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Deep Thoughts with My Kids

I’m stalling today. I desperately want to do a dozen things, all of which are distractions from the novel I’m supposed to be working on. I’ve also charged myself with writing a blog post a week that isn’t WIPpet Wednesday or a ROW80 check-in, so at least this particular distraction is legitimate.

I played around with several topics, including throwing in my two cents on the whole Mark Driscoll fiasco that exploded this week. (I’m rejecting that one on the grounds that I have no real dog in that fight and there are much, much better people to listen to on that subject. Here and here are two of my favorites, if you care to find out what I’m talking about.)

I mentioned needing to write a post to a friend in an exchange that went like this:

Me: I need to do a blog post some time. But I need a topic first. LOL!

She: Why open conversations with children are necessary to the betterment of their lives and yours.

I did chuckle a little at that because yesterday, I had one such conversation with my kids over lunch. I had just come back from J’s appointment with his ADHD doctor. At the appointment, I mentioned that the bullying J experienced at school was largely of the “you’re not boy enough” variety. What was sad to me was how unsurprised his doctor was, although I was pleased when he said, “That should bother us on so many levels.”

When we returned home, J brought it up again, and he, S, and I started talking about what makes a person a girl or a boy. It’s interesting to me that people feel we can’t talk to kids about gender identity because they’re “too young to understand.” Let me assure you that my kids have a very good idea about gender identity, and talking with them was not difficult.

We talked about a lot of things, including how girls can often get away with being “tomboys” and wearing their brothers’ clothes but it doesn’t go the other way. I suggested that needs to change, and both kids said, “Yeah! That’s not fair!” We continued talking about the full range of identity and expression, and at no point did either of them act confused or upset.

Throughout the conversation, they were at the helm. I did very little other than answer questions and let them say what they wanted. Interestingly, both of them said they truly feel—inside and out—like a boy and like a girl, respectively. But apparently they already know kids who don’t feel the same.

This is why we need to talk about it. I am one hundred percent happy to talk with my own kids, to reassure them that whoever they are, they are loved by their dad and me. They are free to express themselves any way they choose. But that’s not the only reason to open that conversation. Surely over time, they will have friends who defy what society says is acceptable—not just gender or sexuality but many other things that are part of a person as a whole.

When that happens, I want my kids to be the sort of people who are loving, open, and understanding with all people. I want them to be able to tell their friends that if they don’t feel accepted in other places, they are always welcome in our house. Here, they will find people who don’t merely “tolerate” or even “accept” them but who actively take an interest and care about them.

Having these conversations with our children is absolutely not just about us or our kids. It’s about making a better world for everyone.

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How Should She Be Treated?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since I posted about the “date your daughter” video. While I stand by everything I said, and I don’t believe I need to apologize or clarify anything, I do have some further thoughts.

I am not opposed to parents spending time with their children. I’m not opposed to dressing up in fancy clothes, if that’s what the child wants. I may think it’s weird to play on the playground in prom attire, but let’s face it—was there really any playing going on? That whole video was staged, not a real “date.” I challenged the heteronormativity/two-parent family model, but I also suggested that quality one-on-one time with our kids is a good thing.

After some more thinking, I concluded that one of the things that makes me feel creepy and strange about it is the idea that dads must show their daughters how a man should treat them. This is pure nonsense for several reasons.

1. It assumes dating and marriage, rather than personal growth and development, are the goals.

The assumption is that every girl is going to grow up to become a wife (to a man). I understand that culture too well. When I was in college, there was an unspoken rule that many young women were not there for college degrees but to find mates, or that the degree was secondary. Not every woman wants to get married.

2. It assumes heterosexuality.

By teaching girls how men should treat them, it sends the message that relationships with men are expected. This is awkward at best when a girl is not interested in boys. It’s destructive at worst.

3. It assumes every person the parents call “daughter” is a girl and every person the parents call “son” is a boy.

These daddy-daughter date nights with reinforced gender roles are hurting gender non-conforming, genderqueer, and transgender individuals. That applies to both people presumed boys and people presumed girls.

4. It assumes families configured other than Mom + Dad + Kids are dysfunctional and inadequate.

Some families have a single mother. Some have two mothers. Some are formed in other ways. If there is no man living in a particular household, that is not some automatic death knell for a girl’s future dating life. Plenty of women grow up in households with dads who don’t date them, and they adjust to being wives and partners just fine.

