My 7-year old son has recently started taking me out on lunch date. He opens doors for me, pulls out my chair then we talk about his day, his feelings and he asks me how my day was etc. On one of these dates he asked me seriously mummy can I ask you something? Why your eyes look sad these days? You only smile when you talk to me? I was surprised when he asked me, I was going through a rough patch, but I never realized he is picking on that and he wanted to know what is bothering me. I heard this several time from my friends and family that I am raising a very sensitive boy he should be a little rough, aggressive, get beaten up etc. Being a mother sometimes I get worried too, but I also strongly believe that being sensitive, emotionally and mentally strong is as important as physically strong. Boys also need strong emotional support when they get hurt, most of the time as a parent our first response is Hey don’t cry, don’t be sissy you are a boy you need to be strong, you cannot cry you are a fighter, you are a warrior. We are teaching our boys to act strong without realizing that we are endorsing fake masculinity and insensitivity.
As a parent, we don’t want to see our boys aggressive, stubborn, and disrespectful with big egos who hide their true emotions and their true feelings. So, we need to respond the blood, hurt and tears of boys like we do it for girls. We need to give our boys time and space to express and understand their feelings. Experts say let your boys feel, let them understand and explore themselves and let them express when they feel down, tired and let them cry. Home should be a safe place for a boy where he can show his emotions honestly. If we don’t let them express their feelings there is a high probability of them suffering from stress, depression, and anxiety to fit into a stereotype of being a “Macho Man”.
In today’s world, it is even more important that we make our boys emotionally strong and give them skills to protect themselves and make sure they are safe in the school, colleges, playground, and social settings and they are not being bullied. We also need to teach them when situation calls for it “be firm, strong but fair”. Humans thrive on empathy, love, sense of security and engagement. We need to help our boys to understand their emotions and make them understand that there is no shame in expressing their emotions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. When our emotional health suffers, it can weaken our body functions and the immune system. As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) mentioned, “The powerful man is not the one who can wrestle, but the powerful man is the one who can control his emotions at the time of anger”. We need to help our boys to be expressive, curious, kind, caring and compassionate and use mind and intellect over force and violence, control temptation, control anger, control their tongue and manage their egos.