How should I raise my sons?

In the spirit of Mychal Smith’s call for men to listen to women, I want to solicit opinions on how I (a man) should raise my sons not to contribute to sexism. While searching this site, I was not able to find any discussion that seemed relevant. Many of the commentaries focus on conservative, patriarchal fathers — but I’m a ideologically progressive parent, and I don’t see much discussion of what people like me need to be aware of. I had thought that a good rule of thumb would be to treat all my children the “same” regardless of sex/gender, but I ended up with twin boys.

Obviously, a big issue will be the example that I set in my relationship with their mother. I don’t want to get into the details of our relationship, but we have settled on the “traditional” splitting of responsibilities, where I work for $ and she takes care of the kids. 

While being progressive, I am also a bit of a “macho” man–for instance, I played football through high school and loved it (though I will steer my kids towards less dangerous sports). I sometimes think things like “he throws like a girl”, but I catch myself before saying them. I am sure that I will steer my boys towards many traditionally masculine activities, but I think I would have largely done the same for daughters. This is partly because those are simply my interests and I want to share them with my children, and probably also because place a higher value on traditionally male activities than on “traditionally” female activities*.  Overall, I’m generally trying to avoid the suggestion that boys and girls should behave differently.

So can you offer any “feminist” suggestions for how to raise my sons. I have yet to deal with the social world of elementary school, so I need tips for everything. Thanks.

* such as primping. I’m sure that I opened a whole can of worms with that last statement, and maybe that is a topic that I should read up on (if you can point me to good reviews of the issues involved).

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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