Raising a Feminist Son


By Brooke Skipper, LCSW, February 19, 2019 –

The word feminism is often criticized by society. There are many who may not even read an article with the word feminism in the title.

In all actuality, feminism is defined as equality of the sexes. At its core, feminism just means believing we are all equal and should, therefore, have equal opportunities.

A powerful quote by Gloria Steinem states, “Though we have the courage to raise our daughters more like our sons, we’ve rarely had the courage to raise our sons like our daughters.”

We want our daughters to be assertive, bold, to understand they can aspire to whatever path in life they choose. We’ve changed our clothing lines for girls to include items with the word “strong” instead of the standard “pretty.” We encourage our girls to explore science, sports, and business, which are typically viewed by society as “male.”

But what about the boys? How often do we let our boys know pink is not a representation of a sex, that they can take dance lessons, that crying is not just okay but natural, that they can be beautiful, kind, and sensitive? Instilling acceptance and equality in our sons can help avoid the toxic masculinity that can debilitate them in the future.

 Here are some ways we can raise our children to see each other as equal:

  • Teach them to feel their feelings. When our children cry, a knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Don’t cry.” This is detrimental on many levels, as we are teaching our children to suppress their emotions. When our sons cry, this detriment reaches another level if we say, “Be a big boy and stop crying.” Instead, let your son know that it is okay to feel upset and help them cope with their emotions.
  • Remember that household chores are for the entire household. Make sure your children know everyone is expected to help with all chores. Chores are about what is age appropriate, not male/female appropriate.
  • Expose children to strong female characters and teach them that women can be powerful. Encourage your children to be any character they want to be during imaginative play, regardless of if the sex aligns with theirs. If your son wants to pretend to be Wonder Woman, let him.
  • Don’t differentiate between toys or hobbies. Encourage your children to participate in activities and play with toys that appeal to them. Don’t stereotype an activity or toy as “for girls” or “for boys” only.
  • Encourage coed friendships. It’s great for kids to have friends who are the same gender, but it’s equally important for them to have friends of the opposite sex. Boys can learn that girls aren’t the weaker sex and can have great ideas of their own. 
  • Teach children that feminism is not male bashing, it is about equality. Being a feminist means you believe everyone should coexist equally. No one is less than or more than another. Defined in that way, why wouldn’t you want to be a feminist?
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