Being a parent is a constant challenge. Every decision carries with it a consequence on the life and well-being of your child, and sometimes the line between what you want for your child and what’s best for them can trip parents up a little bit. One of the most common cases is how fathers react when their sons choose something typically associated with girls like playing with dolls or wanting to wear a dress.
As a father, the urge to want your son to embody certain notions of “manliness” can be hard to deal with, but one California father is earning praise by millions of people worldwide for the loving and enlightened way that he handled the situation.
Filmmaker Mikki Willis is being hailed as “father of the year” for the video he posted of how he reacted to his son choosing an Ariel doll at the toy store.
He explains in the video that his son, Azai, received two of the same gifts for his birthday, so he took him to the store to exchange one of them.
Azai ended up picking an Ariel doll, and was clearly excited about it.
Willis then asks “How do you think a dad feels when his son wants to get this?” Azai responds with an excited scream, which his father matches, and then elaborates by saying “I let my boys choose their life.”
Willis goes on to say that Azai and his brother, Zuri, are free to choose whatever toy they want, regardless of gender norms. He tells his sons, “I promise forever to love you and accept you no matter what life you choose.”
The video has been viewed over 15 million times and counting.
A lot of commenters said Willis is a great dad (I agree).
Others shared their own experiences in similar situations.
Willis said he felt compelled to post the video after he was out with Azai and the doll at a restaurant and some women gave his son a disapproving look. “You could tell they didn’t approve.”
He says he’s amazed by how many views the video has gotten, as well as how overwhelmingly positive the response has been.
Willis says that the main takeaway from the video should be to encourage parents to let their children have full freedom of expression. “It would be a different world if everyone poured love into their children,” he says.
He and his wife hope to post some more videos to share the lessons they’ve learned so far on their parenting journey.
As for Azai, Willis says the doll goes with him everywhere and will probably “be on the battlefield with the Transformers any day now.”
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