Our 13 yo does not trust women.
Few men, either, but he doesn’t think about that so much. Perhaps it’s because he is a boy. Or perhaps it’s because the women he thought should protect him the most failed him the most.
Even the strongest little boy may have a deep, inherent love of his mother, perhaps more than anyone else in his life. She gave him life, not only through genetics, but literally from her body (at least in his case, no judgement on anyone else).
The woman who he believed should love and protect him most of all turned out to be his biggest source of danger. The therapists he forced himself to be vulnerable with were women. Even his close female relatives (who greatly outnumber the male relatives in his family) betrayed him.
“Men have hurt you, too,”
his dad lists out a number of men in his life who have been toxic towards him. But he’s a boy and he didn’t think of that.
More women than men in his life have hurt him. More women have abandoned him. He forgets the men who have also hurt and abandoned him. He remembers the women, though, because he believes that women are supposed to love and protect him– and it confuses him when they don’t.
I stayed, because I fought back. But all the rest of the supportive women didn’t have that choice. Many were professionals dealing with a child– when a parent withdrew support, they ethically and professionally had to respect that. Or they sensed the friction and got the hell out of dodge.
But a kid doesn’t understand that. He just sees women abandoning him.
So his dad provides calm, consistent messaging to him. Reminding him that both men and women have helped and hurt him. That it is about specific people, not swaths of the population.
It’s working, too. He is loving with me. He’s certainly not perfect and we do have times we scream at each other. But he knows I love him, and that I try my best (and it’s not just empty words, either).
But what if he didn’t have me? Even if he had his dad, it’s different having a kind woman in your life proving your dad right. And he only has me by the grace of his father’s permission. By another man’s permission.
I am not saying men aren’t to blame for their thoughts and actions.
Still– how many boys are being raised like this? Or worse, with only misogynistic asshole men as role models (at least this 13yo boy has a good father, what if the father weren’t around)?
How many grow up and become strong and powerful (physically, politically) and now have the ability to act out all the anger and resentment that’s been building for years when they were too weak to defend themselves (but not wanting to admit they’d ever been weak, prompting them to act even more aggressive).
How many little boys grow up to be little men?
The thought scares me.