How to Talk to our Boys During Quarantine
With all the extra time at home, juggling remote learning and working, it can be easy for parents to feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed - and unless parents are expressing - and then regulating - these emotions in a healthy way, they can rub off on our kids in negative and unproductive ways.
While challenging, and without minimizing all that is going on in the world, this time is also an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY. We may never have another chance for completely un-interrupted, concentrated time at home with our children. This is a chance to teach your child lessons about themselves and the world that they may never have a chance to learn in context again, and it can deepen your relationship with them in ways that may last a lifetime.
One of the quickest and most powerful ways to gain emotional control over ourselves (and thus make it possible to feel empathy towards others) is by simply recognizing our own emotions. This starts first with parents. Rather than hiding your emotions, or protecting your kids from seeing them, get in the habit of naming them. 'I feel sad that so many people are sick right now.' 'I feel grateful that we are all safe at home'. 'I feel hopeful that we will find a cure for this soon'.
Boys especially are taught by society, (and unwittingly by many well-meaning parents), that a wide and colorful emotional range is not 'masculine' and that it is a sign of weakness, when in fact, it is the very opposite. It takes great courage to express emotions and great skill to regulate them.
Boys and men are taught that anger is acceptable, and strong. But what about vulnerability, joy, fear, sadness, or excitement? OF COURSE every boy feels every emotion, but it is up to parents and educators to preserve and protect our boys from a young age so that they can continue to fully feel and express themselves throughout their lives, rather than burying these beautiful emotions. This will promote healthy relationships full of empathy, a strong sense of self, and a vibrant, full life.
Take this time to observe and pay close attention to your sons especially, and provide a chance to talk to him/them about their feelings (without being too heavy or putting pressure). And make sure if it's a two parent household that both parents are on board! It is super powerful for a boy to have a male role model in this regard. Here is a downloadable PDF with a list of 400+ emotions to broaden your emotional vocabulary!
There are also loads of great resources with tools and fun ideas for breaking the ice and getting more comfortable talking to your boy(s) regardless of their age. Please see the articles below for inspiration on how to start creating these healthy habits. The 1 for All Project wishes all of you health and emotional connection during this time!