As a woman who never even believed she’d have sons because of how badly I desired having little girls, I try to instill in them the same morals, messages and general all-round knowledge that I would my own daughter (if I had one).
We use gender neutral terminology in the home; we don’t specify toys as being for boys or girls and we talk about consent, both how to give it and how to understand it. We talk about our anatomy in proper terminology and they know all about periods and why women get them (because mothers don’t ever get to pee alone).
I find it my responsibility to raise my two boys to respect women and their bodily autonomy while also implementing that same respect on themselves. It is also my responsibility to raise these two boys who will one day be young men to respect women and treat them with equal merit, while always striving to be the best possible versions of themselves.
I was truthfully taken by surprise when Eli’s teacher relayed to me at a parent teacher interview that Eli seems to identify, and become friends with, the girls in his class more so than the boys.
I asked him later that night why he doesn’t like playing with the boys, and he blankly stared at me and said, “I just like hanging out with my friends” and that was the end of the conversation.
Of course he does. They share similar interests and they enjoy playing the same games together at lunch time. To him, it doesn’t mean anything, they’re just his friends.
I always thought that I would be the one teaching my children about feminism, but there’s always small moments where they take me by surprise and teach me more without even knowing they are doing it.
That alone fills me with immeasurable pride. I can’t take all the credit for the wonderful little boys they are or the wonderful men they will one day turn out to be.
Eli and Flynn come from a long line of strong independent women: my mother a single mother of three, and my two aunties (one of whom was also a single mother of three and the other aunty who is a recognised politician and humanitarian).
Not only do they come from this long line of amazing women, they are also surrounded by other incredibly strong independent women.
LISTEN: Dr Michael Carr-Gregg joined the This Glorious Mess podcast to talk about raising teenage boys (post continues after audio…)
Like my best friends Catie and Candice: both single mothers, one a nurse, the other a small business owner; Cortez, whose list of awards include property manager of the year; Evelyn, an award winning florist; Ariana, a passionate environmentalist; Kate, the current judge’s associate for the federal court and co-founder of Young Queenslanders for the Right to Choose; and my best friend Rani, a paramedic who quite literally saves lives.
These women in their life, who have been consistent and present from day one, have helped me shape not only myself but my boys as well. They’ve helped me raise my boys to not question why the fastest or the smartest person in Eli’s class is a girl.
To not squirm when they wander in the toilet to tell me something oh so important that cannot wait and see period blood. To not overstep boundaries with friends when they say no, and to see women as powerful strong individuals who can achieve anything, without question.
It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a village of women to raise a feminist.
So, thank you to the women in my life for helping me do it.
Chloe Mills is a 24 year old mother of two boys, Eli and Flynn Cassidy. They reside in Brisbane, Australia. She’s also a full time student at QUT studying a Bachelor degree in creative and professional writing. She’s an avid lover of the arts but her greatest passion in life is definitely her two boys.