For a long time, the term boy-child has been associated with strength, masculinity, and everything that does not involve crying or being weak.
Well, many people, including myself, have gotten into the trap of defending the girl-child so much that we have forgotten that the boy-child is still a human being and deserves respect and healthy attention.
While it is true that most boys grow up in environments that force them to be tough and emotionally closed off, it is only fair to create a much better environment that involves opening up to the right people for help.
Nowadays social media is full of women posting modest photos of themselves with hashtags depicting that they are their own bosses, queens and that they clearly practice self-love.
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When it comes to the boy-child, it is okay for them to understand that self-love is very crucial. There is being selfish, then there is self-love. The two are very different. Self-love involves choosing to love and care for yourself as an individual, but not forgetting to love others too while being selfish involves denying others your love; the situational kind of love.
Therefore it is okay for every boy-child to remember to put their needs first, take a break from the world, stay in or go out on a date with themselves, dress up, have some quality ‘me’ time and get to know themselves better. Do so, regardless of society’s perception of you.
Secondly, over the years, the boy-child has been taught that they ought to handle situations like men. This simply means, when the going gets tough you get tougher, you do not fret or cry.
That crying and seeking therapy is for the girl-child. In such case scenarios, many men grow up dealing with problems on their own, failing to open up even to their male friends because of the unwritten code that men do not cry no matter what. This has resulted in the boy-child falling into an ugly shell of depression, for those married and facing sexual and domestic violence, they opt to keep the issues to themselves. They persevere.
In extreme cases, when the pain becomes too much to bear, they even end up committing suicide or homicide. The boy-child should learn to be emotional when necessary. Opening up to your trusted friends will not make you weak, but will help relive the pressures and stresses of this life.
Third, there is no such thing as manly courses in learning institutions. Sometimes, the boy-child gets frustrated by parents over what careers to pursue and so they force them to study courses that are labeled ‘hard’ or ‘manly’ such as engineering and actuarial science, contrary to the boy’s passion and purpose in life.
Take an example of how society reacts when a girl-child chooses to study a ‘manly’ course; it is almost as if they do not believe that the course was created for girls.
The same applies to the opposite gender whereby most of them would struggle to study a certain course just to please society and in a sense to portray how masculine or relevant they are in society.
At the end of the day, the boys’ parents would have had their egos massaged but what about the boy? Would he have pursued his purpose on earth given that time waits for no man? It is time to give the boy-child a break! If their passion is to tailor Ankara designs or become chefs, let them pursue those relentlessly.
Fourth, marriage is a choice. Yes. It is also okay to marry at the time that you feel ready. It is also okay not to get married, cultural and religious beliefs notwithstanding.
The boy-child is subjected to too much pressure when it comes to marriage to a point that if they are not married or courting by a certain age, then they are almost considered abnormal.
Some even avoid travelling to their villages to evade questions concerning their love lives. If one feels that marriage is not for them, then they should focus on what truly brings them joy. After all, life is what you make of it, so you might as well make it worthwhile.
Lastly, the boy-child should have exemplary mentors. Such are scarce in today’s world. We need these boys to grow and be responsible men. Those who know how to treat the girl-child; men who will see to it that women no longer exclaim that all men are dogs! We need men who will make excellent leaders in their homes, places of work, schools and in the society at large.
We need men who will create job opportunities for themselves and positively influence others. Those who will come out boldly to defend the helpless and hurting members of society.
-Tanui is a journalist