Mama Feathers

In a recent conversation with another mom, I was told that “Jaden cries too much.”  Alright, moms of boys … why is it a bad thing that we have sensitive boys?  I think boys in this day in age could cry a little more!

Is my kid sensitive?  Absolutely.  Does he need to work on keeping his emotions in check a little bit?  Of course.  He’s FIVE!  Does it make it harder to play with him at times?  I’m sure it does.  But is that a justification to leave my son out?  Is it ok for all the kids on the street to just up and leave to play at someone else’s house while leaving my kid behind?

My mama feathers are more than a little ruffled.  I go into instant protection mode.  (Jaden was welcomed into the house with a great big hug and two freezey pops.  Exactly what my mom would have done. )

I need to open myself up to the other side or the other perspective.

One thing that my son does REALLY well is share.  He would give anything he had to anyone.  His allergy free food, his toys, gifts, you name it.  At times he doesn’t want to take a turn, but over all, he shares everything with anyone.

He also really likes people.  He will chat anyone’s ear off if they let him.  Jabber Jaw Jaden.  He’ll talk to kids his age, kids who are older than he is or adults.  He goes around and gives his goodbye hugs and kisses without much asking.  He says his please and thank you’s.

So what do we do with our sons who are sensitive?  How do I embrace his personality and his emotions while still raising him in a way that “he’ll fit in.”  How do I tell my son that it’s ok to cry at home but not at school … however if you were a girl, it would be ok for you to cry whenever.  Ok maybe that’s not totally true, but it kind of feels like it at times.

I just don’t understand why crying is a bad thing.  Maybe it’s because I wish I could cry more at times.   Having dated my fair share of winners and losers … I think that the “good” ones were ok with their sensitivity.  But, let’s be honest girls, who doesn’t love a ‘bad boy’?  Can a guy be both?  Rough and tough on the outside and sweet and sensitive on the outside?  Or is this just a movie character we dream about?

How do I raise my boys to be the bad ass motorcycle guy in black leather who buys his girlfriend flowers and cries at his wedding?  How do I set boundaries when at times I don’t know them myself?

I don’t keep my emotions in check, although I’ve gotten much better at it over the years.  I still can’t cry when I want to and am a blubbering mess when I wish I could hold it together.  I’m super sensitive and sentimental, but I have a redheaded temper.  I have so much growing to do myself.  How do I teach my son how to do it?

Parenting seems like an impossible task.  Teaching your children the ways of the world when you don’t get it yourself.   Lord help me …

Love, Mel

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25 Comments

Filed under Advice, Mommyhood Meditations, Posted by Melissa

25 responses to “Mama Feathers

  1. kim

    He has his own personality, & no other child has “walked in his shoes”….adjusting to 3 new babys, and then to grieve losing his baby brother…I would wanna slap that mom for not understanding. Kids NEED to release emotion, frustration, anger, even happiness all can lead to tears! Its healthy. You can only do what you already have been, and your boys will be outstanding men 🙂 ps, I just finnished reading “one thousand gifts”…you need ti read it, asap 🙂 take care and keep up the good work!

  2. I think that each child has their own personality and each parent has a different parenting style. I think these 2 things together make up who are children are.

    Maybe you weren’t literally asking for advice, but in case you were here it goes. I am the mom of 3 girls, so my circumstances are not quite the same.

    The way we do things in our house is this, and it may seem a little harsh. When our kids fall and get hurt, we do not run over to them or get upset. If they cry even though we didn’t do anything to cause the tears, then we snuggle them, kiss it better and do what every parent would do when their little ones are hurt. On the other hand if they jump back up and continue playing, we pretend it never happened. We still snuggle our kids and teach them sensitivity the best we can, but with the cruel world out there we try to teach them that we can’t always protect them. My oldest is only 6, and she is already learning that other kids are mean. This also brings up the problem of well if they are mean to me then I can be mean back… Parenting is not an easy thing, but it seems that you (unfortunately) have to teach your child to “thicken his skin.” I wish I could tell you the perfect way to do this, but only you know your son and what he needs. The best thing you can do is love him (which I know you do).

    I have had to take parenting classes to become a foster parent, and I know what they would tell you. Love them and the rest will fall into place. Teach them how to handle situations when kids will be rude to them.