5. It assumes all dads have to do is show up for date night.

If a father is present in his children’s lives in other ways, it isn’t necessary to make up for it by having the occasional night out. The failure to nurture, protect, and teach our kids cannot be overcome with dates. If a father behaves in destructive ways otherwise, date night won’t help. Similarly, living with integrity and showing love to our kids on a daily basis does not need to be supplemented with dates. The primary purpose of one-on-one time should be because it’s enjoyable, not because it’s a teachable moment.

6. It assumes women cannot figure out for themselves what they want in a relationship.

My biggest question is why any woman would need a man to teach her how men should treat her. If she can’t figure out for herself what she wants, she has bigger concerns than can be cured by dating her dad. It makes it sound like girls are too ignorant, unintelligent, weak, foolish, or innocent to have any idea at all what they want in a potential partner. I have never heard of a boy being taken out by his mother in order to “teach” him what he should expect from a date. So why should anyone believe girls are less capable of figuring these things out?

I find the culture of Daddy-Daughter Dating to be highly controlling. It’s yet another way to transition a girl from being under daddy’s care to being under a husband’s care. It is an erasure of her personhood, her autonomy, and her sexuality. Not only that, it erases her mother as an influencing force. If a girl really needs help learning about healthy relationships, why is that not the territory of her mother? Why can’t her mom help her learn “how she should be treated” on a date?

Once again, I have a much better idea. Let’s teach our children how to respect themselves and others. Let’s help them set healthy boundaries for themselves and reinforce that they need to be aware of other people’s boundaries. Let’s help them develop as people first—to discover their interests, passions, hobbies, talents. If we put relationships in the context of helping them become well-rounded, we eliminate the emphasis on “someday, you’ll be appropriately straight-married.” Instead, they discover the kinds of people they want in their lives—whether romantically or in friendship—without the need to “practice” with their parents.

Date Your Daughter

This video appeared in my Facebook feed today. I normally don’t bother with this stuff anymore, but I was bored and curious, so I clicked.

If you don’t feel like watching, here’s the summary: Guy getting all dressed up. For some reason, he’s with another guy, and they’re talking about whatever is going on like it’s a big deal. Guy #1 says whoever “she” is will be surprised. It sounds for all the world like he’s about to propose marriage (though from the title of the video you know already that’s not true). We follow him to another location, where he picks up not an adult woman but a little girl who turns out to be his daughter. He proceeds to tell her how cute she is (she says she gets it from her mother). Then they go on their “date,” all dressed up, to play at the playground. At the end, the text says, “You’ll always be her first love.”

Ew.

The first thing that grabs me is how utterly creepy this is due to the common aspect of conservative Christian culture where dads “date” their daughters and daughters make purity pledges. Now, I’m not saying that’s what’s going on in the video; only that it reminds me of purity culture. Aside from the unnecessary sexualization surrounding the “date” concept, this puts dads as a place holder for their daughters’ future husbands. What an absolutely inappropriate practice, a sheer removal of her agency in her own life.

I also found myself wondering why the hell they needed to get into formal wear to play on the playground. Have these people ever seen kids at playgrounds? Mine always come home dirty and sweaty. And fancy dresses are not a whole lot of fun for climbing and running and jumping. Couldn’t dad and daughter just have gone out to play without all the hoopla?

Additionally, what about a girl who doesn’t have a dad in her life? Perhaps he died or disappeared or she’s only ever had two moms. What then? Should her mom or moms hire a dad for the day? Or is she under the care of her grandfather or an uncle? On the flip side, a girl might have more than one dad. Is she expected to do this with both a father and a stepfather if she’s close to both of them? In fact, is she even allowed to? Do both her gay dads have to put on tuxes for her? And is that simultaneous or one at a time? I have so many questions.

We do not do this to our sons. We do not encourage mommies to dress up in pearls and ball gowns and “date” our sons. (Though if we did, it would look vastly different—it would be on the sons to pretend to be grown up men, courting their ladies.) In fact, we think boys with this attachment to their moms is unhealthy and strange. It’s even in our language. Being a “daddy’s girl” is a good thing, a sign that dad is the most important man in her life. Being a “mama’s boy” is exactly the opposite—evidence of an immature little boy in a man’s body who can’t let go (or his mother won’t let go).

