The traditional notion of raising boys with toxic masculinity is undergoing a transformative shift, as exemplified by parents like Austin and his wife.
It is the year 2023 but still, a disheartening reality persists: boys are being told to 'be a man' during their formative years. Regrettably, this conventional notion of masculinity often comes intertwined with toxic traits that our patriarchal society has historically linked to manhood. Toxic masculinity, as pointed out by Ashley, starkly contrasts with the values typically encouraged in young girls — qualities like empathy, nurturing, connection, and care. In a now-viral TikTok video, Ashley passionately highlights the problematic nature of this gendered upbringing.
She asserts that any emotion outside the narrow spectrum of happiness, anger, or desire is often met with derogatory labels such as "gay" or "weak." This stifles emotional expression, leaving many men yearning for a deeper sense of connection. However, there is hope and inspiration found in the response of Austin Light (@austinlightdraws), a TikTok dad who decided to actively challenge these damaging norms and raise emotionally healthy sons. Through modern parenting, Austin Light and his wife crafted their own family mantra, akin to the well-known "Live, Laugh, Love." For this family, their motto revolves around three essential principles, beautifully visualized through large art prints adorning their sons' room.
The first word is "vulnerable," represented by an outreached hand. In their eyes, vulnerability is an emblem of courage, a testament to the bravery it takes to express one's emotions and navigate feelings openly. The second principle, "be kind," is symbolized by two hands approaching each other. Lights, who is an illustrator, emphasizes that "vulnerability begets kindness," as empathy naturally follows when individuals open up and share their feelings. He stresses that kindness is not merely about niceties but rather about taking meaningful actions to support one another.
Lastly, the third concept is "be confident," illustrated by two hands holding each other. This confidence stems from the understanding that vulnerability and kindness are shared experiences. It empowers individuals, especially men, to reach out when they need help or when they find themselves in a vulnerable state. Light explains that these three words form the bedrock of their family values and their approach to "authentic masculinity." He acknowledges the importance of fostering confidence in boys, enabling them to understand that they are not alone in their emotional journey.
To this heartwarming and forward-thinking video, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Many viewers praised the parents for their progressive approach to raising sons. Some even expressed a desire to purchase the art prints as a tangible reminder of these important principles. "These should be on Tiktok shop or easy or Amazon... I love the illustrations and sentiment," commented @ashleybartlettrae while @okiafterlife wrote: "If I had this growing up.. maybe it wouldn't have hit me so hard right now. This is what we need."
The traditional notion of raising boys with toxic masculinity is undergoing a transformative shift, as exemplified by parents like Austin Light and his wife. Their family values centered around vulnerability, kindness, and confidence serve as a beacon of hope.