I have been asked a few times, “How can you be okay with your 3 year old son wearing girls dress up shoes?" The answer is simple, he’s my son.
I know that what he does now, may or may not influence who he becomes. I further know that as a father if I show ignorance, bigotry and hatred; when none should be present, I will do much more harm than good. It is my job as a parent to show my child that I love them unconditionally. It is not my job to raise the next generation of intolerance.
I have seen intolerance at it’s finest. As a social worker, I have seen young expectant mothers not allowed home anymore because they were pregnant. I have seen boys, working towards manhood, fall into drugs, alcohol and prostitution because their parents couldn’t accept there sexual identity. I have even seen children wind up in foster care because someone could not deal with their handicaps.
Experience and life shows me that me as a parent, our children and our society have nothing to gain through the acts of intolerance. Parents may argue with me on these points but lets look at ourselves and ask “do we really gain anything by making others feel small?" I don’t think we do. If we make a decision to tell our young sons they cannot wear girls dress shoes, we could gain more lost children, runaways, and violence.
We are the role models they look up too and how can we teach them to love themselves if we are tearing them down. I often wonder if people only ridicule others because they feel small about themselves. Children often feel small just because they cannot do as they please. They feel small because other children make fun of them. I believe if we never teach our children to make others feels inferior they would never do it to each other.
As a father, I want the best for my son and that means I have to show him acceptance and support in all he does. Life has shown me that if a man or a woman cannot except their child for who they are and what they might become they everything to lose. It might not be now but someday a person looks back on their life and will regret the decisions of not being approving to their children.
Children often forget the good things that have happened in their life but they never forget the bad. They are the ones that someday we want to come home to us with welcome arms and not dread the visit. As parent’s someday we will just want our child to call to say hello but they might not be so ready to pick up the phone.
I make a pledge to my son to guide him, nurture him and respect who is he. I will love the good, the bad and the ugly. I will teach acceptance and tolerance and will promote a loving environment for him.
The next time, as a parent, you are at your wits end with your child just remember, we were all little once and only once. What do you remember from childhood that you didn’t like? If you can recall being made to feel inferior by your parents then I ask you to make a pledge to your child to change.