It’s Different for Girls

My mother was pretty invested in patriarchal, authoritarian (“strict father”) parenting.  She loved James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, and she put the vision of this kind of family into effect, such as forcing Dad to do the punishing of the boys when he came home after being gone all week.

It is well known now that authoritarian parenting is is hurtful to both parents and children.  The authoritarian parenting style is linked with kids who are less resourceful, less confident, less socially skilled, and less accomplished at school.  And it is intimately bound up with the patriarchy and usually, religion.

The patriarchy is more or less a huge set of problems.  And one of them is that it is emotionally stunting to men.  Maybe this is another reason I’m different from my siblings, and another way I lucked out.

Below are quotes from the full article here.

“We raise men not to see trauma or see experiences in their lives as traumatic, difficult, or painful. It is against the code of being a man and so, as young boys, we and others convince us over and over again that it wasn’t trauma.

“I am going to explore why men’s trauma is so invisible… The invisibility of men’s trauma is definitely a part of The Water.

[“The Water,” the reality in which we are all immersed but of which we are often unaware. The term refers to a parable of the two fish at the bottom of the ocean when another fish swims up and says, “How is the water?” and then swims off. The two fish look at each other and say, “What the hell is water?” That is how gender, in particular, shows up in our lives… And most of us don’t see The Water because we’re in it. Once you begin to see it, you see it everywhere and you begin to appreciate how incredibly deep it runs.]

“Trauma may mean “wound” in Greek, but in the language of men it means “weak.” And the last thing men want to feel like or appear as is weak.

“Men’s trauma is invisible to us… I have yet to do a workshop or training and not have at least one man come up to me and say, “But I never thought of that as trauma.” And their whole worldview has been changed because they have finally given themselves permission to acknowledge the deep pain they have been carrying around. They have been able to hear the message that, yes indeed, real men have trauma.

“The invisibility of male trauma is embedded in the Man Rules: Don’t cry, don’t be vulnerable, don’t ask for help, don’t show softer feelings. The list of infractions against the human spirit goes on and on. And I cannot repeat enough: We learn these Rules so young, from so many different sources, long before we have the freedom of choice in the matter. We cannot process the impact of what is happening to us. We know that if we stop crying, we experience some degree of safety. We know if we stop showing fear, we stop getting made fun of and might even get respect. We know that if we don’t admit feeling hurt or showing pain, we likely won’t have names and criticisms hurled at us from every direction. That is how we swallow the pain of trauma and tell ourselves, over and over again:

  • It was nothing.
  • That was then, this is now.
  • I was a child then; I am a grown man now.
  • I was a pain in the ass as a kid; I deserved it.
  • They were only trying to help me become a man.