With male teenage suicide rates on the rise, the old adage “big boys don’t cry” may need to be readdressed.
Traditionally boys are taught to be tough, not to cry, and shrug off their emotions.
However, recent studies are showing this may not be the healthiest strategy to teach boys how to handle emotion.
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While no one wants to raise what may be considered a “mama’s boy” or a “wimp”, boys need to be allowed to feel a range of emotions, and they need to be taught how to acknowledge and manage them in an appropriate way.
In light of this realization, there has been a huge push recently to teach our children, boys included, what has been coined as Emotional Intelligence.
Proven to be equally as important as academic intelligence when considering overall child development, Emotional Intelligence helps children identify and manage emotions.
This helps them understand themselves better, how to react and respond appropriately, as well as be able to understand the emotions of others.
In turn, this prepares them to be better siblings, friends, and partners. Under those pretenses, here are 5 reasons why you should let boys cry.
Prior to puberty, boys are more likely than girls to experience symptoms of depression. When they are told not to cry and stifle their urge to do so, the emotion behind that urge doesn’t simply disappear. Stifled sadness can quickly turn to anger in boys and young men and is often released in bursts of anger or defiance. They don’t understand the anger or where it stems from, and it builds until they find some way to let the anger out externally. This can lead to behavior issues at school, with peers, and at home.
When boys are taught to express their emotions and stay connected to their feelings, they learn to manage their anger in healthier, more productive ways. Instead of acting out in anger, they can learn healthy alternatives to deal with their feelings, such as talking to a parent about it, taking it out on a workout, writing it out in a journal, or expressing it playing guitar, for example.
Boys who don’t express their emotions grow into men who don’t know how to express themselves or be emotionally available. This can cause issues in marriages, in parenting, as well as in work relationships. If we teach young boys appropriate ways to deal with emotions and emotional situations, they will grow up better able to handle these circumstances as men. Marriages will be healthier, fathers will be better equipped to deal with tough issues with their children, and employees with be more productive and better team players.
As boys are taught to “man up” and hide their emotions, the coping method they learn is to become stoic, shut down, and keep their feelings to themselves. Studies have shown that this directly correlates to men being less likely to seek mental health assistance when needed, leading to higher rates of clinical depression, anxiety, and similar issues that can accelerate and worsen when left unaddressed.
Allowing your boy to cry, while telling him you understand how he feels and providing guidance on appropriate ways to handle that emotion, provides him a sense of belonging, of being understood, and of being loved for who he is. This builds self-esteem and strengthens the parent-child bond. This is not to be confused with coddling or over-protecting a child but should be considered as an excellent way to model and teach acceptable outlets for expressing emotion.
Boys feel all the same emotions girls do.
For some reason, our society has traditionally thought it was okay for girls to show these emotions while boys were expected to toughen up and hold it in.
This has lead to generations of men who don’t know how to connect emotionally in numerous aspects of their lives.
If we can allow our boys to cry while also teaching healthy ways to express and manage their emotions, we can raise a generation of men better prepared to handle stressful situations, be better partners, and live overall healthier, happier lives without sacrificing their masculinity.
Little boys can bring you to the brink of insanity and then gently ease back. Raising boys is certainly not for the faint of heart. It is messy and emotional. It can be muddy and even at times heartbreaking. As I look at them with their little elbow dimples and skinned knees, I realize that one day, they’re not going to be my little boys anymore – someday they will be grown, men. Someday they may even get married; I could be raising someone’s husband.
Being a boy mom means checking pockets before you throw shorts into the wash so you’re not fishing rocks out of the washer or dryer after your load is complete. I can’t recall how many times they’ve chased down frogs and lizards from outside, hoping to gross their mom out. Our boys live to gross anyone – for them, it is the biggest compliment to see someone sincerely grossed out.
Raising boys can be constant shushing; constant asking for them to calm down, to stop running, or to take their loud toys outside or in another room to play. From the moment boys are born they are on the go. From bouncing on the bed at 5:30 till they fall asleep at night they have 2 speeds fast and faster. They enjoy constant movement. It can mean dirty fingernails, mud pies, and wondering why their shoes are always filled with dirt, rocks, and mulch after a long day at school. It’s about telling them 100,000 times to stop touching their pee-pee or to stop farting on their brother.
