Raising boys who feel empowered.

Is there anything more uncomfortable than seeing someone who identifies as male being emotionally vulnerable?

Think about it. If you see a younger boy, a teenager or a man who is being emotionally vulnerable, what is your reaction?

Do you think “That boy,kid,man needs to suck it up” “Man up” “Stop crying and be a man”

Or even worse yet “I didn’t know they felt that way.”

If you ever ask that last question maybe pause and ask what steps you could have taken to find out how they felt about something. Don’t place your generic and average societal views on a situation that is unique to that person and their emotions.

I’ve been raising 2 sons for 15 years and unfortunately I’ve seen all the above in real time and furthermore have experienced societal judgement in letting my own sons have emotions to which I reply every time:

Oh Hell No.

I have a highly emotionally charged family. Two of us emotion *outward* and 2 of us emotion *inward.* If you’re personally familiar with my family at all, it’s not going to be hard to distinguish who is who in that scenario.

Regardless of how we as a family experience our emotions, they are all valid and important to acknowledge and most importantly, SUPPORT.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been made to feel “less than” as a parent for letting my kids MY SONS have emotions and then take steps to support them in society while they are still young and without authority.

I see conflicting views of how we should raise our boys. I hear “Don’t raise the next mass killer” next to “That boy needs to suck it up and move on.”

Honestly, I’m tired of it.

And more so, I don’t care how you’re going to judge me for supporting my sons to have emotions in any way they feel they can. I am their support. I am their ear, their advocate, and their voice until they are listened to by society that deems them “not ready yet” for their own self advocacy.

I am raising my kid to have emotions and a voice. Are you ready to listen.

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Parenting Norms aren’t One Size Fits All

Sometimes parents fall in to what I call “parenting norms” and forget to self-examine their intentions.

Let’s say your kid starts playing the trombone at 10.  A parenting norm would say that you have them practice every day for 10 min. or whatever is required.

And, I suppose for music proficiency, this is also a good idea. But what if this isn’t a good fit for the child?

What if the kid likes to play music without all the pressure and nagging of practice? What if the pressure and nagging to practice sucks the joy of music from their lives? Was it worth it?

It’s ok to change the goal to be “let my kid enjoy music however they want.”

We’ve become a parenting society that dictates if your kid isn’t performing at the top level of the topic then it’s looked at as a waste of time and money. The result of this is claiming ownership to our children’s success in activities and in turn using this as proof of parenting proficiency.

I’m not referring to the kids who find themselves enveloped in a passion and want to put work into achieving a personal level of success. I have one of those too and that’s different.  Kid led motivation and fulfillment is the goal.  

Sometimes kids like to play a sport, play an instrument, have a hobby for the fun of it, and not the competition of it.

Can we, as parents, let them?

Can we put aside our own goals and dreams of what we want them to accomplish and allow them to grow passions and talents on their own time frame?

I think the time frame has a lot to do with it. Parents expect X growth or proficiency in X amount of time.  We look at other same aged kids who might have more development and make that OUR goal for our children.

I mean, we’re paying with our time and money so shouldn’t we expect something in return?

Maybe not.

Or maybe the payment is your child playing cello, soccer, chess, 5 years later, not at the top performance levels but at a level that fulfills them with passion and happiness.

I don’t know a parent who doesn’t put their kids happiness towards the top of their parenting goals. Because when they become adults, we want them to be happy.

Maybe we can become more aware of the parenting norms we fall for that dictate a false social standard towards “childhood success.”  We pause and decide what is best for our own family and child situation. We can stop comparing our kids and taking ownership in their success as our own. We can start letting happiness and joy be the goal and let that grow organically.

How can we start? Let your children lead the way because as much as you think you know them, they know themselves better.

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The Education Pressure Cooker- Stop the Insanity

There’s a buzz around our community about the pressures that students in our community are under.

There is some illusion that only the most “well rounded”  4.something gpa holding, captain of varsity sports and spends summers in southern Uganda curing ebola gets to choose the college they want to attend.

This same line of thinking leads to kids as young as 8 studying for standardized tests.

Parents enroll their children in additional Saturday schools, enrichment programs, and curriculum specific tutoring.

They are disappointed in a C. They are most happy with A’s.

They repeat stories of “Their child needs to live up to their potential and that if their kids just worked harder, they too could get better grades”

That sounds like “No winning or pleasing that parent 101” to me.

Education

Better grades = better test scores = better college = better life?

What expense are you willing to pay for that result?

Are you willing to put your kid’s passions aside so they can become the best version of what you want them to be?

It’s time to look hard in that parenting mirror and make some choices.

Decide to truly support your children in both their strengths and weaknesses, passions and dislikes or decide to continue the rat race to push your children towards society generated definitions of success.

The irony is that we live in an area of highly successful, hard working, and really stressed out adults.

We know better. It’s time to do better for our children.