Monday, July 15, 2024

Men Should Not Cry (What are You Living Toward?)

April 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Parenting From Balance©

It is not important to wonder whether or not we have biases…we all have them.  It’s a given.  What IS important is to acknowledge and understand which biases we do have, so we can start to break them down, to “deconstruct” and pull their tangled webbing from every section of our life, so we can eliminate them from our speech, our thoughts, our actions, and thereby stop perpetuating those biases in society at large.
For example,  you see a 5 year old child who is crying and screaming, sobbing about something.  His parents are sitting with him, trying to sooth him.  You might think “That child cannot control his emotions.  He is emotionally immature.  He needs to learn how to control his emotions.”
What is the bias here?  Males should not cry.  Males should not be afraid.  Men should not lose control…
Or do you see a child who is experiencing his emotions fully, with parents who are compassionately allowing him to meet his needs…scaffolding him.   Do you think “That is a child who is needing to express his emotions.  He is learning about
his emotional self.  He will one day be an emotionally whole man who has not learned that emotions are dangerous and should be hidden.  He will likely not develop ulcers, become an incubator for a heart attack, or explode somewhere, an out of control rage-a-holic, as a result of repressing his emotions.”
I am LIVING TOWARD (as opposed to “working toward”) this generation of people being emotionally whole, genuine and sensitive.  And all of our children will benefit from this.
Riviera PlaySchool in Redondo Beach, CA


10 Responses to “Men Should Not Cry (What are You Living Toward?)”
  1. Dina says:

    A 5-year-old screaming, crying and sobbing!!! Oh my goodness, did his pet rock die? LOL!!!

    Years ago, some friends decided to pack up from LA for greener pastures. I asked the parents, “won’t your kids be upset to leave their school and friends?” The mother laughed, the father smiled. “Children react the way you make them think they should react, so we won’t go to them with sad faces but, rather, with exciting news as if Christmas arrived early”, the father explained.

    Another friend, following this same line of thinking, claps everytime his daughter falls down. She would hit the floor, hear applause and jump up smiling. She would cry if she were really hurt and even that wouldn’t be for so long. She plays basketball now with a determination that is unstoppable.

    So…I see a kid sobbing, crying and screaming and I think, “he must have lost a limb, call an ambulance.” Or, as is more often the case, the parents have trained their kids to react to everything in life with a hysterical theatrical production that makes Les Miserables look undramatic. Watch out for those biases. In the contradictory effort to not impose biases, very insidious, yet predictable, side effects will arise.

    That child, regardless of gender, has been trained to be a ridiculous drama queen or, worse, a manipulator who controls his parents through crying. And, yet another embarassing, undignified, example of unparents who refuse to teach their kids how to function in life, saddling them with an unnecessary emotional burden in everything they do.

    What are you working toward? I don’t know, because that presumes some type of work is being done, and there is no effort involved in the scenario you describe.

  2. Linda says:

    “Another friend, following this same line of thinking, claps everytime his daughter falls down. She would hit the floor, hear applause and jump up smiling.”

    Dina, what you are describing IS something that creates grave cognitive dissonance.

    At the very least, she is learning that her mother approves of her pain.

  3. Dina says:

    Not at all. What it has, in fact, produced is a young girl with determination and resilience, who has not been conditioned to overreact anytime things do not go her way. She is confident and fearless, which is a credit to the very intentional and diligent parenting by her…parents.

  4. Linda says:

    Ohh, Dina! 🙁
    And what I can see is a young child who has learned to repress her true emotions in fear of reprisal. A young child who is afraid to express his deepest emotions fearlessly. A young child who is afraid to take a stand for herself. A young child who has been conditioned to seek approval from his peers (yikes!) and his parents, rather than turning to his own inner compass for guidance.

    I see a child who, unless loved unconditionally, will not be free to feel joy and connect with the world around her, with passion and grace. I see a child who will struggle to be deeply happy and fulfilled.

    I see a child who will be haunted by the race (to nowhere) in search of extrinsic reward.

    I see myself, not too long ago, before I discovered non violent communication, taking responsibility for my feelings, and compassion for others. It has freed me to have every day be my “Christmas.”

    I wonder who else can relate.

