“Let’s teach our boys to be humans”
The sound caught my attention and I opened the door of his room. He was holding his favourite red toy car which was broken now. It was his most precious possession which is now in two pieces. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. Upon looking at me, he at once tried to hide them. He didn’t want to show his vulnerability, weakness and fragility. All he wanted to show that he is strong boy not a weak and little boy.
The fact is, 6-years old now, are in awe of Batman and Ben-10, who never lose or get hurt. Kids copy these characters and act like grown-ups. They don’t want to spoil their cool dude and “big-boy” image by crying or acting childish. They are grown up in the environment where they are repeatedly told to act like a “boy” who does not cry. If they do so, they will be told that you are being childish. To emote is to be weak. To be weak is to be feminine.
“It’s OKAY to cry.” I said, as we sat smooshed in his bed, he looked at me and his eyes meet.
“Boys are also human beings. They are made of flesh and bones. They can get hurt too”.
That night, before he nodded off to sleep, we finished chatting about expressing our feelings. I reflected on the cultural norm we have created around emotions and men. We tell our boys to be “brave”, to be “strong” and not to cry. Little by little we raise them up to conceal their emotions.
Hiding our emotions and feelings is NOT healthy. Let the tears fall down sometimes. It doesn’t make you weak. Only, we all know that it does the opposite. When you allow yourself to cry and let someone console you through the heartache, it means that you’re strong enough to let someone see the real you. That’s when the real love seeps in.
I know this sound weird but let your kids cry. It teaches them resilience. It’s not that the toy car is irreplaceable nor it’s a huge matter. While we can’t control the events in our children’s lives, we can help to equip them with tools to help them manage when the time comes. The more room, the more space we give our children to communicate to us about their emotional world, the less likely their brain will suppress their vulnerable feelings.
I want him to know that it’s okay to be sad, to be heartbroken, to be angry or to be confused. All these feelings are OKAY. And Boys do cry. It’s NOT something to be ashamed of.
I don’t want my son to grow up swallowing his tears. Pretending that emotions don’t exist is not right. Masking your feelings is something I never should have been proud of. The reality is that emotions need to be expressed, they don’t just evaporate. I hope that as my boy grows up, he will understand that feeling and expressing grief, fear and sadness are just as valid and valuable for boys as for girls. Since when emotions of feeling sad and heartbroken are related to girls? Since when crying of boys seen as ‘sissy’, ‘girly’ or he will be labeled as ‘mama’s boy’? Push this matter aside for sometime and ponder on the fact and ask WHY? Why aren’t boys allowed to cry? Who is it hurting? What is not letting them to?
Crying is the natural phenomenon. It is as natural as the desire to urinate. It is the way of body to express grief or pain. It helps to cope with any situations or circumstances that will come in his way. It helps to soothe and reduce pain. It makes us feel better even when a problem persists. It doesn’t mean that your problem will end after crying but it makes you look at it from a better perspective.
He’s six now but not remain six forever. He will be 15 and 25 soon. There will be a time when he has more things to become sad for rather than a mere toy car. He has to suffer heartbreaks, financial constraints and despair. Life is a pandora of sufferings and I won’t be able to shield or protect him always. Then what? He should learn to react from an early age. This will help him to be emotionally strong enough to face any situations. Grief and crying is also a part of emotions as anger or happiness. It is an important aspect of life. Let our boys be normal humanbeings who are capable of showing emotions, who are empathetic and compassionate. Let them teach how to be a real man.
Plant grows, flower blossoms and rainbow appears after water touch them. Rains are essential for fruit bearing. The wide scale of emotions is what makes our life. It helps us to breathe. It makes us humans.
So, let our boys experience all the emotions. Let them shed tears without hesitation. Let them cry. Let them be humans.