Recycle, vote and love your spouse.
Years down the road, after raising two boys, if these three things are a part of their life, I call that a parenting win.
Sometimes I say those three things jokingly when parenting is hard and I feel like a huge failure at my job. But in reality, those three things are very serious to me. They mean so much more than just the simple acts they imply.
Recycling teaches stewardship. Keeping our planet clean shows respect for what we have been given. God gave us this incredible place to call home and it is our responsibility to treat His creation with care and respect. To disregard creation is to disregard the Creator.
By voting, we are saying that we value the freedoms won for us by our forefathers and kept safe for us by every soldier who has given their life for our country. By voting, we show we have a vested interest in our country because liberty and the pursuit of happiness should never be taken for granted.
Love your spouse. This action is so much greater than loving the women they will eventually marry. This is years of learning how to treat women respectfully. Before my boys grow up and find “the one” they will probably date and have relationships with many women and I want each of those girls to be treated with care and respect even if they don’t end up being my daughter-in-law.
That brings me to the Women’s March.
Before attending the Women’s March in my state capitol, my husband and I talked to our 12-year-old son about women’s rights, about why these marches had been organized all across the country. We talked about how historically, women have had to fight for the freedoms and rights we now enjoy. We talked about what it means to be subservient and how historically women have been expected to do what they are told and not question men’s authority. We talked about how the words and actions of our president are not acceptable towards women and that we don’t stand for that type of behavior. We talked about how women are marching all over the nation because it’s not okay for our president to act like a bully and treat and talk about women like they are objects. We talked about how when the opportunity to stand up for what you believe in presents itself, you take it.
You see, my son is entering an age when his view of girls is shifting. He is still immature when it comes to dating and relationships but gone are the days of girls just being a little friend and playmate. He will start to see girls in a whole new light and we want to make sure that as relationships start to form, there is a foundation of respect and equality guiding his decisions and actions.
Culture wants him to believe that women are made for his pleasure. That they should just be living in a bikini and hung up on his bedroom wall. Culture wants him to believe that his needs and desires come first. Culture wants him to believe that a woman’s value is tied up in how pretty she is and that she is an object to be rated on a scale of one to ten. Culture wants him to believe that fat girls aren’t important and that the only skinny girls with big boobs get ahead in life.
We marched together because the word “president” could be substituted for the word “culture” in the paragraph above and that is unacceptable.
It’s not enough to tell him to treat girls and women with respect and then hope for the best.
It’s not enough to tell him to not be a bully and then hope for the best.
When it comes to raising these two boys, it’s me and my husband vs. culture and media and now our president and just hoping for the best won’t cut it. Not when it’s my sons we’re talking about, not if their integrity is at stake, not if I have anything to say about it.
Teaching respect and integrity will take years and years of thoughtful parenting. It takes coming at it from every angle whether that be sitting down one-on-one and having discussions with him about respecting women and himself, or having him attend faith-based events with his peers led by caring adults discussing how to navigate relationships, or by the example my husband sets by treating me with love, honor and respect. Or by attending political rallies to show support for women who feel threatened by the leader of our country.
There may be many people who disagree with my decision to take my son to the Women’s March and that’s okay. Those people are not my concern. What is my concern is raising two boys and my own conscience. Our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers fought to give me the rights I now freely enjoy and I can no longer take that for granted. Not when compassion, respect and kindness have become counter-cultural.