Here is a tip for mothers of sons: “boys take time to identify and process feelings into verbal form”. I have read this in all of the “how to raise emotionally balanced boys” books. Male brains take longer then female brains to identify and verbalize feelings. How does this affect how we parent our sons? Well, nothing like real life experience to help you understand concepts.
As you may know, my mother passed away in early September, after a long battle with Alzheimers disease, and then a couple of strokes. A very emotional intense time for me, and while I did not include my young children in the hospice care, or sitting with her body, I did include them in the weekend of memorial celebrations. Ironically my 7 year old son had brought up his concerns about death: “how we die, it is painful, what happens next?” a month before this unfolded. So the topic of death has not been avoided in our house. However following a lovely, warm, touching weekend of family and friends remembering and celebrating her life, he reported that his favorite part of the memorial service was that he got to watch Star Wars three times. We smiled and let it go. Next time I asked him what he thought of the memorial service, he said it was okay. Then two days later, at bedtime (our time to talk), unprompted, he had a whole lot to say about the service, what people shared and about her absence. Most memorable: “it will take atleast a year to get used to her not being there when we visit Grandpa. Now it will be just him, she won’t be in her chair looking at her magazines, having a snack or tea”.
And I said to myself, yes, give boys time to process their feelings. They will talk about it when they are ready, when they find the words. Turns out that in between Star Wars movies, he was very much paying attention and absorbing, feeling a whole lot, just needed some time to figure out how to say it.
What about your sons? The men in your life? How do they express their feelings? You may be able to help the process by stepping back and giving it time. Just don’t step too far out of the picture. Spend time doing activities, but try not to push. You have to be around in order for them to open up when they are ready!