+
More

3 helpful ways to teach boys to become men without the 'man up' nonsense.

Raising boys to be feminists doesn't just help girls and women. It helps boys, too.

Joanna Schroder is a proud feminist. She wants to raise her two sons to be proud feminists as well.

Joanna enjoys spending quality time with her boys, but she also values teaching them important lessons on masculinity. Photo from Joanna Schroeder, used with permission.


Schroeder is passionate about feminism due to her upbringing. In addition to her degree in women's studies from UCLA, she's part of a three-generation legacy of strong women, dating back to her grandmother who fought against sexist hiring standards in the 1930s.

But once her two sons came into the picture, things changed a bit.

"When I became a mom, my focus as a feminist shifted to what is happening with boys in society today," she told me. "That's why I believe in a feminist parenting style as I raise my sons."

Feminist parenting. Yep, it's a thing.

She's quick to point out that raising boys to be feminists is way more than just helping them become allies for women. Smashing gender norms helps our sons out, too.

Here are three reasons why Joanna believes raising our boys to be feminists is good idea.

1. It builds the foundation that boys are never justified in hurting or bullying girls.

Bullying is never OK. Photo from iStock.

There are a lot of seemingly innocent things we say about our boys:

"Boys will be boys."

"Don't worry. He's just mean to you because he likes you."

Joanna isn't buying any of it.

"Being a feminist parent doesn't allow for boys' bad behavior to be excused due to gender," she said. "Feminist parents believe that boys and girls are equally able to make choices that put empathy and kindness first."

Not to mention, studies have shown that gender-based language such as "boys will be boys" can lead our kids to subscribe to harmful stereotypes about what men and women can (or can't) do.

2. Crying? Yep, it's OK for boys to be emotional.

Yes, boys can cry, too. Photo from iStock.

Back in the day, if a boy was caught crying, he might catch a lecture from a well-meaning adult or be targeted by other kids who thought he was being a "sissy."

Things have improved in that regard lately. Or have they?

"From the time they're small, we tell boys to 'man up' and we try to stop them from crying," Joanna said. "Language like that keeps boys quiet when they're hurt, and it tells them that they're not allowed to seek support when times are tough."

The whole "be a man" narrative really only allows men to experience three emotions: happiness, lust, and anger. Here's the thing — no matter what our gender is, sadness exists in all of us, too.

GIF from "Inside Out."

A recent study found that only 19% of men felt comfortable talking about their problems with others. It doesn't take a big leap to figure out that most of the men who keep their feelings bottled up learned to do so at an early age.

Unfortunately, bottling up emotions comes at a steep price. Males account for over 75% of all suicides, and they're more than four times as likely to commit suicide than females.

That is a big problem. A problem that Joanna hopes parents of young boys will address by allowing boys to be their true selves.

"Raising feminist sons, allowed to express the full range of their feelings and find support when they're feeling sad or scared, can help our boys live longer, happier lives," Joanna said.

3. It prepares boys to be loving, supportive dads in the future.

If a boy chooses to have children when he becomes a man, it will be the most important job he will ever have. But in order for boys to truly realize their potential as fathers, Joanna believes it all starts with how we raise them now.

"When we allow boys to see themselves as kind, empathetic, loving people, they are able to see themselves as engaged dads," Joanna said. "Dads who will help break the cycle of toxic masculinity."

How can we do that? Heather Mainville, a single mom of an 8-year-old son named Joey believes having boys playing with dolls helps.

Joey is one of many boys who enjoy playing with dolls. Photo provided by Heather Mainville, used with permission.

"Joey loves dolls and has the confidence to speak up when he hears that boys shouldn't play with them," Heather told me. "He's also a loving and protective playmate with younger children due to learning empathy at a young age."

I like Joey's chances to be an excellent dad in the future.

Joanna believes that boys can also let go of the notion that their roles as men and fathers are to be financial providers. Instead they can be providers of a different kind.

The kind who reads books to his kids. The kind who attends his kids' doctor appointments. The kind who prepares healthy meals for his kids. The kind who styles his daughter's hair. The kind who isn't afraid to be affectionate around his kids.

Modern dads are learning to provide for their kids with more than just their paychecks. Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed, used with permission.

In other words, boys can learn to grow up to be the type of dad everyone expects them to be.

"That allows for their partners to enter the workforce to their full capacity, knowing that their men are empowered as a different type of provider, too," Joanna said.

No matter what you think of feminist parenting, we all have one thing in common.

There are people who think that teaching our boys to be feminists is a bad idea. But what isn't up for debate is we need to do whatever we can to help our boys to become the best men they can be.

Joanna agrees. She just has strong opinions on how to go about it.

"Feminist parenting directly combats toxic masculinity, which ultimately offers all of our kids a better future," she said.

For more insight into what "toxic masculinity" looks like, and why it's important to fight it, check out the recent documentary "The Mask You Live In," which explores how boys deal with navigating between being true to themselves and satisfying society's definitions of masculinity.

Needless to say, it can be a tough road for our young men. It's up to us to help them.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Keep ReadingShow less

Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

Keep ReadingShow less