Teaching Sons to Identify and Share Emotions

Moms, teaching your sons that they are permitted to feel their feelings is so crucial for their future happiness. This article from Harpers Bazaar, Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden, unpacks so much about what goes wrong when our sons learn that having feelings is not masculine.

  • They rely on their partners for emotional support, intimacy and even therapy. It can lead to burnout for their SO and end the relationship.
  • Men don’t seek out therapy when they need it. “Only five percent of men seek outpatient mental health services, despite feeling lonelier than ever before (in a recent British study, 2.5 million men admitted to having no close friends). What’s more, men conceal pain and illness at much higher rates than women, and are three times more likely than women to die from suicide. “
  • Shame for showing signs of weakness is the biggest cause of toxic masculinity, according to Brene Brown.

It’s not just men who buy into the idea that feelings are for sissies.  You’ve heard the moms that say things like “Football players don’t cry.” Perhaps you’ve said similar things (I certainly did), sometimes because of the cultural norms and sometimes out of your own desire to end the drama (dealing with children’s emotions can get tiring).

But if you want to give your son the best preparation for life, for having successful relationships, for feeling happy and secure, give them the gift of knowing that their very human emotions are okay. Help them learn how to deal with them both inside and outside the home. You’ll also be doing a great service to their future partners — indeed, the entire world.

“Normalizing the Hardships of Motherhood”

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, the day when the ideal of motherhood is celebrated.

On this day, the day after, let’s look at some reality: “Experts say the United States has the most family-hostile public policy of any developed country, and sociology professor Caitlyn Collins’ new research shows among Western industrialized nations, American mothers stand apart for their stress and feel the most acute work-family conflict.”

“Combine a lack of public policy with a culture that bullies mothers for everything from breastfeeding in public to sleep training, and the generosity of a single holiday starts to pale.”

“We celebrate moms who work to meet society’s demands, who overextend to fill in the gaps, who never cease sacrificing for those they love. But is this the version of motherhood to revere?”

These quotes stood out to me in this USA Today article, as did the following:

“People think motherhood is inherently overwhelming because we’ve made that idea seem natural,” said Virginia Rutter, a professor of sociology at Framingham State University in Massachusetts and author of “Families as They Really Are.” “We normalize the hardships of motherhood. … This is now what’s familiar.”

I definitely felt the pressure of this when I was raising my children. I knew I would never measure up. I always expected to be subjected to criticism. I also expected it to be hard and terrible and unrewarding, especially when they were teenagers (which became self-fulfilling).

If you’re a mom feeling a teeny tiny stressed, if you sometimes or always are waiting for the smack down, if you just can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong or what you should be doing more of — you’re not alone. It’s not you. Start looking at your expectations of yourself — see where you can lighten up a little, give yourself a break. Do you need to be part of every fundraiser at the school? Do you need to be at every sporting event? Do you need to be the one to do the laundry? So many questions to ask!

Feeling compelled to always be on, to always be the mom, to put the children before all else, can be set aside for a moment. Consciously reject this belief. Feel the wholeness of who you are, of which being a mom is just a part. Feel gratitude for the richness that mothering brings to you, and feel gratitude that you and your life are so much more.

For a free copy of my #1 bestseller Surviving the High School Years with Your Sanity Intact: A Guide for Moms of Out-of-Control Teens, go to www.survivingyouroutofcontrolteen.com.

Parent Traps

My book, Surviving the High School Years with Your Sanity Intact: A Guide for Moms of Out-of-Control Teens, was published on April 11! I’m thrilled and touched by the response I’ve received.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5, titled Parent Traps:

“There’s a freaking huge amount of advice on how to parent, isn’t there?! And when your teen is behaving badly, there’s even more.

We tried them all: behavior modification plans, privilege removals, talking about what was appropriate behavior, etc., etc.

They didn’t work.

This is the thing: the way I parented was determined long before my son’s behavior escalated and had been active for many years. It was driven by how my own parents parented layered over by my inner wounds and not-so-stellar beliefs about myself. In fact, I think I got the worst of both of my parents – my dad’s anger and my mom’s victimhood, lack of self-esteem, and deference to authority.

This wasn’t going to magically change because I put up a chores chart on the refrigerator.

One of the first steps you can take toward shifting to saneness in your situation is to look at your beliefs about parenting and how they contribute to the issues with your child. Do you parent by being in control or through fear? Do you try to be a friend? Can you not stand to hurt your child’s feelings?

It took me a long time to realize that we parented through guilt. We were always trying to guilt our son into behaving properly. When I realized I treated him in a way that I would never treat anyone else, I taught myself to not respond as I always had and start treating him like I would any other person. I had to bite my tongue many times before it became more natural to me, but it really shifted our relationship.

In this chapter, we look at three aspects of parenting: not having faith in your parenting, lack of boundaries, and using control. What other beliefs about parenting do you have that don’t serve you?”

To read the rest of the chapter, download a copy of my book for free at www.survivingyouroutofcontrolteen.com. I’d also love to hear more about what’s going on with you; send me an email if you’d like to chat for a few minutes.