I’ve been reading Raising Cain: Protecting The Emotional Life Of Boys again. It’s such a transformational book. I read it years ago as a Social Worker and I pick it often now as a mother to a young boy.
I often think about how we socialize our boys in such harmful ways. How we don’t give them permission to FEEL their feelings (“Be a man, boys don’t cry, etc”), to SPEAK their truths (“I’ll give you something to cry about”), to BE WILD and free (“Settle DOWN, sit still, etc etc”). Often they grow up and express all that has been unallowed to be expressed as a child as anger and rage and confusion as an adult. We see our men depressed, anxious, angry.
There’s an excellent book by Terry Real called I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression. This book, along with Raising Cain have been companions of mine since giving birth to a boy. I see many of my adult male friends and family members in the pages of these books. My heart has such compassion for them, that we could have done better.
I hope that True’s experience is different, though I know he lives in a world where there is so much that he’s being told about what it means to be a boy – most of it UNtrue, UNhelpful. I see it everywhere in small boys. And I see it everywhere in grown men – the aftershock and effects of experiencing “man up” culture and how detrimental it can be to their hearts and minds and self-compassion.
My mind is always turning on these things. I hope to provide a safe space, a home where he can be and express the full range of his human experience so that when he goes out into the world he can fully recognize what is true and what is not true when it comes to being a boy and man in the world.