The Frisky’s Annika Harris discusses child-rearing plans for her future sons in the article 22 Things to Teach your Son about Women. Ms Harris prefaces her article by stating that she’s at the age when a woman starts to think about having children and she wants to make sure any yet-to-be-conceived male progeny that might pass through her loins do not grow up to be like her oh-so-annoying boyfriends. Ms Harris writes:
We’re not mothers yet, but we’re at a point in our lives when we’re thinking about our future families. We know an awful lot about women and how to treat and please ’em, so we plan to pass that knowledge down to our sons.
We hope to rid the male sex of all the things that make us rant by raising boys with balanced male and female perspectives. Here are the 22 things we’ll teach them.
I found Ms Harris’ male child rearing tips a little . . . off (with one notable exception), so I’m offering an alternative Shrink4Men version to her original list. Ms Harris’ points are in blue boldface; the rest of the text is mine:
1. Pick your battles. Especially if you have the misfortune to become involved with a high-conflict woman and/or an abusive personality disordered woman. These women will keep you engaged by creating constant, pointless conflicts. How will you know they’re pointless? Because try as you might, you won’t be able to resolve them.
If your girlfriend expands the argument while you’re trying to resolve the conflict (especially if you’ve just pointed out her role in it), she may be a high-conflict person. If she’s always right, even when it’s obvious to everyone else that she’s wrong, you should probably think about ending the relationship. If this kind of woman tells you things will get better after you marry, it’s a lie. If she’s not on her best behavior before you pop the question, it will only become worse after you propose.
2. Going down is more intimate than sex, but it shouldn’t be scary. Actually, some people consider cunnilingus and fellatio sex. I agree, sex with your loved one shouldn’t be scary. Not sure what Ms Harris is talking about here.
3. Walk on the outside (closer to the street) of your female companion. If women and men are equal, then isn’t a man’s life just as valuable as a woman’s? Why should he assume all the risk of being clipped by an out-of-control bus? Treat courtesy with courtesy. She may be a damsel in distress, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall into the trap of being her knight in shining armor. Damsels in distress maybe charming initially, but if you’re not careful, you could end up pushing the broom behind a sixty-something year old “princess” in distress. Not good. Damsels who expect you to fix all their problems are also likely to blame you and everyone else for all their problems. I’d steer clear if I were you.
4. Saying “You’re being crazy” is never an appropriate response, unless you want her to go postal on you. Especially if she really is being crazy and/or abusive. Pay attention. Crazy + abusive rarely changes for the better. You can’t fix broken and crazy, particularly if it was broke before you met her. Furthermore, if a woman goes postal on you for saying, “You’re acting crazy” when she is indeed acting crazy; odds are she has some issues. It’s not okay for your girlfriend to “go postal” on you. Anger is a healthy emotion. Out-of-control, abusive rages are not. You don’t have to take a woman’s abuse. Ever.
5. Cooking, cleaning, and taking care of kids are things men can actually do as well as women. Earning a full-time salary, paying child support, taking financial responsibility for your own children, paying your fair share of the bills and managing your own debt are things that women can actually do as well as men. By the way, most of the world’s top chefs are men and most men do 50% or more of household chores and childcare nowadays.
6. Keep back-up supplies of quality chocolate in the house for her to raid. We’re all in charge of our own emotions. Other people may do things to upset or anger us, but it’s not your responsibility to make your girlfriend happy, calm or psychologically stable. If your girlfriend or wife requires chocolate, antidepressants or mood stabilizers, it’s her responsibility to self-soothe and take care of herself. It’s not okay for her to take her issues out on you. Just because she’s in psychological turmoil and/or was abused as a child doesn’t mean it’s okay for her to abuse you nor should you have to keep a pint of Haagen-Daz on hand for “emergencies.”
7. Buying tampons and other feminine products shouldn’t embarrass you—everyone knows they’re not for you. Gimme a break. If men don’t mind doing this, fine, but spare us the shaming tactics. If a man doesn’t want to buy his wife’s or girlfriend’s feminine hygiene products for her, he shouldn’t have to do so. Plan ahead and purchase the products yourself; you know it’s coming every month, so there shouldn’t be any surprises. Is it child abuse when a mother makes her teenage son buy Tampax for her at Walgreen’s? I think I can make a reasonable argument for yes it is.
8. Women like compliments and gifts. Women may like compliments and gifts, but you shouldn’t feel obligated or that your relationship is dependent upon feeding her ego and her materialistic streak. If she doesn’t reciprocate compliments, gifts and affectionate gestures in kind, then you may be involved with a woman who’s just using you to bolster her ego and to collect trinkets, baubles, cars, computers and townhouses, which makes her a prostitute. One wonders if Ms Harris planning to raise a son or a manservant?
9. Earning less than her shouldn’t be emasculating. In fact, should you marry a woman who earns more money than you, she may end up having to pay you alimony, spousal support and/or child support should you divorce someday. Equal rights means equal. If men have to pay to play, so should women. Furthermore, joint income means joint; whats yours is hers and what hers is yours. If she hoards her money while expecting you to share yours, it’s unfair and you should stop sharing your money. In fact, be very wary of a woman who insists that you co-mingle your assets—even after marriage—especially if your assets are greater than hers.
