Ask Micah 6-11-11


Affectionate Boy Part II

Dear Micah,

I was just reading your reply about littleboys being too affectionate and always hanging and kissing their parents. I do agree that little boys that is ok, but what about 11 year old boys going into 6th grade that CONSISTANTLY hang on their dad, kiss them all over their body, and constantly tell them hi and I love you dude!! Isn’t that a bit over the top. I have seen one boy sit next to his dad watching TV and is constantly touching him, kissing his head, arms, belly, etc. What is wrong with this picture?

T

Dear T,

Regardless of the age, I still don’t feel that there is anything frightening going on here.  Is it weird by today’s standards?  Yes.  Should it be?  No.  The boy clearly loves his father and isn’t embarrassed to express it.  I’d assume that he learned this freedom of expression from the Dad which would explain why neither one of them are uncomfortable with it.  I seriously doubt anything pervy (like molestation) is going on here, otherwise the contact would be secretive and hidden from view.  It’s just a case of a father and son who love each other, have a close bond, and show each other a lot of physical affection.  The only cause for concern would be if the show of affection takes place in public and is just nauseating to watch because it’s too frequent–like a couple who won’t stop kissing in public.  So the question becomes does this bother you because it’s just too much affection altogether or does it bother you because it involves an older male child with his male parent.  It’s easy to figure out the answer.  If this boy was hugging and kissing and touching his Mother and telling her that he loves her every chance he got, would you still feel disturbed by it?  If so then it’s because he is overly affectionate.  If not then it really is because they are both males and your view of how male affection should be expressed is clouding your opinion.  Let me say upfront that I don’t believe you fall into this category.  I think you are more disturbed because it’s just too much affection–BUT, for those out there that do fall into this latter category, let me explain again why it’s not inappropriate.  We hear women complaining all the time that their men are not open to emotion or that they will not talk about how they feel.  Their men seem closed-off to them.  This all begins in childhood when the boy is told that he shouldn’t hug his friends anymore or that he’s too big to kiss Daddy goodnight.  People teach their sons to close off emotionally for fear he might be thought of as a sissy.  I don’t know exactly when manliness became synonymous with emotionless, but somewhere it did.  And so the cycle continues as women marry men who are closed off emotionally and then they raise boys that they teach to close off emotionally while they complain to friends that their husband is closed off emotionally.  It’s so simple.  Let your boys show love and affection without fear of being chastised or made fun of and this world will improve in just one generation.  I have three godsons and they are being raised in a very loving and affectionate household.  All three boys still call their father Daddy and kiss him on the lips goodnight every night and there is nothing sissy about any of those three boys.  Showing Dad affection won’t make you girly, gay, or weak.  In fact there is no stronger display of your confidence in your own masculinity than being able to show affection to another man.  Affection does not equate sexuality.  I am a gay man and I have some straight male friends that kiss me hello and goodbye every time I see them and there is nothing sexual in the gestures– Just as I kiss their wives and do not mean anything sexual by it.  A boy who can show physical affection for his father will most likely become a man who is more confident, has more friends, has a stronger emotional connection to his wife, and will be a better father than a boy who is raised to believe that he should suppress his emotions and affections.  People never think about where their teachings will eventually lead.  A boy taught to suppress his emotions will eventually suppress them so well that he will push them out completely until he actually feels very little about anything or anyone.

Now back to the first part of what I said…I think that you would be all right with the occasional display of affection if it just weren’t so in your face all the time.  I would love to know how the boy acts with his mother or siblings or best friend.  Is it only his Dad that he displays the affection to or does he do this with everyone?  If he is just overly affectionate period, you could try to tell him that people don’t like to see public displays of affection, but then you’d have to explain why.  Explaining to a child that people are uncomfortable seeing others showing one another love is a hard topic to cover.  If you go too far you’ll cause him to start suppressing his emotions, like I mentioned before.  It’s a very tricky thing to explain.  My advice would be to not try to explain it.  Parents should just seize opportunities as they arise.  If they are walking through the movie theater lobby and see two people making out, they should just point them out to the child and say, “Showing that you love someone is a great thing, but they’re going a little too far in a public place don’t you think?  They should get a room!”  Using other people as examples and making a joke of it is a great way to convey the message without it having to embarrass the child.   With all of that said, if this child is showing Dad, or anyone else in his family, a large amount of affection within the confines of their own home…let it go.  The child should feel safe enough in his own home to show his love to his parents, however nauseating it may be.  Now if you’re out at Applebee’s and the boy starts kissing his father’s chest, then I think the reactions from the public at large are going to teach the boy how that is inappropriate.  But in his own home, he should feel free enough to express his love.  Believe me, TIME and PEERS are going to curb much of that affection all on its own so you don’t have to spend too much time worrying about it.

