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10 Reasons You Should Not Call Your Son a Sissy

December 11, 2011

Historically, the distinctions between male and female characteristics have been clearly defined by society and only recently have the lines been blurred. Now the societal roles of men and women are not as rigidly delineated as in times past, so the tendency to insist that boys be boys and girls be girls is in some ways an arcane ideal.

Labels reinforce negative self-images, such as calling a boy a sissy for behavior that has traditionally been more associated with girls. We’re going to share ten reasons why you shouldn’t call your son a sissy.

  1. Instilling the notion in your son that he’s a sissy for crying will force him to subjugate those feelings for fear of ridicule, usually resulting in his acting out in other ways to compensate.
  2. Labels can be self-fulfilling for a young mind. Eventually he becomes what you’ve programmed him to believe what he was already.
  3. Dissuading him from self-expression or engaging in activities that may not agree with your concept of masculine behavior will discourage him from developing skills that would have otherwise brought fulfillment and even a vocation as an adult.
  4. Trust is a huge factor in a parent-child relationship. You can irreparably sever this bond by violating his trust with what he will see as rejection.
  5. What may just be a passing phase or innocent exploration on his part might transform into a fixation by virtue of your declaring it taboo.
  6. You’re in essence sending a message that it’s not OK for a boy to express things like sensitivity, fear, or compassion. These are not incompatible with genuine manhood, and should be encouraged, not judged.
  7. Labels also have a tendency to spread; and when they start at the top, from a parent, they roll downhill quickly and with a big head of steam. A parent’s words carry so much weight with a child and can last a lifetime. It’s important to choose them wisely.
  8. What we teach our children with our words and deeds is transferred to future generations. Negative labels perpetuate stereotypes.
  9. Many of the virtues that we have historically attributed to the female gender can also benefit males as well as society at large; but they need to be not only nurtured but permitted in your son at an early age.
  10. We are not so much at risk of raising effeminate children by allowing them to develop their minds and hearts naturally, as we are in danger of handicapping them from healthy relationships and a sense of self-worth if we continue to prohibit  them from doing so.
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7 Responses to 10 Reasons You Should Not Call Your Son a Sissy

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Tomas says:

GREAT article. While I think we do a little too much patting on the back and telling our kids that they’re all winners, I also think we shouldn’t ever put them down or be condescending towards them. The idea that it’s ok to tell our boys that they are weak is ridiculous – it’s not ok at all.

Shalane G. says:

Hot topic alert! I feel like this is one of those things people feel REALLY strongly about – whether it’s ok for boys to have characteristics that are typically more associated with girls or not. I think it’s important that we let our kids develop into the people that they are meant to develop into and that we provide a good example for them. Calling boys sissies because they display more effeminate characteristics isn’t providing a good example at all. Parents need to provide support and love for their children.

Victoria says:

I applaud you for addressing such a sensitive topic and for writing such a well thought out article. As parents, what we say has the power to completely shape what our kids think. We need to make it a habit to find positive things to say to them so that they grow up believing in themselves, not feeling worthless.

Gerry Hunter says:

Hoo boy! This IS a heavy topic! I think you summed it up best with the very last sentence “We are not so much at risk of raising effeminate children by allowing them to develop their minds and hearts naturally, as we are in danger of handicapping them from healthy relationships and a sense of self-worth if we continue to prohibit them from doing so.” Solid point.

Paula says:

Boys need to know it’s OK to express their feelings – it’s OK for boys to cry or feel emotion.

natalie says:

yep! there’s nothing wrong with owning your feelings!!

Rachel says:

This is an awesome article, and you couldnt’ have said it better hwen you said that labels can be self-fulfilling. It’s so important as a parent, caregiver – really any adult – to build our children up and let them know that they are incredible human beings. Using negative and derogatory words to describe them will only result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.