We had one of those conversations that you wish you could put in your pocket--witty, thoughtful, and reflective.
She was discussing the world she wanted for her daughters, and it made me think about the world I want my sons to give her daughters, and in turn, her daughters to give my sons.
In other words, it made me think: How do I raise men who treasure, value, and respect women?
Masculine strength is traditionally viewed through the prism of power and physicality. Don't get me wrong---there is nothing wrong with being physically strong. Yet, I try to teach my boys to recognize and admire strength in all its forms.
There is strength in speaking the truth, in proclaiming that it is not okay to use "fag" or "retard" as a pejorative.
There is strength in listening. Instead of thinking of what you're going to say next, be fully present and engaged in conversation.
There is strength in humility. Don't be afraid to admit that you need help, or you do not understand, or if you are afraid. Nothing builds a connection more quickly than simply acknowledging that we are all souls, and we are all on this journey together.
Recognize Our Light
Because we are all souls, we must live lives worthy of that light.
This means love should never hurt. We do not hurt our loved ones with words, our hands, or our bodies. We must never allow contempt to enter a relationship. Yes, people disagree. Yes, there may be anger. But never, ever allow those dark moments to extinguish another light.
This means that we are not better than anybody else. Talk to the waitress, the custodian, and the substitute teacher like you would talk to your grandmother. Say "please" and "thank you." Hold the door open for people, and pick up litter on the side of the road. Give blood. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee.
After all, that's somebody's baby.
Put Your Feet in the Moment
You only get one life. Embrace the miracle of life, fatherhood, friendship, and love.
Embrace the grace which comes from life's stumbles.
Seek the joy in a full moon, a cherry blossom, or a perfect line drive.
And, please. in the midst of all this...call your mother.
This post was written in support of a non-profit called The Joyful Heart Foundation, which was founded in 2004 by Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: SVU.” Mariska started getting fan mail from rape survivors and was moved to create a foundation to help heal the victims of crimes dramatized on her show. Joyful Heart’s initial and primary mission is to help victims of sexual assault mend their minds, bodies and spirits and reclaim their lives.
Today, the foundation is also at the forefront of an effort to end a disheartening backlog of tens of thousands of rape kits in labs across the country, a backlog that contributes to a rapist’s 80 percent chance of getting away with his crime. The backlog and its detrimental effects will be the topic of an SVU episode on Wednesday, September 29th.
Please click here to read other writers' vision for their children's futures in support of this cause.