In my last post, I touched on the possibility of us having another daughter and what that might mean to me as a father and to us as a family.
I want to explore the possibility of us having a son now, as it appears that’s the other alternative.
We have two daughters – Abigail is 6, and has VERY clearly stated that she wants a brother. She has a knack for getting under her sister’s skin and for finding extraordinarily inventive ways of starting fights and arguments. So the fact that there is some animosity between the two sisters is, at this point, mostly her fault. Why she thinks this will improve with a brother is beyond me. Amalie is 2 and hasn’t offered an opinion yet. She is conscious of the fact that a baby is coming, and that it’s in mommy’s tummy right now. I think she’ll mesh with a sister or a brother just fine because she’s much easier going than Abigail.
So what happens if we have a boy?
Well, in many ways we’ll be starting over. I’m comfortable with daughters, but wouldn’t really know what I’m doing with a boy.
Let’s start with the basics. First interactions with a son would be of course holding him and changing his diaper. I’m fine to hold a baby, but the diaper business with a boy…. Well, the equipment that boys are blessed with allow any bodily liquids to be directed towards you at the time of the diaper change. That’ll be a treat. I’ll likely consider taking him in to have mud flaps installed to direct any flow downwards.
Next will be play and activities. Eventually the little guy will start playing. Having been raised in a conservative household, I want my son to grow up being a strong, manly man. I want him to be everything I wanted to be growing up and that I aim to be now. So this leads me to my first question: do I raise him differently than my girls? Do I treat him differently? I rough-house with my girls, and I don’t baby them. I think when it comes to physical interaction, I would treat a son the same way. I would always make sure my child knows it is loved unconditionally. I would always make sure to have physical contact with my son, holding him when I want to, and taking his hand, literally. I would also show my son that I love my wife, just as I do with my daughters right now. I never shy away from hugging or kissing my wife and I want my son to know that it’s OK to show love.
So where do things go from there? Well, this boy would likely start interacting with his sisters and conversely, needing his own space as well. I think I’d respect his need for that. Our two girls play together well, but also need their own room to move once in a while. I’m guessing if we had a boy, he’d play with the girls as well, but also need some space to find his own way of playing and using his imagination. I’d afford him the opportunity to do that – maybe giving him his own part of the playroom.
How about sports and community involvement? Well, I’ve thought about it, and I don’t think a son would get any different treatment. Abigail has been in ballet and now wants to get into soccer. We’ve decided that we will support our kids’ wants when it comes to getting involved in things, as long as the requirements aren’t out of line with what we see as our family structure. Meaning this – if my kid wants to do ballet, soccer, hockey, Girl Guides, and community service and volunteering – we’re all for it. However, if doing all these things takes us away from being a family unit more than we see as acceptable, we will pare it down to ensure we remain strong as a family and can do things together as well. It’s a fine line, to be sure, and something that I’ll have to learn to flex with. A son would get the same opportunities as our other kids.
Growing up – here is where things get a little different. We are a traditional family – wife, husband, kids. We were raised in conservative, traditional households, and for the most part, that is what we are teaching our kids. My first daughter, Abigail, has already started talking about her wedding (she’s 6) and we’ve discussed the needs from our perspective. She knows the requirements inside and out – and she’ll gladly tell anyone who will listen. Her husband will need to be kind to her, and make her feel good about herself. And he will have to be approved by mom and dad. Of course, that’s a utopian perspective, but for a 6 year-old girl, considering she gets it, I think that’s a good start. I guess with a son, I’d have to go about this in a different way. I would need to teach my son what I think is the right thing to do. I’d want him to find a girl that makes him a better man, and I’d want to see him speaking to her and treating her with utmost respect. I’d want to hear that her dad is proud to call my son his son-in-law. Of course there will be girlfriends (good and bad) along the way, experimentation, lessons learned. But I will be there the whole way, guiding my boy to do what is right and helping him to come out on the other end a grown man.
I suppose I can’t see much further than this in life – because I haven’t gone any further myself. I don’t know what it’s like to have grandkids, and what it would be like to see my own children hold their kids. But I figure if I can set them up for success in terms of treating others properly, taking care of themselves and trying to do the right thing, no matter what the result – well, then there’s hope for my kids. And when the time comes, if I’m blessed with being able to hand my kids over to their partners, and hopefully some day, hold my grandkids tight – well, I can only hope that my kids will continue to try to make the world a better place.
In the end, it appears that having a son won’t be much different at all – it won’t change how I think about people, and it won’t change the values I pass on. I hope I have the strength to stay strong, and stick to my values and beliefs and I hope that my kids will see the world through their own eyes and that they’ll make it a better place, partially because of what I’ve taught them and what they’ve witnessed me saying and doing.
Last point – we are rapidly approaching the birth of our baby – it’s still due December 24th, and I’m not sure how much more I’ll say about it – until it arrives. I have about 4 more blog posts in the pipeline, all unfinished business, so there will be more shortly.
Thanks for taking the time to read – and I look forward to introducing you to either a daughter or a son soon.