Parents of boys can change the world.
Parenting is hard, especially in today’s world of media being simply everywhere.
There’s no point in ignoring the media. It’s not going away.
The problem is that boys are being shown so many conflicting images of women, it can be hard for them to really understand how to treat women and girls.
In our latest Expert video (which you can watch above), Senior VP of YourTango Experts, Melanie Gorman, asked a group of Experts what advice they would give parents on how to raise boys who love and respect women?
The responses from some big name experts — Barb Boschetto, Ellyn Bell, Pernilla Lillarose, and John Gray from Men are From Mars fame — offer the three things you need to have to successfully raise boys in today’s modern age.
These three lessons are not as overt as you might expect, but if you parent with these virtues in mind consistently, you could truly raise a boy who might change the world for the better.
This applies whether you’re raising boys or girls.
In this case, however, it's not just patience in the typical sense of being slow to anger ... although that is important too.
Perhaps more important is patience with their self-discovery.
Allow them to feel love and connections. Let them be in touch with their feelings and never let them feel shame for them by telling them to “get over it” or “toughen up”.
What phrases like that do is reinforce the stereotypical concept that men need to be strong, masculine and unfeeling.
And if they can’t express their emotions — if they can’t understand their own feelings — how can they ever hope to understand and appreciate others?
2. Total honesty
This circles back to the concept of shame that we mentioned above. If your kids feel embarrassed talking about a certain topic with you, if they feel that they will be punished or judged, they will get their information from less reliable (and less friendly) sources, and they will form their own conclusions.
Instead, let them know that there is no topic off limits.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they should ask you about sex at the table with their much younger sibling present. Setting is important, and that's part of the lesson.
But if they know that they can come to you and ask you about anything that’s going on without any consequences, it will open the door to real discussions, like about how President Trump’s comment about women is NOT the way to treat women (for example).
Teach your sons that they deserve respect, but that they need to give respect, too.
In fact, self-respect is most powerfully shown by how a person treats others in his life.
These two forms of respect will go hand-in-hand, if that's what you teach and model.
So how do you teach that?
Live by the mantra to treat others the way you would want to be treated.
Yes, you too! How you, as a parent, speak about girls and women teaches kids volumes.
Also pay attention that you aren't using "girl" and "woman" or other feminine terms as pejoratives (i.e. do you let them tease their friend who cries by saying “you’re such a girl”?).
The best way to teach them about respect, honesty and patience is by showing them what that looks like.
Little boys tend to mimic the men they see in their lives, so be sure they have a positive male role model in their lives that they can learn from.
If not, point them out when you see them in movies or on TV. Ask your sons to think critically about how they would like the girls and women they care about to be treated. Talk through which men and boys in their lives, or in the media, show that kind of respect — and which ones do not.
With these three powerful tactics combined, parents today can raise healthy, happy boys who grow into men who love and respect women. And that's one powerful way to change the world!
If you are having trouble with parenting, relationships, sex, attraction or anything else, please visit the websites of our Experts and contact John, Ellyn, Pernilla, and Barb directly. They’re here to help.