Be a Man pt. 2
I often ask boys what they think the phrase "be a man" means. Sometimes, I hear stereotypical responses like "being tough," "never giving up," or "providing for your family." But more recently I have been hearing more nuanced answers such as "being aware of your emotions," and "showing respect." My goal with the "be a man" question is not to shame boys for wanting to feel strong, but rather to start a dialogue around the fact that none of these traits are inherently tied to any gender.
I think we are doing a good job of teaching boys to be flexible in their interpretation of masculinity, and we need to keep getting better. Continually teaching boys that we value when they communicate their feelings, and modeling healthy emotional expression, are just a few of the big goals here. We also remember that this is a multigenerational process - we are teaching boys to be dads who will then teach their own boys.
If you are reading this, take a moment to tune into your emotions today. If you are a parent reading this, tune into your child's emotions today. Show them how important their feelings are to you and how much you value them sharing with you.