We live in a society where boys are praised for being tough, emotionless and “manly”. In a society where they are teased, rejected and ridiculed for having emotions, shedding tears and being in touch with their feelings…I mean, even Jesus wept. The irony.
As a mother of three sons this has always been a topic that hit home for me and most recently because, while engaged in a conversation with my middle son, he says “I haven’t cried in years, I must be broken”. He said it in such a matter of fact manner. Y’all it broke my heart into a million pieces because I’m fully aware of who and why crying was presented to him as negative thing, and I’ve since been working on changing that, but there’s still work to be done.
I was raised by a generation that demanded that boys be boys. That they play with trucks, in dirt, with GI Joe (I’m aging myself), play sports and dare not cry, show emotion or what they often referred to as be soft. How exactly does a man being sensitive make him “soft”? I direct this question more towards men, specifically black men because well, I’m black and this is where I’ve seen this silly behavior displayed most.
When it came to the brothas more often than not, the common denominator amongst most of these men was fear, especially fathers. Fear of their beloved son being a punk. Being soft. Being Gay…. that folks, was the biggest fear because somehow somewhere someone convinced these individuals that a crying boy has a direct correlation to homosexuality. That’s a whole other blog…
I love dissecting and getting to the root cause of topics like this one and here is what I found most when I asked the following questions;
1. Why does it bother you so much when a boy cries?
2. When your son cries?
3. When men cry?
What I heard was interestingly disturbing.
- Because crying makes them soft
- My son will not be a punk
- I don’t want a bitch for a man; I do not want a man softer and more emotional than me (woman’s perspective)
A boy who’s taught that it’s okay to cry will teach him that emotions are normal. Are we teaching boys to be emotionless? That crying is a sign of weakness? Is that healthy? We tell them to cease the crying in most cases, but don’t give them alternative methods to express emotions – – just, don’t cry! And we wonder why this generation of boys is not equipped to handle the pressures of this world! Its not because they cry, it’s because we’ve been so busy telling them to stop crying and man up that we forgot to give them the necessary tools to be emotionally intelligent. We are teaching them to suppress a natural response all in the name of societal standards and warped beliefs.
I began to think about society’s wiring. It’s socially acceptable and honestly expected for girls and women to cry. We see it in our homes, on our jobs, in schools and on tv. We’re told that we’re emotional; that crying is what we’re supposed to do. We’re told to let it out, that holding all of those emotions in is unhealthy. Now, why is it okay for us, but not them? If it’s unhealthy for us, isn’t it unhealthy for them? Outside of genitalia, what makes us different? Nothing!
Parents, guardians, friends and family members. I want you to think long and hard before you tell a boy to man up and stop crying, yes, even when it’s over fruit snacks. Offer an alternative to the crying. Calling them soft, punks, sissy, “little girls” or any other name is unacceptable! If you’re guilty, you can change. Remember that you’re grooming this boy child to be someone’s husband, partner and potential father.
(Pic cred: Google)
Until next time…🦋