It’s Marriage Monday at Chrysalis and of the topics offered for today the one that appealed to me most was “Raising Boys - What NOT to do”. This is why.
‘Big boys don’t cry’ is one of the phrases that really bothers me. It isn’t Biblically based and as a phrase it can cause so much pain - not just at the time it is said, but also in later life. Boys are usually raised to be ‘the strong ones’ but I think we often forget that strength come in many guises. Much as we are never stronger than we are on our knees in prayer, our sons are strong when they embrace the side of themselves that has traditionally been looked on as feminine - the side that allows them to acknowledge their feelings, nurture and empathise with others and yes, cry.
Of course we need to raise our boys to be strong Godly men, protectors and leaders (whether this is in the wider world or simply within their own families), and there is nothing wrong with this. But sometimes in our attempts to do it, we can neglect the gentler sides of their personalities.
In the story of Lazarus’ resurrection we read “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). And in many translations both Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 say that Jesus called to Jerusalem with tears in his eyes “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." This verse also references the mothering feminine side of God, which perfectly compliments his Father side. If God Himself, in Whose Image we are mxade and on Whom we are taught to model ourselves has both a masculine and feminine side, then surely we need to embrace and balance them both - and teach our children to do likewise.
Teaching our sons to espouse the empathetic side of strength, the softer side of leadership, and the gentler sides of their personalities will make them better men – more able to cope with their own lives and the wider world, and to do the work God has planned for them here on this earth. But they can never do that if we begin by telling them they have to swallow their feelings and ignore the pain in the world.
So please don’t ever tell you sons that ‘big boys don’t cry’. Some of the strongest, wisest Christian men I have ever known did and do - and more importantly, so did our Lord Jesus.