Martin kisses Kendi maybe 20 times a day, on weekdays when he’s at work. Over the weekend, that number can rise to 40 times. There’s not a day that goes by without that man kissing his daughter. He loves it and she loves it even more.
Last week I asked him, ‘if Kendi was a son, would you kiss him the way you kiss her?’
He didn’t even hesitate, ‘no’.
‘Why? Sons don’t need kisses from their fathers?’
‘No, sons need hugs, daughters are the ones who need kisses’. And he was very sure of that when he said it.
I kept going, ‘did your father ever kiss you guys?’
He thought for a bit and said, ‘no, of course not.’
And this is when I remembered something I had watched in a comedy one time. The lady of the house said to her husband who was refusing to talk to his father, ‘men are emotionally lazy’. I thought that was so funny, but now I get it. Boys are raised very differently from girls. Girls are showered with all this affection from both their parents and boys only get that from their mothers, because their fathers are socialized to think that they don’t need it.
Well, I want to state for the record that I think boys could use a lot more affection from their fathers, for the following reasons:
1. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in America, estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18 (you can read more about this on http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/child-sexual-abuse.aspx). This number might be shocking because people imagine that only girls are sexually abused. I have heard friends of mine describe how their first sexual encounter was with their house help. They do not see this as abuse because they are considered ‘men’ (at 10 years old). But sexual abuse it is and more specifically, statutory rape.
With physical affection from their fathers, I completely believe that these boys would be more confident in their own bodies. They would be able to immediately differentiate between a ‘bad’ touch and a ‘good’ touch.
2. Most sexual abusers are male and familiar to their victims. There’s an old adage; ‘hurting people, hurt people’. If there was more affection between men (brothers, fathers and sons), this number of abusers might drop. Here’s to hoping.
I see a lot of kissing between men in the Italian community. Big Italian- mafia- type- looking men. They kiss each other in greeting, they kiss their sons right on the lips. They love big and maybe that’s why they are so confident and secure. Maybe. I can only see what they let me see from the outside looking in.
So, if I do get a son one day, I will encourage my husband and my father to kiss the boy as much as they kiss Kendi. I have a gut feeling about this and I’m not willing to let it go.