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.