I’ve always struggled with the age-old adage that boys don’t cry. Growing up, I couldn’t understand it. If it was okay for boys to be happy or angry, why was the concept of them feeling sad or crying so extreme?
Now I have two sons and I still don’t understand it. Even more? It makes me angry.
There is no valid reason why my sons can’t show their full range of emotions, including tears, when the moment calls for it. I want to be very clear about this, I am not talking about crying over nonsensical things or to get their way. But, if they are overwhelmed or sad or frustrated or hurt, tears can be a valid outlet for those emotions.
My entire goal as a parent is to raise my sons to become fully functioning adults and positive contributors to this world. That goal will not be achievable if I raise my sons in a way that makes them feel ashamed for feeling and showing normal, human emotions.
While I want them to be comfortable feeling their emotions every day, I also want to help them understand how to turn their emotions into something productive. It’s okay to feel sad or angry or overwhelmed, but what are you going to do next?
My husband and I spend a lot of time with our seven-year-old, talking through how to address and overcome problems. If he’s worried about something, what can he do to prepare for it? If he’s upset about something, what can he do to move past it? At the same time, we are knee deep in teaching our four-year-old that crocodile tears will not help him get his way. Or that he can’t get mad and lash out at everyone.
I want to equip my sons with the tools to understand their emotions, and the ability to use their words to express how they’re feeling.
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