06/02/2017 16:37 GMT

Mum Judged For 'Babying' Son After He Got Hit In Face, Pens Important Message About Boys' Mental Health

'The notion that boys can never hurt is so damaging to them long term.'

A mum who was scolded for “babying” her son after a basketball hit him in the face, has written an important reminder to parents about boys’ mental health.

Jaime Primak Sullivan, from the US, explained that her eight-year-old son Max welled up after a ball hit him during a basketball game.

She instantly got up from the crowd and ran over to her son, helping him calm down.

“He finally took a breath, and I wrapped my arms around him as he cried into my shoulder,” she wrote on Facebook on 2 February.

“A voice came from behind me: ‘You need to stop babying that kid’. My mind registered the sentiment, but I kept my focus on Max.” 

Sullivan wiped her son’s tears then sent him back on the court to join his team.

But she couldn’t shake off her anger at the woman’s words and the insinuation that any gesture of affection would “decrease” her son’s manhood. 

“This notion that boys can never hurt, that they can never feel, is so damaging to them long term,” wrote Sullivan. “This pressure to always ‘man up’ follows them into adulthood where they struggle to fully experience the broad scope of love and affection.

“The only emotion they healthily learn to express is happiness, then we wonder why they are always chasing it.”

Sullivan said boys are wrongly taught that sadness is weakness and talking about their fears or short-comings makes them “less of a man”. 

Because of this, she said boys don’t mourn properly, they struggle to grieve and they’re afraid to cry. 

“Love is a verb,” she added. “It is something you do. It is not the same as babying, coddling or spoiling. It is something my son deserves.

“I will always love him when he is hurting and my prayer for him is that he is alway open to receiving love so he can love in return and keep that cycle going.”

The post was liked more than 16,000 times in four days of being posted, with many mums saying they would have done exactly the same.

“I would have been right in the middle of the court straight away if that happened to my boy,” one mother wrote. “Don’t you care what others think.”

Another mum wrote: “He is still a child. That crap hurts. And no that doesn’t raise ‘entitled’ children.

“Giving them everything they want and not being there emotionally does that. Pick up any psychology book and it will tell you this.

“But running and comforting your child after being hurt only shows them that you are there for them.”

Previously speaking to HuffPost UK about boys’ mental health, Fiona Pienaar, director of clinical services at Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity pointed out much of the pressure comes from boys feeling that they need to fulfill a “stereotypical male role”.

“The concepts of ‘staying strong’, ‘not crying’  and ‘getting on with it’ are often associated with being male,” she said.

“This means that from a young age boys may not feel comfortable with showing any signs of not coping, for fear it may be a sign of weakness.

“One of the most important ways parents can help is role modelling. This can help to reduce the stigma so often associated with expressing feelings.

“If boys can see from an early age that it’s not a sign of weakness to seek help when it’s needed, they are more likely to feel comfortable doing the same.”

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