If you have boys you will also have the chance to be blessed by their good night hugs and kisses.
You will hear their sweet “I love you, mommy”. You will get to kiss those dirty little skinned up knees after they have fallen down. You will be able to hug those dirty little necks tightly at night. Being a boy mom means a lot of things and some of them aren’t really glamorous and can be quite nasty but sometimes it’s really calm and quiet. Sometimes being a boy mom means you can read books to them about trains and cars. It can mean holding them in cute little character towels after a nightly bath. It isn’t always dirt and bugs.
Being a boy mom is the best job I’ve ever had.
Do you have any stories to share when your little ones love to get dirty? We would love to hear all about them.
Motherhood is one of the biggest crowning achievements in the life of a woman as it not only makes you feel overwhelmed by the feelings of love and adoration but it also makes you realize that you are tougher and more competent than you realize as you have just given birth to a new life and then care and nourish it into its journey to become a full-fledged adult just like you. But what’s a ride without a few bumps along the way?
As a mom, it’s a lot easier to rear a girl, because you have your own stack of memories to refer to when it comes to dealing with what it wants and add to that mix, the same inclination towards clothes, dolls, and activities and you have a perfect way to keep your girl child happy. But it is a whole lot different to raise a boy, whom you have had no affinity with as a gender. The roughness and the brazenness are quite alien concepts to you and are something which normally occurs when it’s time to raise a boy. Boys are quite different from girls and you have to accept that to make it work successfully.
As I recount the experiences I faced, there are a lot of things I wish I had known before I started raising boys, as they would have helped me immensely but I won’t allow it to happen to you so here are some guidelines on how to raise a boy and what to expect while you are doing it:
The tendency to act roughly is part of their gender.
If you see your little boy involved in an act which signifies aggression even when he is playing, don’t get alarmed, it is what makes them a man. Boys are inclined more towards acting quite tough than girls because of an innate desire to show physical prowess even when it is not required or just to act plain funny. Running around the house and making things fall over intentionally is something deemed normal by boys as this allows them to work those growing muscles and tendons that are acting like they just got too big for their size. Where girls are delicate and smooth, boys are quite the alternate and expect even a bit of roughing up of other boys by your son, even though if it is done through mutual consent and does not involve the notion of fighting, it’s just their way around what girls do to show love like cuddling and snuggling.
The nature of the toys around your house will make you realize how much in love they are with everything that has some sort of powerful aim related to it be it trucks or planes or even the train tracks spread in your living room, they just love to play with these type of toys and ramp up the fun with their even more aggressive animated sounds accompany the drama, just join in the fun and let the boy be.
Acting rougher can also lead to more discipline. Due to the nature of acting “tougher”, we work hard on effective discipline in our house so it does not get out of hand.
Expect a lot of clothes to be ruined and be displayed as something to be proud of.
You may love to dress up your child in the best possible fashion savvy chic clothes possible but when dealing with boys you have to remember that they do not understand the notion of how clothes are not just there for covering up the body but for making them look good. Most of the games and physical activities that boys indulge into will eventually leave their mark on the clothes and boys just love this! This also presents an opportunity for the mother to dress her child in anything she likes as the palate is so simple and so not focused on looking exotic that most women would definitely prefer to dress up a boy rather than a girl on any given day.
Boys love the outdoors:
Laced with the tendency to inhibit thrill and seek adventure from a young age, boys just love the outdoors and the far it is the better it would make him feel. It would be really advisable for all mothers to there to take their sons out to hike, camp or even fish as it would provide the boy with much–needed rubbing on his itch to love the exotic and exhaust all the latent energy they have in store. So once a week or every month, make it a point to take your son out on such thrilling adventures and make it point to do so every time without missing by ensuring that you plan for it immaculately by keeping some money aside for the trip, making sure you pack everything required, getting home care services for your parents as you are going to be away for a day to or two on the trot. It would make your child love you even more if you give in to relishing his tendencies with empathy.
The trips to the emergency room are quite the norm:
Expect cuts and bruises to be part of your everyday routine as the sharp edges of the sofa or the vulnerability of the cookie jar to survive major jerks to the cabinet would all add up to a lot of stitches flying here and there. When you are thinking of padding up your whole house and removing all those booby traps you didn’t even know existed in your house, just remember that it is what all parents go through and there is nothing to be ashamed of, but making the boy sit in one place isn’t going to work in your favor either, just make the child aware of dangers as much as possible and leave the rest to the minute chances of him not getting a cut in its arm whenever he whizzes by the trolley on his beloved skateboard acting as a daredevil.
