By Megan Loden
Well, 2019 is officially over. As most of us have been, I am reflecting on this past year. I am looking for things to carry with me into the new year, things to improve on in 2020 and things to drop altogether as I change the calendar.
Don’t you just love this time of year? The New Year with all of its hope and promise? A chance for a fresh start? I would, except for the fact that I don’t know a single soul (myself included) who has ever actually made good on a New Year’s resolution past January with any kind of consistency. I really meant to get my ass to the gym more than 8 times from February through December. Honest.
I am proposing a collective resolution for 2020. Can we all possibly agree to just let boys, even men, have their feelings? Can we just agree that calling an 11-year-old a princess when they wear a crown at a birthday party is wrong? Can we agree that calling a 9-year-old boy a tough guy when he holds back tears after falling and gashing his leg open may not be the best way to inspire our boys to feel their feelings instead of replacing sadness, disappointment, fear, and hurt with anger or a shake it off attitude? If you say you’re only joking when you call your boy a princess, I hear you and I respectfully ask you to take several seats. This is decidedly NOT funny and it hurts. It hurts the boy they are today and the man they will one day become.
Many of us have that grandparent or family friend who laughs and throws out a comment when a little boy carries a doll or even (gasp) cries when he falls. Maybe a toddlers’ own father tells him to “be a big boy” so he won’t cry when he’s hurt or scared. The intention here may be good. After all, kids at school will surely pick on him if he allows a tear to fall when he tumbles off the slide ladder at recess. Again, I hear you. Again, take several seats.
If we all agree to stop this labeling and blatant disregard for basic human emotions based solely on gender, maybe, just maybe, their peers would stop too. Kids learn these behaviors somewhere, and if their parents weren’t modeling the behavior, the kids would never think of it on their own.
When was the last time you saw a 2-year-old point and laugh at a 6-year-old boy for choosing the pink car to race on the hot wheels track? Maybe now is the time to tell Uncle Steve to shut the hell up when he calls your 8-year-old a baby for crying. Better yet, avoid Uncle Steve. He sounds like an asshat anyway.
My boy has a reputation, even in my own family, for being “too sensitive.” In truth, he is sensitive. He is also kind, sweet, funny, and downright brilliant. But sensitive is ALWAYS listed as one of his qualities. I think the bigger revelation here is that he is no more or less sensitive than his older sister, and yet her sensitive nature is almost never commented on.
If you have a sensitive boy like mine, you may have witnessed this crazy phenomenon I am beginning to see in my guy. When someone, peer or adult, comments on his sensitivity or calls him a baby, he argues with them momentarily, as if he has to justify his feelings to everyone around him all the time. Then, he caves and joins in, making fun of himself right alongside whoever is present. Talk about breaking a mother’s heart.
So, how about we all decide to focus a little more on the positive aspects of our boys feeling all the feels. Let’s lead by example and nurture this side of them. Let’s show them that crying over pain, sadness, or fear is just as acceptable for men as it is for women in 2020. Let’s do this by starting with boys and girls alike. Let’s make this our collective New Year’s resolution and stick to it.
About the Author
Megan is a stay at home mom taking motherhood one day (read: glass of wine) at a time. When she isn’t busy embarrassing her teenaged twins with her mere presence, she can be found obsessing over her 11-year-old son or talking to her dogs and cats while her husband answers on their behalf, voices and all. She can be found on her Instagram, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Her writing can be found on Twiniversity, on BLUNTmoms, and on Scary Mommy.