Caring for the Emotional Health of Boys

Many of us Rocking Over 40 women are moms to tweens and teens. We know all too well that during this time, our kids start pulling away from us in an effort to be more independent. This post is for you if you’re a mom to a boy.

I recently came across this article by Charlie Hoehn that shook me to the core and gave me a lot to think about.

In the article, the author goes on to say that “we are a culture that continually neglects the emotional health of our boys and our men.” As a result, we have an “unhealthy ideal of masculinity that results in loneliness.”

You see, we live in a society that berates males for any sign of weakness because part of the masculinity ideal teaches boys from an early age that “real men do everything on their own. Real men don’t cry. Real men express anger through violence.”

While gender roles are evolving and changing for the better, we still live in a society where gender-conditioning is quite prevalent.

As a mother of two incredibly amazing and talented boys, my husband and I have always encouraged our kids to be expressive and vocal about their feelings whether they’re feeling happy, sad, or angry.

That it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to be emotional. That they should express their emotions, talk about it, and not let their feelings bottle up inside.

But the rules are different out in the “real” world, more so for my tween son than my younger one.

It can be a dog eat dog world in middle schools and high schools and most boys conform to what is socially acceptable and act accordingly – don’t show your emotions, don’t be needy, be indifferent, be cool, be a man, grow some balls, toughen up, and so on.

As my 12-year old son is transitioning from a young boy to a full blow teen, sometimes it feels like he is putting on a mask every day.

It hit home with the fewer kisses, fewer hugs, less talking, and pulling away during drop-off at school.

Check out the documentary “The Mask You Live In” which nails this sentiment precisely. See the trailer below:

The Mask You Live In – Trailer

I don’t know what the solution is.

I don’t want my boys with that mask permanently etched on. I don’t want them to grow up feeling isolated or being indifferent and lonely.

What I do know with 100% certainty is that I want them to be comfortable in their own skin and it all starts at home.

We are the ones that shape our children’s beliefs and values.

As women over 40, we have lived long enough and have the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to impart on them. Teach them that courage and empathy are ultimately the sources of real strength in a man (and a woman).

I am grateful to have a husband that is a strong role model and giving our sons the right messages about being a man. Not only does their father embody mental strength, courage, and empathy, but he reminds us all each and every day, that being your true self is enough…always.

We would love to hear from you…what are you doing to raise an emotionally strong boy?

Rock on!



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