I don’t like the word “sissy”. The connotation is anything less than positive. One dilemma I have in raising boys is how to make them “brave” or “fearless” or able to leap tall buildings. Our society dictates that men (boys) should be masculine, not cry, and proactively defend what is theirs. Society dictates that men (boys) should not express themselves openly, discuss their feelings with others (if allowed to have them), or show any type of sensitivity. Well, I do all of those. Now, I’m not saying it is because I am a woman necessarily, but I cry over everything (commercials, bad things happening to kids, putting on my make-up wrong, not being able to find my keys, etc.); I want to talk in-depth about my feelings and emotions, ALL the time, I like to smooch and hold hands, and my feelings can get hurt deeply. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, how am I supposed to raise my boys to be the total opposite of who I am?
So, I put the boys in sports. I did not play sports. But my perspective says that boys play sports, although not all of them do. I’ve been trying not to reach for them when they fall since they were little, but it has gone against my entire constitution to do so. And I have given in frequently to soothe them. How do I tell Boy Wonder M and Boy Wonder E to man up, stop crying, when they see me cry just because I may be happy. But I do it because it is what is expected. I do it so that other boys don’t make fun of them. I do it so that they “fit in”. I am harsher with them because they are boys, and sometimes I feel guilty.
However, I hope to accept them for who they become as they grow. I want to know what my sons think and feel because they are people. At 7, they aren’t fully aware of all of society’s expectations. So while I fuss and nag and get irritated and lose my patience (and energy), I want them to know that their feelings count. If no one else cares about them, or if society gives them a hard time, I want them to know that their mom does care and always will. I will continue to foster open communication, will learn to take my cues from them as they get older for sharing, and validate that their thoughts, emotions, and feelings count and are legitimate.
Sometimes as a mom I think that boys have a hard emotional ride ahead of them where they have to stifle their true beings, and sometimes I don’t think it’s fair. Therefore, I want to be the sponge that absorbs all of their information and revelations, and the one that they can turn to, with no penalties to let their guard down. I will try to remember this the next time they are talking over each other to get their stories across to me and I brush them off….
Do you ever feel conflicted?