International Day of the Boy Child
Today is the International Day of the Boy Child. The International Day of the Boy Child is a day set aside to create awareness on the issues concerning the boy child. It highlights how we can groom and mentor boys in order to have a truly gender-equal world. This year’s theme focuses on boosting optimism, restoring self-worth.
What leads to the issue of low self-esteem for boys?
1. Societal expectation: From a young age, boys are expected to outperform girls. They are reprimanded and made to feel small when they get lower grades than their female counterparts. This makes them feel threatened by female success and gender equality.
2. Socialization: The typical man is seen as fierce, brave, and strong. He shows no weakness or remorse. He’s a born leader. Boys are groomed to become these kinds of men. Thus, they are not expected to cry or show any sign of emotion. This raises men with low self-esteem who associate expressing human emotions with femininity.
3. Peer pressure: This stems from societal expectation and socialization but it’s mostly seen among peers, especially teenagers. In secondary schools, boys pressure each other into doing things that they shouldn’t or growing up faster than they should. Boys who refuse to participate in teenage drinking, partying, casual sex, and all the rest are usually seen as old-fashioned and ridiculed. This leads to low self-esteem in some boys.
How can we help boys in restoring their self-esteem?
1. By raising boys differently: Instead of pitting them against women, let’s encourage and applaud their efforts. Let’s stop taking jabs at their self-worth each time they fall short of unnecessary expectations. Rather, let us be glad that they gave their best.
2.Mentoring and advocacy: Boys need the right models to show them the way. Mentoring and advocacy are the right channels to make this happen. Men who are successful and embrace gender equality can take it upon themselves to champion this cause. By creating awareness about peer pressure and these societal expectations, they can make things a lot easier for the boys and boost their optimism.
Teaching boys that it is okay to be human: From the cradle, boys need to know and be in touch with their emotions. They need to understand that being expressive is not feminine. This means that they can cry when they feel like it and it’s not wrong.
I am putting this out as a challenge to us all especially the men among us. As people who want things to get better in the world, we need to step up our efforts and change the narrative. Don’t repeat the cycle of pressure and unnecessary expectations you suffered. Let’s do better with our boys and raise them the right way. By boosting optimism and restoring self-worth, we will create a truly gender-equal world.