Why I Think Telling Boys Not To Cry Is Just Plain Bad Parenting!

Posted: May 29, 2017

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Do you catch yourself telling boys not to cry? These ‘good’ boys are growing up to become silent, ‘strong’, grim men who are unable to handle any emotion!

The other day, my son who is 8 years old was clearly being upset about not being able to attend his best friend’s birthday. He had all planned it out for so many days and due to some family emergency, his plan had to be ripped. He was very sad and cried to his heart’s content. All the elders in the family were very expressive over his outburst.

“Are you a girl?”
“Are you a small child?”
“Why are you crying?”
“Boys don’t cry?”
“Only the girls cry!”
“Grow up! Be a Man!”

Something stuck me there! Why can’t a boy cry? Crying is just an emotion. An expression of sadness. Girls and boys, men and women feel sadness alike. As adults, we create a barrier. We tell our boys to grow up and not to cry. We teach them that expressing emotions especially sad emotions is a weakness. We expect from them to accept everything in stoic silence. We tell them, males are supposed to be tough and crying is a sign of weakness.

Telling boys not to cry, without giving them a way to release their pent up emotions, we are giving them a strong and clear message that expressing sadness is wrong, expressing emotions is wrong.

The result we get is Men who hide up emotions, keep stuffing them, bottling them inside, and men who lack an ability for intimacy. We teach them not to show emotions and then when they grow up, we complain that they are so distant and unemotional.

In a stark contrast, if it is your little girl who cries, mums and even dads will sit with her, listen to her complete woes, each and every detail – and let her release all her emotions till she is done. When she grows big, she will have her whole circle of friends who will let her repeat her whole saga till it cheers her up. So, we as females will constantly replay the emotions in our head even when we will not have anyone to share.

When faced with a tricky emotional situation, we women will want to talk it out, shed tears and release all emotions. In a similar situation, if I see males in my family, they would be totally grim-faced, silent and would want the whole family to just become invisible till they feel like talking again.

So, in such a situation rather than a family supporting each other, it will be a crying wife who will need someone to talk, a husband who is stoic and uncomfortable over his wife’s crying, who will want to be left alone. The female will keep dwelling on the situation while the male will tend to ignore and act as if there is nothing to discuss.

Shedding tears helps us to release stress, anxiety, grief and frustration out of our system.  Stocking up emotions inside is harmful both for the body as well as the mind. People who tend to bottle up are at greater risk of diseases such as depression, heart disease and hypertension.

Studies have found that crying helps release ‘endorphins’, the feel-good hormones. So, a good crying will make you feel light and better.

So next time, you see your young boy crying, let him do it to his heart’s content. Encourage him to speak up his emotions as there is nothing wrong with expressing what you feel. If he feels sad, let him say it. There is nothing unmanly in speaking your emotions. Telling boys not to cry is wrong.

Let your boys cry.  Let us raise a generation of sensitive emotionally available males.

And let we girls learn from boys not to dwell and move on swiftly as they do.

Image source: pixabay

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Doctor by profession, I am a mother of an eight-year-old boy. Reading and

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  1. Raksha Paharia -

    Brilliant ! Thought provoking article.

  2. Dear Men and Boys, we need to stop letting women define what a successful healthy man\boy is, This is not how you handle emotions with a small boy. Men aren’t equipped with the same emotions as women. Yes they are similar but they affect us differently. If you allow a boy to cry he will grow up with a victim mentality. He’ll cry when life gets rough instead of weathering the storm and eventually seeing to the construction of a brighter future. As Men we need to forge our own path, especially emotionally. Just because addressing your emotions as a woman is ultimately best for your quality of life early on. It is the exact opposite for boys. As a man your feet will be held to the proverbial fire for the first 25-30 years of your life, and crying isn’t an effective way to keep your feet from burning. Sets a bad precedence.

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