BY: Janis Gaudelli – “Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism”
It was around this time last year, when we heard the reckoning call of women around the world rising-up and bravely confessing to being sexually assaulted by men in power. It began with three women who first exposed Harvey Weinstein, and then millions followed suit with their own experiences. That is when the world became woke to the #MeToo movement.
Since then, we have seen the matter of sexual harassment and assault enter the public consciousness. We have experienced corporations putting new policies and training in place. We have witnessed the fall of industry giants. We bore witness to women everywhere coming together at marches, raising their voices in revolt, and stepping into their divine power.
But where does this revolutionary call to action leave men? Many of you might be thinking, “Who cares, they’re fine,” but I have to disagree. I study human behavior for a living, and what I am observing is a gender that has lost its way, left compass-less in this new age of masculinity. Men are confused, to say the least, what with all the mixed messages about what this new era expects of them. Let me be clear, I am not defending the appalling acts of harassment made by countless men in our culture. I don’t subscribe to the “boys will be boys” mentality either, however, if we’re wanting change, we need to pay closer attention and start thinking about how we choose to raise this next generation of men.
I am not here to dissect a movement or to speak to the gender wars or the ongoing social issues that plague us. I am here because I am raising a boy, and since the #MeToo movement emerged, people have asked me THE question. The question many parents of boys have possibly pondered (I know I have): “How do you navigate raising a boy in the #MeToo era?”
Here’s my short answer:
“Kellan has a huge advantage because his world is predominantly powered by women. Let’s start with the fact that his mom is someone who decided to forego the man and have a child on her own. So, even before he was the size of a pea, his future was intentionally female-led. He grew in the uterus of a strong, independent woman. He was birthed in an operating room surrounded by a lineage of female warriors (my mom, my sister, and my niece). Ever since then, the dominant figures in his life are the fiercest dames I know. Kellan understands, respects, and loves women. However, I am aware that he needs masculine models to grow into a well-rounded version of himself. I am extremely selective when it comes to the men Kellan watches, observes & learns from. I make sure those men are extraordinary examples of good human beings. I look to see how these men view women, love women, and raise women. I know that these men are truly the ideal models to craft Kellan’s masculine qualities and, therefore, I have no doubt that Kellan is going to grow up to be a good man. And yet, I would be lying if I didn’t think about the type of world this good man will be navigating through one day.
And that’s where I leave it. Because future thinking does no one any good– especially this anxious chick. I can’t predict the future, and I have no control over what’s to come. The only thing I can control is continuing to raise an extraordinary human with a solid set of values.
That response usually satisfies inquiring minds and the conversation moves along… at least, until this past week. As we all watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh give their testimonies, a curious friend of mine called me and passionately posed a scenario: “What if 20 years from now, a woman accuses Kellan of sexual harassment. What do you do? Do you believe her because she’s a woman? This could happen, Jan.”
Honestly, I had never thought of that scenario because I never would have thought I needed to. I am not one who gets caught up in the ‘what ifs’ because, again, we have no control whatsoever over what will happen in the future. But her scenario kept on replaying in my head, and then it made its way into my journal, and then became the subject matter of this blog. I started to think about how and what I am doing to prepare my son for a world that is so very different than the one I grew up in. I gave some serious thought to the values I am instilling in Kellan and how I want to raise him to live in a world where he’s part of the solution, not the problem. We raise our kids by telling them what not to do, and I believe that could actually be part of the problem. I thought about how I can challenge that approach by transforming it into what to do. How can I teach Kellan about who he should be and how he should act, and what it means to be a good human?
So there I was, rejiggering my parenting style and creating a TO-DO list, amending how I guide, instruct, and express this new approach to Kellan. Abolishing the “what NOT to do” and communicate “what TO do” to be proud of the person he’s becoming. I always try to lead with the good.
Here’s a first go of the “To-Do List” I have made for Kellan:
- Feel all the feels, be vulnerable, and emote. There is great strength and dignity in expressing how you feel. Be compassionate towards yourself and others. Embrace your full humanity.
- Ask for help. Life gets heavy, sometimes unbearably so. Seek out the assistance you need to lighten the load. Destroy the stigma.
- Respect yourself and others. Understand boundaries. Be mindful of your words. “No” is an answer.
- Sharpen your communication skills. Be crystal clear when speaking with others so nothing is misinterpreted. When the conversation is really important, pick up the phone or set a face-to-face meetup.
- Be courteous. Be aware of those who need extra help – the elderly, those with special needs/disabilities, pregnant women, etc. Hold open doors, give up your seat for those in need. Be of assistance. Ask how you can help?
- Do YOU. Be the Shepherd. Stand up for all that you believe in, even if you’re the only one standing. Make your own decisions. Have your own opinion. Become informed and be heard.
- Surround yourself with great examples of good humans. Choose your friends wisely because your friends represent you…all your actions, all your thoughts and all the things you aspire to be. Make sure they inspire and encourage you to be your best self.
- Keep your mind and heart open. Form relationships with people of all races, sexualities, genders, etc. based on respect and mutual admiration. Believe in the equality and autonomy of all. Lead with love, you’ll never lose.
As life happens, and as Kellan grows, I will add to and update this list. But for now, we focus and practice what I documented out. I say “we” because I know raising a child means living as an example and knowing we promote what we permit. This is my to-do list as well. I will live it matter-of-factly and because of that, so will Kellan.
I know we are living in turbulent times, divided by social issues, race, gender, etc., but I believe the result of all this will breed the next generation of good human beings. From where I stand, the future looks bright.
Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways. Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.