Saturday, May 22, 2010

Raising A Girl In America

My wife is pregnant, and the prospect that the new addition to the family may be a member of the fairer sex has got me thinking.

We’ve already got two boys; Spencer the third, 8, and Jack Lewis, 4. They are compassionate, awe-full little animals whom I am deeply proud of and interested in. You don’t need to raise a child to be curious. They naturally are. A lot of parenting seems to be a matter of getting out of the way. Sometimes parenting is shrugging your shoulders along with the kids, because life can be confounding. Sometimes you offer little bits of wisdom that you’ve picked up along the way, and sometimes you slide in a little bit of your own propaganda. There’s a lot of moment-choosing in the parenting game. It builds character.

This is my experience so far raising my boys. We’re all still puppies, but we’re tightening up the system as we move along. I know I have been a different father to some degree for each of my sons. I can’t help but wonder what kind of father I’ll be for the next kid, especially if it’s a girl.

I’m intimidated by the idea. I see that people in our country (especially men; especially religious men) have a lot of opinions about how girls should come up in America. I’m bothered by this. I was pretty young when Spencer 3 was born (20), and was only 25 when Jack was born. I was still full of youthful fight and almost dared society to try to turn my sweet little boys into a bunch boy scouts or testosterone blind head cases.

I’m 29 now, and am putting down roots. Am I too institutional? Will I have the strength to tell my potential daughter not to just go along to get along? I hope so, because our society only seems to want her to be pretty. She can be smart, but not too smart. I’ve half joked that I hope she turns out lesbian, and have said that her first pair of booties would be a pair of baby sized combat boots.

I’ve never felt compelled to think too much about women’s issues. I’ve been moved by the civil rights movement, but never really the women’s rights movement. I don’t know why. I wonder if I’m not a little sexist. I’ve recently realized that I have only a handful of books by female authors in my library, and only have CD’s by two or three female musicians. I’m a subscriber to Playboy, and I listen to Howard Stern. Denny Crane and Alan Shore were my favorite characters on Boston Legal. I took a Women’s Issues class with my sister last fall, and felt a little defensive most of the way through.

On the other hand, I’m afraid my anxiety might lead me to overcompensate to sit-comish levels.

The thought that I might end up raising a girl has got me biting my nails, but then again, everything makes me bite my nails. In the end, we’ll just take it as it comes and see what happens. My sons are fine and well adjusted, and they don’t have the ‘this is for boys and that’s for girls’ attitude that so many kids get infected with.
Who knows? Parenting is a crazy business any way. It’s all impromptu. I had much more stringent plans for how things were going to be with my oldest son before he actually popped out. I suppose I’ll keep my current parenting line, which is essentially President Obama’s line on Iraq and Afghanistan: “It all depends on the conditions on the ground”.

cross posted at The Daily Kos.


Steppenwolf said...

Women are second class citizens all over the world. In some places they are still regarded as property. Just think of the advantages you can provide your daughter in making sure it doesn't happen to her. You wanted your boys to grow up free men. Think how hard that is for a girl. You will be the most significant male figure in her life. Even if you only treat her with respect you'll be giving her more than most other men will. Teach her to expect it, to damand it. One day women will have a revolution, your daughter could lead it.

Spencer Troxell said...

Thanks for that. An inspiring thought.

Willie Y said...

You will do fine Spencer. Both of your son's are heading in the right direction under you and your wife parenting. And I have no dout that the next Troxell will will be fine. It will be another smart, caring and free citizen released into the world, it can't get any better than that.

Spencer Troxell said...

Thanks, Willie.

Lodo Grdzak said...

Like that last line. Sums it up nicely.

Spencer Troxell said...

And we can always turn to that proven piece of John Lennon wisdom:

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."