H. Thanks for your thoughts. I hold the same tensions that you do about our role in helping boys (and girls) grow into more authentic connected human beings in a world that seems hellbent on stoking gender binaries, in a culture of manhood that strips our sons of expression.
Couple and family therapist Saliha Bava and I have written a book, the Relational Book for Parenting, that is designed to help grow our collective relational capacities, parents and children alike. As much as it might seem to be, this is not a self promotional moment for me. It is the work I do to change the terrible isolating social dynamic that defines American culture. I’d like to point you to a podcast that will give you a window into our relational work. It’s not public yet, but anyone can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/markgreene/the-relational-play-podcast-episode-1-listening-with-curiosity There are other resources on that Soundcloud page as well.
You can see more about our book here including a video: http://thinkplaypartners.com
For us, the solution is not only helping our sons self regulate and practice social emotional skills, the solution lies in growing the relational capacities that thrive in the daily back and forth of relating. It is in this trial and error process that our children can learn to manage and thrive in relational spaces. Remember, we are likely only the second generation of parents who have engaged our children in conversation to the degree we do. This is transformational and the long term impacts have not yet fully emerged. They are generational. What we are seeing is millions of millenials who are rejecting many of our archaic cultural views on race and gender.
It is in the authentic back and forth of relating that we grow our capacity to co-design, hold uncertainty, listen with curiosity, collaborate, and connect across difference.
What will create the tipping point in this battle for the hearts and souls of our children, is the growing awareness that everything we are and everything we do emerges in the relationships (or the lack thereof) that make up our lives. Keep speaking to your son. It is more powerful than you know. Help him find his authentic voice in relationship to others. It is the tipping at which our children leave behind forever the scripted silences of our culture of manhood. It is in conversation that we become fully empowered human beings.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. It is an honor to have you share them here.