A letter to my brother

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Dear Josh,

You are growing up before my eyes and I am terrified. I can hardly believe that you are starting middle school next fall. Soon you will hit puberty and become a teenager. You will be faced with new situations and new faces and learn to navigate new territory. There are some things that I want you to know before you begin.

First of all, never be afraid to express yourself and do what you love to do. You are incredibly smart and creative, and your artistic talent continues to amaze me. Do not let people tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t be artistic because you are a boy. You can sing, dance, and paint just as much as girls can, no matter what people say.

You will be pressured to be moreĀ masculine. Other boys may tease you for being too short or too thin. Know that you are perfect just the way you are. You cannot change your body – accept it for what it is, the good and the bad. And don’t worry about being a star athlete. You have so many other talents. Soccer may be Daniel’s thing, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be yours or mine.

You are a sensitive kid. This is a huge asset; don’t let people tell you otherwise. You are not a wimp and you are not a sissy. You have feelings and you express them, as you should. You will find that many people appreciate this, especially girls. You don’t have to act tough to get people to respect you. Embrace your weirdness – normal is boring anyways.

Speaking of girls…someday you may have a girlfriend and/or close female friends. I want you to know that you will witness a lot of mistreatment of girls and discrimination based on gender. All I can hope is that you will never take part in this oppression. I want you to understand that being a boy does not make you better than anyone else. Girls are just as capable as boys and should be treated that way. You should evaluate girls based on their brains, their skills, and their talents – rather than on how pretty they are. You will learn a lot about gender as you move through middle school and high school and you will observe many different kinds of relationships. There is not one that is right – there are many. Always keep an open mind. I cannot stress that enough.

And finally, know that I am always here for you. You’re still my little dude, always.

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