To Moms of Boys on International Women's Day

To Moms of Boys, on International Women’s Day:

We see the messages everywhere telling us that we need to be strong women, we need to raise daughters that will be powerful forces for good, that we need to link arms in solidarity, that the future is female, and that women rule the world. While these are beautiful, powerful, worthy messages, as a mom of boys, I sometimes feel lost in it all.

I was raised by parents that taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be. My mom taught me that being a girl was awesome, that I was capable, and that I should be independent. In middle school I was a tiny thing that somehow came to be known as the one who made sure that things were always fair between the sexes. If a boy could do the task, so could I. And no one dared to tell me differently. Well, one boy did, but he got a fist to the stomach. I was strong, smart, and independent, and I knew it. I could do whatever I could dream up.

What did I dream of being? My biggest dream was to become a mother, just like mine. She was my hero after all. And here I am. Living my dream. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband and three beautiful boys. So, how does this “girl power” that is so ingrained in me translate into raising boys? That’s the question that comes back to me on days like today.

My living example of a strong woman, and the example of the women we are surrounded by, teaches my boys that women should be respected, and expected, to contribute meaningful ideas and solutions in society and businesses. By telling my little boys that they can be anything, I am also telling them that little girls can too. When I teach them to stand up for anyone being belittled, that includes women. When we make new friends, form clubs and classes, write to pen-pals, etc., we always include girls without even having to think about it. They know the world is not complete without both boys and girls. I raise my boys to speak their minds while having respect for other opinions, to stand up for what they believe in, to be strong, to be kind, and to respect themselves and others. By doing these things, I am helping them become the creators of a world where equality is real and not just a word.

So, to all the moms of boys out there, wondering what your role is on this International Women's Day: Raise those boys into men who are strong enough to walk beside the strong women in the world, and kind enough to look out for those that may be neglected or under attack - male or female. When every boy and girl is raised to love and respect everyone, including themselves, then we will all rejoice together. We have one goal. Today is our day too.

-Mary