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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

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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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