A Friend’s Place

Dear Micah,

My dearest friend is estranged from her daughter.  They stopped talking 2 years ago over a disagreement about financial support.  My friend used to cover some of her daughter’s monthly expenses because she couldn’t cover them on her own (she’s a massage therapist and doesn’t make much).  Then when my friend closed the bank and stopped paying her bills, her daughter blew up at her and they haven’t spoken since.  My friend’s birthday is coming up and I thought I would try and bring them together and help them work through their differences.  Other people tell me it’s a bad idea.  This is her only child so I feel like I should try.

Jody H.

Dear Jody H.,

Leave it alone.  I know that you are wanting to be a good friend and as a good friend you may feel like it’s your responsibility to take a stab at reconciling these two, but it isn’t.  If it’s anyone’s responsibility to try and heal the relationship it’s the responsibility of a mother who is supposed to know how to reach her child on an emotional level or it’s the responsibility of a daughter who should be smart enough to know that life is short and she won’t always share this world with her mother so she should try to mend fences and enjoy the time they have together.  One thing that’s certain is that this isn’t your responsibility.  The only duty you have is to stand by your friend and love her.  Holidays, Mother’s Days, and birthdays are most likely painful for her, so you can include her into your family’s celebrations and help her from feeling so lonely without her child.  That’s where your participation in this begins and ends.  After all, you really only know one side of this argument.  You don’t want to be placed in a position where you may offend or alienate your friend when the other side of this story comes out.  I’d wager your friend isn’t squeaky clean in this mess.  Several questions have already popped into my mind that you may not have even considered:  The fact that your friend was supporting her grown daughter in the first place makes me suspicious.  Was the daughter assisted financially because the mom wanted to help or because the daughter had always been taken care of and was just spoiled?  Why did the mom suddenly withdraw the support?  Did the daughter do something that upset her and cutting off the support was some form of punishment?  Did your friend use the support as a means to control and the daughter got tired of it?  Do you follow me here?  More has gone on than what you have been told.  Your friend may not be the innocent victim of a bratty child, as you’ve been led to believe–or maybe she is, but wouldn’t she still be at fault for raising the daughter to be a brat?  You really have no idea what actually transpired between them and it’s none of your business.  Your friend just needs you to be on her side and it’s a lot easier to be on her side if you only know her side of things.  I say leave this all alone and just be your friend’s friend.  There must be some pretty hard feelings involved on both sides for a parent and child to just cut each other out of their lives, harder feelings than you or I are qualified to handle and smooth out.  If they want to reconcile, they will, and if they don’t they won’t.  Although it may seem awful to you and I, sometimes the best way for a parent and child to continue to love each other is to spend as little time as possible together.  Some personalities just don’t jive together and unfortunately in this case it’s a mother and daughter.  If they haven’t buried the hatchet yet and figured out a way to be in each other’s lives then maybe they know something we don’t and this separation is the best answer for them.

A WORD FROM MICAH’s MIND:

No one wrote me a question on this subject, but it’s one I just can’t let pass me by.  I MUST comment on Weiner-Gate.  You all know what I’m talking about and if you don’t then I suggest you start watching the news and keeping up with what’s going on in the world around you.  Now I for one do not care who Representative Anthony Weiner of New York showed his–well, “wiener”–to, and I don’t care one way or the other if he resigns or not.  I also don’t care what his wife is going to do or not do.  She didn’t write me and ask me what she should do, so I won’t comment on their personal relationship.  What I feel I must comment on is the sheer idiocy of supposedly intelligent people who take and send compromising photographs of themselves when said photos could destroy their careers.  Anthony Weiner is not the first official who has been busted sending out nude or suggestive pics of himself, which makes this story even more boggling to my mind.  When people do this it makes me wonder, did they not catch the media blitz from the last idiot who did it before them?  My mind just can’t comprehend the rationale of these people.  If you take a revealing picture of yourself, or write a lewd email, or make a sex tape and allow someone else to take possession of it, IT IS GOING TO BE MADE PUBLIC.  Hasn’t everyone figured this out yet? When did everyone get so astronomically stupid?

