There have been some comments about Gavin crying so much that sometimes it isn’t clear whether he is a girl or a boy. It has been making me wonder if I molly-coddle my son too much and whether I need to be tougher with him. I think a lot of it has to do with society’s gender stereotyping with ideas that boys don’t cry – or at least they shouldn’t. The expectation that boys need to “suck it up” is not healthy. According to Baby Center:
This attitude does boys a real disservice… Boys raised with this approach can become emotionally stifled and stay that way as adults.
In recent years, girls and women have been encouraged to be more assertive and decisive… But there hasn’t been as much encouragement for men and boys to take on more feminine traits, such as showing emotion.
Statistics have always shown that more women have psychological problems and it was assumed that this is because women were more prone to the afflictions of the mind. It is now believed that this may be a misrepresentation because less men are forthcoming with their problems and are less likely to seek help. I think this is largely because of the way men have been raised – not to show emotion or weakness. Any medical problems associated with the mind are viewed as weaknesses rather than a true medical problem.
So perhaps raising our boys to believe that boys don’t cry is not the way to go. If a boy is crying, he should receive the same attention and concern that a girl would. We should be glad that our sons are able to express their fears and hurts rather than trying to get them to repress their feelings.
Personally, I would prefer for my son to express his feelings and be open with me when he’s scared or hurt. However, I don’t want him getting teased at school for being a “sook” or a “wuss”. So where do we draw the line?