Emotional Intelligence – The New Measure of Masculinity
The world is in constant change and so are societal values. Equality between sexes, same sax relationships and religious tolerance are only few of the hot topics which are now no longer taboos. These actual changes are continuously affecting the way in which we raise our children. Stereotypes are crushed and new theories about the proper way of raising a child are formulated. In this light, the old “don’t be a sissy” saying, which was repeated to boys when they were crying, is now outdated and fiercely condemned. Furthermore, parents are now encouraged to develop their son’s emotional side, pointing out the benefits associated with the so called “emotional intelligence.”
The reasons behind this radical switch of perspective in raising a boy are multiple. Firstly psychologists have triggered alarm signals, directing them towards parents in special and adults in general. According to them the number of men suffering from depression, isolation and insecurity is growing considerably. However, the social restrictions do not allow men to talk freely about their issues, complain or ask for advice to their peers (as most often happens to women) as they fear repercussions and banish from the group. The society is still hooked on that “Big boys don’t cry” stereotype, so any man disavowing this unwritten rule is most likely going to be judges and looked down by their peers.
Therefore, this reason only urges for a change. Yet, this is not the only cause for which a change in mentality is needed. Studies have been confirmed that men who are taught to discuss situations and are encouraged to speak up their mind whenever they feel the need are more prone to professional success and personal achievements than men who have been taught to refrain their feelings. Repression leads to anger deposits which will at one point or another burst out. On the other hand talking things over increases self-control, develops conversational and communicative skills and improves self-esteem.
This being said, it is natural to encourage sons to open up, let them cry when the situation requires it and encourage them to talk down any insecurity or emotional problem. This will develop their emotional intelligence and will strengthen their other cognitive skills. It may be hard for a parent to give up those “manly” stereotypes and actually look at their boy while expressing their fears. However, this is a necessary process in order to raise a balanced man.
Once you have acknowledged the importance of emotional intelligence, it is essential to understand that this is mostly a feature which can be developed by mothers. Women are usually more comfortable in exposing their feelings and are extremely good listeners. Furthermore, they can encourage the son to speak their mind, while coming with questions, giving alternatives, asking for details or simply keeping the conversation alive. Examples and confessions are also good at encouraging the boy to open up and mothers, through their affective nature, can offer this type of conversational support.
The modern requirements have shaped the new type of man: a man who is balanced, who is not afraid of his feelings nor of the way they sound in someone else’s ears, a man who is capable of voicing their wants and beliefs, a man who has great communication skills. These features are result of a good mother-son interaction from early age and all through life until adulthood. Therefore, if you are unsure how to deal with your son, then talk to him, with patience, care, respect and affection until he opens up and voices his concerns. Then work with him until he learns to deal with them!