Most men feel a lot of conflicts dealing with vulnerability. This is because society has taught little boys that showing emotions is a sign of weakness. How can mothers prevent their kids from feeling afraid of being vulnerable?.
The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou
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A study titled "The State of Gender Equality for U.S. Adolescents" by Plan International USA reveals that "one-third of boys think society expects boys to hide or suppress their feelings when they feel sad or scared. Another third says society expects them to be strong, tough, 'be a man,' and 'suck it up.'"
The apparently inoffensive quote "real men shouldn't cry" has been repeated by parents through many years. Without noticing it, boys were being taught that it was okay not to cry in public and hide their feelings.
Because of toxic masculinity, men struggle to show their emotions and, as a result, are not the best fathers. The answer to fight this shouldn't be to work less on masculinity but learn the meaning of true masculinity.
Real good men wouldn't ignore someone being bullied and discriminated, they would defend the weaker. Real good men respect women and see them as equal because they're not afraid of losing their position. Real good men are not afraid to show their emotions because they are honest. Real good men become strong husbands and fathers.
In the family, there is no place for toxic masculinity. Home should be a safe space for boys to show emotions. Whether it is being affectionated or creating spaces to connect deeply with their feelings, parents should teach kids that they don't need to feel ashamed of showing vulnerability.
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Dr. Cara Natterson, a pediatrician and the pen behind the New York Times best-selling book "Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons," stresses that it is crucial to teach boys to put a name to what they're feeling.
If your son notices that you listen to him and appreciate it when he expresses himself, he will eventually feel more comfortable sharing his emotions. The pediatrician also points out that before turning 12 years old, boys tend to watch their caregivers as the most important source of information and connection in their lives.
Finally, the most crucial step is teaching through example. If you're vulnerable in front of your kids, they can learn that it's okay to rely on their loved ones when something worries them.
Some fathers may find this especially challenging since their parents raised them with the toxic social norm that humiliated and made them insecure about their feelings.
The world has shifted, and now boys and men are allowed to cry. Modeling emotional intimacy through acceptance and respect is the best way to gain the trust of your children. This way, most families can learn how to raise healthy boys in an unhealthy culture that, little by little, is evolving.
The study concludes that boys who are expected never to display emotion and only show strength may become adults with harmful ideas regarding authority and masculinity. Creating spaces at home for boys to connect with their inner selves can help them know and understand better their emotions and how to cope with them.