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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 Not only are they unsupported and quite stereotypically outdated, they may actually be harmful in a personal way.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 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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