As parents, a lot of the things we should and should never say to our sons and daughters can have a huge impact on their lives. And if we want to raise boys to become respectful, kind people, we need to make sure we’re talking to them respectfully and kindly too.
While this seems easy enough, a lot of the seemingly innocent things we say have bad connotations to them. They can be quite toxic and damaging, even if we didn’t intend to hurt them.
In this article, we’ll be making you more aware of everyday sentences we should never say to our sons. We’ll be explaining why they are bad things to say and highlighting their short-term and long-term effects. We hope you can self-reflect on the things you say as a parent with this article and work harder to raise your son/s well.
1. “Man Up.”
This term is not only harmful to little boys but for little girls as well. It teaches them that only boys are supposed to be strong and that girls are inherently weak. It teaches them that if they don’t handle things properly, they’re less of a man—this is an awful thing to imply as they are only children trying to make sense of the world around them! Instead of pushing them further when they’re already feeling down, we should be encouraging them to get back up again.
Instead of saying this phrase, we should set expectations. Little boys need to know what needs to be accomplished and what should be done to accomplish it. If they’ve fallen short of expectations, then encourage them to try again. This is a less gendered way of doing things!
2. “Stop Being So Sensitive.”
One of the reasons why men tend to have mental health problems as they get older is because a lot of them consider being sensitive and emotional shameful. Society has a harmful notion that women should be emotional while men more aloof, and that only encourages men to hide their feelings or not voice their problems to their loved ones.
So, the next time your little boy comes to you crying, take what they say seriously, even if the things they’re crying about are completely mundane. What you want to do instead is comfort them while evaluating their emotions. Is there a bright side to his problem? Is there a way to fix his problem? Is there any way I can help fix his problem?
You want to feel comfortable with him expressing his emotions.
3. “Big Boys Don’t Cry.”
On a related note, society often thinks that crying is a sign you’re too sensitive. But that’s not necessarily true—crying is a coping mechanism our brain employs. It helps us connect with other people who are experiencing the same things we are. It makes people more compassionate towards you, driving away anger or annoyance that made you cry in the first place. Crying also releases stress hormones through our tear ducts, which is why a lot of us feel loads better after a good cry.
Telling someone not to cry is like telling a gymgoer not to break a sweat! We should never tell our sons to not cry as it’s a form of emotional release you can’t emulate.
We’ve already talked about how this encourages boys to hide their problems. But did you know this also encourages boys to be more angry than sad? Having more anger than sadness will surely haunt them in the future as relationships are hard to maintain when people are angry. Anger management problems also usually lead to violence or abuse, whether physical or emotional.
4. “Boys Don’t Do That,” “That’s for Girls!”
There are a few inherently gendered activities if any. It’s our society that likes to assign genders to activities, and that severely limits how much our children can achieve. By actively telling a little boy he shouldn’t cook because that’s for girls and telling a little girl she shouldn’t play baseball because that’s for boys, you’re holding them down.
That type of mentality extends to adulthood too. Somehow, men can never be loving fathers because they lack the nurturing qualities women have. Women can’t juggle work-life balance because they need to take care of children at home. Let people do whatever they want to do as long as they’re not hurting others, we say! Let our kids explore their identities! You should never say to your sons not to do certain things because they can’t do them.
5. “Why Can’t You Be More Like Your Brother or Sister?”
This is one of the worst things we should never say to our sons as it hurts their self-esteem. They will be constantly made to feel like they’re competing with their siblings. They will spend their lives thinking they can never be as good as their brother or sister. This pushes them too hard, forcing them to feel exhausted trying to live up to their parents’ expectations. This also makes them feel anxious and nauseated because even if they do try, they won’t be as good as their siblings.
As you can imagine, comparing your kids too much will leave them with ill feelings toward their siblings or toward you as a parent.
Instead, you should treat your kids as individuals. They might all have the same mother, but they’re still their own person. You need to understand their needs, wants, and capabilities are different. Stop using a cookie cutter on your children and let them be free.