When you have a child you want to be the perfect parent to them; my son is going to turn 4 years old in June, and it has been so crazy, beautiful, and wonderful all at the same time. But there are times when I wish I really knew what I was doing – sure you can ask parents, friends, and mentors and get wonderful ideas and advice from different perspectives, but when it comes down to it, you never really know if you’re completely doing everything right.
I think if I had to pick the biggest mistake that a mother could make with her son (and my biggest fear), it would be this emasculation process. What exactly is emasculation of your son anyway? Reading Wild at Heart by John Eldredge years ago really opened my eyes to what it’s like to live in a man’s world – his problems, fears, passions, and how things in childhood can really affect his masculinity later on.
Emasculation, as this book explains through it’s examples, is a mother’s not allowing her boys to make the transition from her sweet, adoring baby to a male that wants to be adventurous, wild, and even dangerous. Not allowing him to learn to shoot a gun when he’s old enough, not allowing him to be with his dad if you’re divorced, or go on hunting trips, fishing trips, camping trips… these things are invaluable to boys and often remembered in their adulthood.
Overprotecting your son (and even your daughter) is just not good. It gives them the message, “We don’t think you can handle this, so we’re stopping you from even trying it.” It lets them know that you don’t have confidence in them. You give them a confidence complex because they constantly feel that you don’t believe in them in the deepest way.
Boys especially, need that affirmation that they really can handle it. Men have it hard in life, they are always expected by society to be able to handle anything – and this isn’t just our modern society, all throughout history men have been expected to be able to handle life as the sole provider, the frustrations of working to support ridiculously large families, and the brutality and horror of war. If a boy is expected to be happy later in life, he needs to feel that he can handle it, he needs to know his mother believes in him.
Dads play a special role in this process as you can imagine… they are the idol to a boy. It’s strange though, that nearly every man I’ve met has had a difficult relationship with his father (including my own brother which can show you how different siblings can even be treated). The different ways in which dads fail to establish a good relationship with their sons is a different post altogether, but rest assured that dads have the responsibility of bestowing masculinity on their sons – as a mom, I just can’t do it.
“Femininity can’t bestow Masculinity”
Even right now this morning as I write, my son has drawn on tattoos of crosses on his legs with his dark blue marker! His response when I act a little shocked: Well, I like tattoos because I’m a BOY… like Daddy.