Boys don’t cry and they certainly don”t play with dolls. They also need to grow up strong, not acting like whiney sissies every time something doesn”t go their way. Parents will say, ”Suck it up,” ”be a man,” ”come on, what are you a girl” in public when boys seem to cross the threshold of tough and manly into sensitive or hurt. In many ways, its ironic the women’s movement has been going on for centuries empowering women to be both the perfect mixture of estrogen and testosterone, while for boys things have remained mostly the same.
Even in today’s world of equality and liberal idealism, men are fancied the protectors, the strong sex the ones in life that never lose control. Men are the ones jacking up their children on their shoulders and throwing them sky high and catching them without fail (NOT RECOMMENDED) just to make them squeal while mom bites her nails on the sidelines. Need a hole dug, a toilet replaced or some advice about bullying ask your dad. For all other things, go to mom. Because of the deeply ingrained gender roles bought into by people boys grow up different from girls and certainly, boys don’t cry.
Compare any family of all girls versus all boys and you will see that from the start things are often different. Girls are encouraged to explore all of their potential and options whether it is sports or piano playing, singing or rugby. Boys in many families are tailored towards sports at a young age. When problems arise, parents are often more tolerate and sensitive toward their little girls, and boys are given straightforward man advice. If you have ever seen a bunch of 7-8 year old children being coached in softball (for the girls) and baseball (for the boys), you would see a drastic difference in the expectations of coaches and lenience of parents. Girls are given tips like ‘nice try’ and boys making the same field error are forced to run a lap or chastised for throwing like a girl.
The question is, what does this imposition of gender role continuance do to a boy’s heart? And what message are we sending to the little boys in our life who aren’t interested in many things? There is a tremendous amount of pressure on little boys to be tough, when the truth is that all humans have the same heart and spirit? The next question is, when a boy with more ‘feminine’ interests goes to school how do you handle the fact that they will be targeted by bullies and other boys who are being facilitated with the ‘be a man’ jargon at home and otherwise.
Raising children is difficult. One of the things that make it so difficult is that many parents have dreams, expectations, and hopes for their children before they are even born. Dad who was the football star in high school imagines his son following in his footsteps. These desires for our children are often hard to let go of, partly because of the gender expectations that parents themselves grow up learning. Then, when you have a son who is more sensitive, doesn’t seem to fit in with the boys playing football at recess and have an artistic or creative side parents feel disappointed. Let’s be frank they also worry that their son will end up being gay. Parents will either push the issue of training him to be a man or they will try to encourage their child in their own niche in life. The latter, is healthier and harder.
Children are what they are and more often than not, they aren’t exactly what we expect them to be. Sometimes they are more. Being a boy comes with just as many preconceived notions of masculinity as does being a girl. Many parents eager and willing to save their daughters from eating disorders and media pressures about what being the perfect female is will not do the same when the issues are reversed for their sons. Is it because they are ashamed? Is it because they are disappointed? Is it because they worry what others will think or worse, how their son will be treated in this harsh world? Regardless of why the result can be a child that is forced to go inward, harboring feelings of insecurity, guilt and shame for being quite honestly’.who they are intended to be. They can spend months, years or even a lifetime trying to live a life that is expected of them without finding much satisfaction or happiness. Bottom line is that no parent wants that for his or her child.
Then’ these little boys become men. They may pass on these expectations or feel inept at showing their feelings and sensitive side. This can make them horrible partners in life and lead to a host of emotional disorders with depression topping the list. They may feel as though they aren’t allowed to follow their passions and remain confused, even as men about who they are.
Boys don’t cry? Sure, they do. And they should be allowed to. They also should be listened to and made to feel like they are accepted and loved regardless of where their interests in life lie. Parents need to be careful and ensure that they spend just as much time nurturing their boys as they do their girls. In the end, discarding preconceived notions and ideals that have been handed down since antiquity about what makes a man a man, will allow little boys to grow up and be men that they are proud of. Parents too have been given far too many ideals of what it is to be a boy. There are plenty of boys who take this motif and run happily and successfully into the future. However, there are others who feel it doesn’t fit and who can be seriously impeded by the metaphorical net put over their talents and personality. Boys do cry. Boys are just as human and sensitive, emotional and weak as any girl is. In order for a person to thrive, for a boy to thrive they too must be allowed to cry and feel the extent of the human emotions.