We’ve had some very deep talks recently, surprise, surprise.
One theme that seems apparent is a theme of lack of courage.
We call it the “monkey-bar phenomenon.” When our oldest was young, he loved to climb and do monkey bars, no fear at all. He liked to play soccer as a fun thing to do with friends. When we lived in our last overseas country, there were some local boys who were bullies. It was hard on our son and he lost that fearlessness for a while. It got to the point where, even though he loved to do the monkey bars, if there was anyone else at the playground doing monkey bars, he wouldn’t even try. And, he wanted absolutely nothing more to do with soccer. It made me so sad for him. And, it reminded MC of himself who refused to do anything if he felt that, in comparison to others, he would not do well at it. As a child, I too had similar proclivities. I don’t think it is an uncommon instinct. However, it has the potential to become pathological and I think that is dangerous.
Our son has steered away from certain sports that he was bullied about overseas. But, I am happy to say he has found a niche that has been very affirming for him. We’ve had a lot of talks about this with him. You don’t have to win the race, and so what if you lose the race, it is still better to participate and try than to sit on the sidelines because of fear. It is a hard lesson to learn, even for adults.
I was so worried about our son for a while. But, this boy has really come into his own. He has a mind of his own and he speaks it. He is not afraid to be who he is, he is not afraid to stand by his beliefs, he is not afraid to stand-up for himself or other kids being mistreated, not in an aggressive way, but in a calm and matter-of-fact kind of way. I am so PROUD of him.
Courage isn’t protecting yourself from consequences, courage is facing the consequences, even when painful and/or scary. Courage isn’t arrogance, courage is knowing when you need help and asking for it. Courage isn’t telling others what they want to hear and then doing what you want anyway, courage is matching your actions to your words. Courage isn’t going along with what others want because it is easier, courage is voicing your opinion and then working together to find solutions. Courage isn’t agreeing to do things because you are afraid of people thinking poorly of you, courage is being able to say “no” when you need to do so.
I am starting to strongly believe that when a man lacks courage, he will question his masculinity and this leads to poor self-esteem and possibly some very dark places to compensate. Every time MC acts with courage, I see it building belief in himself. The more he does it, the more he moves away from being a little boy and being a man, not just to me, but to himself. When MC started turning it around, I saw our son starting to turn it around. It is a healthier place for all of us and that gives me a sense of safety for all of us. MC still works hard to have courage in the face of fear. I know it is not instinctive yet, there is more work ahead. But, I also know he is learning, he is growing and I do see that he has come a long ways, and continues the work to move forward, to become stronger, to become healthier.