Sons That Cry

I think many would say that my husband inherited his sensitivity from his mother. He is a grown man who has never been afraid to express how he feels, even if it involves crying a little. He cries at appropriate times-when his heart is overwhelmed with joy, gratitude, or pain. His brother is much the same way. And although I would agree that he received his mother’s tender heart, I think that the confidence and courage that allows him to feel secure in expressing what is going on in his heart, he learned from his father.

Lately, our six year old has been crying a lot. As parents we try to discern when his heart is hurting and when he is being manipulative; when we listen and when we tell him to man up. Many times tears flow as a result of not getting his way. This is not an appropriate time to cry, we tell him. Sometimes we see tears in order to exaggerate an offense against him. Stop crying, we say. With all our boys, when they get hurt, they receive hugs and care and kisses, and then we usually say, “I think you’re ok, it’s time to calm down and be brave.”

The truth is that most of the things that the boys cry about are not worth the tears. We know this is part of the stage they are in, that they will cry over unfair games and lost races. At this age, the sensitivity is there, at the surface and ready to pour. It is our responsibility as parents to slowly teach them that tears are for injustice and pain and sin and even for men, joy.

He came into our room a while back, tears in his eyes. He recognized his bad habit; our words, by the Grace of God, finally reaching his heart. “It’s an idol in my life,” he said. We prayed together and reminded him of the One who wipes tears away forever, and the tears of sorrow turned into tears of joy… Appropriate tears.

We want to teach the boys how to be men–how to be honest leaders, courageous warriors, and noble defenders. We know that these characteristics aren’t always easy to obtain, so we want to be intentional as we disciple them. However, my heart is at peace. I’ve heard it said that children learn what they live, but there’s more to it than that. I know that the way they express their feelings is being shaped by the confidence and courage that has been passed down from their grandfather to their father, and now to them.

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3 thoughts on “Sons That Cry

  1. I had tears when I read this post Marian. I’m not sure what kind of tears flowed, maybe just recognizing the wrong I’ve done in this area with Grayson!! Thank you for this post! I loved it tears and all!!

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post — I have recently discovered your blog and love reading your insightful and grace-filled thoughts on family life! Just yesterday I was discovering the beginnings of this issue with my first son, who is 14 months old. As I try to learn how to be a good mother, showing love and responsible discipline, I’ve been on the more-or-less conscious alert for the time at which my baby becomes a little boy, capable of recognizing “bad” behavior and, what’s more, capable of resisting impulses of mischief (which he seems to have a lot of!). Yesterday seemed like one of those days — the look in his eye had changed and it really seemed like he could “take responsibility” in a way he hasn’t been old enough for before. It was wonderful to read your comments on navigating the differences between the “man it up” tears and the tears of true sorrow — the times in which they just want their way and those in which they are sad for the absence of the true way. I just pray for the grace to recognize them, and to know what to do when we see them!

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