When asked by Fox News journalist Chris Wallace during the presidential campaign, “(S)ir, are you saying that if you become president, you might try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?” candidate Trump replied, “I would strongly consider that, yes.”
We have already seen during the first few weeks of the new president’s term, that Trump does not believe in protecting Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for everyone. Religious discrimination. Mass deportations. Poorly-planned, clandestine military raids resulting in the deaths of innocent children. Cabinet appointees who revile and wish to disband the very departments they now lead. “Liberty” and “justice for all” are under attack by a Twitter-addicted narcissist who has served no one other than himself in his entire life. There is no reason to think that the president would suddenly change his mind and appoint justices inclined to honor the right of all consenting adults to marry the person of their choosing. So yeah, I’m more than a little worried about what the future may hold for my children—and yours.
For now, I will continue to celebrate the uniqueness of each of my three amazing kids. They are confident young people who are not afraid of being who they are. They are clever and hilarious. They are tolerant of others. They are caring and thoughtful. Two of them are non-Christian immigrants, and the other is their strongest advocate. They embody everything that’s right about our great nation, and they are everything that Donald Trump isn’t. As a father, I could not be prouder.
That’s what I call a parenting win.