Warning: Soap Box Alert! Some of you may cringe, especially you parents. I must share- this is something I've always thought about doing, but never had the guts to do what I did yesterday. I offered unsolicited parenting advice. Well, not exactly, but here's the story.
My men's group was hanging out in Chipotle for dinner. We were having one of the deepest talks about some of our darkest hours of manhood. No joke, when we overhead a parenting conversation between a mom and her two year old son. They were leaving the restaurant and the little blond haired boy was upset he didn't have his toy to play with as he put his coat on. We heard her telling her son, "Big boys don't cry," and we all looked at each other realizing that WE DO CRY, sometimes. So boldly, with some humor, we had the following exchange:
Mom: Big boys don't cry. Stop crying. We have to leave.
Me: Ma'am, we can't help but overhear and we just wanna say, big boys DO cry... sometimes.
Mom: Do they cry when their dump trucks are taken away prematurely?
Me: Sometimes they do. This guy (pointing to Rocky in our group) just got a new car and he was crying cause his old car was jacked up. But he's happy now.
Rocky: I had a truck and it was a dump.
Me: Cars do make us cry, sometimes, so do girls, broken hearts, and any other time we're sad. Just want to remind you that it's OK for big boys to cry sometimes.
Mom: Your right. It's just an innocent peer pressure tactic that really seems to work his age.
Obviously I don't want to make this a habit but I really felt compelled. Thankfully the mom was receptive and jokingly accepted our quips. Maybe it'll spare this kid years of therapy and his future wife from complaining her husband is emotionally distant. I know from my own experience that these seemingly "innocent tactics" are dangerous and can have lasting, harmful effects. If I had a dollar for every man I know who has emotional issues, including myself, from some stereotypical, misrepresentation of manhood expressed to them growing up, I'd have a lot of money to give away. Regardless, I know parenting a toddler is hard and I pray grace on this mom and her son and the ability to live (and parent) with God's help and power.