I’m going to take it one step further and say that we don’t encourage moms to “date” daughters and dads to “date” sons, either. That speaks volumes to the fact that it does indeed have romantic/sexual overtones. If we were to encourage moms to “date” their daughters (and I mean more than a girls’ day out to the spa), we would have to acknowledge both the pre-sexualization and the homophobia present in the “date” concept.

We would also have to acknowledge the gender-role norming. Dads are certainly encouraged to spend time with their sons, but not ever by doing anything as “gay” as getting dressed up in tuxes and going on a date or as “feminine” as treating themselves to a day at the spa or a round of shoe shopping. (Believe me, I know plenty of guys—gay and straight—who would have loved the chance to do this with their dads!)

I’d like to propose a far less creepy alternative (with far less messiness than figuring out who gets to/has to play Dad-in-Shining-Armor). How about we eliminate the “date” concept entirely? Maybe we just spend time one-on-one with our kids, doing things they enjoy. Maybe instead of a surprise day of playing playground prom we get into our grubby clothes and hang out with them at the park. Maybe we listen to them and find out what their interests are and then find ways to enjoy their hobbies together.

Here’s an idea: Let’s talk about it and share ideas for fun things to do with our kids. If you’re a parent (even if your kids are grown), what do you like to do with your kids? What do your kids enjoy?

The birds and the bees and…the bees?

By Artist not credited (Argument in an Off Key.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a busy day and I don’t have time for my usual overthinking things.  Instead, I’m going to share a story from the summer that I can’t believe I’ve never posted.  It was the worst (best?) combination of MomFail and Proud Mommy Moment.  Warning: sex stuff.  And gay sex stuff.  Careful of your gag reflex.

When my son turned ten this summer, I did as I do every year and took him to the doctor for his well visit.  This story is not about that, though it factors in peripherally.  While dude was sitting there in his underwear waiting for the doctor to come in, he said,

“Mom, when are you going to tell me how babies get made?”

I gave a nervous glance at the door, sure the doctor would open it literally the moment I started to speak.  I took a deep breath and said, “After your appointment.  I want to have this conversation with you, but not right now because there won’t be time for us to really talk.”

Whew.  Not that I didn’t want to explain it to him, I just didn’t want to be interrupted in the middle.  Turns out that was a Very Good Thing Indeed.

After his appointment, we got back in the car and I asked if he was ready to talk.  He said he was.  I carefully and matter-of-factly explained the mechanics of straight sex to him.  He already knew about sperm and eggs, so there wasn’t much more to say other than how the parts fit together.  He understood it about as well as any ten-year-old, I suppose.

And then I learned that I should never, ever have these conversations while driving.

As soon as I’d finished explaining and he indicated he understood, he said, “So, when a boy has sex with another boy, he puts his penis in the other boy’s butt.”

We nearly got in an accident.

Once I had regained control of the car, I did what any good mother would do.  I calmly answered my kid, right?  Guess again.

I will admit this was not my finest parenting moment.  I said the first thing that came to mind: “Where did you learn that?!”  I was honest to god having visions of my kid clicking on a pop-up window while surfing the Internet and learning far too much about the naked human body.  For about ten heart-stopping seconds, I was in a full-on panic.

Then my son, who is nothing if not logical, said, “No one.  I just guessed.  Boys don’t have vaginas, so that was the only hole I could think of.”

I decided that a discussion about how some men do, in fact, have vaginas could wait.*  I replied, “Well, yes.  Some men have sex that way.”

And that was that.

We moved on.  I told him that the most important thing for him to know is that his body is his and no one has the right to touch it without his permission.  I told him the same thing applies to others, and that he should never, ever touch anyone without making sure it’s okay first.

His response?  “That makes sense, Mom.”

My work here is done.

______________________________

*We have since had that conversation, in case anyone was wondering.

 

Ruining our kids

I was already in an irritable mood after seeing Christianity Today refer to Rachel Held Evans as having a “meltdown” because she pointed out the flaw with The Nines conference’s lack of women.  It didn’t help that this awful post on parenting turned up in my newsfeed–more than once, I might add, and not because anyone was being critical.  Nope, everyone seemed to love it.

