Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Emotions

Being a black man is hard in America. We hear this everyday, no? And, as a therapist once told me (yup…been to one before) :

How you think, how you react to situations, how you treat your loved ones, what your morals are, and basically you in general is a DIRECT result of what you were TAUGHT as a child, taught being by example and by direction.

I really believe that. I think that is why a lot of women are told “look at how a man treats his momma…..you can bet he’ll treat you that way”. I know you all have heard that many times before. The meaning of that is clear: if he were TAUGHT to respect women, more than likely he will do just that for the rest of his life (yes, there are exceptions I know..). But I firmly believe, what you are taught to value in your VERY early, formative years sticks with you.

So, since we have some basics outta the way here’s my topic of the day, How, why and when is it O.K. to chastise little boys for not liking “manly” things or for exhibiting less than “manly” ways when it comes to displays of emotion.

Lemme ‘splain. If a little girl (say 3 years old) cries….we comfort her and we soothe her , but if a little boy cries, he may be told to “shake it off” or to (in some instances which I think are wrong) told something as harsh as, “stop crying like a little bitch!” or they get called names, or “since you cry like a little girl, I’ll treat you like a little girl….wanna Barbie little girl….”. I think it is TOTALLY wrong to degrade little boys and to dog them for showing that they have feelings. That puts it in their head that displays of emotiona are WEAK and they eventually tie it into thinking that those who do it (mostly women) are weak too! I heard this man going off on his LITTLE 3 year old son the other day, calling him girlie names and dogging him because he was crying. To me, that coulda been handled another way. But I also saw him talking to his wife in a rough, dictatorial kinda of way too. Yeah, O.K……. that shit woulda gone over like a STANKIN-ASS fart in church with me! You WILL NOT dog me or my baby to make your point!

Now, I also understand that you do now want your young man to grow up and be ridiculed by OTHER “macho men” for having too showy of a display of feelings. No doubt there is a fine line on how to raise little boys to be sensitive and manly at the same time, because in our current society , those terms are oxymoron’s.

I still do not believe that it is O.K. to make a boy feel bad about being somewhat sensitive towards others and showing that he cares. It simply gives them a complex and makes them less able to deal with conflict in the future through sharing (typically a way of dealing attributed to women, but effective in NOT letting shit be all pent up) and MORE likely to resort to frustration, internal confusion and just shutting down in general. This is another reason (in my opinion) that so MANY men must LEARN to “talk about it”. Women are taught it from birth. And in today’s society you hear all the time “don’t let stress stay pent up….stress causes heart attacks, strokes, diabetes…..shortens your life span…”. So, why would RELEASING those frustrations through emotion or feeling be bad????? OHHHHH , I forgot…only “gay men” do that right? No. I would PREFER for my man to talk to me and not clam up and shut me out and be able to DEAL with it in a healthy way (other than punching a boxing dummy’s brains out). Knowing how to deal with YOURSELF and teaching a boy how to effectively deal with his emotions is FAR more important than satisfying some “macho code of the wild: that most men subscribe to.

So, do I want my son to be called a punk? No. Do I want my son to be disadvantaged in terms of his being able to assimilate with other men as an adult? No. But do I want him to KNOW how to handle emotions healthily? FUCK YES!.

In my (unofficial) opinion, I think that little boys being INCORRECTLY taught how to respond to their feelings is WHY there are so many misogynistic, macho, sexist, a-womans-place-is-in-the-kitchen-or-the-bedroom type of men. After all, if the fathers or the mother’s are TEACHING or SHOWING their sons that it is O.K. to dog any type of display of emotion and women in general, how do you think they’ll turn out as men? Probably not nice or it will just take them A LOT of “work” being done on themselves to RELEARN how to deal! I understand, as I said before, that you do NOT want your young man (or young woman for that matter) to go around crying at every little bump or slight of their feelings. But I do not think degrading them or beating them because they SHOW feelings is good either. I think parents that do that are disadvantaging them more than not.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. All these agressive, unemotional men that can't deal with basic human emotion in a non-violent way are products of this and we have no one to blame but ourselves. We need to begin to teach our sons how to be progressive men that can deal with any emotion in a "manly" way but without shutting the world out in the process. Ladies, please stop raising these men to be so messed up. Stop making them your husbands/boyfriends/baby's fathers and start making them men...independent, sensitive yet strong, able to cook, clean, work, help with the babies and still be the man of the house. We are the reason that these men never grow up to be what we know they have the potential to be...it starts with you and if you continue to teach them how to handle situations in the wrong way they will be the next people in therapy!! :) (Just thought I would share...can y'all tell I deal with a man like this...)

