Category Archives: Men

The Quiet Rage Inside Boys

AngryMan
We’ve heard it before: “He was quiet and kept to himself.”  Then we hear about an unthinkable crime committed by a young man who no one would ever suspect of such a heinous act. These tragic events leave us confused and searching for answers.

We ask ourselves, “What went wrong ?” What is triggering this violent reaction in boys and young men? Can it be prevented? The truth is we don’t always know what’s going on in the minds of boys. Many boys have been conditioned  for years to suppress their emotions and to hide their pain. From the time they are able to walk, stumble and fall, they are told not to cry.  When they feel any kind of distress, they also feel the burden of emotional suppression. They are discouraged from showing any signs of weakness, vulnerability, or fear.

Boys are shamed for showing any emotion that is not “manly”.  They are pushed them to “man up” but don’t give them the tools or resources to deal with whatever anger, resentment or pain that is troubling them. They are left to their own devices and ignore the signs that detect something may be wrong. We forget that for each tragedy, there is a generation of  boys that are so desensitized to pain and suffering, that they are emotionally detached their suffering and the suffering of others.  Before they know it, they’re on a path to self-destruction.

Because of our society’s stigma of mental health issues, boys often hide the fact that they are depressed. Parents may miss or overlook signs because their son knows how to “cover up” what’s really going on in his life.

It bothers me that we get so wrapped up in debating about gun control and violent video games that we overlook the greater need for quality mental health care, especially for males. We talk so much about what needs to be done, but we do very little.

There is no one solution to stopping these mass killings. There are too many factors to consider. From a parent’s perspective, we can start to communicate better with our sons to gain a better understanding of their emotional life. We can not assume that because they seem to be emotionally stable and have self-control that  everything is fine. As parents, we can not ignore masculine isolation and our son’s silent cries. We need to pay better attention to their emotional needs.

We need to have better mental health intervention and to create mental health awareness for boys. Let’s retire the archaic thinking that  “real men” are emotionally stoic. We can no longer wait to address the mental well-being of boys. We have to model empathy, help boys to sort through their feelings and most importantly give them an outlet  to express their fears and pain. Boys need to know that they can deal with their personal grievances without hurting themselves or others.

 

Boys Are Not Broken Girls

 

PinkBlueClothes

Last week I posted an image on my Facebook Fan page, that read: You Don’t Have to Be Anti-Boy to Be Pro-Girl. It made me think of  how people usually react when they hear that I write about and conduct workshops on raising boys to become successful men.

People are either delighted to hear that I have taken on this initiative or they ask me why am I doing this when girls are the ones who need help. I don’t like to engage in gender wars because I think they do nothing to help build better gender relations. However, I am disturbed by women who  feel that it in order to support girls, they must devalue boys. Don’t they see how this way of thinking is just as detrimental as the misogynistic thinking of some men.

Right now, girls and women are outranking boys and men in education and employment.There are more young women in college than there are young men. 57% of students in postsecondary educationare women.

I don’t want to get into a numbers game with this blog post, I just want to bring awareness to the fact that if we as adults want the next generation to have  better gender relations and gender equality, we must not widen the gender gap by alienating boys or dismissing their needs.

I started Raising Great Men because I wanted an outlet to share with other moms of boys on how we can work together to ensure that we raise compassionate, respectful and responsible men. As a black woman, I have faced racial and gender discrimination, but instead of letting it make me bitter, I used it as a catalyst for change. I am raising my sons to become men who appreciate and value themselves and others regardless of race or gender.

I am teaching my sons self-respect as well as respect for others. I pray that parents of girls do the same. It’s not okay to be pro-girl and anti-boy. It’s not okay to give girls negative messages about boys. For those who have asked, yes, I would think the same way I do now if I had daughters.

When boys and girls grow up to become emotionally healthy, confident and successful adults, it benefits our world. We can’t continue to ignore that right now boys are at a disadvantage. We need to have honest discussions about how we can help boys without feeling threatened that it will take opportunities away from girls.

Most importantly, we need to prepare boys for life as men by encouraging them to be themselves, by teaching them according to their learning styles, and by supporting their emotional needs.

Let’s remember to see the world from a boy’s point of view and help him to become the kind of man that makes the world a better place.

 Do you have to be anti-boy to be pro-girl?

 

 

11 Things I Want My Sons to Know Before They Become Fathers

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I have a funny pin on Pinterest that pretty much sums up my responsibility as a mom of boys.  I think sometimes we get so caught up in raising our sons, that we forget that these boys and young men will one day be husbands and fathers.

