I Need a Tough Boy

I have two little guys. There are currently 5 and 2 years old. Their baby sister is 6 months old.  

Ever since our first son was born, there has been an emphasis that he NEEDS to be tough. Not necessarily from me or even my husband, but from other people’s perspectives. We’ve been told all sorts of (unnecessary) things to support that society NEEDS our little guys to be tough right now- at 2 and 5 years old.  

My typical thought process is that they (the boys and the girl) have their whole lives to learn to be tough; right now they can just be my little buddies and they don’t need to be tough because Mama Bear is ferocious and strong and willing and able to conquer. #hearmeroar 

Approaching kindergarten, this whole “my son NEEDS to be tough” has been weighing on me. What does “tough” even mean? That he doesn’t ever cry? That he makes the right and good choices? Does it mean he can lift heavy weights and show off his muscles? That he can ride a bicycle with no training wheels? Helppppp. Handy dandy Webster defines tough as being strong and durable; not brittle or tender. So, we have a starting point now. 

Generally, when somebody tells me these precious little boys need to be tough it is in response to them crying because they either didn’t get their way or they got hurt (oh, the horror!) Side note: don’t ALL kids do this? Additional side note: don’t grown-ups do this sometimes? I know I want to cry a lot when I’m hurt and when things don’t go my way but I usually have to suck it up and fix somebody a snack. #notimefortearsmama 

Can you feel the tough-ness?

I don’t want to raise “cry babies” or “sissies” but I’m not sure where the happy medium is at. I want all of my sweet babies to be able to express emotion in a healthy manner. I want all of my sweet babies to know that sometimes life just isn’t nice and it’s okay to cry it out and dry your face and try again. I want them to know that crying doesn’t fix anything and you will never get your way because you cried about it. I want them to be compassionate, sympathetic humans. I want them to be withstand adverse conditions, but I also want them to know when to be tender. I want them to know that crying doesn’t mean you’re not tough. I want them to know that being tough is not where their value lies. I want them to know that being tough does not equate their worth. I want them to know they are loved beyond their ability to be tough. 

Where do you stand on raising “tough” boys? What about “tough” girls?  


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