There's a reason more than 16,000 people have reacted to a Facebook post that went viral recently describing a mother's decision to let her son cry after he got hurt: It represents one of many things our sons should be able to do without fear. The post's author, publicist, producer, and writer Jaime Primak Sullivan, pointed out that raising our children according to gender stereotypes prevents them from expressing themselves fully and shames them for being different. Instead, we can create a more accepting world for everyone by supporting whoever children choose to be.
When Sullivan's son Max was hit in the head during a basketball game, she hugged him as he cried next to the court — even as someone accused her of "babying" him. "This notion that boys can never hurt, that they can never feel, is so damaging to them long term," she wrote. "The belief that any signs or gestures of affection will somehow decrease their manhood — this pressure to always 'man up' follows them into adulthood, where they struggle to fully experience the broad scope of love and affection. The only emotion they healthily learn to express is happiness, then we wonder why they are always chasing it. ... It all spills into the way they husband and father and I hate it."
Here are some other things boys should be able to do without fear.