Robyn said...

To my girl: wow....see... you could have YO OWN blog if you stop messing around!! So eloquently put...... loves ya!

chele said...

I treated both my son and my daughter exactly the same when they cried as little kids. I hugged them, kissed them, comforted them until they felt better.

SUE ME!

My son is a 16-year old young MAN. He is not a punk and he doesn't walk around crying all the time. But by the same token he's not afraid to show his feelings ... at least not to me. He says what's on his mind and he stands up for himself. I think I did okay. I can't stand to see parents who tear down their kids and deliberately make them feel bad.

TheGod said...

Peace Robyn Goddess!!!

I think men need an emotional outlet every now and then. To restrict something as necessary as emotions is to handicap yourself.

People get expressing your emotions and being emotional; twisted. They are 2 seperate things. When being emotional you are allowing that energy to control and lead you to do things you meay regret. That is wrong.

But if you love, feel hurt express it but don't act from it. Most male figures today are set in their mind and their ways about what it is to be men. A person can only act from what they know. You can never raise higher than your source.

Good post.

Peace!!!

Luke Cage said...

I grew up in a household that had 5 females. (Mom, Grandmom, & 3 sisters) My mother, ever the strong matriarch and single mother (she was to me and my brother anyway because although she was married, our stepfather sucked) taught us things that a mother normally doesn't teach her sons.

But she did a stellar job if I must say so myself. My brother and I are true gentlemen in every sense of the word. We are respectful black men and we handle our affairs responsibly. We were emotional children, but know how to display our emotions today as men, and nothing less than.

I truly do not have an answer for your "how to handle/manly ways" question, but I would impress upon you that you just do what you feel is right and leave the rest up to your little guy. There are going to be things you can't cover and explain and he will have to determine and learn on his own. More folks need to care like you do.

Knockout Zed said...

Muthafuckas be half-raised anyway. If they are able to at the very least OBSERVE a man treating his woman decently on a consistent basis, that man would be half way there. And they could be taught the rest. I don't have kids, so I don't know the best way to raise 'em. This is just my 2 cents.

KZ

Single Ma said...

I agree with you. I think the problem is even deeper than that. Most of our "men" are being raised by "women" who have problems sustaining relationships with "men." So how do we properly raise a "boy" so he can grow up to be a well-rounded, confident, emotionally mature "man?"

BTW, my spawn is a girl so I have more questions than answers. LOL

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The Phoenix aka ThatGirlTam said...

I have a gang o'shit to say about this post! (great one btw)

My dear husband talks to his mother like she's stupid sometimes. I also realized late in the game that BECAUSE of his mother, he has a poor view of women. And has openly admitted to me that he doesn't feel comfortable discussing business WITH WOMEN. I had to remind him that I am NOT his mama and I AM NOT going to tolerate being talked AT - that shit don't fly...at all...

Now since we have 3 sons with 2 parents in the house, I see where balance plays a role. My husband doesn't like for BL (the 12 y.o.) to act all soft - but I also see that he only does it when it's convenient. He plays HARD wit his boys, but acts like a little punk when he's gettin his ass in trouble.

Middle Little (now 6) is my sensitive one. He is every BIT my son. He plays rough like 500% boy, but he's sensitive as all hell. And I say there's nothing wrong with it. At least he's now old enough to articulate, "Mommy, I'm really ANGRY. You hurt my feelings" although he's still been known to hysterically throw a tantrum or two - and cry til the cows come home.

Littlest Little - being 2 now and the official house manipulator, if I say no he falls out on the floor (he's been watching ML too much) or he starts swinging (his new thing).

It's all about programming. I WANT my children to express themselves. my husband is the "be tough" kinda guy and would rather not hear it. "Suck it up son!!" And since I'm the only FEMALE in the house, I nuture at a rate of about 300% to off-set all that macho BULLSHIT!!

Damn, sorry for the long ass comment! HAHAHA

(and btw - YOU hush about my pressing comb theory!) HAHAHAHA