I can’t speak for other parents, but I’m very tired of people who think that yesteryear’s parenting was so much better than today’s.  It’s like all the other times people talk about wanting to return to “the good old days.”  While there may be some good things we’d like to keep–or reclaim–there’s also a whole lot of terrible things that, unfortunately, cannot be separated from the things we like.  (And there are relationships between them that we’d prefer not to see, as is the case with “1950s values” and racism.)

In this particular post, I was most disturbed by the way that she emphasized the result of what she sees as bad parenting (coddling, apparently) without mentioning a single word about the consequences of other parenting flaws.  For example, she’s concerned that her boys won’t be able to play shoot-the-bad-guys at school, but seems unconcerned that parents might not be adequately teaching their children who is or isn’t “bad.”

There were some specific things that bothered me about what she had to say: boys will be boys (what about girls who like that kind of play?  or boys who don’t?); bullies perpetrate physical violence but claims of emotional bullying are more or less just whining; people become suicidal as a result of a single nasty remark; and college students and new graduates are going home crying over every failure and quitting (as though this didn’t already happen with people born into extreme privilege).

Believe it or not, I don’t care what you let your kids do.  Buy them toy guns?  Whatever.  Don’t buy them?  Whatever.  The reason is that it’s not in the purchase or non-purchase of a particular toy that learning non-violence happens.  Kids are not better off because they are allowed  to play cops and robbers or because they are forbidden from playing.  Ms. Metz has it wrong–boys don’t somehow magically grow up better because they were allowed to play certain types of playground games.  Not only that, boys do not grow into better men because they played those games.  That’s part of a particular view of masculinity that says there are certain Normal Things Boys Do, and anyone outside that must either have freak parents who regulate their play or else there’s something unmanly about them.  Weirdly, she seems to be blaming parents for the lack of gun play at school, when it is, in fact, the rules of the school restricting play.  She’s conflating parenting with public education and really seems hung up on this gun thing throughout.

As for bullying, I’m super happy for Ms. Metz that she got over whatever things were said to her.  Perhaps she’s just very confident in herself.  I think it’s far more likely that she simply never experienced the kind of emotional, verbal, and sexualized bullying some of us did.  Maybe she doesn’t know what it’s like to go to school and wonder how many hurtful things will be said to you that day or whether the boy who sits behind you is going to grab your ass yet again while the teacher looks the other way.  She might not understand how it feels to walk into a room to a class full of kids calling you an elephant and making “boom” noises at you while you walk, every day.  She probably doesn’t know what it’s like to spend three years trying to find a lunch table where the other kids won’t slowly slide over while you’re eating until you end up on the floor, followed by laughter and fake apologies.  I’m just guessing here, though.

I suppose because Ms. Metz doesn’t understand that kind of harassment, she’s more likely to also misunderstand being suicidal.  I do not know any person who has felt suicidal or attempted suicide or has succeeded who did it simply because some random girl called her a bitch one day.  If a single episode of name-calling sends one to such a dark place, then it wasn’t just because of the mean word–that was just the proverbial straw.  I find Ms. Metz’s words hateful, hurtful, and inappropriate.  They lack any sort of empathy.  I have no idea where she got her information that this is all it takes to make teenage girls commit suicide, either–apparently, she also doesn’t read all the way through stories about bullying and suicide enough to get the whole picture.

On the other hand, college students with helicopter parents are a real issue, so I’ll give Ms. Metz credit for spotting that one.  The way she presents it, though, makes it sound like she’s saying this is happening in dire proportions compared to the number of students enrolled in college.  She’s making blanket statements about “today’s parenting” being responsible for this.  Oh, really?  Because that wasn’t happening before.  Spoiled, bratty kids going to college is totally a new thing, right?

My biggest problem with this post is that it’s so vague.  She never actually says what she thinks is the bad parenting responsible for selfish, needy kids.  She hints that it has to do with “catering” to them, but what does that even mean?  How, exactly, is it “catering” to kids to have a philosophy of not buying toy guns or allowing shooting play?  And how are her kids better off for being allowed to do those things?  In what way does stopping verbal bullying prevent people from being emotionally healthy?  She gets at it a little with her comment about not giving in to them unless they use manners.  But if what she meant is that kids have no manners, why didn’t she just write a post about that?  She says her boys will be emotionally hurt but that she’ll cushion it as much as a mother can.  Isn’t that catering to them?  How will they learn to deal with things if she’s “cushioning” them?

