I’m not a boy mom or a girl mom. I’m just a mom. I have a boy and a girl and just see children. I see children who are growing up in a rapidly changing world, a world where it’s not always safe to be male or female.
I spend a lot of time worrying about the future my children will come of age in. I worry about what adolescence and adulthood will be like for them.
And, in the wake of the Metoo movement, I worry about whether they will become sexual assault victims or accused perpetrators.
I can only hope that, as their mother, I’ll have given them the strength and tools they’ll need to navigate those waters and I hope they will care enough about each other to look out for each other.
Regardless, I have a few wishes for them.
For My Son
When I was a child, I remember seeing accusations of rape in the news. It was always men who were accused and I remember thinking how glad I was to be female because it meant I wouldn’t face those accusations (we’ll get to how childish and misguided that notion was later). But now that I have you, my sweet boy, I worry about you and whether you might ever be accused.
I certainly hope I’ll have raised you well enough that you’ll always be innocent.
My dearest boy, my greatest wish is for you to be respectful. You are part Chinese. Respect is very important in our culture and I will teach it to you in any and every way I can. And not just respect for your elders, but respect for everyone. Respect your fellow men and respect all women.
Treat peoole with kindness and decency, even when you don’t want to. Never gloat with your friends just to raise your ego and social standing. Never lead a woman on and always remember she deserves your utmost respect. Likewise, if you prefer men, he deserves your utmost respect.
But you know that if you ever hurt a woman or man, your sisyer will beat you up. And you’ll be in huge trouble with mommy and daddy.
My son, show respect.
You meet the person of your dreams. You want all of them, you’re so in love or lust. But use restraint! Do not hurry! If you are meant to be with them, time is meaningless. Do not force yourself on them. Respect them and yourself.
There may be those who seek to lure you, who would use you for their own selfish gain. Be cautious! This is when you need restraint. Do not blindly follow. Keep your head. Show respect. Have restraint.
You’ll be tempted, but don’t go where you get a whiff of danger.
Be a Protector
First and foremost, protect your sister and any other loved ones who come into your life. Be a gentleman and take care of them. Watch over them.
But also protect yourself. Be smart, my little boy.
You’ll do stupid things as you get older, but I hope I will have taught you well enough to be thoughtful. Out on your own, you’ll have to think for yourself and will need to protect yourself. Don’t stupidly follow others. Don’t follow all of your stupid ideas, especially if someone else gets hurt.
No Means No and Yes Means No
Yes, I know I’ve spent the past 4 years teaching you no means no and yes means yes, but there are times you will want to remember yes can also mean no. Even though a potential partner, whether willing or not, says yes, take it to mean no unless there’s a solid history of tryst, respect, honesty, and love. But always remember shaky ground is possible in any relationship.
Even if you get a yes, be honest and respectful and say no. If this is a worthwhile relationship, there will be plenty of time for intimacy later on. Show respect, decency, honor, and honesty. Never assume a yes is really a yes.
For My Daughter
I am lucky to never have been victimized and it is my greatest wish that you will follow in my footsteps. However, never think that women can never be perpetrators. We certainly can be! Some women use force. Some women lure. Some women play games and then cry foul.
Do not be any of those. I will raise you to be better than that.
Much of my advice to you follows that of what I’ve said to your brother. Be respectful. Show restraint. Be protective.
People are not your playthings, my sweet girl. Take care of them. Be vulnerable, but protect yourself.
Yes, my princess, you must be watchful! Be careful when you go out. Be watchful. Keep your head. Be safe. Don’t count on others to look out for you. Look out for yourself.
When you feel unsafe, retreat and voice your opinions. Don’t let anyone force you. Keep a watchful eye and a constantly churning mind. Don’t let your guard down until you feel safe, but still remain vigilant.
Be Kind and Honest
Don’t play games, daughter. Treat potential mates and friends with respect and honesty. They deserve that as much as you do. Be kind and caring and considerate.
Be upfront with people. Don’t lead on boyfriends or girlfriends. You wouldn’t want that, so don’t you go doing it.
If you’re out with someone and your words or behavuor lead them on, take a step back if intimacy is not your goal. Be honest, little princess! Don’t lead anyone on unless you’re prepared to follow through and commit. Whether or not you meant for something to happen, you must be mindful of what you do and say, and be honest! They’ll be using your cues as much as they are their own drives. Don’t add fuel to a fire you don’t want.
Yes, you probably already read my words to your brother, but this is a big one. Respect yourself and others. You know your own self-worth; don’t let anyone else dictate it for you. I hope I will have raised you to be a strong woman who can hold her own anywhere and everywhere you go.
But remember to show respect. Respect the people around you. Look at things through their eyes and see you as they see you. Reevaluate your words and behavior accordingly. Respect their perspective, even if you think it’s false. Respect that they are people, too. Take care of them and their feelings.
You’ll be in big trouble with mommy and daddy if you lead anyone on.
Final Words to my Son and Daughter
It is my greatest hope that neither of you become a victim or victimizer. But it is up to you to make that happen.
Be respectful. Know you are immensely worthy. Don’t let others boss you around. Protect yourselves and each other. Be honest and kind. Take care of your fellow humankind.
Most of all, if something happens, whether or not you are victim or perpetrator, your duty is to speak up! Your father and I will always listen to you and believe you even if no one else will. But it is your duty to be honest.
Take care of each other and yourselves, my babies.