10 Things Mothers should teach their sons
I find it sad how the stereotypes persist. It is still very common for male clients to see me because they have no one else to talk to. They feel pressure to “act like a man” and cope with everything, not show “weakness”. I find it sad that men acknowledging that they are human, sometimes don’t cope and have emotions is something society still feels uncomfortable with.
This prompted me to out together a list of important lessons and skills that all boys should be taught when they are growing up to help them turn into balanced, caring adults.
1) To show empathy
Boys who grow up with authoritarian fathers are especially at risk of losing their ability to show empathy for others. Strict fathers who discourage emotion and encourage ‘manliness’ and who consider feelings as weak will inevitably teach their sons to lose that aspect of themselves. Teaching boys that being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to be able to understand what they are going through is a very important social skill, not a weakness. Boys who learn about empathy enjoy more rewarding relationships with others and tend to be happier than those who can’t display empathy.
2) To express emotion
Boys are still taught to suppress natural emotions. Many of my male clients have explained that they were taught to “suck it up” as boys and deal with bullying from others and harsh treatment without getting upset.In order to cope, boys learn to shut off their emotions in order to cope with the distress they feel and as a result you end up with a man who is emotionally unavailable. I see them all the time in my private practice. These men are often isolated and do not know how to bond with others. They often end up dealing with their loneliness by drinking too much alcohol, becoming workaholics or doing drugs, gambling and so on. The other alternative is a life of never committing to someone as they fear intimacy. The way our parents treat us affects how we form attachments with others. Teaching boys that it’s okay to cry, to be sad and to express how we feel leads to balanced healthy adults.
3) Not give in to stereotypes
Learning to honour themselves and their quirks is fundamental to self confidence. Mothers should teach their sons to like who they are and to have a healthy acceptance about their natural inclinations. Trying too hard to fit in creates a follower, not a leader. If they enjoy dolls when they are younger, don’t suppress it, let them explore and become who they were meant to.
4) How to be okay with being different
We all face pressure to fit in and be like everyone else. Boys feel this especially when they are teenagers and many begin to change who they are in order to fit in at school and not be picked on. Encourage your sons to embrace being different and to follow what makes them happy irrespective of whether others will approve or not. This may be subdued when they become teenagers but the groundwork you have laid down will be worth it in the end and will begin to emerge after the teenage years of chaos.
This is one of the most important lessons for your children. Life is all about balance – it’s not all work, not all play. It is about quality of life though. The more your children understand themselves the easier it will be for them to find hat makes them happy as adults.
6) Maximise strengths, minimise weaknesses
Mothers should teach their sons from a young age to focus on what they are good at and to realise that no one is good at everything. Teaching children this skill helps them to be more optimistic as adults.
7) Have a positive interpretation of failure and rejection
Society places so much pressure upon us to be amazing, be rich and gorgeous and to get it right the first time round. We may aspire to this but it is not reality. Success is very rarely linear and success means different things to different people. Mothers should teach their son/s that failing at something means they are living and experimenting..better that than hiding and not growing or learning at all.
8) Expand horizons
Travel more, have adventures…. have fun. Pushing outside our comfort zones is the best way to become confident in our abilities.
9) See change as a challenge
Mothers should teach their sons to embrace uncertainty and change. It is a mental skill of the resilient people in the world. Teach your children resilience from a young age. It’s no big deal if something doesn’t work out and it’s important to see change as an opportunity to be curious and learn more about life and ourselves. Be a good role model and show your children that you aren’t afraid to put yourself into new situations and try new things even if they make you anxious.
10) Worry less
Worrying sucks the joy out of the present moment. Learning that worry is a waste of energy unless it is solution focused and productive can save years of misery.
We falsely assume that worrying will somehow keep us safe but we all know that no amount of worrying will stop some disasters from happening. Learning to cope with uncertainty is far wiser – you can do this by telling yourself regularly that you will be okay and that you will deal with whatever comes your way. Remind yourself that you are resourceful and powerful – you have a voice to speak, a brain to facilitate action, a life to live as you choose and a heart to help you make decisions in your best interests, to motivate you.
Worry less, enjoy the moment and aim for the best quality of life possible for your boys.
Don’t be afraid to approach women etc