Since becoming a Mom of a boy, I’ve been mindful of wanting to raise my son to be kind, respectful, self-sufficient, and resourceful. Recently, I read Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed. She dedicates an entire chapter to raising boys. In it she encourages us to challenge the status quo; that our world trains our boys to hide their full humanity. It made me pause to consider what we were doing as parents of a young boy to help him grow up and live his full humanity consciously and unapologetically.
“We train boys to believe that the way to become a man is to objectify and conquer women, value wealth and power above all, and suppress any emotions other than competitiveness and rage.”
She goes on to say, “The parts of themselves they must hide to fit into those cages are the slices of their humanity that our culture has labeled, feminine. Traits like, mercy, tenderness, softness, quietness, kindness, humility, uncertainty, empathy, connection. We tell them, don’t be these things because these are feminine things to be. Be anything but feminine.”
“The problem is that the parts of themselves that our boys have been banished from are not feminine traits. They are human traits.”
I love the way she delineates these traits as human. It made me think about some of the things we do to foster the growth of our son to live wholly and express, not suppress, his emotions in a healthy way.
Here are 4 strategies to raise a good son in a tough world:
When your son loses and gets upset and physical, tell him it’s ok to be angry but it’s not ok to hit, kick, or physically hurt anyone.
Hug it out. This is one of the toughest but most gratifying strategies. When meltdowns happen, give him a safe space to let it out, and wait calmly and quietly. When he starts to calm down, offer to hug it out. He will melt in your arms, cry, and hold on tight.
When your son becomes frustrated when things suddenly change or don’t go his way, validate his feelings, and encourage him to be flexible. Showing empathy for how he feels and teaching him how to find an alternate solution develops empathy and critical thinking. This book helped us. We practice the strategies in it daily to help our son through the unexpected.
Impress the importance of respect and support of your family through “family contributions.” Instead of calling them chores, we call them family contributions. It evokes the same negative reaction but it conjures up a different idea. It shows him that what he’s doing has value and matters to the family unit. At 8-years-old we’re not asking him to mow the lawn but simple tasks like make his bed and feed the dog are expected every day.
Consistency is critical to your success. As we practice these daily strategies, feeling the feels, and knowing how to move through them will become more natural, more habitual for our son. As he grows we will continue by encouraging open, vulnerable conversations and will continue to ask questions, even when he rolls his eyes.
Glennon writes: “Our boys are just as human as our girls are. They need permission, opportunities, and safe places to share their humanity.”
I would love to know what strategies you use to help your boys share their humanity. Leave me a comment below.