WILL MY SON BE LIKE ME?
I worry that my son will be effeminate, like me. Not because of anything he has done or demonstrated. But sometimes we become like our parents, even when we don’t want to. We consciously and subconsciously learn their mannerisms and modus operandi. I don’t want him to go through what I went through.
For some reason I have always been very feminine. I wasn’t trying to be that way. It just happened. It was probably a combination of both nature and nurture. The way I walk. The gestures my hands make. The voice that never cracked or changed through puberty. To this day I still get mistaken for a woman in almost every phone conversation I have with a stranger.
I was teased mercilessly for my effeminate nature. I added to the cruelty by never standing up for myself and fighting back. But that is probably a topic for a future blog post. It seemed many of the people in my school, my hometown thought I was gay and repeatedly reminded me of it. For many years I think I thought they must be right. How can so many people be wrong about you?
But now as a husband and father, I want to save my son from my struggles. He will already be a target for teasing. Every kid is to some extent, but with Cerebral Palsy and autism affecting his behavior, he may have some quirky characteristics. Plus the CP has weakened his strength in his legs and arms, so he may naturally be weaker than his schoolmates. If you add some feminine gestures that he learned from his dad to disability-induced weakness, the kids in his class may be especially cruel.
I won’t be able to protect him from everything. And already in my 40s, it would be difficult to change my body language. Maybe all I can do is affirm his masculinity and strength at every opportunity. Wrestle with him. Applaud his attempts at sports. And encourage healthy male friendships. If I do those things I hope that I can ensure that when it comes to his gestures and gender identity, he won’t be a chip off the old block.