The Talk Parents of White Males Need to Have with their Boys


The Talk Parents of White Males Need to Have with their Boys


Post 2016 US election there’s been much talk about women and daughters. How women will be raising Nasty Little Women. That’s wonderful and I’m so happy that girls are building cool things, getting into engineering, getting involved in band camps and participating in all sorts of activities that have long been dominated by boys and men.

And long before this election I felt this immense responsibility crawl onto my shoulders and weigh there heavily. The responsibility to raise strong, confident and self reliant men. While I absolutely love cuddling up and having sweet time with my boys, I will not see them become mama’s boys.

The morning after the presidential election, I took my boys out for bagels and to have a talk. I don’t know that I was sure of what I was going to say, but I knew that we had to process the election of 45 together as a family.

You see, for months, I assured my children that there was no way that such a vile mouthed, self absorbed, intellect rejecting person could ever ascend to the highest office in the land. Instead I had prepared them for the first woman president, sharing just enough kid-palatable history so they could recognize the magnitude of this event.

No child skips a beat when noting the differences between the grace, thoughtfulness and measured approach of Obama to the brash, reactionary and childish behavior of his successor.

By now, most have heard of “The Talk” that African American families have with their African American boys. It should be a national embarrassment that the innocence and hopeful promise of any of our children is abbreviated by the reality that their presence alone can inspire a fear in others that could put them in danger.

At a time that we should be encouraging our children to embrace the strength and beauty of their growing bodies, some of us are cautioning our children to see themselves through the eyes of those who might see them as a menace. Its truly unconscionable that we accept this as reality for any of our citizens, let alone kids.

And the morning after the 2016 US election, my children and I had what would become “The Talk” the rest of us need to be having with our kids.

In my sleep deprived grief and sadness I robbed my own children of some of their own innocence and childhood that morning. Growing up in the progressive bubble that is Portland, Oregon, my kids just couldn’t fathom what racism, sexism and bigotry really are.

Just a few weeks before the election one of my kiddos reflected on something he had heard. He said, “Mom, it does make more sense to say that “All Lives Matter.” I don’t understand why it’s “Black Lives Matter.”

This question opened up a much needed dialogue about inequity and long marginalized populations. I touched on the institutionalized prejudice that continues from long ago. And that as white boys, they enjoy by default more privilege than any others.

So that morning over bagels and as my kids were looking at me with eyes that begged how could that parody of a man have won the election ascending him to the Presidency, I was grateful for us having just had that conversation explaining the importance of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. That conversation, just days earlier, laid the groundwork for the few words I spoke that morning after the election:

As white, American boys, you are the most privileged people on this planet. You must use this privilege to lift others up. Others have to work so hard just to get close to what you enjoy just for being you. You cannot expect to receive anything without hard work. You have to work just as hard as those around you. Believe in yourself, but never believe you are more worthy than anyone else.

So folks, its incumbent upon all of us to have “The Talk.” We can no longer allow our children to coast along while Stanford swimming scholarship rapists and their ilk quietly hoard and pursue the paths before them. All the while taking advantage of every opportunity, as they have seen as their birth right.

We must work to eliminate entitlement, particularly based on sex, race and religion.

While little girls, people of color, immigrants and other marginalized individuals strive and struggle, we can no longer allow our boys to grow into men who believe this country is theirs to own, run and manage, while others works so hard to only touch what they already own.

Sarah Shaoul