10. Your legs really don’t need to be open that wide. If your girlfriend is constantly criticizing, nitpicking and putting you down for just being you, you may want to find another girlfriend. If you’re comfortable and you’re not making lewd gestures, who cares?
11. Be on time, even if she usually isn’t. If your girlfriend is chronically unpunctual and it bothers you; tell her. If she continues to disregard your feelings, it means your feelings aren’t important to her. If your feelings aren’t important to her, you should probably find another girlfriend. Your feelings and needs are just as important as hers. If she tries to insist otherwise, look for the nearest exit. Additionally, when your girlfriend behaves one way and expects/demands that you behave another—e.g., you must be on time; she can show up whenever she wants—it’s an unfair double standard. Contrary to the belief system of many women, it’s not different when she does it.
12. Don’t be a pouty puppy when shopping with her. If you don’t want to go shopping with your girlfriend, you don’t have to do so unless she’s willing to accompany you on outings that you enjoy, but she does not. While we’re on this topic, you shouldn’t be expected to do everything with your girlfriend. It’s okay to have different interests and to engage in them without one another. This includes shopping.
13. She should never be able to control you with sex. Ms Harris got this one right.
14. Find out what her favorite flower is. Unless she’s willing to find out your favorite beer, author, sports team, flower, etc., you shouldn’t be expected to know the minutia of her personal preferences. If a woman wants flowers, she’s quite capable of purchasing her own bouquet. It’s lovely if you want to buy her flowers, but don’t let her make you feel guilty for not doing so, especially if she’s not surprising you with flowers or concert tickets or whatever your thing is.
15. If you like her, then don’t buy her shoes; it’s bad luck. This one’s too silly to address.
16. Smiling and nodding aren’t the same as listening. And an endless stream of consciousness, rant about her bitchy, frenemy co-worker isn’t a conversation. Neither is a can’t-get-a-word-in-edgewise monologue about how insensitive, inconsiderate and clueless you are, complete with a laundry list of all the ways you disappoint her. It’s okay to just smile and nod when a woman (or man) is just talking to talk and doesn’t want any input from you—except to tell her how right she is and how wrong everyone else is. Sometimes the best thing you can do is smile and nod, smile and nod. Just be sure to intersperse it with some, “Wow, really’s?” and “Oh my god, I can’t believe she had the nerve to do that’s.”
17. Skid marks aren’t sexy or hygienic. Alright, Ms Harris makes another valid point.
18. It’s OK to cry in front of her, but keep the blubbering to a minimum. This is another example of a double standard and a double bind. Women complain when men “don’t express emotions” or aren’t “in touch with their emotions” and then freak out when men actually express their emotions and/or become angry if men express emotions that differ from their emotions. If your girlfriend isn’t supportive or mocks you for expressing your emotions and/or tries to turn the attention onto herself and her feelings, she may very well be a self-centered, unempathic individual who isn’t capable of a reciprocal relationship. In other words, you may be better off finding another girlfriend.
19. Personality goes a long way. But personality disorders do not. Personality disorders are difficult to treat and many individuals who have them are unwilling to admit that they have problems. No matter how wonderful your girlfriend’s “good side” may be, you can’t change or fix her “bad side.” By the way, if your girlfriend has a Jekyll and Ms Run Away and Hyde personality, it’s a BIG red flag. When a woman has a personality disorder, she has to do the heavy lifting in order to make positive changes. You can’t do it for her. You can’t love someone well nor should you feel guilty about ending a relationship with a woman who doesn’t treat you well and/or abuses you.
20. At some point she’ll be more important than your mother. Where to begin? During early childhood, it’s normal for both parents to be the center of a child’s universe. Children rely utterly on both their parents; not just their mothers. It’s also normal for children to develop into their own autonomous beings during adolescence. However, if a girlfriend or wife tries to isolate you from your family, it’s probably an indication that she’s not a good person and has issues that preclude having a happy and healthy relationship with her. Gentlemen, if your mother is trying to control your love life after you reach adulthood, you may need to cut the cord for her. Parenthood is not synonymous with ownership.
21. You will never completely understand women. Because men are too dense to comprehend the mystery that is women. Puh-lease. People are people. Entitled, selfish, angry, controlling women are not complex. You’ll never please them. They’ll never be happy—except when they’re torturing you. There’s no great mystery to their madness, anger, coldness and maliciousness. They’re unhappy people who only feel good about themselves when they hurt others, so don’t bother plumbing the depths of her tortured soul. There are no depths; just superficial layers of inconsistencies, self-serving BS, half-truths and contradictions. Mystery solved.
22. Oh yeah, and no woman will ever be good enough for my baby! Unless his future girlfriend also expects him to supply her with chocolate, go shopping, buy her Maxi-Pads, and suppress his emotions. Then he can take his mom and his girlfriend shopping while he stifles his sobs at DSW Shoe Parade.
What words of wisdom do the men reading this wish your parents had taught you about women when you were a child? Did they warn you that abusive, predatory women exist and that you should be wary of them? What do the fathers and mothers reading this plan to teach their sons?
Links to follow-up articles:
Want to Say Goodbye to Crazy? Buy it HERE.
Shrink4Men Coaching and Consulting Services:
Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.