Raising Girls, But Loving Boys?

Growing up, I would often hear my maternal aunt exclaim, “Mother’s raise their daughters, but they love their sons.” When I was a little girl, I simply chalked up my aunt’s reoccurring mantra to the bitter ramblings of a deeply embattled middle child, especially considering how she was snidely insinuating that my lovely grandmother, who could do no wrong, preferred boys to girls.

Back then, I basically shrugged off her assertions, because I knew, in my heart, that I, not one of my male cousins, was Big Momma’s favorite grandchild. What’s more I was the offspring of one her daughters, not one of her sons. Hence, she obviously couldn’t have a gender preference for boys.

However, as I’ve gotten older and have had the pleasure of a daughter and son of my own, I have a new found appreciation for what I now consider my aunt’s words of wisdom. You see, while I love both of my children very much, I’ve never been a 13-year-old black boy. But I have been a 16-year-old black girl. Therefore, I can’t really provide a great deal of insight into what my son will feel and experience. On the other hand, I have a really good idea of what my daughter will go through. As such, I can give her expert advice to prepare her for what she will likely face in life.

In lieu of first-hand knowledge and life experiences as a boy, I offer my son the next best thing, my undying love. My son knows that no matter how cruel a place the world can be for a young African-American male, he can always find comfort and solace in his mother’s arm. My daughter can find the same, but her soothing will probably be peppered with a few tidbits of advice.

A few years back my daughter accused me of treating my son like a porcelain doll. This was in response to what she viewed as unfair treatment when I decided an argument between her and my son in his favor. Now mind you, she is roughly three and a half years older than he. At the time, I believe he was 10 and she was 13 (almost 14). I politely explained to her that everyone else in our house had had the opportunity to be 10 and that it was now her brother’s turn. Furthermore, I assured her that if she, a soon to be 14 year old, wanted to be treated exactly the same as a 10 year old, I would gladly accommodate her. Of course that meant no hanging out at the mall or going to the movies without adult supervision. Needless to say, she quickly backed off of that argument.

I have to admit, though, that my daughter’s accusation made me do a little self examination. And if I’m being completely honest, I’d have to say I worry an awful lot about the treatment my son will get in the world. Just look at the reception Robbie Tolan received from the Bellaire Police Department in his own front yard, while his mother stood helplessly by. With incidents like this still occurring, a mother of a black son can’t help but hold on real tight and love him like his life depended on it. You have to let him know that even though it’s a mean cruel world out there, he has a safe haven in his mother’s arms. Hopefully equipped with this knowledge his life will be a little easier, when he faces the injustices this world will undoubtedly thrust upon him.

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