Sunday, May 07, 2006

Being There - as a Man

When my son was a young baby, I was home with him two weekdays each week (alone), as well as on weekends. When I went out such as to our neighborhood food store, I had numerous situations where I really could use the help of others with small things.

Both men and women would open a door for me as I struggled with his stroller. Women consistently would "think ahead" and ask me if I wanted assistance with many smaller things. Men rarely offered similar assistance. The women were varied - young/old, lesbian/het etc.

What really bothered me at the time was the recognition that I would have been one of those men before B was born!

Thinking over the years over what this relates to I think of many things related to how we are socialized as boys and men. Young girls often are taking care of younger siblings. Young boys are often out on their bikes or playing elsewhere.

About five years ago I listened and watched outside my window in our condo complex seeing a group of girls playing together. They were around 5-6 years old. They were "playing having an argument". Each of them was playing a role and they were talking about their acting as they went along.

These girls were acting and interacting in a social world around themselves. My son never learned in such a world. His world was much more playing with blocks and later in sports and other physical activity.

As men we often learn to take care of our parents, by making financial arrangements and otherwise "taking care of things". Often women take care of their parents and others by being with them and helping take care of their emotional needs.

I'm trying as I grow, to be more present and to focus more on the relationships, the bonds, the emotional community that I can help be a part of. It's not easy for me.



1 comment:

thinking girl said...

great point. girls are socialized into an "ethic of care" that informs a moral code that involves considering other people in social relationships. boys are taught to be strong and independent - a very liberal value.