The sound caught my attention and I opened the door to my son’s room.
He was holding his favorite red toy car, which was broken now. It was his most precious possession. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. Upon looking at me, he tried to hide his face.
My son didn’t want to show his vulnerability; his weakness and fragility.
The fact is, 6-year olds now are in awe of Batman and Ben-10, who never lose or get hurt. Children copy these characters and act like grown-ups. They don’t want to spoil their “cool dude” and “big-boy” image by crying or acting childish – as kids should.
“It’s okay to cry.” I said, as we sat in his bed, he looked at me and our eyes met. “Boys are human beings, too. They are made of flesh and bones. They can get hurt, too”.
That night, before he nodded off to sleep, I reflected on the cultural norm we have created around emotions and men.
We tell our boys to be “brave”, to be “strong” and not to cry. Little by little we raise them up to conceal their emotions.
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Hiding our emotions and feelings is NOT healthy. Let the tears fall down sometimes. It doesn’t make you weak: it does the opposite.
When you allow yourself to cry and let someone console you through the heartache, it means you’re strong enough to let someone see the real you.
That’s when real love seeps in.
I know this sound strange, but let your kids cry. It teaches them resilience. It’s not that the toy car is irreplaceable nor is it a huge matter.
While we can’t control the events in our children’s lives, we can help to equip them with tools to help them manage when the time comes.
I want my son to know it’s okay to be sad, to be heartbroken, to be angry or to be confused. All these feelings are okay.
And Boys do cry.
It’s not something to be ashamed of.
I don’t want my son to grow up swallowing his tears, pretending that emotions don’t exist. Masking your feelings is something I will never be proud of.
The reality is that emotions need to be expressed; they don’t just evaporate. I hope that, as my boy grows up, he will understand that feeling and expressing grief, fear, and sadness are just as valid and valuable for boys as it is for girls.