Suiting Up

April 5th, 2013

Raising boys into good men


My sixth grader was extremely disappointed to learn that school regulations prohibit the wearing of any real power accessories.


Sunday Best around here is a plain t-shirt and clean jeans, and I usually have to fight for that, so I was a bit surprised to see my middle schoolers enthusiastically laying out their jackets and ties last night for “Dress for Success” day. I think it has to do with the teenager’s recent discovery and subsequent obsession with the series, “How I Met Your Mother,” which has trickled down to his younger brothers. They all love the character of Barney, the debonair, cheeseball playboy made beloved by Neil Patrick Harris.

The whole series is about sex and dating, so I wasn’t quite sure whether it was age-appropriate at first. But as it turns out, it’s giving us lots of openings to talk about sex and dating in a comfortable way. Barney is a caricature of the conquest-minded male, and serves as a comedic foil to what is really quite an earnest exploration of love and commitment by the other characters. I am quick to point out to the kids that they are all grown up people with college degrees and jobs, who pay their own rent and buy their own underwear out of their own paychecks.

I don’t have a specific age in mind for when it is okay for young people to start having sex (the later the better, in my opinion), but I feel like the underwear rule is a good place to start.

Those lessons may be lost on the Littlest Who, however, who only catches what snippets he can before I shoo him away, but already idolizes Barney as a sartorial golden god. Last Sunday, after wearing cargo pants and an untucked button-down to church, he showed up for Easter dinner (and our constitutional stroll) dressed like this:



“I’m mini-Barney,” he announced.

“Lord help us,” I said.

They are growing up so fast, my baby men. “Heartbreakers,” people often say, in compliment to my boys. I understand what they mean, but I hope they won’t be. Not in any reckless sense, at least. I want them to live and love exuberantly.  Stuff will certainly get broken: rules, relationships, beliefs, and expectations. But I hope everyone who comes to love and be loved by my sons, can say that knowing them has changed their lives only for the better.  As it has mine.

4 Responses to “Suiting Up”

  1. Tanis Miller says:

    Heartbreakers indeed. Lovely essay to the joys of raising boys. And to Barney. Who is legend in our home too.

  2. Noelle says:

    Love that show! I’ve been told three times I remind people of Robin. I’m flattered but don’t see it as intensely as they do. Barney is adorable.

  3. Oh… that is so awesome! That’s what I want for my little guys too.

  4. Cid says:

    My boys & I love HIMYM too and, as inappropriate as it can be at times, the female characters are as strong as the males and anything is better than Two & a Half Men which my boys, thankfully, can’t stand. Hopefully that means we are doing something right although they have yet to voluntarily wear a jacket.

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