Toxic masculinity in raising boys

Oct 25, 2022 | Parenting

Toxic masculinity in raising boys. Have you ever thought about where toxic masculinity stems from? Or what we as parents

can do to prevent our children from falling pray? Toxic masculinity in raising boys is something we need to be aware of. Hunter Johnson, CEO of Man Cave, is educating us on redefining the journey to manhood and how to empower boys to become great men. We’re not saying masculinity is toxic. There is a difference between masculinity and toxic traits when men step into certain attitudes and beliefs that are outdated, limiting and don’t align with equality.As a parent you may wonder what traits or signs you can look for in boys that may be falling pray to toxic masculinity.

6 Signs boys may be falling pray to toxic masculinity.

– Misogynistic behaviour

– Homophobic behaviour

– Emotional repression

– Rigid gender norms

– Believer in power and entitlement

– Ignorant to their own privilege

So, what can you do to limit these toxic traits? Provide education, experience and have conversations around:


Privilege is invisible to those that have it. It’s almost like a backpack of unearned assets that help you get through life. You’re not a bad person for having that but having self-awareness and choosing to contribute to challenging the system of inequality. Have discussions around your privilege, what you have done to help challenge inequality and what you can do as a family.


Create an environment for young boys and teenagers that strengthen qualities like emotional intelligence, kindness and compassion. One of the most powerful things you can say other than I love you, is to tell them how proud of them you are. Something that is authentic to them, rather than something they have done. There is a difference between validating their performance and validating them as a person, their kindness, their generosity, “how you took care of your little sister the other day, I’m so proud of you”. Vulnerability brings connection and connection builds trust and purpose. It’s important for parents, teachers and other people in their environment to use language to self-identify with how they’re feeling and therefore help in developing empathy and being able to support others.


Replace toxic masculinity with healthy masculinity. Working on generational trauma and the outdated notions to “be strong”, “be stoic” “bottle up your feelings” and replace these with healthy qualities. Hurt people, hurt people. Boys and men are generally doing the best they can with the tools they have. Encourage authenticity, for boys to have their own values and moral compass that aligns to who they are as people and who they want to be. Healthy masculinity encompasses the qualities of a flourishing human being, resilience, adaptability, kindness, generosity, some days stoic and strong and the next day they can shed a tear and be vulnerable and ask for help. Helping them to develop emotional muscle, like going to the gym, riding a bike, learning a new language, they develop emotional intelligence or “muscle”. Be a role model, do your own personal work. They will mimic what they see. Own your insecurities, in authenticities and the things you’re proud of. Family values are incredibly important and introducing specific language around family values by sharing your personal stories from when you were their age. Both mums and dads.


Society is confusing. Be strong, be the provider but also be vulnerable, cry more often and give up power and privilege. It can be confusing particularly when transitioning from primary to secondary school and secondary to life beyond school. With the developing teenage brain they trade their authenticity for attachment to the group. All they want to do is belong. Rejection hurts and at age 12 they’re thrust into an environment with older boys, maybe 18 year old’s beginning to be adults and having different experiences. Backlash from the label of toxic masculinity. Boys can feel confused and rejected when they feel attacked, they can rebel and push back or they retreat and recluse. Understanding these issues will help you in being able to get in front of them or use them for lessons as you go.

What can you do now? What does it mean to be a good man in 2022? Who can these boys look to? Well, that’s why the Man Cave was created. A diverse range of men who have lived different lives and are now role models for boys. The Man Cave offers various workshops and self-paced courses for parents and adults in the lives of boys. You gain access to practical tools, tips, articles and more exploring everything from masculinity, emotional intelligence and facilitation. For more information on Man Cave and their programs head here. To listen to the podcast where Amelia and Hunter talk all things healthy masculinity click here.


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