Healing our Sons, Fathers and the World.
We are living in a world where women notoriously earn less than men for the same jobs. Misogyny is everywhere. Rape culture is very real. Because of this is talked about more and more, real change is happening. We can see it in our own lives.
But in some circle, I see the opposite. I believe the question isn’t ‘what’s happening to our women?’ but rather ‘what’s happening to our men?’
I’d like to open up the conversation about our men.
I have a father. He has a father. I have a husband and I now have two sons. I have seen first hand the weight of the world upon their shoulders. Men feel guilty if they cannot provide for the family. They also go through depression, like us. But unlike us, it’s often even more taboo to talk about this openly. It’s not considered ‘manly’ to talk about feelings or emotions.
For the scope of this article, I’d like to talk about why our boys, especially, need to be healed from the stigmas around their ‘manliness’.
Our boys are taught…. if not taught, definitely shown….to be tough. We don’t need to openly say “be a man” to send this message loud and clear.
If you’re a father and you have a son, it’s imperative you look at how you’re leading your son(s), by your example. It’s very true that children model more what we do, not what we say. You could say “we love you so much as you are” and at the same time be very annoyed when your boy cries or shows emotion. Or how he reacts to a movie, for instance.
Let’s look at the words that are associated with being male:
Macho. Strong. Protector. Provider. Hunter. Procreator.
Way back in history, men needed to be strong, to provide for the family and to create as many babies as possible because many did not live into their teenage years.
It’s no longer that way. Men don’t need to do many of the things they were created to do. With modern advancements comes more convenience. Men don’t have to hunt for food, there isn’t a risk of predators getting their family, women can do the jobs men do, and so forth.
However, men are still seen as stronger, and often smarter than women. And that’s a fact.
While men don’t have to battle to the death to hunt for their family’s food anymore or ward off wild animals, we still expect men to be physically tough; but we’ve evolved to expect physical and mental battles. Physical strength and machismo are still celebrated, through professional sports, politics, and more.
The Sensitive, compassionate, and delicate man isn’t revered in school, at work or on the sports field.
Men are shamed for displays of emotion, vulnerability and physical weakness. With the exception of anger, men are taught to hide from their emotions, instead of engage with them.
It’s no wonder that men are the ones who show violence and commit most crimes in society (shoot up at schools, etc) . Having to repress our emotions messes you up and results in a myriad of mental health problems.
Boys are diagnosed with depression and ADHD 4 times more than girls. Teenage boys commit suicided 9 times more than teenage girls. Approximately 67% of the homeless population in the U.S are men. They are twice as likely to become alcoholics and 3 times as likely to become drug addicts. They are far less likely to ask for help and they don’t get the professional help they need.
Men are victims of crimes too. But they don’t often report the crime for fear of being weak. Men are victims of domestic abuse too, but aren’t taken seriously by police. Men take on more dangerous jobs but don’t report their injuries. They also take fewer vacations and sick days. In many regards, they’ve become nothing more than a paycheck.
Not dealing with their emotional baggage has really affected our boys and our men. Just a quick look at the most powerful out there, especially in politics: they are often the most insecure.
The most common cause of divorce is “emotional neglect”.
Parents (either consciously or unconsciously) talk to their boys very differently than their girls.Boys often hear things like: “Don’t be weak”; “Stop crying” ;”Stand up, be a man”; “Throw like a man”, or much worse.
“You throw like a girl”, “you cry like a girl”, I’ve even heard a father say “we might as well get you a skirt”. *shudder*.
By the same token, how terrible is it that these same qualities are seen as negative? How awful is it that society, for the most part, judges our boys and men when they show qualities that are associated with being female?
What message does that send out to our girls….and our boys?
Boys are bullyied all the time at schools (and other places) for being feminine or even nerdy.
For all men, think about your relationship with your own father.
How has that affected you as a man, husband or father?
There are things you can do right now to heal from your past. And ways to become the father you’ve always wanted to be. Here are 4 of those things:
1. If your relationship with your own father was less than ideal, admit it to yourself. The first step is to acknowledge it and admit it. Did you receive the unconditional love you wanted? Not only in words, but in actions? Did your father engage with you? Did he treat you with respect and allow you to cry on his shoulder whenever you needed it?
2. Grieve your experience. Sometimes it’s not obvious, but grieving things you wish you had from your parents helps us move on. When men (especially) grieve it’s instrumental to their success as future amazing fathers.
3. Forgive your father. This is easier said than done, depending on how deep the pain is. I’ve heard some incredibly difficult and awful situations. This may be the most difficult step. Remembering that our fathers also had their own experiences from birth on might help with this process. When you can truly say (in your mind or out loud): “Dad, I forgive you. You did the best with what you had and what you knew. ” This is when you can truly start healing and moving on.
4. Love your children and yourself, the way you wanted to be loved as a son. Giving the love we never received to our children is extremely powerful, it can heal our own heart beyond measure. Yes, it’s hard to give something we never got ourselves. Loving our children unconditionally, growing beyond our own experiences will bring much needed healing to our hearts. After all, what we give we get back. So, it ends up being a wonderful circle of love.
For all good fathers, science is on your side. Being present from day one is important.
For example, in hormonal studies fathers show increased levels of oxytocin (the hormone of happiness and love) during the first weeks of their babies’ lives. This hormone increases feelings of bonding between parents and children.
According to a 2010 study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, by playing with their babies, fathers also get a wonderful boost of oxytocin. This decreases mood disorders (including post-partum depression) in fathers.
When fathers bond with their child it leads to a decrease in the “macho” hormone associated with aggressive behavior.
Quality time matters. This doesn’t have to include spending a lot of money on your child on fancy things. It means being present, showing them you are there for them. Making them feel important, respected, accepted, heard and most importantly, loved.
This isn’t only amazing for our children, but it encourages nurturing behavior in fathers. Nurturing and love for themselves and their child.
When all this is done, and bonding happens, fathers feel that they matter.
I acknowledge that men have a natural instinct to protect and provide for their family. And they don’t have to lose that side of who they are.
But to our men, I also say: Cry. Give. Care about people. Read a lot. Teach. Learn. Commit. Read (a lot). Think. Evolve. Transform. Love and be loved.
After all, these are not ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ but rather HUMAN qualities.
Protect and HEAL yourself. This is the only way to heal the world.
Margaux is the CEO of one of the most popular organic, natural, cruelty-free deodorants, “The Best Deodorant In The World”, a company she started out of her kitchen. It can now be found in stores and online world-wide. Her passion is helping families understand the importance of eliminating toxins, living sustainably and using amazing, natural products that don’t harm our bodies, animals or planet.
Margaux consults with parents on how to start a company like hers from scratch, and how to create an income while staying home with their children. She is a compassionate, heart-centred entrepreneur who works with parents and company owners, both new and already established. Operating by two very simple philosophies: “People over profit” and “Profit With a Purpose”, she has been able to follow her heart and make an impact in her client’s lives. When she is not with her husband and 3 children, much of her time is spent with parenting experts, birth practitioners, medical professionals and natural living celebrities.
She has built close friendships with many of the world’s most accomplished and respected practitioners, authors, speakers, doctors, midwives, doulas, parenting experts and celebrities in the birth, parenting and entrepreneurial spaces.
Margaux just completed a book “Ultimate Guide To Organic Groceries” with Joanne Young, who is personal chef to Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady.