I find myself in all sorts of amazing random places. About 10 years ago I was having a lunch meeting with a guy who I’ll just call an Old Testament Scholar, although that doesn’t even begin to describe the intensity and knowledge of this guy. I was with him for about two hours and we had maybe 6 different very intense conversations. I want to share just one.
We were in the car driving to lunch and talking about dating etc. He asked me about my family and what siblings I had etc. I told him I had two married parents and a younger sister and brother. He said, “So you know that you are supposed to learn how to interact with the opposite sex in your family right?” Silence. He went on, “That’s where you first learn how to treat girls by how you see it in your family. So how did that work in your family?”
Boom! I was kind of in shock and we weren’t even to lunch yet. But you know what, he was exactly right. One of the reason’s many of us are single is that we don’t learn how to properly engage and interact with the opposite sex. We need to think about this.
Now let me say that I came from a great family over all. But this area was shaky. I was the oldest and my sister was two years younger than me. Now in many ways I was a pretty good brother, but when it came to honoring her as a girl, well, not so good. I think this really started when we were little and we would play. I of course always wanted something with competition (and since I was the oldest I set the rules ha). What would happen over and over was she would want to stop playing. She just wanted to do something different. But I would be mad – I would say she was quitting etc. Here’s where the femininity thing came in. My parents would always say she was younger, or tired, or something like that. There was never really a sense of, “Hey she is a girl and girls might do something different.” Not only that but most of the things that were applauded were guy centric stuff. This put a lot of pressure on my sister and meant that I didn’t really learn to interact on her level.
This played out all sorts of ways later. One big example I can think of is that for many years she had a horse. She loved that horse. She rode competitively and even had some events. But, I never one time in all those years went with my sister to where her horse was kept, let alone went riding with her. I had about zero investment in anything that my sister cared about. In high school I distanced myself from her and certainly didn’t honor her. I was not a good big brother, and it wasn’t expected. I’m telling you that not learning how to interact well with her affected not being able to interact well with women. And remember, I had a intact, solidly moral family.
How you interacted in your family as a kid affects how you interact with people now. This includes your comfort level with the opposite sex. It includes how you treat and understand the opposite sex. It affects everything actually.
So how did your family interact? How was femininity (and for that matter masculinity) treated in your household? What was honored?
I love hearing your analyses and interpretations of our growing-up years because it makes me look at my own kids and their interactions in a fresh way. I was thinking about this blog post today when I heard one of them say to another: “I love you, I’m just mad at you right now.” Pretty important concept for all relationships.
Having siblings definitely presents an opportunity to learn to interact with the opposite sex, and it keeps us on our toes. For instance, we want to tell the boys to respect their sister and not hurt her, without portraying that girls are weak and helpless.
As for femininity, yeah, I wanted to be a boy for a while there. It seemed like they got to do all the fun stuff. But I’m over it by now.
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