“You are going to have to fight your way through this.” My gut wanted to express that to my daughter the second she was born (I wrote about it here), whereas when my boys came, I felt total confidence they could and would succeed based on their own drive and determination.
Those moments have made me realize two things: (1) That I carry around a lot of opinions that really aren’t my own; and (2) It’s bullshit.
On a lot of levels, yes, our current North American society plays in the favour of boys, although I optimistically think the balance is getting better. But where we fail our boys is in the ingrained, most predominant, societal definition of manhood: “Be tough”, “Hold those emotions”, “Never cry”.
Where along the line did we begin equating crying with weakness? I have a good cry every Thursday at 9pm during my weekly “Grey’s Anatomy” viewing. It’s like cable subscribed therapy. Nothing is more negative energy releasing than a good weep.
But back to those mantras about toughness; both my husband and I were raised under those headers. He got it directly; I bared witness to it with my brother, though I think to a lesser extent. Both of us pulled the “Boys don’t cry” card the first time our son let it out and was old enough to understand our reaction. Thankfully my brain kicked in quick that day and my bullshit alarm went off.
My boys are not robots and my husband and I don’t get to control their emotions, just like we won’t get to control rejection, disappointment, frustration and rage that will enter their lives. Our job is to help our boys navigate those emotions and let them feel exactly as they need to.
So to my boys: crying does not define who you are as a person or as a man. If you bang your head, have your heart broken, lose something really valuable, or are enraged with the world around you, well shit, cry it out, Boys.