Raising Men- Integrity not optional

Women fail their sons on a regular basis. We raise them to respect us as their mothers but not us as women. They respect therefore what belongs to them; we are their mothers, their property, so they respect us because they respect themselves. But that’s not the point, is it? Should we stop there? I do not believe so. We have to teach our boys to respect women in general, to respect people in general, whether or not they have anything to gain. We teach girls this. We teach our daughters to be caring, kind and thoughtful of not only of the welfare of others but of the feelings of others. Why do we think it’s okay to skip this lesson where our sons are concerned?

It’s fair to say that we are all responsible for our own choices. The way we treat others has NOTHING to do with who they are, it has EVERYTHING to do with who WE are. In terms of our sons and how they treat women this is how that concept translates:

A gentleman is a gentleman regardless of which woman they are interacting with. A true gentleman, or, maybe not even a gentleman because that implies propriety and I never put much stock in propriety. Propriety and integrity are not one in the same. So, let’s say a GOOD man, a good man has integrity and that means that whether or not somebody is looking, whether or not he will get credit for upstanding behavior, he will take that high road. A good man would no sooner open a door for Giselle the super model as he would for a three hundred pound, one toothed, cross eyed, bearded woman, or a sixteen year old single mom with a tattoo on her lower back (you know what those are called), or a Smith school graduate and Harvard law school student. A good man would see only that somebody was coming and hold the door for them. He would not think, does this person deserve my attention or not? How we treat others is about who we are, not who they are. Here is another example:

A bum is lying in the street. Intoxicated and dirty there they are, lying in the middle of the side walk on a Tuesday afternoon while you’re trying to rush off to work. They aren’t working, they’re holding a can in their wrinkled grip, not even putting enough energy into seeing whether or not people are throwing money into it. There are at least three different options of how you can handle your interaction with this “vagrant”-
1.) You can kick the shit out of them making sure to get ’em right in the groin as you trample over them and kick over their tin cash cup. Nobody really cares even if they do see it, it’s only a bum and they were “asking for it” by lying in the middle of a busy sidewalk.
2.) You can step over them, pretending they aren’t there. That’s what most people are doing.
3.) You can bend over and ask them if they’d like some help out of the way of the foot traffic and toss some change in their cup.

There are variations on all of these, but they represent the generals.
Whatever scenario you come up with the bottom line is this, how you behave in the situation tells about who you are, not who the bum is. There is no such thing as “They asked for it”. No, they didn’t. And even if they did, you didn’t have to oblige.
Here is a profound and beautifully demonstrated dramatization of what I mean. It’s from one of my favorite play/movies- A FEW GOOD MEN