Like the post about how “marriage isn’t for you,” this just smacks of self-righteousness.  The big FAIL for me is that she never once suggests that the best way to help our kids grow up to be responsible, respectful people is to teach them how to treat others.  I didn’t see even one reference to, say, the Golden Rule.  I saw nothing in there about teaching our kids about kind words, respecting personal boundaries, or helping people who need it.  There wasn’t a single word about making things right when we’ve hurt other people.

Ms. Metz claims that she “respects” others’ right to parent how they see fit.  I’m not that nice.  I think if you’re abusing your child, you are a sorry excuse for a parent, and I do not respect your “right” to harm your child.  Beyond that, I’m just not that concerned with what you do.  As for me, I’m going to worry less about whether I’m “overprotective” and more about whether I’m teaching my kids that all people have value.  That strikes me as far more important than whatever vague badness Ms. Metz is suggesting I avoid.

She may call you up tonight

By Mike DelGaudio (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Time for a cute story about my ten-year-old.  For those of you who know him in person, this probably won’t come as much of a shock.

Yesterday, as usual on days when he has band, I picked him up from school.  Once we were in the car and buckled, just as I was starting the engine, he said, “I have a Post-It note.”

“Oh?” I inquired.  He often has Post-Its; I wasn’t terribly interested.

“Yeah.  And guess what’s on it?”

At that point, I was a little wary.  I wondered if it was something from his teacher.  “Um.  I don’t know.  What’s on it?”

“Sydney’s phone number!” he announced proudly.

“And who is Sydney?”

“A girl in my class.  She likes me.”

This is the fourth girl’s phone number that he’s gotten since last spring.  He has exactly one boy’s phone number, and the only reason he has it is that the boy’s mom gave it to me.

I’m going to blame my son’s former dance teachers for this, mostly because they’re not here to defend themselves and also because they don’t read this blog anyway.  They are all responsible for teaching my kid how to treat women and girls, especially ones he likes.  Didn’t they know that girls appreciate boys who know how to show respect and like them for who they are?  I mean, sheesh.

As cute as this story is, it makes me a little sad, too.  Oh, not because my precious boo-bear is growing up.  I’m really enjoying watching both my kids blossom.  No, it makes me sad because I know that if it were my daughter collecting boys’ numbers (or my son collecting phone numbers of boys saying they liked him, for that matter) very few people would see it as cute or sweet.  (On a side note, no one would bat an eye at this age if my daughter had a handful of girls’ numbers–that’s culturally expected, and most people would say it didn’t mean anything.)

Funny thing is, I have a few friends whose daughters have magnetic personalities and who like to hang out with boys.  I (and most of their parents) do, in fact, think it’s cute.  But there’s still that little nagging thought that it’s not something to share in public because people may judge those girls or their parents.  After all, those are the girls who, in a few years, are going to be posting braless selfies, right?

I don’t really care whether my kids prefer to hang out with boys or girls.  What I care about is having them respect themselves and others.  I see these opposite-sex friendships as having several benefits.  What better way for the kids to learn about each other and themselves?  They’re finding out what they like.

My first question to my son after he said this girl likes him was, “What do you like about her?”

“Well,” he said, “she’s writing this really cool story.”

“Ah, so she likes to write.  That’s something you enjoy, too.”

“Yeah!  Maybe we’ll write something together.”

“You know what?  That sounds like a great idea.  I’m glad you have a friend like Sydney.”

“Me too, Mom.”

 

The baby question, part 3

By Elnaz6 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve spent the last couple of days talking about the appropriateness of questioning people’s choice to parent or not parent.  You can read the previous entries by clicking the link on the Blog Series menu to the right.  There are so many off-shoots of this, and I could spend many more days going through the rest of them.  Today, though, I want to talk about men.

I’m not a guy, so I don’t know what men really think about this.  My husband assures me that “So, when are you going to have kids?” is not a typical staff room conversation among men.  I’m not sure that he was never asked that question before we had children, but he doesn’t recall anyone prying that way.  Probably some men have to field those queries, but my guess is that it’s far less common.  Someone else can set the record straight on that for me if I’m wrong.

