Tender Is The New Strong
World over, parents and parenting experts have been applauding girl child empowerment and praising every act of making girls strong, independent and emotionally balanced. But strangely, the supposedly stronger sex has been neglected and still continues to be parented in the same archaic manner as ever. ‘Boys don’t cry’ is a phrase which you have been using with your son, which your parents must have used with you, which your grandparents must have used with your parents and so on. But times have changed and so have gender roles and experiences. Boys can get hurt too and feel the need to cry from time to time as well. Here are some tips to teach your preteen son to be tender but strong:
Encourage your son to express his emotions freely:
He should not feel ashamed of sharing his true feelings with you. After all, home should be a sanctuary for him too.
Don’t over-react if you see your son cry:
Many parents make the mistake of getting awkward or over-reacting when they see their son cry. Since social convention doesn’t allow for it, parents have a tendency for frowning upon such behavior. But instead, you should focus on finding out the reason behind his tears and try to help him work out the situation.
Correlate tenderness with strength:
Boys learn at a very young age that their masculinity and strength can only be effectively proven if they don’t allow for any tenderness. This repression of emotion creates an imbalance and results in lowering of emotional quotient. Teach your boys that to be truly strong, they will have to let out their tender side every once in a while too.
Lead by example:
Children listen to what you say but they do what they see you do. If as a parent you are honest about your own emotions but still continue to remain strong in challenging life situations, your son will learn to cry when he must and yet be strong when he has to.
Although typically, parenting tips for teenage sons don’t even address this sensitive matter, doing so can one day make you proud of your son. So get over the social dogma and your own inhibitions. Let your son know that it is alright to cry but it is also important to develop inner strength to face the world.
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