Parenting Little and Big Boys


My boy recently turned 8. It was quite possibly the most emotional of his birthdays for me, and I have been wondering why ever since. It felt like a bigger milestone than the others, although 8 is not considered a traditional ‘coming of age’? The soft blonde hairs on the back of his neck, the strength in his legs and his will have all become more noticeable. At times his emotions still overwhelm him, and he still sucks his thumb a little at night or when super tired. Is he really a big boy now?

I saw this meme and instead of just sharing it on Facebook I popped it in here and started typing! Sadly I know many of these ‘angry men’, and men who just cannot process or express their emotions. I see so much hurt being caused due to all of this, a lot of it in my own family. Conversations with any depth or meaning are simply impossible with these men.

It saddens me deeply, to think that so many lives are being damaged due to a lack of emotional intelligence or basic compassion for self and others, in so many of our boys and men. How can we as parents turn this around and play a part in raising boys who can handle their own and others emotions in a healthy and wholesome way?

Parenting tips, style, advice or anything on the topic can be loaded these days! As a Mamma who blogs, I am (overly) sensitive to this and hope to inspire, not instruct. I am finding that there is a bit of a gap in the blogosphere when it comes to parenting our bigger boys though. The online world is brimming with baby and toddler inspo, yet light on the deep and meaningful when it comes to our boys getting a little older.

I recently came across this post. It blew my mind a little. So many of this could have come straight from my own concerns about our boys, our children. The world seems determined to straighten them up, ‘fix them’ of their wildness. Their wildness does not need fixing, it needs nurturing.

FROM The Wildness of Children:

“When we first take children from the world and put them in an institution, they cry.

It used to be on the first day of kindergarten, but now it’s at an ever earlier age, sometimes when they are only a few weeks old. “Don’t worry,” the nice teacher says sweetly, “As soon as you’re gone she’ll be fine. It won’t take more than a few days. She’ll adjust.”

And she does. She adjusts to an indoor world of cinderblock and plastic, of fluorescent light and half-closed blinds (never mind that studies show that children don’t grow as well in fluorescent light as they do in sunlight; did we really need to be told that?)

Some children grieve longer than others, gazing through the slats of the blinds at the bright world outside; some resist longer than others, tuning out the nice teacher, thwarting her when they can, refusing to sit still when she tells them to (this resistance, we are told, is a “disorder.”)

But gradually, over the many years of confinement, they adjust.

The cinderblock world becomes their world. They don’t know the names of the trees outside the classroom window. They don’t know the names of the birds in the trees. They don’t know if the moon is waxing or waning, if that berry is edible or poisonous, if that song is for mating or warning.”

Our boys tears, questions and objections desperately need to be heard and felt and held gently. 

Can we as parents, families and communities create joy in the spaces out side of the systems that seem set up to steal our boys joy? Yes we can! We can lead by example, be the joy, influence the systems where we can. If we do this in a positive and inspiring way then we can also go a small way towards shaping the way our boys see each other and the world.


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1 Comment

  • Kate Goldsby

    As a mum and step-mum to 4 Boys (2-14yo) I have seen the gamut of emotions and struggles as we wrestle with ‘growing up’. I feel the pressure we mummas and families are faced with from society in how we parent them.

    But I agree, cause and effect, seeing the results of ‘Boys don’t cry’ on grown men – breaks my heart.


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