The latent love for moms they inhibit subliminally.
They maybe destructive and quite naughty at times but one underlying fact that makes this all worth the pain is the innate love they share for their moms. Boys like to act tough but melt at the slightest touch of yours if it makes them feel like a baby yet again. They don’t just start flirting when they get old as their first love will always remain with their all too adorable mom whom they find just too irresistible to be let go of that easily. The moms out there would love how their boys caress their hair and plant those adorable little kisses and provide their mom with the joy that far outperforms the difficulties that were faced in making them grow up to be even greater sons.
Do you have anything to share about things you wish you would’ve known while raising your boy?
Do you ever feel like the world we live in is constantly judging us? The fact is it’s true. We are guilty of it just as well as our neighbor or the stranger on the street. The world is not the same as when we were growing up. Most of us could walk to school, walk to town, ride bikes everywhere, ride around with friends, hang out at a friends house, vice-versa, sleep with our doors unlocked, etc without having to look over our shoulders or care what other people thought. The list is so long of things we remember growing up doing that in today’s world we can not and will not let our children do.
I want to share with you 10 things I will not teach my boys because I am not raising a bully but I am raising gentlemen, a husband, and a father.
Boys are your competition.
It’s okay to hide your emotions from girls or others.
Being smart or successful isn’t attractive.
Giving up is easier than trying your very best.
You are above girls and they must obey you.
You don’t have to apologize when you feel you haven’t done wrong.
You can’t always talk to Mom or Dad when you have a problem or just need to talk.
Using profanity makes you cool.
You don’t have to follow all the rules.
You don’t have to show adults and others respect.
I don’t want my boys thinking that any of these ten things I listed above are okay. The above will not make your son a man but a person who is selfish and probably won’t make it very far in the world with friends. I do not want my boys to think that boys are their competition at any point in their life. I want them to show their emotions and not bottle feelings away. It doesn’t make them any less of a boy or man not to show emotions but it does make them human.
I will not let me boys think they are above girls or women at any time because that is so untrue. They should treat the girls with respect and when dating or married treat her like a queen and never disrespect her. I never want my boys to think because someone tells them they can’t do something they can give up. I want them to always try their best and show respect to anyone they are around no matter the situation.
The last few are very important life skills to learn and live by.
Mom and Dad will always be there when he needs to talk.
Playing sports and competing against others is not about winning but trying your very best, learning to work with others on and off the field, showing respect for teammates and by following the rules given by authority.
When he does something wrong he needs to apologize and accept his mistake and that it will not happen again.
There are so many things I want to teach my boys instead of things I will not but I wanted to let other mothers know things that possibly they agree with about not teaching her son.
Do you want to share an idea of what you will not teach your son that I did not mention? I would love to hear and possibly add to this list for other moms to read as well. Feel free to comment below and also check out my other parenting articles.
How important is it to keep the house clean at all times?
Well, for me having 3 boys running and playing around the house, I find it hard to maintain a tidy environment. I can’t spend my entire day cleaning up after my boys; it would never end. I am sure each of us grew up in houses that had a certain level of clutter, mess, and organization. Constant clutter, though, can be overwhelming. So I teach my boys how to lessen the mess and clean up when needed.
How to Play
The first thing to consider is establishing “appropriate time to play” with your kids. You have to have an agreement among your kids for when is the best time for them to play and mess around the house. It is also important to establish playtime rules. Teach your children to take out one toy collection at a time. Before they move on to their next playful endeavor they need to put the previous items away. This also helps lessen fighting between my boys and controls the amount of discipline I have to do.
Less is More
Teach them that they don’t need to have huge piles of stuff to be happy. They can’t possibly play with everything, anyway — there aren’t enough hours in the day. With less stuff, they can find things more easily, they can see what there is to play with, and they can own better quality stuff.
Giving them room to Breath
Work with your children, not against them. Make them feel that they have the freedom to do whatever they want to do inside the house for a certain period of time. Let them play till they bore themselves out.