Anyway, while I’m not a big fan of “what about the men,” I think we sometimes get confused about what that means.  It definitely doesn’t mean that men have no stake in important conversations about roles and expectations.  I can’t understand why more men aren’t horrified at the way they’re portrayed, particularly when it comes to love, sex, marriage, and family.  Why the heck aren’t you guys out there protesting having media and the church imply that you’re crazed animals or cavemen who can’t control yourselves?  That would seriously piss me off.

A similar bad stereotype is that men don’t actually want kids–they have to be forced into it by their wives.  And if they don’t have wives, so much the worse for them, because then they will obviously never, ever want to have kids.  Apparently, men are too self-unaware (or self-absorbed, maybe? I dunno) to know whether they want to be dads.

This is genuinely a thing I remember being told by other Christian women.  I first heard it in college, which makes very little sense to me.  I mean, no kidding that an eighteen-year-old college student doesn’t want kids right then and doesn’t know if he ever wants them.  I don’t think I knew at that age, despite the fact that I’m supposed to be in possession of a biological time-bomb clock.  I heard it again after I was married, and I distinctly recall finding out that some women purposefully did things to mess up their birth control so they’d get “accidentally” pregnant and their men would have to learn to be dads.

Yeah.

Of course, this totally makes sense, because men can’t be nurturing the way women can, right?  It’s God’s design!  Women obviously all want to have babies and are natural caregivers (whoever wrote that has never met me).  Without us, men would have no clue at all what to do with a baby.  Left to their own devices, they would diaper the wrong end or feed the kids Jell-o and ice cream for dinner or ignore them while they hit each other in the head with sticks.  That’s why when we women go out and leave the kids home, it’s perfectly okay to refer to our husbands as “babysitters” for our kids.  They’re not really parenting, they’re just watching the kids.  If we left them to it for too long, they would revert to being irresponsible people who let the children run wild.  We must be sure to keep a close eye on things.

Maybe this is what people worry about if two men are parenting together.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen this happen.  When I’m out at rehearsal, I come home to a clean house and two sleeping children (and sometimes a sleeping husband).  Guess what?  He actually knows how to take care of things because he’s an adult.  Shocking, I know, but it’s true.  I don’t feel like I’m leaving the kids with a babysitter; I feel like I’m leaving them with their other parent–probably because I am.

I understand the issues involved when there’s an unintended pregnancy or a divorce/break-up in which a man needs to take responsibility for the child or children he’s fathered.  But that’s not what I’m talking about here.  I mean the knowledge, before there are any children involved at all, that a man does or does not want to have any.

Men really do know.  Those who do want to be dads may not feel ready yet or may have their own set of anxieties about fatherhood, some of which are similar and some of which are different from women’s feelings.  Those who don’t want to parent are just as clear as women who don’t want children.  They have their own reasons, and it’s not as simple as “I’d rather have a career” any more than women’s reasons can be reduced to a single factor.

Think about it.  If it were really just about men who didn’t want to “grow up” (as though being a parent magically makes one an adult), would you honestly want to have a baby with someone like that?  Or adopt a child?  I know I wouldn’t.

Not being a man, I don’t know that there’s more I can say about this other than wishing culture wouldn’t portray child-free men as immature or self-centered.  I guess the only other piece of advice I have is that if you don’t want to be a dad, then make sure you’re having that conversation with potential partners–not only to find out if you’re on the same page but to actively take steps to prevent parenthood (if you’re straight-cis, that is).  If there is any chance that you and your spouse/partner could get pregnant, don’t just leave it up to her to do all the preventive measures.  Oh, and make sure you’re using the condoms correctly, folks.  User error is the largest cause of failure–when used right, they’re one of the most effective methods of birth control available.  (The myths spread by the Abstinence Police make me ragey.)

Please don’t feel obligated, but I would love to hear from some men on this topic.  As a rule, I think men are pretty awesome (especially my husband), and I like learning about how men think about these things.  You don’t have to share your personal story, but I’m definitely interested in your thoughts about the cultural view of men, particularly when it comes to relationships and family.

Hey, thanks for coming along for the ride during this series.  Tomorrow, I’m rounding up my favorite (and not-so-favorite) posts of the week.  If you’ve read something interesting or want to have yours included, shoot me a message through my contact form or leave me a comment.