with author Friends of Ricki
breaking the boy code
As the mother of two boys, Ricki is not only open in talking about the joy they bring to her life, but also the challenges they face as they navigate the world of adolescence and impending manhood. So when Friend of Ricki, Marie Roker-Jones, shared her passion for "Raising Great Men," we were all about giving her a platform to share her message. Let us know what you think and how you think we can all contribute to raising strong, emotionally available, confident men. -- Team Ricki Jackie
Friend of Ricki Marie Roker-Jones: As a mom of a teen boy, I'm pretty used to one-word responses, but when my son is hurt, I feel helpless. My son, like millions of other boys, subscribes to the “boy code,” that unwritten code that makes boys believe they shouldn't talk about their feelings. Any why should they think differently? Our society doesn't exactly make it easy for them to express themselves with all the social "DOs and DON'Ts." All these rules do is create an environment where those boys who do allow themselves to be vulnerable or sensitive end up feeling teased or ridiculed.
Think about it. When many boys express their feelings at an early age, they are told to “man up,” or at the very least, not to cry. There is such pressure for boys to conform to societal norms of being strong, assertive and emotionally in control. These restricting gender roles have negative effects on boys and affects their relationships in adulthood.
A 2011 study done by the University of Missouri found that many of the 2,000 boys who participated felt that talking about their feelings is useless and a waste of time, something most moms of boys have known all along.
So how do we change this way of thinking? First, we need to help boys to break away from the boy code.
• Provide healthy outlets for boys to express themselves.
• Validate their feelings and assure them you are a safe and loving resource to express their emotional needs.
• Help them see the value in communicating their feelings, which will slowly dispel the myth that equates crying with weakness.
• Encourage fathers, uncles, grandparents and male friends to also share their feelings in a more productive manner which, by offering comfort to boys in time of need will, in turn, will help them become better roles models of empathy and compassion. Fathers have a huge opportunity and responsibility to show boys the various facets of manhood and redefine masculinity for their sons.
If we teach boys at an early age that it's safe, natural and healthy to discuss their feelings, they can avoid communication problems later in life with their spouses and significant others.
Where do you think parents struggle when raising boys?
Marie Roker-Jones, a Certified Breakthrough Parenting® Instructor and Intrinsic Coach® in Health and Wellness, is supporting moms of boys in creating a legacy of responsible, respectful and compassionate men. Her blog, Raising Great Men, provides real talk about raising boys to become men of character. Connect with Marie on Twitter and Facebook.