I've got a 14-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, and after last night's final Presidential Debate, it's becoming more and more difficult to explain some of the disgusting things they've been seeing and hearing on the news lately.
They've heard horrifying statements about women. About sexual assault and groping. About men laughing and egging each other on. And I'll admit that my husband and I have been struggling to find the words to talk to them about it all.
But dad Derek Steele rose beautifully to the challenge by writing a powerful letter to his two young sons—Caleb, 7, and Ethan 4—on Facebook, about what it means to be a man. And he used New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's dismissal of Trump's locker room talk—"the fact is men, at times, talk like that"—as a jumping off point.
"Men do not, at times, talk like that," he explained. "Sure some individuals with an X and Y chromosome like you may say something like that, but we do not call them Men. We call them perverts, abusers, or rapists—not Men. Real Men don't do that and wouldn't even think to say that. You will hear a lot of people tell you what Men do or what it takes to 'be a Man'. The vast majority of it will be total garbage. If you want to be a Man, forget about masochism or sexual conquest. Being a Man is not about that."
YESSSSS! And Steele doesn't stop there. He goes on to paint a picture of what, exactly, being a Man is actually about:
"It's about protecting those around you who are weak or innocent," he explains. "It's being awake at all hours of the night to warm a bottle, change a diaper, change the sheets on a wet bed or even worse. It's about being open with someone, vulnerable and accountable. It's admitting your mistakes and failures and seeking forgiveness, over and over and over again. Real Men play dress up and enjoy tea parties and will make a complete fool out of themselves just to hear a child laugh. They cry, even weep, when the situation calls for it. They respect, honor and cherish women because all of them are human."
Amen! Is it too late for Derek Steele to throw his hat into the Presidential ring? Because this guys has somehow managed, in one Facebook post, to remind all of us about the things real men do, and that's no small feat.
The amazing dad ended his letter with a call to action. "It's tough being a Man. Hardest work you'll ever do," he explained. "So when someone tries to justify abhorrent words and behavior by sullying your good reputation as a Man—be angry and speak up. Don't let them define you down by their conduct. In short—be a Man."
Wow! If you are looking for the right way to talk to your kids about all the nasty things they've heard in this election, this letter is a pretty solid place to start.
We also turned to Vanessa Lapointe, Ph.D., R. Psych, child psychologist, parenting expert, author of Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up, and mom of two boys, for some additional guidance.