Let’s say you're a parent and want to raise your son to be a good man, but there are different opinions on how to do that everywhere you turn. You're feeling overwhelmed and under pressure to do it perfectly, but you don't know where to start.
It's okay. You don't have to do it all. Just start with what's important to you, and let the rest go. And if things ever get too tough, remember that you're not alone. There are plenty of other parents out there who are just as overwhelmed as you are.
No one has all the answers when it comes to parenting, but that doesn't mean you can't raise a cool young man. Check out these tips for raising cool young men, and see what works for you and your son.
In recent years, a lot has been said about "toxic masculinity" and the need for young men to be more emotionally intelligent and in tune with their feminine side. But what does that actually look like in practice? How can you, as a parent, raise a son who is respectful of others and doesn't buy into harmful stereotypes about being a man? Here are a few tips:
Encourage Them To Express Their Emotions
One of the best ways to counter toxic masculinity is to encourage your son to express his emotions. Too often, boys are taught to bottle up their emotions and "be a man," which can lead to toxic masculinity. Instead, encourage your son to express his emotions in healthy ways, whether that's through talking, writing, drawing, or anything else that works for him. If he's sad, let him be sad. If he's angry, let him be angry. The goal is to help him learn how to process his emotions in a healthy way so that they don't come out in destructive or harmful ways later on.
Teach Them That There's More To Life Than Winning
In our competitive society, getting caught up in the idea that winning is everything is easy. But that doesn't do anyone any good in the long run. Teach your son that there's more to life than winning and that losing is a part of life, too. Help him to develop a healthy attitude towards competition, and encourage him to participate in activities that he enjoys, regardless of whether he wins or loses.
Teach Them That It's Okay To Be Vulnerable
Too often, boys are taught that they have to be "tough" all the time and that they can never show any weakness. As a result, they grow up thinking they have to hide their emotions and put up a wall to be "real men." But this couldn't be further from the truth! It's perfectly okay for your son to show vulnerability. In fact, it's something that will make him more relatable and likable to others. Just make sure that you stress the importance of using good judgment when it comes to who he shares his vulnerabilities with.
Teach Them About Consent
Another important lesson to teach your son is about consent. Consent is when someone agrees, in an enthusiastic and sober way, to engage in an activity (sexual or otherwise). It's important that your son knows that he always needs to get consent before engaging in any kind of sexual activity, no matter who it is with. There’s a nice video about consent from the UK using the concept of drinking tea.
Teach Them To Respect Others
One of the most important things you can do for your son is to teach them to respect others. This includes teaching them to respect women, people of different races and ethnicities, and people with different abilities.
Encourage Them To Be Supportive Of Others in Need
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to teach your son how to be a good ally and support others. This means standing up against discrimination and bigotry in all its forms, namely when it's directed at people that are put down. It also means being an active bystander if you witness someone being bullied or harassed. Helping your son understand how important it is to stand up for others will not only make him cool, but will also make him a good person.
There’s even a really good documentary you can watch called “The Mask You Live In” that can give even more actionable tips. The trailer is here at this link.
So, what can you do as a parent to raise a son who isn't a jerk? The tips outlined above are a good place to start. But it's important to remember that raising children is an ongoing process, and it takes time and effort from home and the community to be successful. So please, don't give up if things get tough. Continue to encourage your son to be emotionally intelligent and inclusive, and praise him when he exhibits qualities like respect and compassion. And most importantly, lead by example! Show your son that you're someone he can look up to and emulate. Let him see that you're kind, compassionate, and respectful of others, and he will likely follow suit.
When our sons were in middle school, a friend--the father of twin girls--told me that all the girls in school loved our boys because they were SNAGs--sensitive new-age guys. My theory about why: they could see how I treated and respected their mom and my mom, and downloaded the message. Now, that our boys have grown into men, we have received thank-you notes from their girlfriends for raising just the right kinds of men. Yes I’m bragging about them, but with good reason given the Elliot Rogerss of the world. Thank you for the jerk-proofing tips. I only hope they sink in societally.
I only have a daughter so I can’t speak to this. Recently a dear friend of mine’s second son in junior high has been exhibiting a lot of anger at home. Neither her eldest son or brothers ever acted this way and it’s getting to her. I will share all this with her as I know she will find it useful.