It’s more convenient to pass buck when it comes to taking responsibility but consequences always remain unto whom it will affect. There is a lot of craze about teaching our daughters basically to be the perfect wives. Our African mothers put a lot of pressure on daughters only because they feel girls need a stamp of approval to be accepted in the society. The empowerment for the girl child is another topic on its own but for now, it has become imperative to draw our consciousness to the boy child. What are we teaching our sons?
I strongly believe that a good man is raised by a queen. Mothers aren’t perfect but they do their best however they feel is necessary for the children. Having said that, a queen is an exceptional woman who raise children of excellence, loving them as well as building soldiers for the benefit of the society even though it may hurt her too sometimes to be rigid on setting the right precedence. The end always definitely justifies the means.
Whether boy or girl, one thing is common – emotions. I remember my son telling me years ago, ‘mummy, someone beat me in my class’. I asked him what he did after the person beat him and he said, ‘he went to the back of the class of cried’. Well, that can either be a sign of decency or timidity, depending on how you choose to look at it but that singular conversation made me realize that he might need self-defense classes to be able to stand up for himself. But I said to him, ‘next time someone beats you, report to your teacher and distance yourself from people or situations that bring tears to your eyes. The more weak people perceive you are, the more they take advantage and bully you’. He hasn’t come back to narrate any such story since then. That doesn’t give me confidence it didn’t happen again but he knew better than to confess his timidity to me again without putting up a defense. We need to teach our sons about the dealing with emotions of both themselves and influencing others around them.
Boys generally feel and believe they are tougher than girls. They think they are a protector of some sort. This is good because it means they are acting out their masculinity. However, there is a point, like with every other thing when too much macho should be discouraged. I read on twitter a couple of days ago where someone said ‘too much masculinity in our sons is the reason we stay up worrying about our daughters at night’. Engage your son regularly, let him freely speak his mind without betraying yourself. Chances are you’ll pick a few wrong impressions you can begin to correct from an early age. We need to teach our sons that while developing that tough manliness, they need to be thoughtful about other people around them. Everyone is as much human as they are.
Fighting taekwondo, playing football or basketball are popular sports that most healthy boys want to engage him. These sports give them a sense of freedom, exerting as much energy as they want without restrictions and most importantly, it builds their sense of self. Encouraging a sense of self, without pampering or buttering, is one of the best things you can do for your son that will continue to stay with him even longer than you are around. However, while pampering is a no-no, encouraging and giving that pep talk is important every now and again until your son becomes fearless at attaining his goals and dreams. We need to teach our sons to freely express themselves without being timid in any situation or circumstance.
Love can be unconditional, it can also be reciprocal. In the 21st century, it is often reciprocal. Love begets respect and vice versa. It’s not just ok to grow into a man thinking women deserve you because they are less human than you. This again boils down to teaching our sons that although a husband is the head of the family, a wife is no less respected and consulted in that home for progress and happiness to thrive. When a man thinks he deserves something just by the virtue of his masculinity, issues such as pride begin to play tricks on his mind and he becomes compelled to take things without consent or permission. This is why you often find boys violating girls or giving ultimatums to friendship with the opposite sex without regret to the other person’s feelings or self-respect. How do you teach respect to a boy? Children often learn by what they see, drawing conclusions from interactions, from things they hear you say and from grey areas you leave to their imaginations. While teaching by example is good, some boys learn under more stern conditions by their rough nature. In this case, there is need to set standards and rules concerning certain things just to put them on the right path. We need to teach our sons to respect others around them.
No matter how tough or rough a son demonstrates to be, there is always room for affection and moments of vulnerability to be shared with him. Even though women are queens trying to raise soldiers, there should be moments of sharing special bonds between a father and son or a mother and her son. More importantly, there’s need to emphasize to our sons that there no absolutely no weakness in showing love and affection toward the special people in their lives. Their comfort level at showing affection toward their parents and siblings, to a large extent, can determine how they grew to be generous lovers or husbands in future. We need to teach our sons that there is no weakness in showing affection.
All boys grow into adults, but only some grow into men. Men put their families and friends above their own well-being, and will stand up for what they believe in, always. Men have integrity, and always act with the best of intentions. They may have a tough exterior, but on the inside is a caring, selfless person willing to do anything to make his loved ones comfortable and happy. The world would be much better with more responsible men. So what are we teaching our sons today?