I know this is just a movie, but the courage that realization took was profound; for the Marine to admit he was wrong, for any of us to admit that we are wrong. To admit you failed your purpose as a human simply because you failed to be honorable. To hold ourselves accountable. What kind of person after all would kick somebody when they’re down, would show no remorse toward someone who was weaker or weakened? You don’t have to treat them as your equal to understand you undermine yourself by not maintaining your integrity and treating them with decency. And you most certainly do not maintain your integrity when you take advantage of somebody who is injured, sad, weak or hurting. An injured soul is more profound then an injured leg, more so and Because someone does not respect themselves does not mean you have a right to disrespect them.
Bringing me back on point, as a mother I would NEVER teach my son that there are some women who “matter” and others who “don’t”. That’s a sick sort of Miss Havisham mind fuck. You’re infusing them with your prejudices and hatred and in doing so asking them to carry out your crimes on humanity. Don’t you have something better to pass on to your child? Now they may not bring all their dates home to meet you, but if you’ve raised them right the girls/woman you do meet will all have a couple things in common: they respect and care for your son, not what your son can provide for them. Regardless of what family they came from, how much they weigh, what color their skin is, how much money they have or what school they went to, a GOOD woman is one that sees your son for who he is and believes in him for better or worse. She won’t tolerate shit but she won’t sling it either. She does not have to be some prep school lovely from a “good” family. Maybe she was abused as a child. Maybe she has tattoos and maybe she has a child already. None of those things matter if she’s decent and loving toward your son, wanting what is best for him and able to balance that with what is best for herself. If you raise your son to believe that only certain “types” of women are worthy of them, understand that you are playing out your insecurities through your child and you’re setting them up for a life of misery if you teach them these things. Think of Toddlers in Tiaras and the abominations that call themselves mothers on that show. They are constructing their children, boys and girls, to be the doll version of their unfulfilled dreams. That is what you do when you teach your son to respect only “good” girls. Really. Define “good”: Virgin? Nuclear family? No tattoos? College diploma? How far will you go in terms of these social statuses to define “goodness” when in fact goodness has NOTHING to do with ANY of these things. Maybe by “good” you mean “females like you”, reinforcing your hold on your son. But isn’t it our job as mothers, as parents, to let our children go, giving them not just the gift of life, but the gift of their own lives?
If you are a mother who doesn’t teach your son to respect all females instead of only those like you then you mine as well consent to rape and domestic violence. We have to teach our sons to control themselves, not expect women to do the controlling for them. It’s not up to a woman to say “No” she won’t go home with them after a night of drinking at the bar, it’s for him to not ask. And if he does ask and she accepts or she asks and he accepts, she’s not a “slut” while he’s just a lucky bastard. They’re both just people who had fun with each other. And for the record, she may very well be a pretty cool person. Just like he may be. And if they could bare to get over their egos for a minute who knows, maybe just maybe they’ve met a mate. What matters is this: your child takes responsibility for their own actions. Sons tend to get away with more then daughters. We girls are still judged more harshly for our behavior. But maybe if we mothers would raise our sons with more integrity that would not be the case. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world were people lived in the moment and not their heads, or the past, or their projections? What ever the ideal, what is real is our responsibility as mothers to raise our boys to take responsible for their behavior and not make women the scape goat for it. And if they met a girl that isn’t treating themselves so well, they don’t have the right to take advantage. Whether Jackie O or Marilyn, they’re both women and they both deserve respect. Here’s another example:
If you’ve raised your son to believe a woman who would have sex with him on the first date is trashy then what have you raised him to believe about himself? If he loathes the behavior so much as to judge it as “trashy” and the woman a “whore” then what lesson did you skip out on that would have taught him to not engage in such behavior? You can’t teach your child, or allow your child to assume, that they are right for doing something where as somebody else is trash for doing the same thing. It’s a complete and dangerous double standard that has unfortunately lead to MANY woman, not men, being abused or worse. If one night stands are deplorable enough to render the woman a “whore” not worthy of a second date, what does it render your son? Oh… just a guy right? No, I’m sorry moms, this is a rudimentary failure on your part. It’s almost an allowance of sociopathic behavior. Yes. Sociopathic behavior. A person that does not have empathy toward other living creatures, at least not those outside of their own “circles”. I’ve heard the Dahmers are very nice people. Jeffery on the other hand…. it was okay for him to abuse, rape, kill and eat young gay boys because they weren’t people, they were not the acceptable sort… right? No. And the Dahmers turned out to be pretty good people who along with the rest of us held their son accountable for his atrocities. We all have to, or we are not doing our job as parents.
This is of course an OVER the top exaggeration, but follow the thought. You are doing your son an injustice if they remove morality from their own behavior but superimpose it onto that same behavior in someone else. It’s scary and wrong to allow our sons, our daughters, ourselves to believe we are good people despite the fact that we are not perfect but others are bad people because of the fact that they are not perfect. Further more, to imply morality, a sense of “good” people and “bad” people, those who are “deserving” of respect and those who aren’t, is hypocrisy. Don’t throw stones… it’s a powerful lesson.
I can’t imagine if some of these social prejudices were applied to my son. He comes from a broken home. He struggles, usually triumphantly, with his ADHD. He’s been raised by a single mother, we’ve been on welfare, his father is an ex-con. And I would see red if there were any girl who’s parents were horrible enough to deem Douglas not worthy of her because of where he’s come from. I know how amazing my son is. So, turn the tables. What if my son, as an adult, brought home a woman that he’d picked up at a bar one night. She already has three children from two different fathers. Should I kick her out? Should I forbid the match? As a mother I very well may be wanting to throw some stones, to protect my son from this beast! Only, this woman is NOT a hypothetical. She is a real woman whom I happen to admire. These were the “stats” of my sister-in-law when my brother met her over ten years ago. If we’d judged her by her stats we’d of missed the mark. She is a phenomenal wife. She is a phenomenal mother. She has held down the home front for him, faithfully, through his many arduous tours with his military unit. She has helped him through his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She has done all these things while living through surgeries and health issues of her own. She is not a perfect person. But she most certainly is a worthy companion.
How many of us have met people like this, people we were happily surprised by? And how many of us have met those who had the opposite affect on us? I very recently was with a man whose “stats” were all lined up. He is an Ivy League graduate. He has money. He’s good looking and from a “good” well-to-do family. And he almost beat me. He is violent and dangerous and on so many drugs I’m surprised he hasn’t had a heart attack yet. His “stats” actually make him more dangerous because we allow his type so much license because of our own stereotypes. I am not the first girl he’s laid hands on. I strongly suspect he brutally abused one of his early girlfriends. And for some reason this man got away with it, most likely his family’s money. And what a horrible job his mother has done in enabling her son’s violent behavior instead of holding him accountable for it. She has failed every woman her son comes into contact with. She has failed her son and she has failed herself. Because I strongly suspect she knows exactly what he is capable of and has chosen to do nothing about it. How horrible. Because had she held him accountable long ago perhaps he would have become the good person she believed in instead of just a projection of it. I know how it feels to believe in your boy. But it is a demonstration of LACK of faith in their goodness when we hide their wrongs instead of allow them to suffer the consequences for them. But how horrible the rest of us are because we do the same thing. It’s okay to kick the bum, but not the officer because there is not consequence for one but there is for the other. It’s okay to incarcerate the hoodlum but not the rock star. When will we hold ourselves accountable for our actions and stop allowing concessions to people simply because of who they are, or where they came from?
Somebody much better with words then me summed it up perfectly-
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read more:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth115056.html#ixzz1iPchjaak

Don’t be ignorant and decide to only see this as a comment on racial issues. It is not. Because for a very long while just being the wrong color made you the wrong person to bring home to mom and dad. The only thing we have a right to judge each other on is our choices. And this only in as much as the integrity behind those choices and the consequences of those choices. We all make mistakes. We’ve all been good or bad at one point or another in our lives. But the ultimate “bad” is removal from personal responsibility.  Teach your son, and your daughter, personal responsibility. You can not teach them to respect themselves without it because you do not respect yourself if the only way you get through your day is by lying about who you really are. Integrity. It shouldn’t be an option.