What Men Don’t Say!!!
In my observation over the years, I have come to realize how young men cry out for help or someone to talk to and their cries are going unheard. Having many different conversations with different ages of boys and men from preteen to 30 years of age and the stories that I have heard are very similar. As young men growing up, they are put into different situations that can be confusing for them, that can create many different emotions that they are left to deal with alone. Young men having to deal with the pressures of society, peers, family, school, social media and the judicial system is a lot to deal with. Even though young men come from different walks of life the struggles are similar. Some of the guys are raised by single mothers, some were from two-parent homes, and some feel as though they raised themselves. The common theme of the conversations was that they felt alone or depressed. Everyone’s stories are different, but many are built on the same foundation. Most of the guys that I have talked to feel like they were misunderstood, not heard, couldn’t express what they were thinking or felt nobody really cared anyway. What we as adults seem to forget is that at that age, young man do not want to appear weak, so they keep many thoughts and emotions to themselves. Leaving them to internalize their thoughts and issues which generally, causes them to act out. Who are they to talk too?
Many young men turn to friends for advice, but in today’s society what is the friend’s frame of reference? As I listen to the different stories, mom may be out working and trying to make a living, and dad may or may not be active in his life or working. It seems as though families are caught in the struggle of everyday life, and parents are missing just how much it impacts the kids. For the guys that are being raised in single family households, they feel pressures of not being able to have the things that everyone else has, or having to take on the role of the man of the house. Which in turn can lead them to hustle to help support the family. Due to them not having a father in the home, young men are leaving home much earlier, and or not finishing school. They have the responsibilities to look out for their siblings or play man of the house. I put emphasis on playing man of the house. When dad isn’t around what does man of the house look like? What examples are they patterning themselves after?
If he is out hustling and going to school and trying to look out and protect his siblings, who is it that is looking out for him? He also feels inclined to look out for his mother and will side eye any man that may come into her life. When he begins to get out of line and begin to ask too many questions, at that point he is put back into a child’s place and reminded that he is to respect mom and her company. R U Serious!? How do you tell a child, he is the man of the house at one moment and then to stay in a child’s place the next? These young men are trying to discover who they are at this age, at this point they are confused. We cannot leave them to feel emasculated and or used. Every day there is another young man that is setup to be lost. They are lost in the shuffle of child and manhood and both are being taken from them at the same time. How focused and driven can you be if your childhood and manhood are taken simultaneously? Many of the men stay stuck in that in-between stage forever. They never find the balance of their role in manhood.
Many of these kids lose the right to be a kid because they are brought up to have responsibilities’ that are not appropriate to their current age. When they are taught that they should act as a man, can you fault them for acting like what their definition of a man is? If you look at the examples they have around them, how can we hold them to any major standards? With pride and testosterone pumping through their bodies, it is easy for them to end up having insecurities or feelings of failure if they do not meet the expectations that are placed on them. Even though these young men act tough, it has to be understood, that these young men are sensitive. If feelings get hurt they will act out before they will ever tell you that you hurt them. They also hang on every word that their mother says. So if a young man is put down or ridiculed by his mother, on the regular or made to look dumb in front of other people, he never lets those feelings go. He will take those feelings and unconsciously begin to harbor feelings of resentment. A boy wants his mother to feel proud of him and if he doesn’t have that he will shut down! When a young man is lost and confused and angry and feels humiliation it carries over into his relationships when he gets older.
There are also the times when mom’s boyfriends are in and out of the home, who have no real care or concern for the children. The Boyfriends are allowed to call shots for the month or two they are around. The boy is now challenged with having to be around a new man who is taking attention away from him and trying to control his territory because he has been told he is the man of the house. When he gets disrespectful to the boyfriend he is now told he is wrong and that he needs to respect this man. You have to understand how this young man is processing this in his head, because who can he talk to about this? He feels disrespected, and he feels as if he has been betrayed by his first love. This is easily the first step of resentment, a young man can begin to have. He feels like his mother chose a man over him. I understand the immediate response being this is my child and I’m grown and he is just being a teen. It is more than that it is all in the presentation. Kids are not dumb by any means, when you have conversations with your child and you ask them how they feel about decisions you are making, (I challenge you, to be honest with yourself) are you asking them how they feel or convincing them that what you are doing is ok? Talking at your kids is the worst thing you can do. Boys love their mom and don’t want to hurt their feelings, he will say he doesn’t care and it’s cool because he knows that is what you want him to say. On the inside, his heart is breaking and I promise he has just hardened a little in his spirit. It is all in allowing your kids to be kids, and not making them have to grow up faster than they need too. Not making them hold the weight of your choices.
I think people misunderstands the relationship of a man or boy and his mother. His mother is his first love and he will always want to protect her. If he feels like she disapproves of him or if he is ridiculed by her, it will have a completely different effect, more than if it were to come from anyone else. When young men turn angry or start to shut down it is important to take those extra minutes to ask questions. You cannot assume that it is just him becoming a teenager. As men and being wired differently you have to be aware, it is too easy to lose them, and hard to get them back. Many times when a young man has issues, he deals with not wanting to talk about. If their problem is dealing with home, many times it will be mistaken for being rebellious, but let me ask you when someone comes to you about you, are you willing to listen? It only takes a guy’s feelings to get hurt once or to feel rejected by someone they love, to shut down and deal with it themselves. There are grown men who are still dealing with the confusion imposed on them from childhood, who are now trying to function and raise families of their own. They have no clue as to what it is they should be doing, and because they have unresolved mom issues, they don’t know how to interact with their women properly. Some men feel so torn down and emasculated as boys they are verbally and physically abusive to their women so that it doesn’t happen again.
I pray for the young men of today and I hope this opens the eyes of many. We are in the days of reconstruction and we have to think and change our ways. It is not too late. As men, we have to let our pride go and say what is bothering us.