This topic has been stirring within me for sometime now. Perhaps it’s because I am now responsible for raising a boy. Perhaps it’s due to my awareness of what’s happening with men. But mostly it’s due to a sense of sadness that something is irretrievably broken within our society of men. The latest mass murder sent an upheaval to the topic for me, bringing it to the forefront of my attention yet again.
The solution I am unsure of, but the problem is becoming all too apparent.
Are our boys broken?
Yes, us women have problems of our own. Women commit crimes. They tear families apart. They use words as swords. They do many bad things as well. But at the end of the day, the have somewhere to go, they have each other.
And men, well the men, they only have themselves.
Why? Because we teach our men to be independent, strong thinkers and doers, to bring home the bacon, to be responsible for the family, not to show emotion, to be tough, don’t cry, sensitivity is a sign of weakness, don’t ask for help, don’t seek help, don’t tell anyone anything is wrong, be the best at everything, be competitive, don’t trust.
And we dare question why the hell men (especially our boys) are falling apart, why they are breaking down?
Are we raising our boys to be haters, to be entitled, to be violent? To believe they can have everything they want, at any price, even at the expense of others? Are we raising our men to feel they have the right to take another’s life, to right a wrong through murder? Are we raising our boys to be alpha males, to have disdain for others, to be prejudice, racist, stereotypical?
And even more than all these things—are we allowing our boys to be boys? Are we allowing them the opportunity to be human, to feel, to love, to hope, to dream, to be? Or are we making them stuff their feelings, keep it all inside, and then explode or implode?
While not all our men turn to violence, many of them take the higher road, the road of silence. They silence themselves, stuff their anger, and refuse to be seen as vulnerable, weak, or compassionate. They make it through this life without hurting anyone else, which is something to be honored, but not endured. Life isn’t about disconnecting and shutting down from others in an attempt to shield and protect oneself, life is about opening up and connecting with others.
This is what men are lacking. They are lacking the community and support to say, it’s okay to be men, and men can cry, they can laugh, they can have heartache and depression, they can worry about taking care of themselves and their family. They need the space to be free to be themselves, to talk openly, to be heard, to listen.
What if we raised our boys to be boys instead of men? To be carefree and sensitive, to be strong and vulnerable, to be kind and powerful. What if we showed them what it was like to lean on each other? What if we didn’t shame them for being weak? What if we let vulnerability be a strength?
Would all these things reverse the brokenness of our boys?
I can only hope that as our society shifts to a more compassionate view of what it means to be a man, will we then no longer see our boys turn on their classmates, their community, and themselves.
What would you like to see for our society of men? I’d love to know. Leave a comment below.
If you aren’t quite sure what’s happening with our men and boys, check out this blog from a few years ago on 22 Stats that Prove Something is Wrong with Young Men in America.
And if you are curious about how other cultures are raising their children–with men growing up to be less violent–be sure to read Parenting Without Borders.