Tears are a sign of strength, Sherri Rosen writes, not weakness.
I raised four boys. The culture told me and them that it wasn’t okay to cry. I said to the boys ” f*ck the culture, it’s okay for you to cry.” How could I have possibly raised four healthy boys into men if they couldn’t cry? What is it about our culture that says “it’s sissy for men to cry or they need to cry privately?” Relationships are hard enough, but to tell men to shutdown, that crying is for sissies, or to be vulnerable is unacceptable does not make for a happy life.
I’ve been with my boys when they had to cry and it was OK. They felt safe enough to do it, it opened their heart up, and they were able to express to me what was going on.
I recently dated this wonderful man in his middle 40′s, and he has three children, one of which is a 13-year-old boy. He told me that one day while his son was playing in a football game he got injured. The father rushed lovingly over to him and whispered in his ear “Don’t cry, don’t cry, wait until you get into the car and then you can cry.”
I cried when he shared the story with me, knowing full well how it would effect his son in a very deep way as he got older. I admitted to him that we were all told by society that the only way you raise strong man is by telling them you don’t cry. And then I told him what a bunch of bullcrap that was and that I encouraged my boys to feel freely to express their emotions. He didn’t think this was helping them develop into strong men.
What does it mean for a man to be strong? Does it mean he cannot cry, he cannot be vulnerable, he has to be invincible and never show someone he trusts his weak or vulnerable side? Does that make him any less of a man? Or does it make him more human, genuine, and honest? I know I’m a strong woman, but I have my weak moments when I fall apart, and I would want to be with a man that allowed me to do so. Some men feel it’s OK for a woman to cry but not a man. When and where did we pickup this double standard?
—Photo Geraint Warlow/Flickr
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