Boys to Men: Redefining What it Means to be STRONG

raising boys to be strong men

We often express concern about how hard our culture is for girls, but the truth is that it’s pretty brutal for boys as well. They often have unrealistic expectations placed upon them about what it means to be a man and struggle to feel like they’re good-looking enough, athletic enough, etc. It’s natural to want the best for our sons, and thankfully there are things we can do to raise them to be strong and happy.

To understand what a strong boy is, though, we need to get away from the traditional ideas of masculinity that may subtly encourage young men to suppress their feelings, use violence or intimidation to get what they want, or act all rough and mean  (think “suck it up!” or “boys don’t cry”). I’d like to offer some values and characteristics that we as parents can help instill in our boys so that they can grow up to be strong, healthy, and productive men and be leaders in their relationships and their communities.

S     Secure

A boy who is secure knows that he is loved and is okay being himself. As parents, we can let them know that they’re good enough; that our love is unconditional and not dependent on our boy’s accomplishments.

T    Tough

“Tough” in this case doesn’t mean a boy will deliver a punch or take a blow but will instead stand up for what his right and what he believes in.

R    Respectful

Remember that you are raising your boy to become a man, and what our society desperately needs is for men who are respectful. Not just to parents and adults, but also to young women, to themselves, and to each other.

O    Open

It’s so important that our boys and young men are able to be open about their feelings when appropriate. Let’s give them permission to express themselves and also help them develop the tools to be able to articulate their emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

N    Nice

We do a great disservice when we perpetuate the myth that “nice guys finish last” or “nice guys don’t get the girl.” In the real world, being nice is key to having good relationships and ultimately getting what we want! Let’s model and teach kindness to our boys.

G   Generous

Being generous means giving of your time and of yourself. Leading by example and teaching our boys how to give service will help them grow to be strong, responsible men.


Remember, its up to us as parents to instill in our boys their true understanding of being STRONG – so next time your little one (no matter how big or small he is!) falls down, give him a hug and say, “It’s okay to cry”.





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