‘Boys will be boys’ is no longer acceptable in today’s times. Given the increasing rate of crime against women, especially those committed by men, it is imperative that today’s boys are taught to become better men tomorrow. The onus lies on parents to ensure this.
Here are some ways to build a strong character for your son:
Teach Him to Manage His Emotions
It is so common to see parents telling their sons ‘not to cry’ or ‘bottle their emotions’ because it is a sign of weakness. This feeling to act macho and tough guy all the time can mess up your son’s emotional health. Instead whenever your son is angry, upset or frustrated, encourage them to vent it out through crying, talking, journaling, meditation, dancing, etc. This will help them to manage (not control) their emotions better rather than expressing them through any form of violence or abuse.
Teach Him to Respect Everyone
Real men respect people through care and compassion. However, when they don’t have a healthy relationship with the opposite from a young age, they might find it difficult to develop respect. Teach your child to cultivate a respectful attitude towards all people, irrespective of their age, gender or relationship.
They should also know the importance of consent and boundaries, especially with women.
Break the Gender Stereotypes
Pink for girls and blue for boys. Dolls for girls and cars for boys. Girls should do housework and boys should earn. Childcare is only a woman’s responsibility. Men are providers and protectors. These are certain gender stereotypes that are consciously or unconsciously ingrained in boys’ minds and they carry it forward in their adulthood. Break these patriarchal norms right from their childhood and teach them that both men and women are equal. If you have both son and a daughter, make sure you treat them equally.
Boys need as much love, care and affection as girls do. Unfortunately, since boys are taught to stay tough and strong, they mistake affection for weakness. Hence, they shy away from expressing it or receiving it. However, make it a point to give them a hug, a quick peck or a tender touch as and when you can without making them feel embarrassed. When they receive affection, they will also learn to reciprocate it.
Be a Role Model
While there is no doubt that mothers can do everything in their power to raise their sons to be good men, fathers can play a more crucial role here. When boys observe their fathers participating in household chores and childcare, respecting everyone, treating women properly and expressing their emotions constructively, it sets a good example for them. They will grow up to believe that this is how men should be.
If you are a parent of a boy, do share your parenting tips on this subject.