In the documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” it spoke about the pressures society puts on young boys, which in then later shapes them to be these aggressive males who don’t know how to confront their emotions.
It starts from the moment young boys are told to be “strong” and to not show their emotions. However, the problem with this is that instead of teaching young boys how to talk about their emotions or how they feel about situations it makes them feel ashamed that they even have these feelings, to begin with.
Parents often tell their young boys to be tough and to stick up for themselves when in trouble or threatened by a bully/person. They are told that they have to be physically strong enough to defend themselves, ignoring the fact that sometimes it’s hard to be tough because as humans/people we can feel vulnerable for any reason. Not because we’re particularly “weak.”
It’s even more difficult to confront an issue when you have no one to talk or relate to. In some of the interviews, the boys came from homes without fathers or they had fathers who always would get after them for not be a “strong man.” The boys who didn’t have fathers learned from men in the media and how they always seem to portray themselves as “strong.” Some of them were also influenced by other men in their family or neighborhood and that’s where they picked up that they couldn’t be vulnerable.
It’s also important to note the effects this may have on mental health for boys. Sometimes they can begin to get lost in their feelings if they don’t talk about their issues. They can deal with in various ways, by either becoming depressed, focusing on aggressive activities like violent video games or sports, and/or taking out their frustration on others.
The importance of good mental health is imperative for everybody and if anything it’s more crucial because it can really take a toll on someone if they aren’t in a good mental health state.
Parents shouldn’t expect and teach their young boys to be strong brick walls, they should tell them that it’s okay to have feelings and when they do feel down parents should take that into account and talk to their children and find out what’s bothering them. It will do no good to ignore the fact that something is bothering them and telling the, to just get over it.
Another thing to note is that even if everything seems fine with their young boy or daughter even, they should always tell their children if there’s anything they ever want to talk about to go to them and to not feel ashamed or weak that they have a problem that they can’t take care of themselves. Just reminding them every once in a while that they aren’t alone in life could help them tremendously.
More than anything it’s a parents, guardians or even a mature figure’s responsibility to remind young boys that they don’t have ever to be tough, cold, or aggressive to be considered a “man.” They should be whoever they want to be and to not take much consideration to what others say if it’s negative, and to always remember it’s okay to have feelings and talk about them openly.