elisabetta figus/Fotolia

7 Misconceptions About Sensitive Sons That Need To Be Destroyed

By
Share
Ad failed to load

After I had my son, I became so much more aware of the way people in our society treat boys. I started paying attention to the comments people made about the boys and men around me, realizing that I had internalized a lot problematic stereotypes. I also listened to how people talk to and about boys, about the expectations they had of boys, and how these boys were supposed to grow up to be "real men." And, sadly, I heard all sorts of misconceptions about sensitive sons that only perpetuated these sexist stereotypes that stifle the humanity in boys and men, allowing room for toxic masculinity to flourish.

So when and where does it go wrong? How do our sensitive sons turn into insensitive teenagers and, sometimes, toxic men? Well, the answer is everywhere, really. It's in how we talk to our boys and how we tell them to behave, how we misrepresent and misinterpret sensitivity and assume anyone who is sensitive is weak. It rests with the people in our society who treat sensitivity as an illness that needs to be cured; the people who turn sensitivity into something to be ashamed of.

I don't know if my son would be considered sensitive. I know he is kind and empathetic and sweet. I know he loves curling up with me on the couch while we watch his favorite cartoons. I know he gets upset when he doesn't get what he wants, in a typical pre-schooler fashion. I know he loves his toys and sleeps with so many he hardly has room to stretch his legs. I know he is loving and giving and warm and, well, I refuse to characterize him. All I can say is I hope he never changes. I hope he always remains a loving boy, despite the misconceptions that come with being labeled as "sensitive."

Ad failed to load

They're "Mama's Boys"

Giphy

"Mama's boy," is a term used in a derogatory way to insult sensitive boys who are close to their mothers, and should probably die in all the fires. It harbors a negative connotation when, well, there isn't one.

According to Kate Stone Lombardi, author and journalist, "Mothers who stay close to their sons can help combat the worst elements of a culture that cuts off boys’ natural sensitivity and rich emotional life." Furthermore, a study published in Child Development found that "baby boys who do not form strong attachments to their mothers grow up to be more aggressive and destructive children." So, while sensitive boys may be closer to their mothers than boys who are less sensitive, they are better off because they become good and kind and confident men.

They'll Be Bullied

Bullying is all about power imbalance: who has/wants the power and who does not. And, while it's common for bullies to pick on nice or different kids, it isn't necessary that a bully will pick on a kid just because that kid is sensitive. Sensitive children are more in-tune with their surroundings and with the feelings of others, so they may be able to better handle a bully, too. As long as all children, and especially sensitive children, are taught confidence and how to speak up and stand up for themselves, they will be able to handle any possible bullying that may come their way.

They're Crybabies

Giphy

First, I'd like to point out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with crying. In fact, crying is a completely normal and healthy reaction and emotion. To stifle crying is to go against basic biology and autonomy of a person. I am aware, however, that many parents prohibit this very genuine emotion in their sons as a way to harden them and to make them "masculine." That said, a sensitive boy is not a "crybaby," he is just someone who is comfortable expressing all of his feelings and emotions.

Ad failed to load

They'll Always Be In The "Friend Zone"

Ah, the "friend zone," the most "feared" place for a cisgender, straight man to fall into. The "friend zone" is when someone is trying to have a romantic relationship with someone else and, instead of attaining that romantic feeling, that someone becomes a friend and not a romantic partner. But according to Dr. William Pollack, a psychology professor at Harvard, sensitive boys become "independent guys who will make strong, empathetic spouses and partners." Looks like nice guys don't always finish last.

They're Not Masculine

Giphy

According to The American Psychological Association (APA), "boys are more emotive than girls, from infancy through age 4 or 5." However, Niobe Way, a professor of applied psychology at New York University, says that "we socialize this vulnerability" out of our boys by the time they are 15.

So, just like girls, boys are born with a strong emotional foundation, and the prevailing toxic masculinity within our society stifles that emotion and changes the foundation to accommodate only one feeling: anger. But just because some boys push against these ridiculous societal norms, doesn't mean they are less masculine than the rest of their peers. It just means they are more emotionally intelligent.

They Don't Have Strong Role Models

Sensitive kids have great role models. They typically have strong parents who support and encourage their emotional intelligence. Our culture is hostile to sensitivity, but parents know that in order to nurture sensitive boys and protect them from becoming a victim of such hostility, they must be strong influences in their sons' lives.

Ad failed to load

They're Weak

Giphy

In a society where women are seen as the weaker gender, sensitive men, who embody "feminine" characteristics like actual real emotions are seen as weaker than their less emotional peers. If anything, though, sensitive people are stronger than those who stifle this particular emotion. It takes a great amount of strength to live and exist in a world that does not value emotions in men. When someone is sensitive, he is “quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences,” which means he is aware and alert, not weak.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}