    Lots of Love,

  5. Natalie says:

    Hmmm, this brings up so much for me I feel compelled to respond. What is so wrong with a 5 year old expressing emotion? I know for myself, if my husband clapped or minimized my feelings when I got hurt (physically or emotionally) that would feel terrible! I want to give the same respect to my kids (and all children) that I want to be treated with. Perhaps something did happen to the 5 year old’s pet rock – whatever it is may seem silly to us as adults, but in the world of our child it might be huge! What an opportunity to show compassion and connect. ‘Wow! You really loved your rock and you are feeling really sad.’ Often times I find that simply sitting with my kids, accepting and validating their feelings is enough. It allows them to feel heard and even frees them to let that emotion go.
    In my family growing up we weren’t ‘allowed’ to be sick (among many other things). I used to have terribly painful menstrual cramps and would hear “OMG, you are fine! You are so dramatic, I’m sick of your whining”. I was forced to continue my day as if nothing was wrong…well I fainted and vomited all over the place after being forced to go to church. How humiliating. I thought they must be right, that I was just a dramatic baby. I was terrible for letting the pain of some dumb cramps get to me. Through this kind of treatment I didn’t learn that I was ‘tough’ and able to ‘strong’. Being treated this way put into my head I am weak and dramatic…silly and that how I feel doesn’t matter.
    I am working hard to change and provide a different experience for my kids. 🙂 I am thankful to be involved in a supportive, informative, loving community of people who are working to do the same. I am so much happier living this way.

  6. Linda says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, Natalie. I would love to hear more stories from other people who can relate to having been shut down, invalidated for their feelings, and told how to feel, as a child.

  7. Dina says:


    What you see is a product of what you choose to look at. And it seems that you (and it seems Natalie as well) choose to look at everything through a very distorted lens of emotional baggage you have not yet managed to drop off at baggage claim.

    Which brings us to the original point. You are imposing YOUR biases on your children, albeit your bias in favor of crying. On your crusade against those you deem uncompassionate for imposing biases, you are doing the same. That is your paradox; your cognitive dissonance; pure hypocrisy.

    You both presume that if she is not on the ground hysterically crying, she is repressing her emotions; if she is not throwing a monster temper tantrum, she is not fully expressing herself?

    Indeed, this is what is so intellectually dishonest about your approach. You presume to know that this girl is “repressing” her emotions, rather than having tools to constructively manage them…to make her functional in life. The arrogance, bias and extreme hypocrisy in your overreaction to that example belies your feigned “compassion.”

    Natalie asks – What is so wrong with a 5 year old expressing emotion?

    Which emotions? And how are they expressed? Define what we are dealing with. Because a little girl who deals with the emotions of falling down by dusting herself off, is expressing her emotion. In HER OWN WAY.

    It is apparent that nothing in this discussion has anything to do with children, yours or anyone else’s. It has to do with you and many unresolved emotions you have vis-a-vis your parents, which is unfortunate because your children deserve more than a constant overreaction to perceived oppression YOU (not them) received as a child.

  8. Linda says:

    Hi Dina,

    Your response logically contradicts and distorts my point, so please let me reframe.

    My point is that, if a child is crying, and feels the need to cry, we will not stop it, distract her/him from it, or otherwise shame or humiliate her/him from engaging in expressing her/his emotions.

    And the reason why I will not is because I believe that it is not my right to tell another person how to feel their emotions, to counsel them about their emotions, or to moralize or to otherwise manipulate them into feeling any certain way about the organic emotions they feel.

    It is only my job, as a fellow human in this world to support my fellow humans compassionately while they feel the emotions they feel. And to validate that the emotions they are feeling are valid.

    No one can ever judge another’s magnitude of trauma.

    If you came to me with tears in your eyes, I would not laugh them away, or ridicule you for being sad.

    Dina, you belittled the 5 year old’s crying in the initial story; would you have responded the same way if you knew that the child’s brother had died?

    There are well documented studies of human emotions and processes…have you heard of Kubler- Ross and the 5 or 7 stages of grief? How about Benjamin Maslow?

    I know that you must be familiar with the concept of “the mirror.” When I have an emotional reaction to something (as opposed to being neutral and unemotional), that tells me that I should take a look inside myself to see what might be there, sitting, unexamined, waiting for me to release it. It is about me, and not about the “subject.” In reading your reactions to my posts, I am struck by how emotional you are in your writings. If I was not neutral to this, I might even feel that your were trying to attack me personally! It seems that my writing has struck something deep within you.

    I want to reassure you that nothing I have written was even intended to cause you any or anyone else any pain.

    I want only love for your inner child, you, and everyone in your life.



  9. Anya says:

    Once I accepted that crying was a natural body function, much like yawning, and I allowed myself to cry – hard even, and stopped judging the nature of the object causing me pain, I was able to heal, move on and let go. I find that when I hold back (suppress) my tears, that pain comes out in other ways- irritability, for example. I want nothing more than for my kids to be able to accept reality, and adjust to it, and sometimes, getting to that place involves tears to be shed… tears that express sadness, distress, or even rage over not being able to fulfill their intentions. Hmmmm- “managing” your emotions… I wonder what that means- crying later? Talking it over with an understanding friend? Talking to someone who loves me… a PARENT? Or pretending I am not upset since the culture or company judges it inappropriate? Shouldn’t we all strive to be authentic? I do. And, I want both of my kids to be.

  10. Linda says:

    Wow. Great questions and YES I am with you. I want to process and move on. Not suppress, or repress, but express, and thereby connect more closely with my friends and community.

    Lots of Love,

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