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Raising Sensitive Boys

Growing up, I was one of the oldest kids out of the group in the family. And most of the kids were girls. I learned quite a bit about boys from my older guy cousins (like how to beat Super Mario in just one day) but I had very little experience with younger boys until my brother was born. Then again, I was 18 and left for college. You don't get the full picture of how to raise a boy when you only visit home one weekend a month. It wasn't until I was much older and started meeting new people that I began to get more perspective. Specifically when I became an aunt after marrying my husband Jonathan and started creating bonds with the beautiful children I was excited to call family. It became very clear to me as the years went on, through my life-long observations and when I started raising my own boys, that boys as they grew were sensitive.

In a society that pushes boys to be "tough" and "rough", it caught me off guard. Then the Lord really started teaching me something I wanted to share with others. Actually, I recently started thinking about how sweet, thoughtful and caring my boys were (ages 6 and 3). Sure they love to tumble and play hard, but they also will pick weeds for me as gifts or bring me soft music if I'm in bed sick. Sure, they love dirt like piggies and fart jokes are a second language, but they also freely give random kisses or draw cards for me just because. I think we have to start viewing the word "sensitive" in a different way. We need to look at it for what it is: a universal word that applies to both girls AND boys.

To be sensitive is not the same as weakness. Although the message from the world shouts this their way, that you must be a weak person if you are sensitive. It seems if a boys shows any type of emotion other than "tough" or "rough", they are pegged with being "too sensitive" with a negative tone. I refuse to believe this. To be sensitive means to be "in tune" and shouldn't only apply to emotions. Furthermore, boys are human beings and have growing bodies. This also means their emotions will surface and they need help learning how to navigate them. The same way any girl can be "tough" or "rough", boys also can be "sensitive" because it's not a gender thing. It's a human thing.

I do believe God created two specific genders that each have their own separate uniqueness. At the same time, generalizing emotions based on a person's gender isn't taking into consideration the child's personality or reaction to their environment. I don't want to make my boys feel bad about having "sensitive" emotions because that's what it is to be human! As a Christian parent, I also want to remind myself often the importance of being in tune spiritually. To be spiritually sensitive. What if the pushing for our boys to "toughen up" teaches them to become hard towards God's Spirit? Am I raising sensitive boys who are in-tune with the well-being of others and the tender voice of God? Or teaching them to suppress natural emotions in vain?

This is what I strive for: to become in-tune myself with God's leading and grow in wisdom to not make foolish statements or agendas for my boys to follow, that will lead them to be hard towards the things of God. I am a boy mom and I'm proud of the opportunity to shift the focus. To shift my thinking and help my boys to be in-tune with what their emotionally going through, the needs of others and the will of God. I will raise sensitive boys because THAT is true strength! To be in-tune with what they feel, what's going on around them and what God says. So they can make smart choices and become great men of God.

Weakness doesn't equal being sensitive. Much like strength doesn't equal tough. I've seen the toughest men have the most emotional temper tantrums and that might be because as boys they were never taught to be in-tune and how to navigate human emotion. Whether within themselves or within others. It's a vicious, cultural cycle that I hope to not repeat. Boys will weep. Boys will sympathize. Boys will care. Boys will be sensitive. And that is part of God's plan. So we need to pray about how to teach our boys to be in-tune instead of painting being sensitive as a negative trait. A hard heart doesn't make them men. At least, not in the eyes of the Lord.

Jesus wept. Jesus sympathized. Jesus cared. Being sensitive is being in-tune. Let's raise boys who aren't afraid to be sensitive and who don't bend by the standards set from the world.

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