I’ll start by saying this—I’m a boy mom. So I can only speak directly from my experience of raising a son. But I know that nearly every parent—whether of boys or of girls—has probably heard a phrase like, “You’re going to be in for a lot of trouble with that one!” or has had someone call their child a “future heartbreaker” at some point in time.
And I’ll follow up with saying this—it makes me cringe.
Why? Because to me, it’s an absurd way to label our young children who have yet to fully develop and mature. These kids are still learning about their emotions—how to process, regulate and portray them.
So to categorize them as “heartbreakers” or “trouble” based on how cute they are only implies that their looks are what defines them. Not to mention that it’s also objectifying their appearance and completely disregarding every other quality that makes up who they are—and have yet to become.
And for those who may think that it’s not a big deal, I get it. There are far greater things that you’d rather spend your time harping on or debating about. And I know that most people only say such things as an intended compliment, but that’s because they don’t realize the deeper meaning that phrases like these carry.
I Googled the definition of a heartbreaker and what I found was this: a person who is very attractive but who is irresponsible in emotional relationships.
In no way do I believe that definition to be true about my child—and in now way would I like for him to grow up believing that about himself.
I will agree that my son’s big brown eyes, curly hair and cheeky smile are quite the charm—but that doesn’t mean he needs to be labeled a future heartbreaker.
His looks don’t define his character—now or later. His friendliness doesn’t mean that he’s being a flirt—he’s simply learning social skills and making connections with the people around him.
I don’t want him growing up tied to the notion that being a boy means breaking hearts—but doing the best he can to fill them with love. Whether through random acts of kindness, displaying servitude or simply being the reason that someone smiles.
The thing about raising a son is I am doing what I can to raise him in a way that makes him emotionally aware. I want him to be able to display softness, empathy, thoughtfulness, respect and so much more.
I don’t want him to be ignorant to how his actions affect someone’s emotions. So when I hear him being called a future heartbreaker, I dive inwards to remind myself that as his mother, I am doing what I can to break the presumption that his looks are what define him.
And I do this through daily displays of positive behavior. Through how I tend to my son. Through how I treat others around me. Through how my husband and I model love and tend to each other’s emotional well-being.
With my son having such behaviors modeled right in front of him on a daily basis, I can only hope that it is doing much more than teaching him to be some insensitive, selfish being.
I’m raising a son who’s got a heart big enough to trailblaze and shake up the entire world.
So what can you do when people call your son a future heartbreaker?
Thank them for their intended compliment, but remind them that you aren’t raising an inconsiderate, egotistical or disrespectful little boy.
Remind them that you are raising boys who will grow to be strong, emotionally aware men. Remind them that you are raising boys who will use their heart as a good thing, not as an advantage to break others down.
As a mother raising a son, I am teaching him to use his heart for good. I am doing my best in helping to shape his character. His looks are merely an addition to the qualities that he possesses now and ones that he will adopt as he grows older.
My husband and I are raising our son up with kindness and humility—and to make better decisions in the caring of others’ emotions than perhaps we ourselves made growing up.
He won’t abide by the “boys will be boys” sentiment, which implies that boys are held to different standards than girls. He won’t be taught to use his heart as a weapon. We won’t sign off on his unsympathetic behavior, but instead encourage him to treat everyone with love, kindness and respect.
If everyone could see my son through my eyes, they’d know that he has the biggest, most loving heart—and that is no thing to take for granted.
I’m not raising a future heartbreaker. I’m raising a son who’s got a heart big enough to trailblaze and shake up the entire world. So yes, all. Watch out. Here comes my sweet, little boy—not to do damage, but to bring a whole lot of love.
A version of this post was published in November 2022. It has been updated.