Thursday, June 16, 2011

boys don't cry

This old dog has learned a new trick, y’all.


Yep. You read it correctly. To be fair, it’s less of a run and more of a slight jog, but still….I’m getting my heart rate UP, people! And I’ve been running with enough frequency and intensity that I’ve even developed a little knee injury that I’m somewhat proud of. I have to ice it and take an anti-inflammatory after I run, which makes me feel very legit.

Moving on:

I usually run the same path each day. The first part of my trek goes through a little neighborhood. I typically have an iPod that I run with, but the earbuds broke (probably from ear sweat), so yesterday I was able to over hear some families’ conversations as I jogged by.

One in particular went something like this:

“Are you a boy or a girl? Tell me. Are you a boy or are you a girl?” said a woman, who I’m assuming was Mom, to a young boy who was crying.

“I’m a boy,” whimpered young boy wearing horizontally-striped shorts with vertically-striped t-shirt.

“You must not be a boy, because boys don’t cry. Only girls do,” said Mom.

He must have been three or four.

Y’all. Please hear my heart and not any pretension when I say that I found this wrong. I find it so sad that a young boy was told that he is not allowed to cry—like crying or being sad is solely a feminine thing to do. It’s like he’s not allowed to feel. Why is this? Why is it considered tough or manly or heroic to or right to “suck it up”?

I so appreciate that Nathaniel was raised to be allowed to emote. He cried on our wedding day---buckets, actually. And he cries at movies. And he cries in church, and I can honestly say that I find him MORE masculine and I so respect that he owns how he feels and expresses it. Can’t men be both masculine and emotional?

What say you, blogosphere? Do any men read this blog? I’d love to hear your take. Do you feel any societal or familial or generational pressure to “brush it under the rug”?




  1. That is so so sad. It's horrible when boys, and even girls, are raised learning that crying is a weakness. A lot of the time this leads them to build up walls that take years to break back down! Great post :)

  2. So this mom wants to "smack" that mom and cry with the little boy who might be a creative soul (considering his clothing) Manipulating our children to conform to our preferred behaviors, even "good ones," by using guilt or withdrawing our approval is wrong, wrong, wrong AND it will usually backfire and create family problems much worse than whatever we wanted them to stop doing at the outset. Grrrrrrr

  3. Well said, Brett! This breaks my heart! I think the ability to cry is such a blessing, no matter one's gender.

    (P.S. I'm moving to Charlottesville on August 3rd!)

  4. You asked for it, you got it:

    There is nothing wrong with a man crying.

    I think one of the greatest disservices our society does for our men is tell them that they are not allowed to feel, or express feeling. Not only is this a disservice to our men, this view is un-Biblical. Christ Himself cried and expressed emotion often, as did great men in the Bible before him (see: Jeremiah, the "Weeping Prophet" and others).

    I used to think "men don't cry" myself, until the Lord was gracious enough to show me that holding all of that emotion in was actually crippling me from being the man He wanted me to be. God blesses many of us men (and women) with passion, and crying is an expression of that passion.

    Why hold it in? Christ was passionate, and even cried for us, was He not?

  5. oh, jeremy. i 100 million % agree with this. thank you so much for your insightful words and encouraging comment! i hope that you have some men in your life that you're mentoring--you sound like a great leader.