As men, we’re taught not to cry from a young age. We’re told things like: "Real men don't cry."
"Keep a stiff upper lip."
"Be a man."
We’re told these things because strength has traditionally been one of the most defining measures of a man, and crying is seen as weak.
So we grow up programmed not to cry, and then when we become fathers we hear another message: "Never cry in front of your son."
We’re told this because it’s our job to be a strong role model for our boys — to quite literally model strength — and if we were to cry in front of them we’d be showing weakness.
But is crying really a sign of weakness?
Is it weak when the leader of the free world cries in the aftermath of devastation and tragedy?
Was Jon Stewart weak when he cried during the first episode of The Daily Show after 9/11?
Were Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr weak when they cried over the murder of their friend and bandmate John Lennon?
Was Knowshon Moreno weak when he was moved by the national anthem before an NFL football game?
Was Michael Keaton weak when he cried while thanking his son for his love and support at the Golden Globes?
Was Pharrell Williams weak when he was overwhelmed while watching a video of people all over the world performing his song "Happy"?
The reality is that the simple act of crying doesn’t make you weak.
If you've been a strong role model for your sons day in and day out, you’re not going to suddenly negate all of that by crying in front of them. You might, however, teach them other lessons. Things like...empathy.
And individual thinking.
The ability to give themselves a break.
So the next time you feel like you need to cry, remember this: Real men do cry.