Dear Sons, You Don’t Need a Woman to Make You a Better Man

I didn’t grow up with brothers. I grew up with three sisters and we lived with our single mother. There were lots of hormones and feelings around those halls, that’s for sure.

When I reached the point in my life where I was ready to have kids, I wanted a boy so badly. All my friends were wishing for girls, and there I was daydreaming about raising a little man. I was blessed with two boys, and have a sweet daughter smack dab in the middle of them (I thank the stars for her every day because she keeps me grounded).

I want my sons to be “better men” on their own. (Twenty20 @strelciuc)

I think a lot about a day when my ex-husband and I were visiting his mother and he got up to change our son. His mom was aghast at the idea that her son was getting up to change his child’s messy diaper.

She said she always took care of that stuff and let her husband relax because he worked full time, and added that I had “trained her son well.”

My boyfriend says I make him want to be a better man

I’m now dating a man I love dearly, and the other day as we were working out together he told me I made him want to be better. I knew what he meant. He was saying that I motivate him to get up early and get in a workout on a Sunday morning instead of lying in bed.

But I have to say, I don’t want that job. I don’t want that responsibility. I want him to want to be better on his own.

My boys are in the midst of their teenage years and I realize I want to teach them something I didn’t think even about while I was caressing little baseball caps and striped onesies. I want to raise them to want to be good men for their partners before they meet them.

I don’t want my teen sons to wait for someone else to make them better

I don’t want them waiting for their future “person” to show them the way. They shouldn’t rely on someone else to show them how to do life, to motivate them, or to remind them to be aware of others.

I hear it all the time, “Women make men better,” “Where there’s a good man, there’s a better woman behind him,” or however the saying goes.

My girlfriends and I snicker about how men need a training period, how they are malleable, and we just need to coach them a bit. I want to avoid is treating my sons like they can do no wrong and give themas excuse for bad behavior.

I want them to grow up knowing that there is always room for improvement. It’s important for them to work on themselves all the time–for themselves. Not for anyone else. It’s not anyone’s job but theirs.

You don’t wait around hoping your one true love will come into your life and suddenly you will become kinder, more compassionate, and more motivated. That load is way too much to put on anyone.

You don’t hear women say to their husband, “You make me want to be a better version of myself” very often, do you?

I don’t want my sons putting their lives on hold until they meet someone who pushes them, or makes them feel like they need to do life better. That kind of attitude is something we need to teach all of our kids, but especially our boys since women already carry a heavier mental load.

Relationships involve compromise, compassion, sharing, and we should inspire each other, and feel like a really good version of ourselves when we are around each other. But when a woman hears that a man says she “makes him a better person” she wonders, “What happens if I stop doing that? If I am no longer inspiring him? Then what kind of man will he be?”

My sons are responsible for their own behavior

My kids are responsible for their own behavior whether they are tempted to do something with their friends they shouldn’t, or do something unexpectedly nice for someone, or feel like they can’t say no to a situation that will hurt someone.

Certainly, I’m not raising perfect human beings but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being married, divorced, dating, and living for over forty-five years it’s that it’s not a woman’s job to make a full grown man’s life better.

I’m teaching my sons that their life doesn’t begin when they meet the right person. They shouldn’t try to get away with not doing your part until they meet a partner who calls them out on it.

I may not get them to the one hundred percent ready-to-be-the-best-version of themselves, but I am going to try with all I have in me. I’m pretty sure their future partners will thank me.

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

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To the Woman Who Will Keep My Son’s Heart One Day

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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