    Also have your husband rough house with him… My 5 year old nephew is what people would call a “cry baby”. My husband started rough housing with him…. not hurting him, but not always letting him “win” and it has helped him a ton and he is making a ton of new friends now!

  3. Marci J

    Mel –

    I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) – 20% of the population is – males & females. There is a book by psychologist Elaine Aron called “The Highly Sensitive Person”, I learned alot about me by reading it. I suggest you might read her book “The Highly Sensitive Child” – I think it will give you insight for your questions about helping Jaden.

    • Great book! I think everyone should have to read it because our society doesn’t understand HSPs at all. Anyone who isn’t an HSP probably knows one, so could still benefit from this book!

  4. Dyan

    Ok, Mel. i’m gonna tell you what i think. We are raising 4 boys, my oldest is 20 and my youngest is 4. YES you can raise a “man” who is sensitive yet strong. your son, like you said, is only 5. It’s ok….he has alot of time to sort it out. Continue like you have been, you are doing a great job. I don’t think there is a mom out there that hasn’t been told that their boys are too “sensitive”. I would rather raise a sensitive man than one who runs over others, doesn’t say thank you, takes from other kids because they dont’ want to be the “ones’ singled out and made fun of. I can tell you, my oldest was the quiet one early on, the one that people said was to “helpful”, too sensitive. Let me tell you that he is a really good, compassionate, strong man. Who is sensitive and caring. Who is kind to woman, kind to kids, compassionate when he encounters others to are facing a challenge, and is a role model and a “my brothers keeper” to his brothers. SO, don’t worry about others telling you Jaden is to sensitive, he is going to be a GREAT MAN. feel sorry for those who are raising those “other boys”. and for the woman who told you that, shame on her. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but not to share it if it is hurtfull. she should have kept her mouth shut. Everyone has lessons to learn, evidently she wasnt listening when her mama tried teaching her to be kind. i hope if she is teaching her son that, that he is listening. Much love being sent your way Mel. You are a stong woman, who will raise STRONG MEN. For with God, all things are possible.

  5. Dyan

    Mel,
    I forgot to add one thing….it is really good that Jaden’s little brothers will grow up with a brother who is careing and compassionate like Jaden. what a wonderfull role model ! he has lost someone so close to him, he will be able to share with his brothers SO MANY THINGS. An understanding of compassion, of being strong enough to handle the world, remembering all the wonderfull memories that that person gave them. and ALSO understanding, knowing and sharing the wonderfull support that you and your husband have given to him….with them. Many people are listeing to you Mel, hearing your words and are amazed at your STRENGTH. amazed, mel. your boys will be better men because of YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND.

  6. How rude! No one is ever TOO sensitive, especially at 5!!!! He sounds like a wonderful boy! Don’t change anything and I say DON”T teach him to be “harder” just because the rest of the world is that way…..we need more sensitivity! Teach him how to deal with situations like that, but don’t change him! His future wife and family will thank you for that. 🙂

  7. Susan

    I had the same problem with my daughter. She would cry in school when she didn’t get called on or when she didn’t get to pick the color construction paper she wanted or when she didn’t get picked to be first in line. She has always been a very sensitive child, but she didn’t get any breaks for being a girl. I was called into a parent teacher conference to talk about her crying because it had gotten out of hand and was distracting to the other students. I had to sit down and talk to her about how it was ok to be disappointed or sad but that sometimes it was better to try to hold the tears in. She wasn’t crying because she was hurt or because she was truly experiencing grief. I never want to stifle that in any of my children. But as kids grow they have to learn how to deal with their emotions better. It’s probably not going to happen at 5, but hopefully, he’ll have it figured out before my daughter did…at 8. But I’m like you. I’m still proud to have a sensitive and emotional child. I never have to guess how she’s feeling. 🙂

  8. Jaden is an amazing little guy. He definitely is a sensitive guy, but I think that is one of his most endearing qualities…he’s always so concerned with everyone’s well being and the hows and whys of things. He is such a generous little guy, he does share everything, even when you can tell he doesn’t really want to. He’s a great kid who loves people, everyone he met yesterday left with their own Jaden story, and we were all talking about what a great kid he is! You and Doug are doing a wonderful job, the nice guys don’t always finish last, I married a nice sensitive guy who I adore and we are going to raise Tucker the same way!

