7 Things Dads Should Never Say to Their Sons | Dad University Video Ep. 186

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Words are powerful. As a father, you sometimes don’t realize the words you say can have a huge impact on your child. As a father of a son, there are specific things that you just shouldn’t say.


Are you a dad puzzled about what words shouldn’t be said from dad to son? If you are, you’ll want to read on until the end of this piece of parenting advice.

We’ve all been there. Your toddler throws a tantrum. He hits someone in school. At times, we see our sons sobbing after falling off their bikes.

In these scenarios and more, you might have a few go-to phrases that you learned from your old man. No matter how far you think the fruit has fallen from the tree, you live by some of these phrases. Some of these are good. Others are part of the list you’re about to read.

What shouldn’t you say to your son? Here are seven things you shouldn’t say or need to stop saying.

1. “Boys Don’t Cry.”

This generational curse of a statement can and should end with you for two reasons.

First, it reinforces the idea that your son expresses weakness by expressing feelings. During his formative years, he won’t know the difference. As a result, he can grow up not showing feelings and not managing them well either.

The second reason you shouldn’t say it is that it doesn’t teach your son the value of emotions or the value of empathy. He can grow up with the idea that men shouldn’t be expressing their feelings because it’s simply what “boys don’t do.”

Rather than dismissing your son’s showing of emotion, you can show empathy. You can be there for him, acknowledging that things didn’t go his way. Throw in a hug, and you’ll be teaching a more positive way to handle emotions.

2. “You Throw Like a Girl.”

When you tell your son that he does something like a girl, it may just be that he didn’t do something based on your expectations. In such a scenario, your child can feel as though he messed up, going blind to any incentive to get better.

Hence, saying that your son does something “the way a girl would do it” isn’t helpful at all. The best alternative you’ve got is to instruct. For example, if your son keeps missing the ball when swinging his bat, show him the correct timing and position.

After that, allow him to commit errors as he perfects the skill. If he’s still struggling, tap into your patience and continue to wear the hat of a coach. After all, what else are dads for?

3. “Stop Acting Like a Baby.”

If you’ve been a dad for any length of time, you’d be no stranger to the feeling that your son should be acting a certain way at a specific age. This is perfectly fine. What’s not OK is assuming that your son knows everything he should do, especially during his formative years.

Your son needs guidance on the right kind of behavior. This means telling him what he should be doing rather than what he shouldn’t do.

Think about it. What’s clearer to a toddler? Is it telling him to stop throwing a tantrum, or is it telling him that throwing one will not get him what he wants? Very likely, it’s the second. The first statement is dismissive — pretty much the problem with everything you shouldn’t say to your son.

4. “Boys Will Be Boys.”

A bit of rough-housing here and there isn’t something to yell at him about. However, what if rough-housing crosses the line? One of the most common ways dads and even moms, for that matter, explain this behavior is with the line “boys will be boys.”

The problem with this line is that it’s a slippery slope that leads to excusing inappropriate and aggressive behavior. When your son picks a fight in school, he can use “being a boy” as his reason. This is inappropriate and will get him into trouble later on.

Explaining behavior along these lines also speaks of your prejudices of what it means to be a boy. Hence, instead of rationalizing your son’s behavior, it’s your job as a father to let him know right from wrong. Another technique of behavioral modification we use at Dad University is asking how a situation may have been handled differently.

5. “This Isn’t for Boys.”

We live in a time when things are beginning to become gender-neutral. Ballet is no longer just for girls. As well, hobbies like knitting and clothing design aren’t exactly effeminate activities anymore.

The lines between what’s just for boys and just for girls are slowly beginning to obscure. Any insistence about interests that are “just for boys” only speaks of how deep your sense of gender stereotypes goes. However, that’s a discussion for another time.

If you want your son to discover his passions at an early age, let him. You can also encourage him to try other activities based on his inclinations.

6. “Be a Man.”

Why is this not something you shouldn’t say to your son? Let’s start by asking this: “What does this even mean for a child?”

Besides the fact that it’s vague, it’s also very dismissive of your son’s emotions. By telling your son to “suck it up,” you embed the message that emotions aren’t important. As adults, we know that this is just not true.

7. “You’re Too Sensitive.”

According to Psychology Today, 15% to 20% of children have heightened emotional sensitivity. Now, this might sound like a bad thing. However, sensitive children lend themselves to experiences that enhance their empathy and intuition.

Sensitive children are also very aware of what goes on around them. These are qualities that should be admired and nurtured. They are not to be stifled or seen as something negative.

Yes, your son can indeed be what you consider “too sensitive.” However, this isn’t a bad thing. Rather, it’s a gift. Act like it is, and let your son know that there’s nothing wrong with sensitivity.

The Most Important Piece of Parenting Advice Is to Avoid Dismissiveness

Ultimately, the above-mentioned statements have one thing in common — they’re all dismissive. As we dads know, being dismissive is an easy way to push our sons away. By doing this, we might create more emotionally challenged men who will pass our dismissive statements on to their sons.

Luckily, you can put a stop to it. Besides not saying any of the above, you can listen to some actionable parenting advice.

Get some useful parenting advice and access to more educational resources at Dad University, and be the best dad to your son.


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