We forget that each moment we share with our sons are teachable moments. We forget that we’re not just raising children, we’re leaving a legacy. I want my sons to learn from my accomplishments as well as my failures and challenges. I want them to understand that parenting is not a chore but a responsibility.

1. Love=Action

I want my sons to know that although gifts and words are nice, nothing spells love like spending quality time with your children. Don’t try to buy your children’s love by lavishing them with gifts. Your children are not a burden.  The time you spend making money for your family can never replace the time you spend with your family.

2. Don’t Be an Enigma to Your Children

Take the time to talk to your children about yourself and your life. Don’t keep them guessing who you are. They shouldn’t find out things about you after you’re gone. Let them get to know you. Tell them your story so they can share it with their children.

3. Share What You Know

Your children will learn more from your mistakes than from your success. Give them insight into what you’ve learned. Share your skills, experiences and your talents.

4. Keep Your Children Out of Adult Conflicts

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t put your children in the middle of your conflicts. Even if someone else is doing it, be the bigger person. Don’t force your children to choose sides.

5. Be a Husband and a Father, Not a Baby Daddy

Things happen but I hope that you’ve been paying attention enough to know to protect yourself.  Make sure you know who you’re getting involved with before you make a commitment to a relationship or parenting. Make sure your relationship is healthy and balanced. You want to bring your children into a home filled with love and peace.

6. Change Your Vocabulary From “Me, Mine, My” to “We, Us, and Our”

Once you become a parent, you relinquish your right to be selfish. You can not expect life to go on as normal. You can not expect others to pick up your slack. You have to compromise and make sacrifices.

7. Have Realistic Expectations of Your Children

Your son or daughter doesn’t have to like or enjoy the things you do. Your children are not miniature copies of you. Don’t try to live vicariously through them. Support their dreams.

8. Parenthood is Not About Perfection, But About Trial and Error

You’ll never really get it right. No book, expert advice can help you as much as being active and being involved in the lives of your children.  You’ll make mistakes. Your children will challenge you. You’ll have power struggles and disappointments.

9. Your Children Will Learn More From Watching You Than Listening to You

Practice what you preach, otherwise your children will think you’re a hypocrite. They’ll watch everything you do and how you treat others.

10. Listen More Than You Speak

Your children need you to listen to them and respect their thoughts and opinions. Your children need to know you’re paying attention to them. What your children have to say is just as important as what you have to say.

11. Don’t Let Society Define Your Role as a Father

Society and the media will present to you how you should think or behave as a father. Do what is best for your family.

I do my best each day to walk the walk as a parent. I know that my sons need me to guide them and give them the tools they need to become great fathers.

What do you want your son to know before he becomes a father?

 


Only a Dad- A Father’s Day Poem

Onlyadad
Photo courtesy of Flickr

I love this poem by Edgar Albert Guest. It exemplifies what a loving dad is to his children. The poem talks about a dad who despite facing the challenges of life still comes home to spend time with and enjoy his children. We are reminded that being an involved dad is a full-time job.

Only a Dad

By Edgar Albert Guest

Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice.

Only a dad, with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent, whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad, but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men.

Teach Your Son to Be the Change in This World

Did you know that in 2011, only 23.5% men volunteered compared to 29.9% women? (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Labor Force Statistics)

What's sad is that this percentage has not risen in 2 years. I strongly believe that we need to teach boys to be altruistic at and early age. This helps them to be more empathetic and  have compassion for others .

When my teen son was younger, I would look for volunteer opportunities we could do as a family. Now, that he is older, we guide him to serving others by matching his passion with an unmet need in the community.

When Clever Girls Collective sent out information about a campaign for Members Unite, I jumped on it because I knew it was something that I could do with my son and help continue our goal of teaching him to be of service and change the world in a small but effective way.

Members Unite is is a collaborative action network that empowers you to have a bigger impact on the issues that are important to you. I like the concept of reviewing projects and voting on which project should receive the funding of the collective donations. It's a great way to support people's ideas, endorse projects and make a difference.

Not only is Members Unite a cool way for your family to get involved in interesting and projects,  you also engage with others who are looking to support  worthwhile project. You can choose to be a basic member, which is free or you can become a premium member.As a premium member,  100% of your monthly contribution (as low as $5.00) goes to supporting projects. Every month, the project with the most votes gets the funding.

My son and I enjoyed the easy process of membership and that we also enjoyed discussing which projects to fund.  We rated four projects and are still deciding on which one we will vote for to receive $5,000.

