If you have not read last week's post on fatherless daughters, I would encourage you to go check it out here before reading about motherless sons. This week's post will skip the "intro" for why I felt this was important to discuss and jump right into the future of motherless sons and ways to support them.
In order to help support a motherless son, you have to understand several things. First off, what is a motherless son? Second, you have to learn how to partner with the father/grandma/aunt/legal guardian. Next, you have to understand how the family wants you to support them and most importantly - you need to understand him. This post is meant to help you understand 2 crucial elements of his character.
|a motherless son| could be a son whose mother walked out on the family; could have been given up for adoption + lives in foster care; could also be defined as a son who fails to establish a connection with a mother-figure in their life. So what does the life of a motherless son typically look like?
There are 2 things that are most likely present: suppressed emotions + intense anger.
|Suppressed Emotions| Roles are starting to change in today's society, which means the way we view femininity and masculinity is changing. However, a huge portion of society still understand roles in the traditional sense. What do I mean? Males are viewed as tough, strong, powerful, never crying or expressing emotions. Females are viewed as objects, weaker, trophies, submissive, emotional and unable to handle lots of stress.
In some contexts, these descriptions would be true. However, if we limit these descriptions to just one gender - we eliminate humaneness of each gender. Ok now really what are you talking about Seida? If we say that females cannot be viewed as strong, we limit their potential in so many areas. Likewise if we say that males cannot be viewed as weak, we limit their capacity to feel valid human emotions.
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Most women, by nature, are nurturing, loving and caring - especially to their children. Therefore, if a boy goes without forming this attachment with someone (a mother figure of some sort like an aunt, grandmother, etc.) who has these characteristics - he will most likely struggle in expressing his emotions. Women love hard, feel things passionately and commit themselves completely to being vulnerable. With this type of support, most boys learn a balance between healthy expression of emotions and completely suppressing their emotions.
I can't tell you how many boys break down in tears in my office due to the pressure of suppressed emotions. Media images and certain phrases we say continuously reinforce to them that they are not allowed to be vulnerable or to feel "softer" emotions, such as hurt or sadness. When they are not "allowed" to feel, the expression of the emotions is most likely: intense anger or aggressiveness.
|Intense Anger| When you shake a bottle of Dr. Pepper (yum!) long enough, it will eventually explode. Likewise, emotions that are suppressed will be expressed one way or another. We wonder why "today's kids" are so angry and violent. Intense anger does not develop overnight. It starts in tiny spurts of aggression and incidents that most people count as not being a big deal. If you see little spurts of anger, you should address it.
Well, Seida what do you mean by little spurts of anger? A little spurt of anger could be something as simple as rolling their eyes when asked to do something. Or a spurt of anger could be punching the wall when they are frustrated. If your child usually doesn't do this, it's a good idea to talk about it or get them some help so they don't continue.
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Allowing negative choices to continue without inviting a discussion will only make things more difficult for you in the end. A good movie I always recommend to people who are raising sons, come into contact with teenage boys or really anyone interested in this topic is: Tough Guise by Jason Katz. This movie does a great job depicting how far we have let things go when it comes to the pressure to hide emotional vulnerability.
The question you may ask now is, "How can we make it better?" The answer to this question is far too complicated to be answered in one blog post. However, I can offer a suggestion for where you should start...
Teach boys that vulnerability is normal. Let's stop feeding into the messages the media constantly reinforces. Let's be more conscious of what we say to young men about their emotions. Let's foster an environment where peeling back the layers and being vulnerable is normal. Let's raise young men to know that it's okay to express how they feel. The bottom line: let's establish healthy connections with the young men in our lives and lead by example with how we express emotions!
Do you have motherless sons in your life? What ways do you encourage them? How do you motivate them to be successful?