I remember being 5, and having a playdate with my best friend. He was a boy. He fell and skinned his knee, and when he started to cry, his mom said “big boys don’t cry“, and he stopped. He sniffled a few times, took a shaky breath, and stood up.
I think that term has been used over the years to teach boys to be stronger, only it’s misguided and what it actually does is teach them to repress their feelings of sadness and pain. Anger is an okay emotion for boys to display, but tears are not. Tears are not considered masculine enough for our “tougher sex”.
When I found out I would be having a son, I instantly started to worry about the pressures society puts on boys and men. Be strong, all the time. Don’t cry, boys don’t cry. Men don’t cry, babies and little girls cry. That mindset didn’t sit well with me.
We have raised generations of men that do not know how to express their emotions properly. They display anger when they should display sadness, worry or fear. Every emotion, save for happiness, is expressed with anger. When was the last time you saw a movie where in the leading male shed a few tears because he’d lost his leading lady? If there are tears, they’re always associated with a wall punch or two, but it’s usually just the later emotion that’s displayed. Anger.
I don’t want that for my boys. I want them to feel free to express their emotions in healthy ways. When my sons cry, I get right pissed off when people around us mock them or tell them “big boys don’t cry”. Actually, everybody cries…or everybody should.
We need to stop telling little boys to stop crying. We need to stop having them repress their emotions and we need to start teaching them that emotions do not make you weak or less of a man.