Even though we live in the 21st century, many of our attitudes are still archaic, and one of these attitudes is seen in the statement, “Boys have to grow up to be bread-earners. They have to be strong.” This attitude is so entrenched in us that most fathers are strict and harsh with their sons. This harshness makes sensitive boys grow up with shame.
1. Father, please be gentle with me. Whenever you are harsh with your son, just imagine him saying this sentence to you, and silently in your heart say to yourself, “Fathers are gentle with their sons. I am gentle with my son.” This sentence spoken with all sincerity will make your son feel ‘supported’ in ways that will strengthen him.
2. It is difficult without my father behind me. Boys do not say this openly, but they feel strong and invincible when they know that their father feels proud of them – that they are good enough for their father; that they are worthy of their lineage. Let your son know that you are proud of him. This open declaration of love will strengthen him.
3. I need to belong to my father. There is an innate need in boys to ‘belong’ to their father, and to the male line of their family. When a boy feels that he does not belong to his father, he feels weakened, and this weakening creates a strain on his long-term relationships. Let your son know that he belongs to you and your lineage. This will strengthen him.
4. I need to feel my emotions. When fathers themselves are deeply traumatized, they learn to numb their feelings, as a protective mechanism. However, this numbness plays a part in the father’s relationship with his children; and is invariably passed on to the son, who tries to emulate the father in all respects; after all a father is his son’s first role-model / hero. This exclusion of emotions weakens the boy. Let your son know that it is okay to feel all emotions, and that all emotions are valid. This will strengthen him.
5. I want to be loved for who I am. When we teach our children about competition, struggle, scarcity, sickness, limitation, guilt, and loss, we fill them up with fear. They begin to think that grades, money, and things are more important than love – and being better than others is more important than loving people. A constant drive to improve oneself makes children feel that they are not good enough as they are. This weakens their self-confidence, and dilutes their self-worth. Teach your son that meaning doesn’t lie in things; it lies in us – for things can’t love us back. Love your child for who he is to strengthen him.
6. When I deserve it the least. Children express their fear as anger, abuse, disease, pain, greed, addiction, selfishness, obsession, and violence. (So do we grown ups!) So, whenever you find these expressions in your child, know that he needs more love. Ask him to express his fears. Share your fears with him. Let the child know that it is okay to have fears – and our strength lies in facing our fears squarely in the face. Share stories of how you face your fears. This will strengthen him.