In today’s culture, tremendous pressure is placed on boys to behave in certain ways. They’re asked to display and express only certain emotions, and are judged and mocked it they display certain other emotions. We do this to boys without even realising it, and reinforce that message in small ways.
Boys are expected to be independent, active, aggressive, strong and to take charge. We encourage our sons to be open, honest, and to feel deeply and yet we feel hesitant when he’s ‘too’ sensitive, likes dance and drama, or shows any hints of softness or ‘femininity’
Boys have a deep need to feel a sense of belonging in social groups. They want to fit in and feel accepted. Cultivating this sense of belonging leads to tight friendships, which is great, but in the wrong circles of friends, can lead to gangs. Boys constantly battle to work out their place socially, fighting to figure out where they fit in the tihg mold which society paints regarding what it means to be ‘cool’ or be a ‘man’.
In studies, parents are interviewed and asked how they would treat their sons and daughters differently, in certain situations. The parents thought they’d treat their sons similarly, but when answering, they realised just how differently they would treat their sons. In one group study, a father said he likes it when his son has strong views, and shows his independence, and that he would rather see his son looking like he is in control, rather than worry that he doesn’t feel in control.
How to help your son emotionally
Be a stable, supportive go-to place
Let your son know that he can come to you to discuss any issues he is having in life. Be a person of integrity whom he can respect and trust. Discuss your issues in life from an objective point of view for study, but don’t offload on him – you have friends for that.
Keep your relationship with him open and healthy
Prioritize spending time with your son – doing activities together as a way to build relationship and to talk while busy. Let him know how important he is to you, and that you value your relationship with him. As a family, work on ways to keep your relationships healthy and solid. Eat meals as a family, go on internet-free, mobile-device-free holidays together.
Understand the pressures he faces
Drive your son and his friends to their social events. Listen to them talking while you drive – the best place to learn how they think and feel. Have your sons’ friends over for meals and family socials, and get to know the type of people your son enjoys hanging out with. Knowing his friends and understanding how they interact will give you more of an understanding into what he likes and strives for, as well as a deeper place of understanding from which to talk to him about his issues and social problems, and his feelings surrounding those.