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10 Things Parents Should Never Tell Their Boys

10 Things Parents Should Never Tell Their Boys

Imagine parents bringing up their boy as a boy and a girl! One British couple has decided that all the gender stereotyping has gone far enough. They will let their boy play with dolls, play rugby or do whatever he wants. He can also wear a pink tutu, if he so wishes. The only problem here is that this boy will go through hell at school as he will be mocked and bullied when he does not fit in with boy stereotypes.

Now this is one extreme view of gender stereotyping. It’s also a selfish one as the parents are putting their political and social beliefs at the top of their agenda, rather than the boy’s welfare. But what can parents do to raise boys so that they have a more balanced and tolerant view of their own sex and their female counterparts? They should also be made aware that there are alternatives to the classic negative stereotypes. In this way they will not grow up sexist. They will make better partners and fathers. Here are 10 things parents should remember to tell their boys.

1. What a great boy you are

There is some very good advice in the book by Christia Spears Brown called Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes. She recommends that parents should avoid always pointing out the gender differences, rather than the similarities. The problem here is that if parents always refer to their sons as boys, they are laying the seeds for gender stereotyping at a very early age. It is a better idea to call them ‘kids’ and also call him “What a smart kid” instead of “What a smart boy.”

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2. Let’s invite only boys to your birthday party

If parents start on this trend, it will be difficult for boys to mingle and socialize with girls. Mixed birthday parties are perfectly natural and a preparation for having female friends. Encouraging mixed-gender playdates is also a good idea. Boys will be drawn to more creative games and girls will do more outdoor play. The same principle holds when parents are considering sending their sons to a boys only school.

3. Women have to stay home and look after the kids

When a boy comes home and tell you that all “Girls are stupid”, ask him why he thinks that and what exactly happened. If parents never question these early erroneous stereotypes, they can easily lead to prejudice and it will be difficult to eradicate. It is also a good idea to encourage kids in role play activities to let boys take the role of the stay at home dad who is looking after the kids. Remind them that there are lots of working moms. This helps to break the mould of gender stereotypes.

4. Touchy feely stuff is only for girls

Boys are usually not encouraged to touch each other in a playful and affectionate way because that is considered a girlish thing to do; unlike Italian kids who are taught from very early on to express their affection physically. I remember a British father warning his boy not to hug his Italian male playmates. “Just a handshake will do”, he told his son! Parents need to show that touch and physical affection is healthy and reassuring.

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5. Boys don’t cry

Our society is so rigid that boys simply do not cry. There is no healthy outlet for their emotions. The fear of letting a boy cry is paramount to raising a “Mommy’s boy” and that is disapproved of in our sexist culture. Peer pressure also plays a big role in that boys have to be seen as tough and stoic. That is cool. It starts at the age of four or five and lasts right through to adolescence and even into adulthood. But this attitude does not build emotional resilience to fear, disappointment and pain at all. It actually stunts their emotional growth and it is a false bravado. Figures show that boys are at greater risk of suffering from depression and low self-esteem.

What can parents do? They can be much more supportive and show the boy that they will always be there when things get tough. This will encourage them to talk about their problems. There is nothing wrong with talking about fear and disappointment. Fathers can also tell their boys “Sometimes, I feel like crying too.”

6. Arts and crafts are only for girls

Boys can be creative. We may be limiting their potential by not letting them play at arts and crafts which are traditionally considered a female preserve. Girls and boys should be allowed to try all activities. I read recently about a male British journalist who was introduced to the wonderful world of butterflies by his father. He had to keep his collection top secret so that his male friends would never find out!

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7. Men don’t have to cook

If household tasks are rigidly divided from early on, then boys will grow up with the idea that certain tasks are only for the men, such as repairing things and doing more manual jobs. Boys will therefore never learn to cook or even bother to do any household jobs. The best way is to be good role models where all the household jobs are shared and there are no fixed boundaries. Everybody, including the boys, has chores to do and the tasks are equally divided among the siblings.

 8. Girls always look nice and cute

As boys get older, you can talk about how the sexes are always portrayed the same way on social media, video games and especially on TV commercials. This only reinforces the message of negative stereotyping. Talk about this and ask your boy if decorative and pretty females are truly representative of the real world. There may be some very clever girls in his class. Ask him to think about how men are frequently pictured as being in charge, competent and tough. Is this always true?

9. Don’t play with those girly toys

The Australian Greens party ran a successful campaign , called No Gender December, in the run up to Christmas and the mad dash for buying kids’ toys. The reason they did this was to prevent gender inequality setting in at an early age. Later on, this can lead to unequal pay for women and even domestic violence. It just makes sense to think of kids’ toys rather than girls’ or boys’ toys but this will take time. Watch the video here where one father encourages his boy to play with traditional girls’ toys. Buying kids toy blocks will help them develop spatial and math skills and nobody cares what color they are!

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10. Boys have to protect the girls

Why does the Prince always have to rescue the Princess from the dragon? Finding stories and books which portray a less sexist view of the world is not easy. But the story by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko called The Paper Bag Princess is an excellent example where Princess Elizabeth rescues Prince Roland from the dragon. She also walks into the sunset by herself! But there are other ways we can raise awareness among boys that it is not always a pink /blue world. Show them examples of female astronauts, male nurses, female mechanics and male violinists.

Have you been able to make your boys aware that pink and blue worlds are extremely limiting? Let us know in the comments.

Featured photo credit: Everett – Ten Months/ Kevin Stanchfield via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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