  9. Sabrina

    Whoever told you he cries too much should keep their opinion to themself. My son is 7 and he’s emotional at times, and he didn’t just lose a baby brother. You don’t know what could be going on inside his little mind and sweet soul, and that could be part of the reason he’s emotional. My son is very thoughtful, kind, and gets easily upset when someone is mean to his friends. It’s OK. Hang in there and don’t take everything other parents say as truth. HUGS.

  10. As a mother of 4 boys, I wish I had the answer myself. In my opinion you should embrace his sensitivity and run with it….breed it. We ALL could use a little more sensitivity. Compassion and caring and FEELING is NOT a bad thing. Christ was a compassionate and known to openly weep. Does that not say enough?

    One thing we try to teach our boys is to learn to bridle those emotions. Not that they cant have them, or express them, but try to teach them where and when it’s appropriate to display them.

    Did I just contradict myself? Sort of. Let me explain myself.

    We teach them that they are entitled to their feelings (good or bad). I mean, we are all entitled to our feeling, right? We encourage them to express themselves. If it’s in a controlled/calm manner, they are welcome to do it publicly but if they are having a hard time controlling themselves, they are encouraged (forced) to go to their rooms. Does that make sense?

    As far as Jaden is concerned, I think that little sweet 5 YEAR OLD is probably pretty normal for his age. Add on top of that, you ALL are going through a particularly hard time right now. I’d say he is more than entitled to his feelings. That mother should be encouraging her children to feel a large dose of compassion for him because of his hardships not making excuses for their bad behavior. Shame on her.

  11. Amber B.

    My son, who just turned 3, is very much the same as Jaden. He loves to share and hug and kiss and will talk to anyone, but is very sensitive and knows what he does and doesn’t like. He gets very upset at times when playing with other kids because he just doesn’t understand why kids are mean sometimes or are more aggressive in the way they play. That other mom should take a step back and re-assess how she is raising her own children and try to teach them a little more compassion and understanding.

  12. Kathy Krull

    You raise your kids with love. You pray that they will be compassionate people and law abiding citizens. I found that our kids will mimick us. My aha moment was when I realize that I was yelling at my kids for doing the exact thing I was doing. I read a book (the title escapes me) but it was about how changing my behavior so that my kids would behave better. You do the best you can. Don’t beat yourself up — your a great Mom! Love, Aunt Kathy
    PS: I just got done yelling at my 16 year old for the way his room looks, you should see mine. But being a parent should come with some perks?!?.

  13. Lisa

    Mel – I am the mother of a 7 year old boy. When he was younger, he easily got upset about some things and still does if he is tired. I think some kids can be overly sensitive (crying about every little thing) but Jaden doesn’t appear to be one of them especially given what he has been dealt in life already. When our son gets upset about something and he gets “overly emotional” (tears over trivial things) we just let him know that it is okay to not be happy about something but he needs to know not everything will go his way. Sometimes we have to wait until he calms down and then we have our talk.

    We did worry about when he was getting ready for kindergarten that kids may tease him about crying so we did take the approach that crying is reserved for really hurtful things. Maybe that was wrong but we didn’t want him to get teased. We were trying to “save” him from more disappointment and mean comments by making him “tougher”. There is nothing worse than your child coming home from school and crying because someone was mean to them. But he has to find his own way in the end with our guidance.

    He has slowly grown out of it and is still polite and sensitive to others feelings. I think most of the boys who are not “sensitive” when they are younger are the boys were constantly told to stop because they are a boy. Too many people try to squash boys from having feelings and that is how we end up with the “bad guys” when we are dating them!

    And I am shocked that someone told you that! Some parents need sensitivity training!

    Good luck! I really enjoy reading your blog.

  14. Robyn :)

    I think it depends on what he is crying about. If it is because he isn’t getting his way or just looking for attention then it could be a problem. However, from how you describe him and from what I have read in your other posts that doesn’t realy sound like the case. Maybe the people teling you he cries to much are jealous because their children cannot express themselves the way your son does.

