Raising Boys

There is something inherently wrong with the way we raise boys. Don’t fuss, we’re all guilty; you and I, family, and of course, society. At one time or the other, we have heard, thought or uttered the words “he wasn’t man enough” or “he was too emotional” or “he did not know how to be a man”. From childhood to adulthood, the male species of human beings hear the phrase “Be a man” as often as Christians (should) murmur The Lord’s Prayer. It is so wrong that it’s painful. We do not realize that this culture of paying little to no attention to the emotional needs of the male child is a setback to society at large. It affects almost everything they do especially when it comes to building meaningful relationships and sustaining them.

You see, when a baby boy is born, he is not treated as delicately as a female child would be. He is loved, cared for and handled like an egg until he gets weaned, after which he is expected to “Be a man”. From my observation, mothers are usually more sensitive about the grooming process than fathers are; the latter is often preoccupied with equipping his little one with the ammunition needed to “be a strong man” (I forgot that we still fight animals for food) who can single-handedly provide for his future family. So once a baby boy receives his first haircut, it’s done! He will be told to “Be a man” until he gets married.

I think it’s okay to teach boys how to be strong, brave, fearless and all that but what is not okay is this apparent desensitizing culture that goes on throughout a boy’s life. We constantly turn our minds away from the emotional turmoil boys face in their lives. Did you know boys get raped too? Compared to the number of women who have been courageous enough to talk about their experience, how many raped males have made the headlines? Yes, we live in a patriarchal society but that does not mean that as women, we should persecute the persecutor. If we cannot raise men who know that a single mother deserves to be paid equally to a man in the same position, then there is a problem. If we cannot raise men who can see their mothers in every woman and therefore act against their predisposition to regulate things pertaining to women, then there is a bigger problem.

“Be a man” is a very vague phrase and should have no place in tomorrow’s society (for our children’s sake). How do you teach someone to be a man? What is a man? A tall, sturdy bark that is incapable of expressing emotion? A short, stumpy tree that should show no morsel of emotion? What is “a man” really? I’m curious.

Boys/men deserve so much love and care from infancy through their youthful age to resist the peer pressure that majority of them get caught up with. They need to be brought up in a way that encourages them to speak up when confronted with life’s toughest puzzles instead of battling in silence. They most definitely need guidance on how to resolve and come to terms with any unsettling emotions they feel. Until we hug our male children as much as we hug our female children, we are unknowingly raising a generation of “emotionally unavailable monsters”.

All my love,
- Memkoh