My 14-year-old son hasn’t cried since the summer before he started Middle School, when he was still just 10.
Not that there haven’t been times I was sure he wanted to cry, like when he got hit in the face with a baseball and had a giant fat lip for a week. Still no tears.
Because, like it or not, in our Twenty-first-Century post-modern, post-macho world: Boys Still Don’t Cry.
Of course there are those times when a teenage boy’s world has been shattered and they have cried, but that’s only a tiny fraction of the time. Most of the time, boys are stoic and keep all but the happiest emotions to themselves.
Let’s Talk About Feelings
I raised my son to be aware of his feelings. I, like many women, wish that more men were able and willing to talk about their feelings – or even were able to know what their feelings were.
I wanted to give my son that freedom and the skills to express himself.
And he can certainly tell me when he doesn’t like a choice I’ve made that affects him or when he’s feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by the demands of school and life.
But cry? That’s something he really doesn’t do.
Why Don’t Boys Cry?
The question is: why?
What about the world we live in makes him feel that crying is unacceptable?
Well, look around. Action movie heroes and real life heroes in our culture don’t cry. None of the “Cool Kids” are doing it. And like it or not, peer pressure still rules the day for most boys in High School, even though it’s 2014.
My son knows it’s OK with me if he cries – in fact, I would love it – and still he doesn’t. I worry about the boys whose parents – both Mothers and Fathers – tell them not to cry. To suck it up. To be a man.
Those boys are the ones I worry about. Because whether they cry or not, their emotions are not going to go away – and what will they do with them? How long can you bottle up emotions without them exploding?
Don’t Be Sad
Being sad is seen as a huge negative in our culture. No one is allowed to feel badly. Buck up, we say! Take a pharmaceutical and you’ll be all better.
At least Women and Girls are allowed to have a good cry at first and get it out of their systems before they are encouraged to put on a Happy Face. But not so for Boys.
I challenge you to find a way to encourage your sons to express their feelings, if only to you. And at least let them know it’s OK with you if they cry.