Everyone please listen to me.  Stop posting nude or suggestive pics of yourself on Facebook, or Twitter, or texting images to others if you don’t want everyone in the world to see it.  Once an image of you is out there, it’s out there and there’s no taking it back.  It’s not just the celebrities and politicians doing this either.  Regular average men and women, boys and girls, do this every day, and they all assume that no one else is ever going to see it.  Some of you may even think there’s no harm to it if you do this because yours isn’t a name that commands any attention, but think about it this way–You may not be famous today but what if you became famous tomorrow?  What if you won the lottery and turned your winnings into an empire?  What if you were discovered by someone and became a famous musician or actor?  What if you got promoted at work and eventually became one of the top executives of the company.  Won’t you feel like a fool when everyone starts passing around pictures of you flashing your junk!

Let’s all try to start showing a little more common sense and stop behaving in the moment without any thought to all the future moments to come.  As my grandmother would say if she were still alive today, “Stop showing the world your ignorance and act like you’re somebody!”  Or to put it more succinctly, Don’t be a wiener!

3 Responses to “Ask Micah 6-11-11”

  1. Terri Kirk says:

    Dear Micah,

    Thank you for your response about about affectinate boy II. I should probably better expplain my situation here. I am the fiance of the man who’s son is extremely over attached to his father in what I call an unhealthy way. I have no problem with boys showing their affection, so that is not my concern there. It really is over the top and way too much as far as I am concerned on any level. The son does not do this type of affection with anyone else except his dad. He barely even gives his grandmother a hug when she comes to visit.

    Not only is he always hanging on his father (except when other kids are around), but if his father leaves the room or goes somewhere, he has to follow….even if it is to get something out of his car. Not sure if I totally agree with you about the quanity of affection being normal and ok??? I think any child, girl or boy, who is constantly touching and kissing their parents that much, might state that there is an underlying porblem that no one is picking up on? I have a grown daughter, and if my daughter would have acted like that with me, I would have been concerned. My daughter is 28, still calls me “mommy”, which I find funny, but there is a very good reason for it :-), and we are very close. Not only is the over the top affection going on, but his father constantly is calling his son “dude” or “buddy”. Now again, I have no problem with someone calling a person that, but when every 3rd or 4th word is “dude” or “buddy” and the tone my finance uses sounds like he is talking to a 5 year old…..I have concerns. My best friend use to think I was exaggerating, until she finally witnessed it for herself, and said how in the heck are you handling this? I have tried talking to my finance about this, but it has only slightly improved. I have tons of freinds with kids, plus neices and nephews, and I have NEVER witnessed anything like this before in my 49 years of living. I am pretty level headed person, but not sure what else I can do to curtial some of this behavior which I think is anything from “normal”.

    Thanks,
    Terri

  2. Susan says:

    I wonder if the son feel threatened by your upcoming marriage to his dad? AND the dad may be trying to allay the noted sons fears by overly coddling his son in return – a way of saying, I’ll always be your dad, no matter who I am married to?’ I am in a similar situation, but I am the mother of my 11 year old son that, at times, makes me uncomfortable with how much affection he gives me. I am struggling to cope with this. I am a very cuddly and loving mother but was thinking my son, who is most certainly noticing girls at school (and feels comfortable confiding in me about it) that this mummy affection would naturally dissipate, but so far, it hasn’t and now I am the one feeling a bit awkward and not sure what to do. I feel almost a bit violated at times. I know that sounds extreme but I don’t say anything so I don’t upset him – but what do I do?? I am his mother. I don’t want to scar him but not returning the affection but I never thought, as a mother, and as affectionate as I naturally am with my children, I would be the one thinking ‘this should stop’ – now how do I do that in a healthy way for my son?

  3. Susan says:

    oh, sorry – I didn’t fully explain the ‘similar situation’ – I am divorced from the father of my children (they still see their dad on a regular basis). I have been with my new partner for nearly three years now and it is likely we will marry. I get the distinct impression my 11 year old son (and to some extend my 8 year old daughter) feel threatened by this likely upcoming marriage. As if my new husband will take me away from them somehow. Obviously that will not happen, but I can see they worry about that. So I believe their physical and verbal affection to me is especially heightened when my new partner is near.

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