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10 Things You Should Never Tell Your Sons Even Though Many People Do

10 Things You Should Never Tell Your Sons Even Though Many People Do

This is the 21st century and as the old television and magazine commercial from many years ago indicates, ‘we’ve come a long way, baby.’ Well… maybe not! It seems that although we want to believe we have made tremendous strides when it comes to stereotyping the sexes, we may not have come as far as we think we have. Perhaps nowhere can this be more proven than when it comes to the everyday subtle or not-so-subtle instructions we give our own children.

We may not want to face it, but it is true. Many of us still, even in 2015 carry some pretty sexist thoughts, especially when it comes to the roles that we expect our children to carry on. Not only are they unsupported and quite stereotypically outdated, they may actually be harmful in a personal way.  One book that tackles ways to parent children in a gender-free way is Christia Spears Brown Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes. Below is a list of 10 everyday things we are guilty of telling our sons, even though we shouldn’t along with strategies for how to send a more stereotype-free message.

1. Boys don’t cry

This one tops the list. Not only is it incorrect and sexist, it is unhealthy. Evidence continues to pile up in study after study that links physical illness with repression of emotions. These negative physical symptoms and ailments most definitely do not show any preference for genders. Crying is a very healthy and appropriate way to release some deeper and more intense sadness, fear and grief and it harms everybody, including our beloved sons, if we instill inhibitions for crying in them.

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2. Don’t act like a girl

Although similar to telling our sons not to cry, this is much wider in its scope and much more clearly separates behaviors into gender-type categories. We should be grateful that we no longer live in a time when there are some powerful societies that do not hold to any fast and steady rules for what girls and boys are supposed to do throughout their lives. Once again, we can call on professionals in the field of mental health profession to back up that there is no harm in young children choosing one activity over another. Girls who play in dirt don’t turn out to be more aggressive later in life. Similarly, if our sons prefer creativity or more domestic activities than ‘traditional’ male interests, there is absolutely no cause for alarm.

3. Grow up to be just like daddy

Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh on fathers, but there are other models in the lives of our sons who may very well be more appropriate than daddy. Many of us are fortunate to know both men and women who are highly successful and just all-around great people. There are some dads that choose not to play a significantly positive role in their son’s lives. The emphasis should not be on creating a little mini version of dad or any other person, for that matter, but rather to encourage them the choice to be their unique and individual selves.

4. If anybody starts a fight with you, you need to know how to fight back

Two wrongs do not make a right. While none of us wants to see our children taken advantage of in any way, instilling the need to raise up hands to fight, even in the case of self-defense in a school-yard brawl, may not be the best advice parents can give their young boys. There is absolutely no shame in choosing to talk things out rather than resorting to aggression as a defense. There is absolutely no shame in teaching problem resolution skills before we each how to throw a hook or an uppercut.

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5. Boys have to be tough

Not necessarily. There is something quite appealing about vulnerability which can be seen as the opposite of being tough. There is a lot of courage in vulnerability. Although we still see a lot of the stereotypical behaviors and reactions, there are those that already realize that some vulnerability brings people closer together to one another. Teaching our sons that it is okay to be human and not have to feel the pressure of pretending to be the “rock” is a good choice.

6. Boys don’t have to express their feelings

Yikes! Communication is gaining more and more recognition and significance in successful relationships all the time. We don’t have to go far to see it in the workplace as well as in our personal lives. Learning to express feelings openly and appropriately is one of the most valuable things we can learn if we are to share our lives with others in a meaningful and purposeful way. By giving our sons an easy way out and letting them think it is not something they have to work on, we are doing much more harm than good.

7. Boys will be boys

This may be true, but if it is, perhaps it is because of poor advice that we provide them with. Boys will actually be men, and it is not a good idea to continue to permit behaviors based on a preconceived notion of acceptance that is grounded in someone’s gender. When we let our sons know that we already hold strong, preconceived notions, such as indicated by expressions such as this, we are setting the mold for them and preventing them from being themselves.

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8. All girls want is a rich man

There are many problems with this type of thinking. First, we are not helping raise children when we speak in absolutes such as “all” or “only.” It is that type of thinking that perpetuates stereotypical thinking and keeps us apart rather than brings us together. While there may be some women looking for a man to support them, there also are women who are looking for the exact opposite, a man who will help them further their own careers. It is a good idea to think about where, as a child, you yourself developed this type of thinking and rethink whether you still truly believe the negative advice you are spewing. Perhaps you will find that you have outgrown some of these negative gender images yourself and that even you don’t feel they apply.

9. More is better

We live in a world that is highly materialistic even though times may be rough economically. By teaching our sons that a man’s value is measured by his financial wealth, we devalue other characteristics and qualities that ought not go unnoticed. While it is important to teach our children how to become independent and contribute to society, it is important to help them see value in things other than money and objects. Nobody has proven that the one with the most toys wins. In fact, some of the world’s most important people are not known for their wealth and materialism, but their philanthropy and altruism.

10. Look for a cute girl

Just like there are many other qualities to a man than toughness and being the breadwinner, there are many things that can make a person attractive other than looking like a Hollywood star or Barbie doll. It is important to help our sons learn what qualities and characteristics they personally find attractive such as a someone good in sports or a great listener or maybe even one who is smart or clever when it comes to academics. Letting our sons decide for themselves what type of person they find themselves attractive to is a wonderful gift we can give them.

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By teaching our sons that people are people – that it is more important to focus in on our similarities rather than our differences, we not only become better people individually, but when the time is right for us to partner with others in different aspects of our lives, we are better prepared to do so.

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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