8 Life Lessons Parents Should Teach Sons

Important information boys should know today

boy child development - three friends smiling
There are some key things boys today need to know about how to grow up to be good men. KidStock/Getty Images

If you have a son, it's key that you teach your boy the life lessons needed to ensure that he grows into a man with healthy relationships and a positive handle on his emotional life.

In today's world of changing social roles for men and women, dating and social-networking apps that can easily veer toward negative trends and horrific headlines about sexual assaults on college campuses, it's important to talk to boys about what it means to be a good man.

If you are the parent of a boy, the following life lessons can help you do so.

Good Men Are Sensitive

Parents should let their sons know that they don't have to emulate an action hero or a tough guy who never cries to be a real man. It's okay for boys to cry when they feel sad or unhappy. Expressing emotions doesn't make one weak, and it doesn't mean a man is not masculine. Real men are not afraid to show their emotions, and they are smart enough to know that those outdated ideas about men and boys not crying isn't good for stress relief or mental or emotional health.

Talking Is Healthy

Many men are reluctant to talk about their feelings or emotions, or even just details of the day. This silent tendency derives from the stereotype of men never showing their feelings. The more boys are given the message that talking about problems is not "manly," the more they are likely to be close-mouthed and reluctant to share.

Get your son into the habit of talking about his day at the dinner table or at bedtime 

Be Silly and Have Fun 

As boys  grow up, they may be told not to be goofy or silly anymore. But when boys become adults with responsibilities, it's important that they embrace their inner child. As your sons enter adulthood, urge them to dress up on Halloween, go fly a kite, and run around and be goofy with their own kids.

Research shows that having fun is good for the family. When parents have fun and play with their kids, their kids are happier

Girls Make Great Friends 

While boys and girls may be best friends with each other when they are toddlers or preschoolers, in elementary school, many children prefer the company of their own gender or are pressured into not playing with someone who isn't. But that means boys and girls alike miss out on some great friendships.

Reject Negative Depictions of Women in Pop Culture

Consider the way women are portrayed in the media. Ads often feature scantily-clad girls who are airbrushed and very thin. Many movies and TV shows portray women in supporting roles and focus on what they look like instead of what they can do.

These depictions are unfair and inaccurate and should be called out. Think about the way women are talked about and presented and learn to spot the bad messages that portray women in an unfair or negative light. Talk about why that's bad for everyone, both men and women.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Tell your sons to make friends with men and boys of integrity. Many of the messages you'll see about what girls and boys are supposed to be miss the mark. You will likely meet boys and men convinced that it's okay to make comments about girls' bodies or think of women as less able than men. You may encounter men who say women should do the housework and men should not. Reject these outdated and boneheaded messages and find real men to be your role models.

Do Chores and Cook 

Women love men who do their share of the housework and cook and clean. Every child, boy or girl should learn to do age-appropriate chores and contribute to the family. They should continue to do their share around their own house when they grow up.

Be Caring 

Take care of those around you and be a loving, supportive and caring person. Strong and capable men who are worth looking up to take care of their friends and families every day. They help the weak and call out bullying and violence. They stand up for themselves but try to solve conflicts as peacefully as possible. And when they grow up and have kids of their own, they set such examples for their own children to follow.

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