Among both the genders, the growing up period is toughest for boys, since from very early on they are pressured to hide their feelings and “be a man”. Being pushed into gender specific roles at such an early age puts a lot of pressure on them both psychologically and emotionally. Forced to suppress their feeling continuously leaves them struggling throughout their adult lives to express themselves as articulately and easily as girls do.
This lack of sensitivity among grown men caused by typical boy behavior and emotional struggles since childhood have been genuinely understood and explained to parents of all teenage boys in the book “Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection” authored by Dr. Niobe Way a New York University expert in developmental adolescent psychology. Dr.Niobi focus her attention on teaching parents about parenting teenage boys, dynamics of male friendships and how they affect the emotional transformation of boys into men.
The Boy Brand
Often parents are seen wondering abut how to cope with teenagers, especially those of young boys. Parents of young boys need to accept the fact that all children are equal and boys get just as hurt on losing a friend as girls do, only difference being that it is socially acceptable for girls to act out their hurt feeling by crying, boys are discouraged to do so. They are constantly reminded that “boys don’t cry!”. This however does not change the fact that boys don’t feel as hurt over losing a best friend for instance, in fact such heart breaking incidents which they are forced to brush under the carpet leaves them emotionally handicapped for life. This is why men have a very hard time expressing themselves emotionally in most of their adult relationships.
Breaking the Mold
Dr. Niobi’s book addresses the issue of depression in adolescents and offers parents advice on how to cope with teenage boys and their physical and emotional sides. While it is extremely important for parents to help their boys understand the difference between being straight and gay, it is also important for them to understand that the affection and fondness they feel for their male friends is understandable and acceptable. It may be because gay men tend to be better at expressing themselves emotionally, straight men shy away from this concept of emotional sensitivity incase them come across as “too girly” or gay. However, considering the rising rate of divorce amongst couples across the country, it is vital that boys be shown acceptance and understanding in this regard, in order for them to have healthier and more meaningful relationships as adults.
Dr. Niobi advises parents to encourage their boys to not only celebrate the perfections of their relationships with other boys, but feel free to mourn the loss of them as well.
Other experts in the field of male bonding suggest the same thing, for instances take London-based psychologist Felix Economaki. Felix believes that better male bonding will not only result in more sensitive and emotionally balanced men in general, but that men who are close to their friends are happier, healthier and wealthier as well.
However, Felix paints a more encouraging picture of the situation then Dr.Niobi does, by saying that , more and more men are now openly embracing their emotional dependence on each other and in some cases even blatantly celebrating this camaraderie. So it seems times are changing and so are the men.