How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Boys
Any boy mom out there looking for advice on raising boys? We are bombarded with tips for how to raise strong boys and how to raise smart boys but where are the tips for how to raise emotionally healthy boys? These five parenting tips for boy moms are sure to help you get started!
Boys were a mystery to me. I grew up basically ignoring the boys around me. As a child, I wasn’t really friends with boys. In middle school and high school I had a few kinda-sorta friendships with guys but it wasn’t really until college that I had any significant relationship (friend or otherwise) with boys. Boys are wild, boys are weird, and boys are stinky.
In case you haven’t been around the blog for long, I’m currently pregnant with my fourth boy. God basically just said “joke’s on you” and threw me right into the mix of a whole lot of testosterone.
I obviously do not have it all figured out (that’s the understatement of the century!) but I’ve been processing and praying over how I want to raise emotionally healthy, Christ honoring men. Although some of these ideas are becoming a little more normal, many are still counter cultural – even counter cultural to the way many Christians raise their boys – but I believe all are closer to the heart of Jesus.
How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Boys
It’s Okay to Cry
The whole macho man sterotype is ridiculous and unbelievably upsetting. God created emotions and emotions, when handled properly, are amazing things. My boys have deep emotions and, sometimes, those emotions cause them to cry. There’s no need for them to “act like a man” or be told “real men don’t cry.” Real men don’t stuff down their emotions.
Of course, I am also teaching my boys how to use and feel their emotions properly – just like I would if they were girls. When they feel big feelings I acknowlege and affirm those feelings, give them the physical and emotional affection they need, and discuss the proper way to handle those big feelings. Is the proper way to cry sometimes? Heck yes! Is the proper way to let your emotions get so out of control that they are disregulating themselves? Probably not. So, in those cases, we work through other coping techniques. Experiencing emotions is the first start toward beginning to raise emotionally healthy boys.
Anger Can be Controlled
While we’re on the topic of emotions, it is important to teach boys that anger can be controlled. For some reason people have found it acceptable for men to be overly agressive, rude, and belittling. This occurs in the secular world a ton but, unfortunately, I have seen this in the Christian community more than I would like to admit. This “we are men, get out of our way” mentality doesn’t line up with Scripture and my boys are going to follow Jesus’ example of being a peacemaker, keeping a level head, and loving even the most frustrating of Pharasees. In their anger, they will not sin. (Ephesians 4:26) It can be controlled.
Girls Can be Friends
I hate the sexualization of children that has become so previlent in our culture. Somehow it became acceptable (and even funny) to bestow adult ideas of relationships and sexuality onto kids. The “baby boyfriend and girlfriend” idea, the shirts that sexualize nursing or make “hey baby” jokes, the commenting that a baby girl is going to be a heartbreaker when she grows up… These are all grossly inappropriate! How are we expecting children who have been raised with these improper views of the opposite gender and sexualtiy to form healthy friendships with the opposite gender?
I want my boys to be kids and to see all children around them as kids. This includes girls. They don’t need to be thinking of girls as either gross or as girlfriends. They don’t need to wear shirts that say “chick magnet” or “lady’s man” while attempting to befriend little girls. They don’t need to separate girl games from boy games or be teased about having a girlfriend if they’re friends with a girl. Girls are people. Girls can be friends.
Do my boys naturally gravitate toward other boys? Of course! But, even so, they welcome girls into their games without a second thought.
Bodies are Normal
Bodies are private and sacred but, at the same time, bodies are normal. Culture has distorted sexuality and caused an unhealthy and preverse view toward bodies, especially female bodies. My boys are being raised to see female bodies as private but not taboo.
They are always free to ask any question about bodies and, oh my goodness, they take advantage of that. We have had science lessons (that included looking up drawings of milk glands) about how women produce milk while I was nursing their baby brother. We have talked about how women pee without having a penis when they’ve walked in on me using the bathroom. We have talked about how babies are born since I’m pregnant again. I know it won’t be long before we have to talk about how the baby gets in the mama in the first place and I *think* I’m ready for that conversation.
I want my boys to come to me or their dad with their questions instead of heading to google or their friends. I want my boys to see women as people, not as bodies. I praying that this helps lesson the draw toward p*rnography and helps them have a healthy view of sexuality when they’re at that stage of their lives.
Anyone Can be Nurturing
My boys are all about super heros and dinosaurs but they also love their baby dolls and play kitchen. There’s no reason to pull them away from activities they enjoy, even if they are nurtuing, “girl” activities. Honestly, I don’t believe there truly are GIRL activities versus BOY activities.
Boys can (and should) practice being nurturing from a young age. My boys see their dad sharing household responsibilities like cooking, doing laundry, and cleaning. They experience their dad changing diapers, reading them stories, cuddling them, and putting them to bed. How can we expect boys to grow into men who do all those things if we don’t give them room to practice as boys? I WANT my boys to grow into men who are gentle, know how to help out around the house, and are able to care for children.
What things help you raise emotionally healthy boys?
If You Liked This Post You Might Also Enjoy:
- Raising Strong and Courageous Boys
- The Privilege of Being a Boy Mom
- How to Talk to Your Child about Difficult Topics