The world is rapidly changing. Much of it for the better.
In the past year or so you’ve probably noticed a lot of conversation regarding mens’ behavior. This has caused many in our society to rethink masculinity.
In this article, we take a look at how masculinity is defined in each individual and how early childhood has a huge impact on who we become as adults. Keep reading to learn more about masculinity in society today.
It’s important to remember that every baby is born with a clean slate. Each of us begins as an empty vessel that will eventually be filled up largely by the love we receive and the influences of our surroundings.
Believe it or not, by age twelve your emotional foundation has been formed, poured and set solidly in place. Every thought and experience is processed through the filter of the foundation established during this initial stage of life. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of your first decade on this planet for establishing the kind of person you will become.
What You Learn from Your Parents
There is no mystery to the fact that the quality of parenting you receive will have a significant impact on your psychological development as a child. The love, attention, and nurturance you receive from your parents will provide the core elements of how you perceive both yourself and the world around you.
Good parenting is worth more than all the gold in the world.
This is especially true of the example of masculinity a father provides for his son. This is a boy’s first and most important exposure to masculinity, as well as the example he will carry forward with him as to what it means to be a man.
During the years of a boy’s early childhood development, a father’s love has the power to build up his son’s self-esteem or tear it down. The end result of this influence will either produce a healthy adult man or a man fueled by toxic masculinity.
Adapting to Your Social Circle
A young boy’s first impression of masculinity comes from his home life. The next stage of his development will be shaped by his peers. Both male and female friends will have an enormous impact on his emotional development and sense of self.
He will carry the influence of his father into his expanding world, and this influence will blend and clash with the influence that other fathers imprinted upon their sons. This is the point where good parenting will be put to the test.
This is especially true in the way that young boys initially interact with girls within their peer group. A healthy mother/father relationship will greatly influence the way boys relate to girls.
In the same way, a young girl born into a world of toxic masculinity will have a broken view of men and the way love looks and feels. This often leads to a life of toxic relationships with men who treat her as her father did.
After all, our parents teach us what love looks like.
As we develop, we are constantly observing the world and then modeling what we see. None of us grows up in a vacuum. We notice what looks strong and attractive to us, and we begin to behave accordingly and shape ourselves to reflect the images and behaviors that surround us.
We model our parents, we model our friends and peers, we model adults and people we respect. Good parenting not only fills a child with love and a sense of security, but it also provides direction and influence for the type of relationships we seek and pursue in their social circles as well as the wider world.
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Becoming What We Know
As stated earlier, no one grows up or develops in an emotional vacuum.
It’s also important to remember that modeling occurs both consciously and unconsciously. A child might see someone they want to be more like and make a conscious effort to replicate behavior, but more often than not the most impactful modeling occurs subconsciously.
If a child grows up in an abusive home, they’ve likely never witnessed healthy, loving behavior. And thus abusive behavior within relationships seems perfectly normal to him.
The environment each of us grows up in influences every facet of our existence, from our beliefs about money, to what we seek in a mate and friendships, to how we interact with the average person on the street.
Masculinity in the Media
The average child receives a wide range of messages about masculinity from the media. And now with the increasing popularity of influence of social media, perceptions of masculinity have become even more perverted.
Fortunately, media has also helped to change the overall definition of masculinity. The classic images of masculine role models such as John Wayne have shifted to include softer, gentler versions such as Tom Hanks.
Finding Where You Belong
The reality is that change takes time. Changing the outdated beliefs and understandings about masculinity also requires education and new models of what masculinity can and should look like.
Both boys and girls need to be able to recognize masculinity as being loving and sweet, rather than simply rugged and domineering.
It’s just as vital to understand that masculinity isn’t limited to any one thing. In fact, it can come in many different forms and have many different faces. It should always allow you to be yourself, and to fit in and feel welcomed wherever you are.
It’s Time to Rethink Masculinity
As more and more people begin to rethink masculinity, the world is slowly becoming a better place. After all, gone are the days when cowboys and tough guys were the predominant examples of what it meant to be masculine.
Being masculine is about feeling secure about who you are, and living a life that reflects your best self, regardless of what that looks like.
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