I hear it at least once a week… “Your son is so cute! He’s such a flirt. You’re going to have to keep a close eye on him when he’s older!” I always make a point to acknowledge half of your comment. “Yes, he is a cutie!” I say, as I shrug it off and try not to show my annoyance.
I know what you’re probably thinking … “Sensitive much? Jess, what’s the big deal about a simple comment, meant as a compliment?”
While I appreciate people delighting in my offspring like I do, I don’t appreciate the extra, negative labels.
You see, the verb flirt is synonymous with “tease”, “toy”, and “lead on”. The noun “trifler” “philanderer” (womanizer) and heartbreaker, among others.
Did I miss the part when those things became something we want our children to aspire to?
I understand flirting is healthy and helpful in establishing a new relationship or keeping the spark in a committed one. But outside of that, it truly has no place.
I fear our familiarity with the word, prevents it from carrying weight or provoking much thought.
Especially when in regards to our young sons, we say it in a sweet and innocent way. Or at least, that’s what we think we are doing.
But honestly, what is sweet and innocent about telling my son he is a womanizer? Or that he is going to demolish the emotions of women when he grows up to be a “heartbreaker”?
I don’t see the value in labeling our sons in such a way anymore than I would if we called them rapists and murders.
Sure breaking physical bodies and breaking emotions are different. They are different degrees of corruption and injustice.
But both are a prophecy of negativity that I pray my son doesn’t grow up and partner with.
There is nothing noble about any of those things.
Parenting is hard enough without the extra challenge of trying to help our children remove unnecessary, negative labels people have put on them. Even if those placing the labels had “good intentions” or were offering a “compliment.”
If you want to support me as a parent or love on my son, tell him he is capable and worthy. Tell him he is a man of God… tell him that he is a man of integrity and good character or that he is strong and compassionate.
Don’t tell him he’s a flirt and a heartbreaker.
I won’t say it to your son either.