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Part 1 - Boy Talk: Building Your Son's Emotional Strength

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

A popular 90’s tune proclaimed: “I know what boys want, I know what guys like”…and some experts assert they actually do. In fact, they state that much like girls, boys need love, affection, understanding, acceptance and attention, they simply speak a different dialect of the same language…one imposed on them by parents, peers, programming, and society.

Experts emphasize that boys, as much as girls, are conscious about self-image, only that boys are “obsessed” with being strong, tough, and often “macho”. They are conditioned to believe that showing or expressing sensitivity or emotion is a sign of weakness, frailness and femininity; and often times their pent up anguish and emotion are revealed as roughness and anger. But, while boys/young men are expected to control their emotions, there are “some” emotions they are told NOT to ignore…and in fact are frequently led to believe that they are directly defined by their sexual prowess….and this can all be very emotionally and developmentally confusing.

Some professional pointers to help keep your son emotionally stable:

1. Encourage open honest conversation and refrain from being too judgmental, especially if your son tends to be more sensitive than other boys his age.

2. Leadership skills are definitely essential tools, especially for young men who some day may be “head of household”. Still, experts stress that too much independence too soon may be more than he can handle. Offer a little at a time, see how he handles his new responsibility and move (slowly and cautiously) forward from there.

3. Dads can be a big help by being expressive, conversational and emotional. Let your son know that it’s normal and natural to feel sad, happy, etc., and that it’s ok to get excited or to cry instead of bottling up his feelings.

4. Without being (publicly) humiliating, give your son the same time and attention you would a daughter. Don’t be afraid to express you love and affection via words, hugs, kisses and other kid gestures.


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Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Part 1 - Boy Talk: Building Your Son's Emotional Strength

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