The time is changing and so is the need to change your parenting methods to raise your son. Earlier, the society made it a point to instill notions like ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘don’t act like a girl’ or ‘man up’. But over time, it has been discovered that such notions can only bring toxic masculinity in men that do them major harm emotionally.
It is extremely important and difficult to raise a boy into a good man. The world is not a safe space for many in today’s time and it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their son is away from it. Their young minds are vulnerable and easily impressionable. They can be influenced by the violence they see on the media or even in games. They can get on the receiving or giving end of bullying and social media shaming.
It is more important than ever to make sure to notice changes in their son’s behavior in their growing age. To make them respectful, sensitive, and good humans, the very first step is to change the societal norms. Make it okay for your son to be emotional and show his emotions. Stop using derogatory terms like ‘like a girl or gay’. Teach them equality, acceptance, and tolerance.
The stereotype of men being the epitome of strength is old-school. The so-called-machoism that influences young boys at every step needs to be revoked. This is a challenging task, given the amount of glorification of such stereotypes performed on-screen. The typical ‘hero’ saves the damsel in distress and the world is too outdated but sadly, still in mainstream storylines.
Enroll your son into programs from a very early age. There are reformative programs designed to sensitize boys and educate them about harassment, dating violence, and consent. It is important that they learn about empathy, gender equality, the difference between healthy and toxic relationships, and more.
It is important to note that girls are shamed for being ‘tomboys’ in the same way boys are demeaned for being ‘sissy’. Instead of letting external factors influence them with the meaning of masculinity, educate them about humanity.
What Can Parents Do
More than anyone else in the world, parents can make their son learn and unlearn everything. Believe it or not, your kids learn consciously and subconsciously everything from what they witness at home
If you are a heterosexual couple raising your child, make sure you have set the gender roles right. Never let your son believe that women are meant to do the household and men are meant to be the breadwinners. Educate them that anyone can be whatever they want to be.
As LGBTQ+ parents, ensure that your child is fully aware of the community and know its struggles and victory. Also, it is proven that kids with parents from the LGBTQ+ community are often bullied. Such bullying can turn into something horrific if not paid attention to. The kids can become violent or extremely submissive.
If you are a single parent, you have the responsibility of being a mother and father both. Ensure you provide your child with a double amount of understanding, sensitivity, and empathy. Never go overboard with anything and make yourselves a support system for each other.
The basic fundamental of life that is respecting other humans with their class, gender, race, ethnicity, etc. can be taught by parents from the youngest age.
Things to Make Sure
Ensure that you abstain from stereotyping your son. Playing with dolls is as okay as crying and wearing pink. Think twice before uttering words like ‘that’s not manly’ or ‘sports are for men’. And when you are done thinking about it, don’t say it.
Do not impose your choices and decisions on your son. He may not be interested in sports or science and like writing. Encourage him to do what he likes and loves. Always listen to what your child has to say. Make him express his fears, anxiety, and sadness. Keeping emotions bundled up inside is the biggest toxic for any human.
Help your son by providing them help and share your own experience with them. Let them know about your struggles and failures and not just your success. Let them know how you overcame it and what they can do if they find themselves in the same situation.
Remember to say ‘I Love You’ to your son always. It is emotional and always leaves scope for your son to know that you accept them in good and bad.