dad son being human

Have you ever felt that some peoples’ political soapboxes are surprisingly dirty?

Surely, there must be some better manner of discourse that people can use. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of using words to dehumanize, um…

What’s the word?

Oh yeah:

Humans.

Uh Oh… What Happened?

Recently, I was talking to one of my clients. After a minute of conversation, she was asking me about my family.

I told her I have two daughters and one son.

And that’s when it happened:

She then told me to make sure my son turns out to be human.

Well, Last I Checked, He’s Not an Alien

What exactly did she mean by that?

Was that a political statement?

I’m pretty sure he’s human already.

Did she mean that I should raise him NOT to be like Trump? Not to be like “normal” men?

So, What Did She Mean?

Part of me was offended. My boy is kind, loving, funny, and caring. He loves giving gifts. He’s also squirrely, full of energy, and he cries a lot.

All of those things make him human. I consider it my job to make sure that he grows up to be someone who can think critically, who can be sensitive to those surrounding him, and who can express himself in a constructive and mature way.

I’m doing the best job I can to teach him about life. I’m also doing my best to lead by example. I want to show him that when life throws you curveballs, you have to adapt—you have to just keep swinging.

I’m worried that when we talk about raising boys to be men, we look past their inherent humanity.

I’m worried that we do that because we’ve been taught to see someone as a political ally or enemy first, and as a person with wants, needs, and desires second.

So, Who Gets to Be Human?

We’re all human. Trump is human, Hillary is human, Obama is human.

I think where the mistake is made is when we start categorizing each other as something other than human. We push people away. We claim to be arbiters of humanity.

When we separate ourselves from others, we lose one of the most fundamental aspects of humanity:

The ability to connect. The ability to empathize. The ability to communicate and create community.

The truth is that we all love, we all cry, we’re all motivated by something, and we’re all scared of something.

We just show it in different ways.

Sure, Some People Are Nicer and More Thoughtful

But an overabundance of niceness and thoughtfulness aren’t prerequisites to being human.

So, will my son be human?

Yes.

Will he be perfect?

No.

He’ll make mistakes like we all do. He’ll learn like we all do. My hope is that he will strive to be better, to learn from his mistakes, and to let his true personality shine through in good times and in bad.

I’ll do my best to teach him that it’s okay to cry.

It’s wonderful to love without limits.

It’s healthy to forgive yourself for making mistakes.

It’s good to forgive others, and that sometimes, it’s acceptable to remember what they did.

It’s important to listen and to be kind to others.

In other words, he will most definitely be human.

In fact, I’m going to do my best to raise him to be the kind of human she thinks he should be.

But I’m also going to raise him to speak more nicely than she did about people. If we start reducing personal and political discourse, then we’re doomed.

After all, our inability to see each one another as humans is part of what got us into this mess.

Further reading:

5 Keys to Fatherhood

7 Survival Tips for New and Expecting Dads

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