Man Up – a Phrase Parents Should Stop Using on Their Sons

Little boy playing with his toys

Many men have been told to man up as they were growing up and the trend seems to continue to this day. It’s important, for parents especially, to understand that their words, however well-meaning they might be, can have a deep impact on their children. Dr. Michael C. Reichert offers several tips in his book How to Raise a Boy.

What Being Told to Man Up Can Do

Boys are often taught to suppress their emotions and this commonly leads to a variety of issues and unwanted behaviors that can persist. Raising boys in such a way could result in them having a difficult time being emotionally present in their adult life. Trying to fit the mold of what society thinks a man should be, they could end up looking for unhealthy ways to cope, including recklessness, fighting, and substance abuse. By forming strong connections to their sons, parents could give them strength and feelings of safety.

Teenage boy sitting in corner, having problems with manning up
Maintaining a Strong Relationship

For boys to be able to process and express their emotions and share them with their family is directly related to the parents maintaining a constant, healthy, and safe presence in their son’s life. In his journey from boyhood through adolescence to adulthood, a boy will face a plethora of challenges, peer pressure, and society’s attempts to make them man up and conform to outdated stereotypes. Parents need to validate their son’s experiences, actively listen, and encourage him to think about a solution without enforcing their opinion. Providing safety and sharing similar plights from their past can certainly help.

A happy manEncouraging Emotional Expression

Enabling sons to feel comfortable expressing their feelings should be a common practice among parents. This way, they will be raised with a sense of emotional validation and will be able to express feelings in a healthy manner with friends, romantic partners, and in other aspects of social life. Creating structure through authority is still necessary to steer him away from destructive behavior. It’s important to explain that the rules are created because the parents see their sons as capable people able to make better and more rational moral decisions, rather than out of mistrust.