Our favorite projects are

  • Provide supplies teachers need for classrooms through DonorsChoose  Teachers
  • Provide training to dogs to support to wounded American veterans and those suffering from PTSD  Vets

 

  • Help spread happiness by distributing 1,000 smile cards to people to remind them to do something kind  Smiles
  • Provide 20  Guatemalan infants with milk for 500 days  Baby

I like that each project is unique in nature and that we get to discuss each project in depth to decide which cause would greatly benefit from the money.  It was interesting to watch my son get so involved in reviewing the projects. He thought it was important to think about how the $5,000 would be best utilized. It also felt good to know that our small contribution would help fund the winning project. We are looking forward to next week, when we will find out which projects are moving to the next round.

I encourage you to become a member of Members Unite and involve your son in the process. Let's make it our goal to increase the number of men who are involved in charitable works in the years to come.

 

 

Are We Pressuring Boys to Man Up?

Manup

Ignorance  annoys me. I am most annoyed when I see mothers berating their young sons for crying or showing any emotion when they are hurt. You really expect a three year old to "man up" when he is hurt?  I particularly see this in the black community, where there seems to be a fear that having a boy that is sensitive and not aggressive is an indication of his sexuality. Get real!!  I once saw a mother allow her baby to play with a stranger's pit bull to demonstrate his bravery. She kept telling the dog's owner, "He's not afraid. He's a man." Really?

How could you not expect a toddler or young child to cry when he is hurt? This concept of not crying or showing any emotion is contributing to so many boys and young men being stoic and aloof. This misconception that boys should be tough and rugged may lead to their inability to empathize with someone else who is pain. Why are we raising boys to have so much aggression?  There is so much violence within certain communities and it can be attributed to this theory that a real man doesn't show his pain.

The truth is that most boys are more sensitive than girls. They're just not allowed to express their emotions. Boys are easily agitated but suppress this agitation by becoming sulky and moody. Even when experiencing distress,boys will not open up about the problem. 

Let's stop conditioning boys to believe that they have to be  like The Tin Man from Wizard of Oz. The world doesn't need any more emotionally immature men running around. 

15 Things Great Men Learn From Their Mothers

Greatness

1. How to Love- You may be your son's first love, but you won't be his only love. Great men love themselves and other unconditionally.

2. How to Resolve Conflicts- Great men learn how to resolve conflicts amicably. They understand the importance of allowing others to have an opposing view.

3. How to Tell the Truth- Great men know lying breeds more lies. They live honest lives and stand up for the truth.

4. How to Keep Promises- Great men don't over-promise or under-deliver. Their word is their bond.

5. How to Be a Change Agent- Great men don't complain about situations, they do something about it. They don't wait around for someone else to make a difference.

6. How to Learn From Failure- Great men know they aren't immune to failure, but they don't allow failure to consume their lives or destroy their dreams.

7. How to Be Giving- Great men are not selfish. They know how to give lovingly in relationships.

8. How to Deal With Their Anger- Great men do not waste time or energy getting angry in unhealthy or uncontrollable ways. They know how properly deal with their anger.

9. How to Take Action- Great men do not rest on their laurels. They continue to improve themselves and strive to make the most of their lives.

10. How to Take Healthy Risks- Great men do not play the safe game. They know how to gamble on life the right way.

11. How to Be Responsible- Great men don't need to be reminded to take care of their responsibilities.

12. How to Have Self Control- Great men know how to wait. They are able to control their behaviors, desires and emotions. They know how to fail gracefully.

13. How to Admit They're Wrong- Great men own up to their mistakes and apologize accordingly.

14, How to Be Accepting- Great men don't expect perfection and accept others regardless of their differences.

15. How to be Spiritual- Great men know that their greatness comes from a strong spiritual foundation.

 What are you doing to raise a great man?

Are Gentlemen An Endangered Species?

The other day I rode the elevator with a man who darted off as soon as the doors opened. "Nice manners", I thought. From the time my oldest son was a toddler, we have been teaching him about manners, sometimes to a fault. He holds the door for people, who often do not respond graciously.  More than once, I have reprimanded an adult who did not feel it was necessary to thank my son. I don't know if it's just a NYC thing, but I've noticed that manners are becoming a thing of the past.

Is it not cool to be a gentleman? How much effort does it require to speak and act respectfully towards others? How much effort does it require to offer a pregnant or elderly woman a seat, open a door or pull out a chair at a restaurant?

Learning manners are part of informal education. It's taught in the home.  Unfortunately, popular culture doesn't reward good manners or respect so some boys  don't feel the need to behave like a gentleman.  It's no easy task to teach boys manners, especially as when they become teenagers and are more concerned with the approval of their friends. However, as adults we need to keep reinforcing manners and modeling appropriate behavior for boys. 

For men who need a refresher on the etiquette of a gentleman, may I suggest reading this article on Ask Men.com or joining the Facebook Group, The Gentlemen Movement.