It is a cliché that boys are told they cannot cry. Yes, it is less socially acceptable for men and boys to weep hysterically in public than it is for the opposite sex. In recent years there has been more of a push to let boys cry and to not shame us males for having feelings. Generally, this is a great thing. Men have emotions too, even though we may not always show it. However, it seems that this movement tends to swing the complete opposite direction and validate all tears no matter the context.
I have a son who is rather emotional. His primary reaction is to cry. As one could imagine he is also pretty sensitive. On a general level sensitivity is a good quality because it allows people to be more empathetic. My boy feels and feels deeply and that isn’t something my wife and I want to discourage, in fact we want it to remain a constant in his life.
As with all areas in life, being emotional has its goods and bads. My son may be an empathetic person (at least for his age) but he also tends to give up and cry rather than persist through a problem. My wife and I never tell him “boys don’t cry!” Or “stop crying!” But we do try to instill in him that there is a time and a place to cry. This brings me to the main point, crying like laughing has a proper context. As parents it is our job to mold our children and teach them when it is appropriate to cry and when it’s better to work through a problem rather than becoming an emotional puddle. This of course goes hand-in-hand with the child’s age.
There is a problem when we tell boys they shouldn’t cry, there is also a problem when we validate all tears. Anymore it seems that the later has become the norm. That isn’t okay either. Life is about balance, and our emotions are no exception. I may be a stereotypical man in that I don’t cry much and can’t relate to those whose tears come easy for them, nevertheless I still see value in it. My son is one who has shown me both the value of crying for some, as well as the struggles emotional folks struggle with. I tend to approach things logically and my son processes things emotionally first then logically, similarly to my wife.
Again, this doesn’t mean our emotions should be allowed to go unrestrained. Even adults have issue with this, if you don’t believe me scroll through a Twitter for five minutes. Emotions are good, but as with everything there should be limitations. Not all men express themselves through tears. It’s refreshing western culture has learned to embrace man tears but need to take care not to go too far with that encouragement.