“Why I Am Teaching My Son That Tears Take Courage”

Here’s a wonderful article from The Good Men Project about a mother who is encouraging her young son to express his emotions instead of stuffing them. If only more parents encouraged this sort of thing, we’d live in a world with more empathy and less narcissism.

Why I Am Teaching My Son That Tears Take Courage
By Colette Sartor, for The Good Men Project


My son didn’t cry on his first day of preschool; he cried on his thirtieth. The school was a tiny, progressive place that took a surprisingly stern approach to drop offs: Say goodbye and leave. No looking back or lingering. This was fine by me. I hate to cry in public, and I knew I might, which would scare my three year old and make him cry.

So, that first day, I watched him cautiously pile blocks for a few minutes, then I told him I’d pick him up later, kissed him, and left for work. He barely glanced up. He was absorbed in the newness of everything: new kids, new toys, new sights and sounds and smells.

Every day that month, I repeated the routine. I’d briefly watch him play, kiss his cheek, and leave. Every day, I breathed easier. “He loves his new school,” I told people. How well adjusted he is! How happy! Yay him! Yay me! I thought. Then, on the thirtieth day, he raced to me with outstretched arms. “Mommy, stay!” he sobbed. I gathered him up, buried my face in the talc of his hair. “I’ll be back, honey, don’t worry,” I whispered before his teacher gestured to hand him over. He cried and reached for me, struggling to extricate himself from the teacher’s grasp. “Just go,” she mouthed over his head. I nodded and walked out, my own tears streaming as he sobbed behind me.

When I was growing up, our family motto was, “If you want to play with the big dogs, don’t piss like a puppy.” Which meant no crying.

My son cries easily. He gets it from me. I cry over life insurance commercials, sappy movies, real and imagined slights. I usually hide my tears, even from him. When I was growing up, our family motto was, “If you want to play with the big dogs, don’t piss like a puppy.” Girls were puppies by default. They showed the world when they hurt. They cried. To play with the big dogs, girls had to be tough. Which meant no crying. So I learned not to cry. At least, not in public. Still, I try not to discourage my son from crying. I love his sensitivity. I love that he cries when a friend is hurting, that he cries when he feels he’s being treated unjustly, that he cries at all.

See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/why-i-am-teaching-my-son-that-tears-take-courage-jnky/#sthash.FTqEhBGI.dpuf

13 thoughts on ““Why I Am Teaching My Son That Tears Take Courage”

  1. It’s so important to let all kids, but boys especially, show their emotions, whether that is anger or sadness. The feelings are always going to be there, but invalidating them can cause so many emotional problems in adulthood. I always encouraged my boys to cry, in the exact same way as would have girls (if I’d had any :))

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  2. This article made ME cry. It’s because I have a sensitive 7 year old little boy and he’s the sweetest and kindest kid. I don’t worry that he cries, but I do worry that others in the future will hurt him bc he is so sensitive.

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    • He’ll be fine if you’re allowing him to just be himself. He is probably an HSP and that’s not a disorder. He’ll learn healthy ways to use his sensitivity later on, but as parents, it’s hard to see your child so sensitive because it makes us feel even more protective of them. My son was like yours (and the little boy in the article). He’s 23 now and a very creative person with loads of friends and a good job. Give it time, your little boy will be fine. Hugs.

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  3. Encouraging any child’s emotions is healthy. Meaning don’t tell them what they do and do not feel. And yelling at them to stop crying doesn’t do anything good. I applaud any mother who encourages the tears and every emotion. Kids should be taught how to handle each emotion while they’re growing up. If that were more prevalent we wouldn’t have so much rage as adults.

    I was reading a little further down at the link you have there and noticed that these schools have these policies for these little kids to drop them off and get out of there. Like the schools think the kids need to be all grown up, not feel any separation anxiety and if they do the solution is to rip the kids away from their parents.


    This is ridiculous. We humans are so messed up the way we run things. Kids aren’t adults and they need to stop being treated as such. Of course they are going to have a hard time when they first start school. And letting the parents hang around during pre-school or kindergarten isn’t going to turn your small child into a wuss.

    I’m sorry to rant like this and I know this wasn’t the point. But geez. Schools need to get a damn grip and understand they are dealing with CHILDREN and NOT full grown humans.

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  4. IDK why, but if I’m crying and someone tells me not to cry it makes my cry more! No idea what if anything this says about my emotional/mental health or if it’s just a personal quirk.


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