Teach your children to take out one toy collection at a time. Before they move on to their next playful endeavor they need to put the previous items away. Create a simple system using labels, so kids know how to easily fulfill your “put this away” request. And right after that, tell your kids the importance of having a clean and tidy home. Make them clean their own mess.
I know having kids clean isn’t always “helpful”. In fact, I know a few good friends who feel the need to re-clean after the kids have done a chore. Here’s the thing: don’t just let your child “play clean,” get down and teach them how to properly accomplish the task. Though it can be challenging to keep things clean, neat, and orderly when you’ve got young children at home, it’s not impossible. In fact, the secret is to make your kids part of the solution, rather than the problem.
My kids actually enjoy helping to do the chores. You can make it fun, interactive, and “game-like”. You could set a timer and see how quickly they can accomplish a task. Remember to give praise when they do a good job, too!
What are your tricks to home for keeping a clean house? Do you get your kids involved? We want to know your thoughts!
Just imagine you and your spouse rolled into three tiny human beings exploring the new world at full speed. These boys have so much energy that I’ve literally have asked them for just an ounce of that to keep up with them. That is what raising three boys is like. Time isn’t slowing down and you can’t get back a moments time. We just have to keep going and just try to keep up.
My oldest and youngest are so much alike some days I can’t stand it. There I said it. Yes, they drive me completely insane. There are days I just want to sit in my room and cry. The arguing and fighting are beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. So what do I do about it?
Literally the other night I broke down and just had enough. I told them two words, “I’m done.” Can you imagine the looks on their faces when I said that? My middle son asked me “what does that mean?” I said to him and his brothers “It means Mom is done arguing and fighting with you three, things are fixing to change around here starting now.” I got choked up saying that because I think all of my emotions had just been building and I was finally done with explaining myself to them and repeating for them to listen and do what I ask of them.
My husband and I literally ask three things of them. Just three. You have got to be thinking wow why can’t they do just those three things? Don’t worry your not the only ones thinking why can’t they do three simple things. The three things we ask of them each and every day is 1. Do your very best in school. 2. Do what we ask of them. 3. Get along with your brothers. Y’all this is the only three things we ask of them.
So why am I sitting here questioning my parenting? Why do I feel like I am failing at being their mother? Here is why? I’ve admitted this to them too because I felt it was time for them to understand why things have been so crazy. It’s because I wasn’t being consistent. I wasn’t following through with those three things. Since school started I was finding myself fighting with them to get their homework done, to read a book, to help around the house. Even during the summer months they watched TV, played in the pool, played outside, visited their grandparents, played their video games, we took them on vacation. All things we are supposed to let them do they did it. But I was still fighting with them constantly. From the time the sun comes up till the sun down and the other day I just finally had enough.
Do you ever just scroll through Facebook or read a blog where their family seems so “normal“? I’ve asked my husband and he has asked me the same thing for the past 7 or 8 years what are we doing wrong? It is easier to give into them, rather than deal with them sometimes. I told them and I am not sure I should’ve but I told them lately being their mom was no fun. I don’t enjoy getting on to them all the time, the constant fighting, repeating myself, begging them to help me around the house, study for the tests they have coming up, read their AR books, be nice to your brothers. I am a broken record and my record is worn out and doesn’t play anymore.
How am I going to be a mom to these three boys and raise them to be men one day? We started with different rules.
We’re starting over from scratch.
1. They will be told one time to do something and that is all. No more calling their names 4 or 5 times.
2. They will get along with their brothers because they love each other. That is what God expects them to do.
3. If they don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
4. Ask each other for help when needed.
5. They are to worry about themselves and not what their brother is doing wrong.
6. Manners will be used at all times. Including table manners.
We’ve taken everything away from them that we can. They won’t be getting any video games, friends over, playtime outside, visiting the grandparents, or buying them anything they want. At least not until we can get across to them that this is what is expected of them at all times, not just a day or a week but always the life around our house was going to be different.
All of this sounds so easy and we can’t figure out why they won’t just do it. I will keep everyone posted on how things are going. We are on day two right now and a little reminding has been had but we know things won’t change overnight but over time and that is what we are giving them time.
Hey, I’m Toni and I’m the mama of 3 Little Birds. I love Writing about Parenting, Health, Recipes and Crafts, the life of a Mum and more. Learn more about me here Grab a Tea or Coffee and come see what you find.