Her story reminds us of the importance of encouraging boys to express their feelings
A mom’s Facebook post about an incident at her son’s basketball game is one every boy mom needs to read. There’s so much pressure on boys to “man up” and not cry or show pain, but forcing them to swallow their feelings does far more harm than good. This mom’s words perfectly explain why.
Jaime Primak Sullivan is host of the daily digital series #cawfeetawk and author of The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl: Adventures in Live and Love in the Heart of Dixie. She’s also known as the “meanest mom ever” to her three kids, nine-year-old Olivia, eight-year-old Max and six-year-old Charlie. But when it comes to showing her son love and affection when he’s in pain, this mom is there for him 100% — no matter who’s watching. She posted an account on Facebook of an incident at a recent basketball game when Max got hit in the face with the ball.
Sullivan’s mom instinct kicked in the second she saw it happen and rushed to his side. “He couldn’t catch his breath,” she writes. “My feet couldn’t move fast enough. As soon as we connected, I got down on one knee. ‘Catch your breath buddy.’ He tilted his head back. ‘Max, breathe. It’s okay.’ He finally took a breath, and I wrapped my arms around him as he cried into my shoulder.”
That’s such an awful feeling, when your child is hurting and there’s nothing you can do to take the pain away except hold them. But for Sullivan, the moment was about to get even worse. “A voice came from behind me – ‘You need to stop babying that kid.'”
Yup. Instead of asking if her child was okay, or if they needed an ice pack or some paper towels, someone actually had the nerve to accuse her of coddling her injured son.
Sullivan tells Scary Mommy she didn’t make a scene at her son’s basketball game, because she’s classy like that. “I didn’t address the man because I’ve learned that you don’t have to fight every battle that comes to your door. My peace of mind is too important… and truthfully, the men who feel that way are a product of their own upbringing. Many just don’t know better,” she says.
Still, the comment stuck with her all the way home. She decided to share her thoughts about it in the post, which is now going viral. Her explanation about why it’s so important to encourage our sons to show their emotions is spot-on. “This notion that boys can never hurt, that they can never feel, is so damaging to them long term,” she writes. “The belief that any signs or gestures of affection will somehow decrease their manhood — this pressure to always ‘man up’ follows them into adulthood where they struggle to fully experience the broad scope of love and affection.”
Max heard the gist of the comment, but not enough to understand what was going on in the moment. Sullivan handled it like a parenting pro when talking the incident over with him later that night. “That night when we were saying prayers and tucking in, I didn’t directly address the comment either – I didn’t want to give it any power,” she explains. “What I said was, ‘Max, just so you know – whether you’re hurting on the outside, or on the inside, you can always run to mama. I don’t care if you’re 8, or 15, or 25 or 50.’ Then I kissed him all over his face.”
The urge to cry when you’re sad or in pain, be it physical or emotional, is a biological one. We all have the ability to do it, so why would we encourage that release with our daughters, but not our sons? Coming to the aid of our kids is simply a reminder that they’re loved, and no parent should ever be made to feel guilty over showing love for their child, no matter their age or gender.
“Love is a verb,” she writes. “It is something you do. It is not the same as babying, coddling or spoiling. It is something my son deserves. I will always love him when he is hurting and my prayer for him is that he is always open to receiving love so he can love in return and keep that cycle going.”