How This Dad Expertly Avoided Toxic Masculinity In A Conversation With His Son

Clint Edwards has no idea what he's doing as a father. He says so in the title of his blog, aptly named, No Idea What I'm Doing. But if a recent conversation with his son is any indication, it seems that he's actually doing pretty well.
Edwards posted a photo of his son at soccer practice to his blog's Facebook page yesterday, with a caption explaining what had happened. The coach pulled him aside after practice to tell him that his son, Tristan, started crying on the field that day and had to "sit out for a bit."
"Tristan stood next to me as the coach spoke. He looked at the ground and sheepishly kicked the grass with his cleats," Edwards wrote.
Sitting in the car to drive home, Edwards considered his knee-jerk reaction to tell his son to "toughen up" and to "stop this BS and play the game like a man." Instead, he asked if Tristan wanted to get an ice cream cone — with a few conditions.
"You have to tell me everything that happened. EVERYTHING. And you have to listen to my advice," he wrote.
As they drove, Tristan opened up about how he felt that the other boys were all better at soccer than him because he had trouble getting the ball during one of their drills. He was frustrated because he'd been playing soccer for years but didn't feel like he was getting any better.
If Edwards had gone with his gut reaction to question his son's masculinity and to push him to swallow his feelings, he would have no idea why Tristan was so upset. He recalled a similar moment in his own life, when coaches told him to suck it up and play the game.
"The 'toughen up talk' didn't make me feel stronger. It made me feel weaker. It made me quit," he wrote.
When Tristan told Edwards that he wanted to quit, the dad told him that he wish he hadn't quit sports at his age.
"'It's not about being the best right there and then,' I said. 'It's about growth. It's about showing up and trying, really trying. It's about gaining skills. Your whole life will be like this: sports, school, work, family. It's all about showing up and trying. Sometimes I feel like I'm not getting any better at this whole dad thing. But I keep showing up and trying. Life is like that,'" he wrote.
Although Tristan admitted that what Edwards said didn't really make sense to him, he committed to keep trying at soccer.
This might just be one moment in his young life, but unlike his dad, Tristan will look back on the day he cried at soccer practice and remember having someone to talk to about his feelings, instead of someone who told him to get over them or to "stop acting like a girl." It's important that fathers like Edwards are having these conversations with their sons, because the world could always use one less man who grew up on toxic masculinity.
Refinery29 has reached out to Edwards and will update this story when we receive a response.
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