It seems every day there are new charges of sexual misconduct swarming at never-before-seen rates. I have no answers as to why this is, perhaps women are speaking up in solidarity with others or maybe they are feeling more seen and heard and able to share their experiences. We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg here and we are becoming more and more aware of the fact that there is a real problem with the way women are treated and respected. A problem that goes far deeper than we ever realized.
I do not have the answers for a problem so widespread, nor for a mindset that is etched deeply within our society. But what I do have is a teenage son. With my son, I see an opportunity to do something to combat the way women are objectified and treated. With my teenage son, I see a chance for better. I see a chance for a change to take place in the landscape of male and female relationships. I’m raising my son to respect women and not view them as a lesser human or a piece of meat he can do with as he pleases.
That is why I am starting now by dating my teenage son.
It may sound strange or unconventional, but clearly we have missed the mark somewhere in raising our boys to become men who respect women. If strange and unconventional is what it takes for us to see change, then I am all in. So for our son’s 13th birthday, his dad took him to play laser tag with other important men in his life who spoke to him as they shared cake and pizza. They each wrote him a letter of encouragement and advice as he grows into manhood, which he has already read through many times. In turn, I took our son out on his first date. He was given a set amount of cash and told that he was to plan the details and assure he had enough money to cover it.
On this first date for my son and me, I instructed him on how to open the door to the car and the restaurant, how to pull out and push in my chair, how to carry on a respectful conversation, and I walked him through paying the bill included generously tipping our server. Nothing was off the table including discussing when is a good time to hold a girl’s hand or give her that first kiss, or how he should talk about her with his friends. We will continue this tradition, not once a year but many times over several years until he is dating girls other than me.