Despite the fact that 20% of the population is born with a “highly sensitive” gene, our society still expects boys to act “all tough, all the time.” That’s bad news for our sensitive sons. You know the ones … the gentle boys who are full of love, creativity and intuition, but who crumble under the weight of the stresses around them, whether those are intense sensations or intense feelings.
When you have a sensitive boy in your family, you may feel torn between wanting to protect him from those pressures, and wanting to help him build a thicker skin. There’s a fine line, however, between strengthening his resiliency, and making him feel as though he’s not good enough the way he is.
There’s a new website available to help you navigate these turbulent waters. Called Raising WonderBoy, the site provides resources and support for parents raising sensitive sons, as well as for the boys themselves as they learn that their kind heart, perceptiveness, and gentle approach to life are actually superpowers that they can be proud of. Named for the touching sense of wonder that gentle boys bring to their childhood, the site celebrates the strengths of sensitive boys, and helps parents shore up the weaknesses.
A sensitive boy is easy to spot right from infancy. He can be colicky, he doesn’t sleep well, and he really dislikes loud noises, crowds, and boisterous neighbors who get up in his face. As he gets older, the sensitive boy prefers to play quietly, he cannot stand uncomfortable sensations (including sock seams, shirt tags, and hard jeans), and he loves to cuddle. He’s heartbroken if you point out something he’s done wrong (even if you’re very gentle in doing so).
Eventually, you’ll see the older sensitive boy will still cry when he’s surprised with a disappointment or injury, even though he’s “too old” for that (which he knows, but sometimes he can’t hold it back). He feels pain much more than other kids, he doesn’t have a poker face, and he worries about existential issues. He asks surprisingly deep questions, he has a wry sense of humor, and is still a cuddler at heart.
While many parents (fathers especially) worry that their sensitive sons will be crushed among their more aggressive peers, or even by the stress of life itself, it so happens that sensitive people are very often very successful people as adults. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Martin, Robert Frost, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mozart were all highly sensitive people. The very traits that make a sensitive child’s life a bit more difficult to navigate (overstimulation, intense emotional responses) mellow into important measures of adult success, including creativity, empathy, conscientiousness, and the ability to understand the world around them very deeply.
To help parents guide their sensitive sons toward this goal of a happy and successful adult life, Raising WonderBoy provides background information about introversion, intensity, emotional temperaments, handling overstimulation, forming relationships, and more. In addition, the site lists a wealth of books, movies and toys that stimulate the sensitive boy’s clever and capable mind, without causing any uncomfortable emotions.
For a parent swimming against the tide of opinion (“You should toughen up that boy!”), who knows that it would be a travesty to diminish the sensitive boy’s gifts of love, insight and creativity, this site is a wonderful place to start.