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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 Not only are they unsupported and quite stereotypically outdated, they may actually be harmful in a personal way.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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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