Hello world! Welcome to my first blog.

I have two adorable sons, both with wildly different personalities. I’ll be asking for your advice on my “evil genius” younger son another time (is it normal for four year olds to threaten to slice your tummy with a laser gun?) but the topic for today’s blog is my eldest.

Aged nine, he is growing up into a really lovely little fella.

But he’s what my granddad would have called “a bit soft”.

He can be brought to tears easily by a harsh word, thinks Dale Winton is ace and one of his favourite Christmas presents was tickets to see Hairspray, the Musical.

He hates being “scruffy”, doesn’t like football because it’s too rough, is kind to his little brother, thinks the merest scratch is a medical emergency, likes to make sure there are candles on the table for tea, and still loves nothing more than climbing into our bed in a morning for a cuddle.

He takes the smallest criticism from any quarter to heart and thinks the world will end if he ever “gets his name on the board” (a warning used at his school for bad behaviour).

He’s not a wimp – far from it. He has scaled Snowdonia and other mountains several times, swims long distances like a fish, likes rock climbing, and will have a go at pretty much anything.

So why do I feel that I’m somehow failing to prepare him well for life? Should I be doing more to “toughen him up”, to give him a harder edge, to prepare him for life’s slings and arrows?

My hubby adores him as much as I do, but gets particularly frustrated at our son’s dramatic reaction to physical pain.

He only has to knock his knee or stub a toe and he reacts like he’s been shot and/or tortured! He howls in pain, sometimes throws himself down dramatically, and generally makes a big show. We have tried being sympathetic, but now we just roll our eyes at him and carry on with whatever we are doing, much to his annoyance.

If I ought to be doing more to harden him up (and I’m far from convinced that I should) how would I go about it? I don’t want to be mean to him, or undermine his self esteem by somehow suggesting he should be different to the way he is.

I would be so proud should he stay just the way he is into adulthood – a gentle, sensitive, kind, funny man.

It’s just that I also want to make sure he is robust enough to deal with life’s hardships when they come. Am I wrong to assume that because he is so sensitive he is also lacking in mental toughness and fortitude? And can mental strength be taught anyway?

Blimey, that’s a lot of questions! Your thoughts would be much welcomed!

Finally, as a case in point – last night he was offered the chance of chopping firewood in the garden and then watching Star Wars with his dad, or coming with me to watch a family friend perform in Carousel. Needless to say, we both woke up with the words of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” still ringing in our ears.

    • Mark
    • March 24th, 2010

    Jane – I have a feeling that your son and mine would get on very well. It’s not about being ‘soft’ it’s about being considerate and kind. That said mine would have gone for the Star Wars option

    • Catherine
    • March 25th, 2010


    He sounds lovely! Don’t take this the wrong way but if he were a girl you would not try to ‘toughen him up’. He is just more sensitive and I bet he also likes lots of ‘boy’ stuff so I would not worry at all.

    The whole over-reaction to pain thing will pass if you just ignore it. Although my daughter is tough as nails and gets up and carries on my son makes a huge fuss and we treated them both the same (boys=low pain threshold is my conclusion!) so maybe you are stuck with that.

    They are all different; nature versus nurture at work I think and I am sure he will turn out just fine!


    PS it is just a Mum’s nature to worry, don’t get me started on mine

    • Thanks guys for your comments. I think I would be just as concerned if he was a girl Catherine – it’s not about being tough, rather about being mentally robust. Maybe it seems a problem because I’ve been a bit of a flaky piece myself in recent times – on the odd day when I struggle with life’s little bumps I wonder how I’d cope with a big pothole! This leads me to wonder if there’s some way to mentally prepare myself for major trauma – y’know, deaths of loved ones, serious illness (see, I’m a cheery soul) – and ergo if there’s some way to prepare my kids for life’s downs by getting in early with some vital life lessons. But I know in my heart I’ve actually got nothing to worry when it comes to my wee man, he’s pretty ace.

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