A few months ago, I was having a rough time with my son. This is not unusual, as he is a pain in the ass and I am stubborn as a mule who is really good at yelling but not much else in the discipline realm. So we called my parents. And I stood in the bathroom listening to the conversation. And most of it was great! My dad telling my son that he needs to listen to me because I’m the Mom and I have his best interests at heart and all that. But then. Then he told my son that he needed to change his behavior because he is “the man of the house,” and I “need” him to take care of me and our home. And I almost punched a hole through my wall.
First of all, my son is 7 fucking years old. All he needs to take care of is his laundry and cleaning his room and doing homework and getting dirty and telling us about his (fucking goddamn) Pokemon cards. I give him responsibilities, but he sure as shit is NOT responsible for *my* emotional or physical well-being. I’m a goddamn adult, I’m THE goddamn adult in his life. Shouldering the burden of supporting an emotionally broken adult is NOT his job! (It should also be noted that I’m not emotionally broken. At least, not any more than anyone else.)
Second of all, and I say this with all due respect, but FUCK YOU DAD. By telling my son that he is the man of the house, that completely diminishes every fucking thing I do around there, which is to say, everything. I take him to school, I stay home when he’s sick, I pay for insurance, I sign him up for soccer, I buy him clothes, I cook him meals, I take him for play dates, I hug him when he’s scared or sad, I explain where babies come from and what periods are. I. FUCKING. DO. IT. ALL. There is no “man” of the house because the “man” that was in my life decided being an adult was too difficult so I had to kick him the fuck out to save my house from becoming bogged down with irresponsibility, lying, and shitty whiskey.
To raise boys (as in non-adults; children, if you will) with the notion that they are the “men” of the house, thereby implying that what women do, what women accomplish, even if it is RAISING MEN, is less important, is where all of this fucking shit starts. It is how I wind up at bars, having a fine time with my friends. It is how dudes hit on me. It is how I politely turn them down because they are people and I am fucking polite to people, even to ones I don’t know. It is how they get angry when I reject them and it is how *I* wind up being called a bitch, or asked if I’m on my period, or how they feel entitled to ME on ANY FUCKING LEVEL.
When we tell boys to “man up,” we are implying men are adults and that women are secondary, child-like beings, incapable of caring for themselves on any level without the help of a dude. Which…has been completely contrary to everything I’ve experienced and am teaching my son. I expect my son to work hard. I don’t hand that kid anything. I also teach him that everyone needs to be treated with respect, including himself. Rejection is a part of life, and sometimes his friends are going to be FUCKING DICKS. But that does not mean that he needs to turn around and be a dick right back.
I would like to express again: I’m the one holding it down. I don’t expect a medal, I certainly don’t deserve one. This isn’t me whining, it’s me being fucking angry. Kid’s dad wants to be an ass? Cool, peace out, I got this. But telling my kid to be the “man of the house” or to “man up” is just teaching him that even though I’m a woman, and I’m the one who is doing everything, it doesn’t matter because being a MAN is the only way to be an ADULT. That line of thinking is shitty for both genders, but it seems like women are the ones who continue to get the brunt of it. Think about it next time you tell someone to “man up,” “take it like a man,” “be the man of the house,” or “grow some balls.” [drops mic]