  15. Silvia Hawkins

    My very sensitive son played “Amazing Grace” and “Somewhere over the Rainbow” at my mom’s funeral on his saxophone when he was 14 years old. I don’t think I could have done it but along with his sensitivity he also has a lot of strength in him. He just turned 19 last week and is a great kid. All my kids (oldest is 23, youngest is 16) also stand up for others in need.
    All the best,
    Silvia

  16. Kim

    It doesn’t go on his college resume…no worries

  17. Shell

    My now 13 yr old was very much like Jaden; he was very sensitive, cried when people said mean things to him or wouldn’t let him play with them. It was very hard for me to understand what he was going through when I’m completely opposite in being able to control my emotions. I had friends that would even pick on him for acting so “girly” – to which I usually told them off since that ruffles the mama bears feathers 🙂 Even though I didn’t always know how to handle his sensitivity, I did the best I could with what I had at the time. He was only 5 when his dad died in a car accident, and prior to that it was just me, him and his older brother since I was divorced. We’d talk about how he was feeling and why he felt that way and ways we could get through the situations. Now at 13 and with two more younger brothers (3 & 1) running around the house, he is the best big brother around! He is sensitive, compassionate and really good with the younger boys. Now I have friends comment that they can’t believe how good he is with the younger two and how their older kids want nothing to do with their younger ones. So I say even though he was sensitive (and still is-he just handles it better now & we still talk about it) I certainly wouldn’t trade him in for the world! And he may get picked on even when he’s older-my oldest (17) is a lot like me emotionally and he’s very laid back, but he picks on his brother (calls him a wuss actually…that’s brotherly love for ya!) for being sensitive, but every kid has their own personality and you just have to go with the flow-our 3 yr old is our wild man and our 1 yr old is our little snuggle bug. That other mom probably never had a child that was sensitive so she doesn’t really know how to deal with it and figures that’s the best way. Only you know the best way to deal with your children….and you’ll do great no matter what you do 🙂

  18. Will

    like a lot of folks have said, Jaden is a fantastic little guy. There is no shame in being sensitive and there is no shame is letting it show when you are emotional. Protestant, American, culture is obsessed with men being “macho” and strong and holding it all in. This makes the men i know who are able to let go and cry feel less manly or weak. I think they are some of the strongest most courageous men I know.

    Jaden is 5. I can tell he will grow up to be a compassionate, caring, strong, and brave man because you and Doug are his parents. keep doing what you’re doing and let Jaden be Jaden. maybe in school he will catch flack for being sensitive and that’s when he’ll need you most to tell him being different is ok and that he is loved always for being himself.

    the shame from trying to be something else just to avoid judgement and teasing from others didn’t lead to me being any happier and certainly not healthier. ignore that other mom she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Jaden is a great kid and you’re doing just fine!

  19. Amy

    What amazes me is that another mother would say that….especially someone close enough to you to know your story. Amazing. God Bless…Jaden is a sweet little boy.

  20. Jeanette

    Mel, I’d say whatever that lady said ignore. there is no way a little boy at 5yrs old is to sensitive. I think your doing a great job on raising your boys. there’s nothing wrong with being a little sensitive. Jaden is a sweet, helpful by what you’ve told us in other blogs, and very caring of his brothers. God bless you all!!!

  21. Dawn Akins

    I would have had to tell her to BITE ME, so a 80’s slang word haven’t thought of it in years till now so it must be fitting. lol i have 2 boys 16 and 13 and girl 7, never came close to having a perfect child and learned a long time ago not to compare, i have a friend whos daughter is what i would have called a drama queen, than my daughter comes along and my friend had an angel. never judgebecause it bites in you the butt.

  22. Katie

    Let Jaden be himself. If other mothers don’t like it then forget them. If Jaden is still not able to control his crying when he’s in middle school – then worry about it. Otherwise, this, like all other phases of life…will pass. And anyone who doesn’t like it are jerks!! 😉

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  24. Melissa Cline

    I really enjoy the books Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys and Real Boys: Rescuing our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood. Based on some of your questions I think you might really like them/find them useful.
    Sounds like the other mom is participating in/enforcing gender straitjacketing. I don’t agree with toughening little boys and teaching them that the only appropriate emotion for a male to show is anger. Why should someone be denied the full range of human expression/experience because he happens to have a Y chromosome?

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