Wonder Woman Taught Me How To Raise a Strong Son

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to see the latest re-imagining of Wonder Woman. She is someone who I always wanted to be when I grew up – not so much the Linda-Carter-strapless-swimsuit aspect but the smart-butt-kicking-lasso-wielding-cuff reflecting-invisible-jet-flying-character. When I asked my kids if any of them wanted to go, I had two takers – my 14 year old daughter and my 10 year old son. My daughter was a given but not necessarily my 10 year old son. I talked to him before hand to let him know this was serious movie. DC has always been darker than Marvel. He still wanted to come. In all fairness, I pretty sure it was the promise of theater popcorn that was the ultimate draw.

My expectations of the movie were exceeded. I hoped so much that this movie would give us a strong female who was a warrior and one with heart who fought for those who needed it. Nailed it! The fighting sequences were AMAAAAAAAAAAAZING. I actually wrote a note to myself to learn the knee-sliding-sword-slicing move. Gal Gadot was everything I wanted in a Wonder Woman.

FYI: Potential Spoilers from here on out.

What I didn’t expect to happen was that my 10 year old son would teach me a lesson before the movie was through. Without giving away too much, this movie has a lot of death. The writers do their job of making the viewers get connected to the characters before they kill them off. That’s their job and they’re good at it. Unfortunately, my 10 year old has a very soft heart. Feel free to judge me – I knowingly took a soft-hearted 10 year old to see a PG-13 movie. But I’m glad I did. He reminded me that for all the stereotypes we have for women, we have them for men as well.

After one scene in the movie, he asked me whether the character had died or not. I nodded my head and saw the devastation seep in his eyes. He did his best to sniff back the tears and wipe his eyes with his t-shirt as discretely as possible. I just patted his back and told him to not let it get to him. It’s not real. However, that statement made me a hypocrite. Why? At that point, I had already gotten teary-eyed at least four times. Basically, I was telling him it was okay for me to cry but not for him. Whenever he cries over something, I always tell him to toughen up or I roll my eyes and get frustrated. Boys aren’t supposed to cry so much, right? Says who?

He held it together the best he could until we got to the car. I was just getting ready to put the car in gear and drive off when he buckled himself up and proceeded to try to hide the fact that he was crying. Ask yourself while you’re reading this, what are your thoughts? Do you think he’s a sissy? A baby? Why? If it was a daughter crying and not a son, would it make a difference? I put the car in park, got out, went to his door, opened it, and put my arms around him. He immediately went on the defensive, “I know it’s not real but it’s just super sad!”

In that moment of holding my 10 year old while he was trying to defend his tears, my only goal was to make him understand that tears don’t make you weak. I tried to explain, “Someone once told me that a soft heart doesn’t make you weak. It means you feel things when others don’t want to. You feel things when others back away because they are uncomfortable. Having a soft heart doesn’t mean you’re weak. Nope. It means you’re strong. You’re strong because you’ll see things that others don’t and you’ll be able to help people that others won’t. Nothing is wrong with tears. Strong people cry because they refuse to hold onto something that will hurt them.”

Watching Wonder Woman made me realize a few things. She is not only a character embodying feminine power. She embodies power and the will to help everyone – female or not. Wonder Woman is not just a movie for women, it’s a movie for girls, boys, women,AND men. It’s for whoever can take something from what was said or what was seen and make a positive step because of it. A little too deep for a movie about a comic book character? Perhaps. I believe we find meaning anywhere and anytime we happen to be open to it.

My goals used to be to raise strong women and compassionate men. I’ve amended that. I want to raise strong, compassionate women and men. Some of the strongest men I know cry. Some of the softest women I know fight. It’s time to stop boxing people up with some inane, sexist assumptions. Honestly, I think our main focus in this life should be the same as Diana’s/Wonder Woman’s purpose and set out to help others. She is a great example to follow – whether you are a boy or a girl. Be a fighter when it’s needed. Be emotional when you need it. Most importantly, be yourself…whoever that may be.

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What My Dad Taught Me About Being A Strong Woman

Confused? Some reflection on childhood memories made me realize that my dad actually taught me some good lessons on how to be a strong woman. And, come on, if you really do know my dad then you know that there is always a lesson to be learned in EVERYTHING.

“Walk it off”

My siblings and I joke a lot about my Dad’s usual advice to walk it off. One time my youngest sister didn’t seek his advice and just assumed she’d get the same counsel as usual. Unfortunately, she was wrong and had actually pulled a muscle.

walkitoff

For the most part, the words of wisdom ring true. Too often we whine and complain. Contrary to popular belief, women are NOT the weaker sex. We are not men but we are strong in our own right. I’ve watched some coddle and pamper (to the extreme and not the sweet way) their daughters to the point that their girls don’t realize it’s okay to toughen up. My dad could never be accused of babying us (may not sound like a compliment but it is).

“Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Okay. He stole this one from John Wayne but it still rings true. Let’s face it. We are ALL gonna be stupid from time to time.

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The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and move on. No matter how entertaining it is for everyone else, you’re only truly stupid if you keep repeating them.

“I don’t care if it’s 6 am on Saturday. There’s work to be done.”

My dad taught me the value of hard work. He also taught me to REALLY appreciate sleeping in on Saturday mornings.

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Every Saturday, he would wake us up, feed us breakfast, and put us to work. If we’re being honest, we live in a world where women still don’t quite get equal pay as men. Sometimes we have to work a little harder to prove ourselves. The best way to do that is to work hard and work well.

“Go ahead and cry. Once those tears are gone, move on.”

I have the tendency to hold on to things – to let them fester. We are all going to be hurt (physically or emotionally).There is a good chance that someone is going to do you wrong. It’s okay to get mad, sad, devastated or whatever. Take the moment you need, yell, swear (a lot if necessary), cry but after that, move on. Do not let someone else’s actions dictate how you live the rest of your life.

let it go

“I love you.”

We need the words. We need to hear them and we need to say them. In a world where hate is prevalent, deceit is around every corner, and there are more jerk-wads than you could shake a stick at, we really need to know who loves us. There is something truly powerful about being loved and knowing it. Love doesn’t make you weak.

Oh…and a bit of advice from me. If someone you love tells you that they love you, please don’t pull a Han Solo.

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(If you don’t understand the reference, we need to reevaluate our friendship.)

“You’re a survivor.”

At a very turbulent time in my life, my dad said those words to me. First, I thought he was off his rocker (more than usual). Then I realized something. I am a survivor because I am smart enough to know when to lean on others. Being strong doesn’t mean you don’t ever ask for help. Being strong means knowing it’s okay to need help to go on. We survive because we know how to best utilize our resources.

don't let me fall

My dad is one of my best resources. He always believes in me, pushes me. He is always there when I need advice. Even though I’m well into adulthood (ask me my age and I’ll ask you your weight…), I still need him. He’s my friend…my burly, sarcastic, lovable, forgetful, buzzcut-wearing friend. I know some of my friends have dads who have passed on. I bet every single one of them could tell you lessons their dads taught them about being a strong woman. Some friends never had a dad in their lives. I bet every single one of them had some sort of a father-figure who taught them about being a strong woman. For those of us who still have our dads around, be sure to let them know how awesome they are.

I love you, Dad. You’re pretty awesome. Each night I thank Heavenly Father he placed me in your care. I wish we lived closer and that our conversations were face-to-face and not over the phone, but I will take what I can get. Wear your Father’s Day present proudly and think of me when you do.

If you’re curious what I bought him, see the picture below. (Yep. I’m a pretty awesome daughter.)

yoda best