“Dad, Do You Think My Teacher Is Pretty?”

I picked my son up from school the other day and he asked me a rather awkward question- “Dad, do you think my teacher is pretty?” While some men might think very little of the impact of their answer to a question like this, I pay close attention to mine. As far as I’m concerned, these moments are opportunities to teach my son!

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Let me begin by saying that this was not the first time he’s asked me a question like this. Similar questions have been blurted out in a Dick’s Sporting Goods, a Wendy’s restaurant, and even the dentist’s office in the past!

At times, he lacks what some might call “a filter” for questions or statements that may be embarrassing. It is what it is. I won’t even get into the time he blurted something out to the un-ammused garbage man in our neighborhood and I honestly thought I was seconds from getting punched in the face!

This time, however, I saw my opportunity to teach him. “She’s a nice lady,” I said matter-of-factly. That wasn’t good enough for him. “But, dad…do you think she’s pretty?” he persisted! I hesitated, then answered him again. “She’s an attractive young woman,” I said, looking at him with a respectful smile. “I bet you like being in her class don’t you?” I continued. “She seems really nice!”

He nodded. “She is. I think she’s one of my favorite teachers I’ve ever had in all the years I’ve been in this school.”

My redirection was intentional. Actually, it was two-fold. First of all, I really didn’t want to talk about whether or not I thought his teacher was attractive. The question itself made me uncomfortable. Second, and most important, I wanted to model respect and integrity for my son. Even with something as simple (and innocent) as a question like this.

I know a lot of men would think nothing of bellowing out some off-handed comment to their son about his teacher’s looks. After all, they’re both guys right? No harm, no foul! As long as mom doesn’t find out they were joking like this, they’re good! So, dad makes a crack to his son, swiftly raises both eyebrows, as the the suggestive comment spills out, and they share a good father-son laugh!

Frankly, I don’t find this funny. Since I became a parent, 13 years ago, I’ve never thought this was funny and I’ve never made comments, or jokes, about another woman’s physical features in front of my sons. I’m not saying I’m perfect, nor am I claiming to have never made mistakes in front of them. That would be untrue. Fact is, I’ve made more than I can count. But commenting on the looks of another woman hasn’t been one. Especially women we interact with on a weekly (or daily) basis. I have a few reasons why…

It’s disrespectful to my wife.

I simply believe that behavior like this is disrespectful to my wife. Sixteen years ago I made a promise to her. I put a ring on her finger and promised to love her and only her! I know I’m a guy, and I know it’s just human nature. But frankly, that’s not good enough as far as I’m concerned! I would be remised if I claimed that I never notice other women who are physically attractive. I’m a red-blooded male. But, there’s a difference in noticing another women and refusing to place healthy boundaries in your head to keep your mind from going to places it shouldn’t be going.

I want my sons to see me respecting and loving their mom. When they see this, they will respect her and love her all the more!

It’s a poor example to my son.

When I was a kid I would often hear my dad make comments about other women. Usually it was to another guy but sometimes it was to me. I would always think, “What does mom think of that?” My childish mind wouldn’t linger on that question long. But I do remember thinking, “I bet she doesn’t like it when you do that!” Mind you, my dad was never a cheater or a womanizer, he was just being what many would claim is “a guy!” And, I get that.

For me, however, engaging in off-handed talk about another woman, particularly one my son sees everyday, is a poor example to him. I want him to grow up with the utmost respect of other women.

It compromises her professionalism.

This might catch you by surprise. I care about the professionalism of my son’s teacher. I want my son to respect her and see her as a professional. If I were to make an off-handed comment about her looks, it would degrade her in his mind. He would begin to see her in a lesser light. My remarks would lower her professionalism in the eyes of my son.

Lord knows, she needs all the help she can get in this arena. Not because she’s not good. In fact, she’s sharp for a woman in her early to mid twenties. No question she’s a professional. But, she’s teaching pre-teen boys for crying out loud! They each have that little slice of DNA buried deep in their psyche that is constantly saying things like “Don’t listen to her,” or “Try this, your classmates will think it’s hilarious!” I would never want to cause my son to disrespect his teacher because he saw, or heard, his dad disrespecting her!

My goal for my 4 sons is simple- I want them to grow up to be men of character, men who respect their wives, respect themselves and respect other women. That teaching begins now, when they are 5, 6,7 and 11. They won’t learn these valuable traits from the world. In fact, they will learn the opposite. I must be their first teacher. That means that I must live with respect, integrity and character!

Question: Are you teaching your sons this valuable trait? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Dee

    I just want to say how much I am enjoying the RL stories on your blog. My grandson is 10 and much like your boy. My daughter adopted two special needs kidlets a few years ago now…they are my joy!! Different yes, but differences to be celebrated! (Personally, the blurting out of embarrassing things is one of my favorites.)

    I really want to heap a lot of praise onto the two of you for your awesome parenting skills!! My daughter, too, uses these techniques. She is an amazing parent and because of the excellent job she does…babysitting for me is a breeze, if you can imagine that, with two SN kids. I have so much respect for her! She makes me beam. 😀 She has surpassed and outdone me as a parent a thousand times over! WOW what a woman!

    People may not understand why you do it how you do but it is crucial to leave no room for error with these little guys and gals. When we fostered many years ago, our ‘cocaine baby’ K, would have huge fits constantly and people near enough to hear us thought we should take her outside and do things to her you would not do to a child. You get used to people not understanding…you ignore it and do right by your kids because that is your only job.

    I’m SO proud of both of you!! Where would these precious little ones be if not for people like you and my daughter? Thanks for the stories and for sharing your teachable moments. It helps more than you will ever know!

    • Thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement. I am so grateful you have enjoyed this blog!

  • Justin Knight

    Good example set? Check! Keep fighting the good fight!

    • Hey Justin, you bet. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  • Keith Schooley

    I think it’s great that you want to avoid a conversation with your son that would be disrespectful both to your wife and to his teacher. It surprises me that that’s the obvious alternative that you see. It seems to me that your son is having a crush on his teacher, and my thoughts, if it were my son, would be on having an intentional conversation in order to help him deal with that. I would want to avoid shaming him for having such thoughts, on one hand, but also to encourage him to treat her with respect as a professional, on the other. I’d rather have him have this conversation with me than with the other boys on the playground.

    • Keith I agree with you whole-heartedly on this. But, that was not the case in this situation. We have had many conversations when he talks about his crush on a teacher or a family friend, but in this situation he was asking me to comment on his teacher. I agree that I would rather have him talk with me than other boys, but this conversation was different. Thanks for commenting. Really appreciate you joining the conversation!

      • Keith Schooley

        Okay, I get it. Yes, if he really was trying to get you to comment on the looks of someone other than your wife, then it sounds like you handled it perfectly.

        • Definitely. Again, your insight is spot on if and when I have the “crush” conversation again. Thanks!

  • The need for fathers to listen to and connect with their sons is so important. Great article!

    • Nealie, so glad you liked the post. Thanks for taking part in the conversation.

  • Let me say it this way: I’m most delighted to “meet” you and I met you just a few minutes ago. You hit a touchdown right there! Came here through the link that Jeff Goins posted on Facebook in the Tribe Writers group. Thanks. Planning to be back.

    • Arien, so glad you logged on to Confessions. Welcome! It’s a delight to meet you too! 🙂

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