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How to Transform Masculinity : Ten Tips for Mothers and Sons on How to Jettison Toxic Masculinity

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

When I wrote Mother Behold Thy Son: African Woman's Journey to Dismantle Patriarchy and Live a Life of Equality, Love and Freedom, I hoped that as humanity, we not only acknowledge the inequality women and girls experience, but also recognize the damage too many boys and men experience trying to live up to the impossible standards of traditional masculinity.

I created tips for my son to jettison toxic masculinity and these are based on my feminine and mothering experiences and my hopes for my son. As a mother I believe that other sons are my sons too. That is why I share with you hoping that the sons get this message.

I do not know what your hopes are for your son, but I hope that like me, you desire to behold him becoming a man of integrity, confidence and conviction, a loving brother, partner, husband, father, citizen leader, all that he can be. A son who treats girls and women and all other human beings as equals so that there is peace and true development.

Transforming the traditional template of masculinity which is toxic, to positive masculinity will benefit our children, female and male. Adopting a maternal lens to gender equality means we love our daughters and sons equally and no one is more important or valuable than the other. They all deserve equal opportunities to become their best versions.

I learnt from the pain I endured as a female from my childhood to womanhood and vowed that I would raise my daughters and son as equals in my home.

Do Mothers have Influence in Their Sons' Lives?

A common mistake we have made as parents and society in general is to treat boys as more valuable and girls as lesser beings. Such unequal treatment has filtered through society and manifests in gender based violence, unequal pay, toxic marriages and unions. As the feminine is getting more empowered the masculine is getting left behind. Coping with empowered girls and women is proving to be difficult. Many sons are dying by suicide and some caught in the web of serious crime and violence, not honoring themselves at their best versions. Mothers can influence sons.

Empowering sons must now be every mother's priority because at the end of the day, mothers are losing their sons yet we have the power to influence change as the first teachers starting from the womb. In my experience, transforming masculinity is something that is doable one small action after the other. The system of patriarchy can be dismantled starting in our homes!

I allowed my boy to cry and express himself. I made him cook, clean, change diapers for my nieces and nephews. I talked about Abstinence Being Faithful and Condomizing (ABC) with him as he was already a peer educator at age 9. I share more details in the book. It is not easy to transform yet we must start somewhere if we want our sons to have a chance at happiness.

I believe change in behaviour, attitude and practice in our sons can bring positivity and happiness in many homes.

I am inviting mothers who are welcoming of my message to transform masculinity from the home to the globe so that there is more equality, love and freedom. If you are a son and might be asking. " how can I be masculine without being toxic?" Here are the tips.

Tip #1 Give yourself permission to express how you feel. If tears are coming, don’t blink them back let them flow! Let the feelings come!

Tip #2 -Focus on the power of love, not the love of power. Gender equality is not about a fight for control. It is an act of love; an act of freedom.

For most males, power and control are important indicators of masculinity. With girls and women knowing their rights, masculinity is being challenged and there is resistance and rebellion. Focusing on the power of love means loving a person and respecting their choices and letting them be. Love sets others free. Control is elusive and may lead to violence and malice if one does not win. In positive intelligence we call it the controller saboteur because thinking we have control does sabotage our relationship with others who we obviously cannot control. The only thing we can control are our own thoughts, words and deeds. If you want to learn to let go of control, you have to learn to catch yourself when you get frustrated when things do not turn out your way. Take note of your feelings. Ask yourself if that is a way of life you desire. If not, let go.

"Mother Behold My Son insists that we not only acknowledge the inequality women and girls experience, but also recognize the damage too many boys and men experience trying to live up to the impossible standards of traditional masculinity. In the #MeToo era a book like this can be read as part of a healthy prescription for men and boys and a hopeful vision for girls and women." – Rob Okun- Editor Voice Male

Tip #3 - Do chores. Cook, clean, change diapers; take your child to appointments. Your mother, sister, aunt, cousin, spouse or partners are not your hired help. Notice how much they do in 24 hours! Begin to make the home more equal by removing the yoke of patriarchal oppression from your loved ones.

I raised my son to do all that! Our conversation is ongoing and we remind each other of the promise to treat other human beings equally. He is not married yet but I already advise him what I deem to be the best for him as a married man. I have lived more years than him. I know from experience.

Tip #4 - Marry for partnership, not domination. Do not be intimidated if you fall in love with someone you perceive as powerful.

Tip #5 - Tamp down your ego. Admit when you are wrong.

Tip #6 -If you have imposed male privilege mistreating your mother, your spouse, your children or your sisters, aunts, and female cousins, apologize—and mean it. Forgive yourself and others. Forgiveness is medicine, it is an act of self love.

Sorry is a must have in your relationship vocabulary. Say it from the heart and strive not to repeat the same mistake.

Tip #7 Be a co-parent, not a “helper” to your wife or partner. Go to all appointments with the midwife; be at your child’s birth. You don’t want to look back and say you missed your child’s first cry, smile, crawl, or walk. Be present for those you love.

Tip #8 Stop obsessing about your body. We are all trapped by a need to present perfect images and perfect bodies to society but there is no such thing as perfection. Sure, try and stay fit, eat healthfully, and unapologetically love yourself. You are man enough as you are!

Tip #9 Stop listening to women or men who tell you to “man up!” That is idle chatter.

Tip#10 Love unconditionally. Always ask, “Have I loved?”

Lastly, many mothers come from a place of unconditional love for their children. Mothers influence their children and they want to see both female and male prosper. Together our collective voices are powerful. We can transform masculinity from toxic to positive by empowering our sons from the home first, and they can take the lessons we teach them to school, playgrounds, work, church and social clubs. As Mothers United, we are invested in changing the world one mother, one family at a time! Join us here: Take the mother's equality pledge here: explore our programs to see if we can work together. We partner with organizations and individuals who want to be the change. For a copy of Mother Behold Thy Son, click here:

If you want to learn how to reduce your controller saboteur you can book a free transformational here:

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Francisca Mandeya

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