Raising Boys to be Good Men

We all want to raise good men.

But how? It’s one thing to WANT To raise good men, and another to figure out what that means on a daily basis. Exactly HOW do we raise good men?

Aaron Gouveia is the author of Raising Boys to be Good Men: A Parent’s Guide to Bringing Up Happy Sons in a World Filled with Toxic Masculinity. He’s also the founder of the Daddy Files and dad to 3 boys, currently ages 12, 7 and 4.

“When I first heard the term ‘toxic masculinity,’ I did what most men do: I rolled my eyes and thought, ‘Stop trying to vilify masculinity.'” Aaron says. “It took years for me to really understand what it is  — and it’s a million different things. It’s death by a thousand paper cuts.”

Stereotypical expectations of masculinity are so embedded in our culture that they’re everywhere — and most of us unwittingly contribute to the perpetuation of these not-very-helpful stereotypes. Parenting 3 boys (& writing the book) forced Aaron to reflect on his actions in the past and it “wasn’t pretty,” he said.

“This book is a laundry list of thing I did that contributed to a problem I thought I was fighting against,” Aaron says.

Listening — really listening — to others, including stay-at-home dads, black fathers and feminist moms,helped Aaron see the ways in which he was unconsciously supporting inequality and harmful, limiting stereotypes. That was not fun; it was painful. But Aaron encourages others to seek out and listen to diverse viewpoints.

“Listen to them. Sit with what they say. Have the courage to uncomfortable,” Aaron says. “You might find out that you’re part of the problem.But it’s what you do after you know better that matters.”

In this episode, Jen, Janet & Aaron discuss:

  • “Toxic masculinity” — public perceptions of the term & Aaron’s definition
  • The connection between masculinity and mask-wearing
  • Fatherhood & stay-at-home dads
  • How stereotypes hold back boys & men
  • How moms unintentionally interfere w dads’ parenting
  • Discussing consent with boys
  • Preparing boys to be “upstanders”
  • What happened when Aaron’s 5-yr-old wore nail polish to school
  • How to encourage boys in the face of opposition
  • Single moms raising boys
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

Daddy Files — Aaron’s online home

Raising Boys to be Good Men: A Parent’s Guide to Bringing Up Happy Sons in a World Filled with Toxic Masculinity — Aaron’s book

Raising Boys to Be Good Men: Book Review — Building Boys blog post

Masculinity in the Age of #MeToo — ON BOYS episode

Meet Aaron Gouveia, the Dad Who Defended Son’s Nail Polish in Viral Twitter Thread — article about the incident that ultimately led to Aaron’s book

In Defense of Single Moms Raising Boys — Building Boys blog post

Tips for Single Moms Raising Boys — Building Boys blog post


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