As any parent can tell you, raising a child is a complicated process. It takes hard work, research, and a whole lot of love to raise a mature, emotionally stable, and well-rounded person. All too often, cultural norms and socializations that pervade wider society can actively fight against a good parent’s efforts.
This is particularly true in the case of boys. Long-standing stereotypes and cultural expectations can push boys into destructive, hypermasculine patterns of behavior and thought, and it takes care and consistent work from parents to counteract these tendencies and raise an emotionally honest man.
While most of us are well aware of how destructive feminine stereotypes and the overall patriarchy of society can be, less attention is often given to the cost of masculinity – but the reality is, the costs are high. Men are socialized to push their emotions down and show a front of dominance and control, and – of course – to never, ever cry. But this hypermasculine mask is really just that: a mask. One with real consequences.
Asking men and young boys to assume this caricature of an identity stunts their emotional, social, and personal growth, shutting off their relationships with friends, romantic partners, and themselves. It causes them to lag in school because being a “Try Hard” is unmanly; it pushes them to rely on destructive emotional coping mechanisms like alcohol and substance abuse, and it makes anger – one of the least healthy and most difficult emotions to manage – the only emotional response they are allowed to have. At worst, hypermasculinity can even be deadly: because men don’t seek help as readily as women, they die earlier, and men are 4 times as likely to take their own life and much more likely to succeed when they do attempt suicide.
So what can you do as a parent to counteract this dangerous cultural construct of hypermasculinity? There are a number of tips to keep in mind.
As always, if you have any questions, want to talk more about raising your child, or wish to come in for therapy for yourself or your child, I’m always here to help. You can call me at (310) 892-2572, reach out at my contact page, or schedule your next appointment online. I look forward to hearing from you and I hope you have found this article helpful – and I wish you luck in raising your child to be an emotionally honest, stable, and well-rounded man!