Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Move Beyond ‘Man Up’ And Have A Real Gut Check With Your Son
Editor’s Note: This article by Carter Gaddis was originally published on Fatherly, a digital lifestyle guide for men entering parenthood.
Boys being boys — that’s been a thing for a long time. It’s how conventional wisdom explains why your sons do stupid crap, like spending the afternoon slapping each other until they cry. But despite what some deeply ingrained cultural stereotypes would have you believe, young boys are capable of big emotional arcs, from aggression to despair to compassion to sweet contemplation … to more slapping.
“Boys are capable of wanting to blow things up, set things on fire, make loud noises, jump off of things, and even make fart jokes — and all fart jokes are funny,” says Rosalind Wiseman, whose books “Queen Bees And Wannabes” and “Masterminds And Wingmen” are bestselling examinations of how traditional gender expectations can negatively impact kids. “That same boy is capable of deep love, deep feelings, deep confusion and desperately needing meaning in his life.”
Wiseman has taken note of a societal shift regarding boyhood. And much like Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age movie of the same name, there’s a growing acknowledgment of the deep, complex emotional lives boys lead and parents’ desire to engage on that level with their sons. It’s what previous generations would have called “coddling,” probably while hammering molten steel and chugging cask strength whisky.
But being empathetic and laughing at farts are not mutually exclusive. Here’s why you can hold both thoughts in your head at the same time:
Your childhood might not be the best model for your son.
Maybe your folks were the “boys don’t cry” type, telling you to rub some dirt on it and man up. And maybe you didn’t like how that felt. Rest assured that you are not alone, and you don’t have to repeat history.
“It is not uncommon for me to get very heartfelt, painful emails and correspondence from men who were in the military, bankers, truckers — very traditional male fields — who have said to me, ‘I want it to be different for my son than it was for me,’” says Wiseman. “‘I want to have a closer, better relationship with my son than I had with my father or my mom.’”
Avoid the parenting maxims.
“Do the right thing,” “Don’t disrespect others,” “Snitches get stitches,” “I’ll be back,” — any of that sound familiar? (That last one was from The Terminator.) More often than not, boys are told how to behave in tidy aphorisms that would fit on a bicep tattoo. But Wiseman says words are not enough. Parents have to lead by example and through thoughtful — and often extremely uncomfortable — conversations.
“What I think is frustrating is that really well-intentioned men were not taught beyond sound bites,” Wiseman says. “In my experience, that does not compute to boys. You have to go beyond that and ask, ‘What does it really look like for you?’” What if, due to circumstances beyond his control, that snitch doesn’t deserve stitches?
Don’t blame the internet.
Nobody asked to be born into a swirling, shifting culture of video games, mobile devices, social media, movies, TV shows, academic pressure, and emerging sexual expression, but that’s where your son is at in 2016, and it’s all very loud.
“It can feel overwhelming at times,” Wiseman said. “I don’t think we need to know every single thing about every single platform. I think we miss opportunities that are right in front of our face all the time. There are plenty of opportunities as a parent that are going to be springboards for conversations.” Basically, don’t assume that, just because your boy’s staring so intently into his phone, Snapchat is answering the questions that keep him up at night — just ask him what’s up. It’s way easier than figuring out Snapchat.
Recognize the teachable moments.
On a recent football Saturday in Boulder, Colorado, Wiseman and her two teenage sons came across your standard hammered Pac-12 football fan, who was having trouble walking in a straight line and being generally belligerent.
Wiseman turned this into a lesson on how even bros can be brotherly, and don’t always have to one-up the other guy. “His two friends were supporting him and actually were quite loving,” she says. “They very confidently, assertively moved him away from everyone else and were taking care of him.” Lesser men would have determined that this dude clearly needed dicks drawn on his face.
“I said, ‘Look at that guy. That college guy drinking can be a problem for himself and others. But look at his friends. Look at how these men are supporting one of their male friends.’ It’s about becoming attuned to those moments, and taking advantage of them when you can,” she says. Or like Mr. Rogers used to say, “Look for the helpers.”
The big lesson here: Men, even men doing manly things, can and should show compassion for one another in public without fear of social backlash. Even your anti touchy-feely grandpa would agree with that.
This article, “How To Get Beyond ‘Man Up’ And Have A Real Gut Check With Your Son,” originally appeared on Fatherly.
More articles from Fatherly:
- Those Sick Bastards How To Pick A Health Care Plan That Covers Your Kid And Won’t Leave You Broke
- I’m A Gun Owner And This Is What I’m Teaching My Kids To Do When They See A Gun
- The Blueprint Inspire Your Kid To Dig Even Bigger Holes In The Backyard With These 10 Construction Books By Elijah Brumback
New London — Retired four-star general John Kelly said that as President Donald Trump's chief of staff, he pushed back against the proposal to deploy U.S. troops to the southern border, arguing at the time that active-duty U.S. military personnel typically don't deploy or operate domestically.
"We don't like it," Kelly said in remarks at the Coast Guard Academy on Thursday night. "We see that as someone else's job meaning law enforcement."
These 'kamikaze' drones are believed to be the culprits of the attacks on 2 Saudi oil fields. Here's what we know about them
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Yemen's Houthi rebel group, part of a regional network of militants backed by Iran, claims to be behind the drone strikes on two Saudi oil facilities that have the potential to disrupt global oil supplies.
A report from the United Nations Security Council published in January suggests that Houthi forces have obtained more powerful drone weaponry than what was previously available to them, and that the newer drones have the capability to travel greater distances and inflict more harm.
The U.S. Air Force has selected two companies to make an extreme cold-weather boot for pilots as part of a long-term effort to better protect aviators from frostbite in emergencies.
In August the service awarded a contract worth up to $4.75 million to be split between Propel LLC and the Belleville Boot Company for boots designed keep pilots' feet warm in temperatures as low as -20 Fahrenheit without the bulk of existing extreme cold weather boots, according to Debra McLean, acquisition program manager for Clothing & Textiles Domain at Air Force Life Cycle Management Command's Agile Combat Support/Human Systems Division.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran rejected accusations by the United States that it was behind attacks on Saudi oil plants that risk disrupting world energy supplies and warned on Sunday that U.S. bases and aircraft carriers in the region were in range of its missiles.
Yemen's Houthi group claimed responsibility for Saturday's attacks that knocked out more than half of Saudi oil output or more than 5% of global supply, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the assault was the work of Iran, a Houthi ally.
Nearly a decade after he allegedly murdered an unarmed Afghan civilian during a 2010 deployment, the case of Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn is finally going to trial.