Sometimes we’re used to hearing things that we really shouldn’t be. Things that are ingrained into our beliefs without us knowing. Things that end up influencing our opinions and the way we think when it comes to certain matters, despite our better judgement. And what typically happens when we’re so used to hearing something is that, if we don’t put any extra thought in, we’ll probably end up saying it ourselves. This, in many cases, is quite prominent with boys in their upbringing, where we’re fed certain statements and mindsets that have proven to be quite dated to say the least. Here are a few.
1-Starting off with perhaps the most obvious one, “el regala mabet3ayatsh”
I think it’s pretty clear why this is just flat out wrong. It doesn’t come as a surprise that most men of mature age are quite unable to deal with their emotions, this fact mainly being a consequence of how they’re never taught how to. We’re constantly telling boys how they shouldn’t cry because men supposedly don’t, ingraining into their still easily convinced heads that crying is “weak” and is for some reason only attributed to females. I truly can’t begin to express how many different areas of damage are being created here, but I’ll do my best.
For starters, you’ve got the gender stereotyping of men being strong and women being weak. Of women needing to be “protected” by men and of men needing to learn how to protect women. This will usually have one of two effects if negative, the first being that this is genuinely what this boy will grow up to believe. They will legitimately think this ideology is true and let’s not even get started and the consequences of that belief and how else it’s going to distort their view of the opposite gender, which might include but not be limited to viewing them as inferior or being more prone to objectifying them. The second is that they might grow up to suffer from some form of cognitive dissonance – a contradiction within their own minds, because as they grow to form their own opinions about the world, they might realise that it, for some reason, doesn’t feel right. This can primarily be due to the fact that throughout their childhood, they’ve subtly been taught differently. These new unfamiliar opinions are clashing with what they’re used to, and let’s just say that can create a lot of unneeded tension in your thoughts.
This is all of course not even mentioning how most men only come to the incredibly surprising realisation that having the emotional bandwidth of a cabbage isn’t exactly ideal, a bit later than would be best for their own mental health and potential anger issues. We need to stop teaching men in their 20s that expressing your emotions isn’t weakness. Not only do they get used to bottling up these emotions and not being comfortable talking about how they feel, they can also tend to explode with anger a lot more easily or to be a bit lacking in empathy and not really understand how someone else might feel so much more than they do. And in many unfortunate cases, this is even a greatly contributing factor to the fact that suicide rates for men are often higher than those for women. Let’s not ignore this.
In my opinion, children of both genders should be taught that there are certain situations where you shouldn’t cry. Where you need to keep yourself cool and collected in order to best deal with whatever it is you might be going through, be it some kind of emergency for example, but that it’s okay to feel afterwards. It’s okay to actually emote as a human would, and cry if you feel like it. There needs to be no shame attached to something so natural and harmless – it is in no way a sign of weakness, if not the opposite.
2- Being told we need to have a “real” stable job, and to give up on pursuing certain passions
I’m thankful enough not to have gone through this, but I know that plenty of guys do. They’re told to somewhat let go of an artistic side that they might have because it simply isn’t a guaranteed method of making money in the future. To try and get a real job, like becoming an engineer or a doctor, or at least something that isn’t unorthodox or something we’re not used to hearing.
I am fully aware of the importance of being able to financially support yourself as an adult, but I am also a firm believer of the fact that we don’t get that many chances to live our lives, and that spending the better part of what limited time you have pursuing an endeavour that doesn’t even interest you sounds, at the very least, incredibly bland. We need to make sure kids are brought up knowing that whatever it is they want to become, it’s possible. That you need to be realistic and think of your future, yes, but to know that thinking of your future also means being happy in the future, not just well off. To have a few backup plans in case things don’t go their way, but to at least try to go their way first, not someone else’s.
3- That if you’re not dating/in a relationship at a certain age, people will “talk”
I’m mostly familiar with this happening at an older age where men are usually at the average age when people get married, but apparently this can also happen when you’re a lot younger as well. I’m personally quite sure that most people reading this article would typically not be the kind of people to grow up and tell their kids that they absolutely need to get married and not be too “late” when they do, so I don’t really think this is going to be that much of an issue in that regard.
What I think we can work on when the time is right, though, is teaching children the fact that being in a relationship is something very personal, and this applies to both them and everyone else. That no one should be pressured to be in a relationship at a certain time, or to be in a relationship at all, because this is completely dependent on the person and should not involve any third party. So whether it’s about you not wanting to date, or about talking about your mom’s friend’s cousin’s son who for some reason isn’t even engaged when he’s 30, no one should care. This is in no way whatsoever anyone’s business. Let’s teach our kids that.
I could go on for even longer, but thankfully enough, I don’t think I need to. Something like “pink is for girls and blue is for boys” is on the road to extinction, and I think that’s proof enough that we’re on the right track. We’ve got plenty of issues in this generation and that’s undeniable, but I also think we’re not always so terrible. Let’s just be mindful of what we hear, and make sure we’re even more mindful of what we say. You never know how deeply you’re needlessly complicating a child’s future until you live it, so let’s not repeat the same mistakes that we’ve had to endure.