If you a man, you probably at some point in your life have been told in one shape of form that, “Big boys don’t cry.”
Typically, this phrase is said by an older man, probably the uncle or father, during a moment when the boy is complaining with tears or when they hurt themselves.
Having boys of my own, I struggle with this phrase. I don’t want my boys to grow up to be men who cry over everything, but I do believe there is a time and place for tears.
Recently I was thinking about the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35 “Jesus Wept.” In the context, Jesus wept over the death of his friend, the sadness of his friend’s sisters, and just the overall scene of a funeral. Jesus cried, and he was more than a big boy, he was God.
Jesus weeping lead me to this thought with my own children, that there is a difference between weeping and whining. When my either one of my sons decides to cry, I think is he weeping or is he whining? This is how I my define each one.
Weeping is when we cry for something deserving emotion like a death or something that touches your heart.
Whining is when we complain or cry over not getting something we wanted i.e. tantrums.
So when tears come down my son’s face, I have to consider the context. Are they weeping or are they whining? Sometimes that decision is easy and sometimes that decision is very difficult.
An easy example, are they crying because they had to turn off the television? If so, I tell them “Men don’t whine,” because it is true. Real men don’t whine when they have to do something they don’t want to do. Real men do the what is told and go on with their business.
A more difficult one is when sometimes my sons they will hurt themselves because they were adventurous. Some parents might call that whining, but I put it in the category of weeping. I don’t tell them to stop crying over a physical pain, but instead I talk to them about risk and reward while I allow them to cry. Was the risk of climbing in the tree worth the bruises? That is for them to decide. After awhile, their tears go away, and they are back doing whatever they were doing, because they decided the risk is better than the reward. (Hopefully, that don’t bite me in the butt later down the road)
I think as a father of two boys, it is important to be careful with the words we use to our children. Their understanding of the English language, probably is better than most adults, but it is still limited. I don’t want to discourage crying, I want to discourage whining. I want my boys to cry and feel free to do so, but I want it to be for something of importance. That is when they are whining, I don’t call it crying. I tell them “Men don’t Whine,” and hopefully as they get older they can learn to weep and not to whine.
What are somethings that you consider whining? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.