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We bring up boys telling them they can’t cry, and deny them a natural outlet for their softer emotions. How, then, can they express their feelings safely?
My son studies in a blue chip college. The bluest in India! He is an affable person with above average grades, a CV with accomplishments and good looks.
BUT… The race against time is omnipresent and so is the pressure cooker situation. You are expected to run from day 1.
Classes, Lab activities, Quizzes, Minors, Majors, Elections, College Festivals! By the time one realizes, the semester is already over and the results are handed out to the student.
If the said student had not been able to prioritize or differentiate between what is necessary and what is tedious or diversionary, he or she will find the going extremely tough. Some get to occupy that dreaded position of bottom of the barrel – The 5 point someone – Life is hell from that point onwards, where you get used to being a second class citizen, celebrating handouts and scraps.
The damage done to your self-esteem and pride takes a lifetime to redeem.
But hey, that was expected. When big fish from small ponds, graduate to big ponds, there will be some major reordering and the said fish are expected to grow up, adjust and survive.
Sadly, only those who are very mentally strong manage to do so.
Communication is paramount here to let out the building steam, before any irreparable damage takes place!
The problem is the notion that ‘Boys Don’t Cry’! We bring them up saying, “You are a boy, learn to be strong. Don’t cry at the drop of a hat, like a girl! Learn to take things in your stride. Grow up!”
And that’s how the bottling up starts, internalizing all the latent stress under the false illusion that sharing of their angst or mental burden to others might make them less manly or small. Peer pressure, you see.
They will talk at each-other but never with each-other. They will hangout, party, swap stuff and bed crash. That’s it. Beyond that, the gates of heart are firmly shut.
A sensitive soul might find the going tough, if he tries to pour his heart out or confide about his difficulties because Boys Don’t Cry. If the parents become his emotional crutch, the boy will be labelled as a clingy baby, who hasn’t grown up yet.
When this all-round pressure becomes too much, some choose what they perceive as an easy way out. A young life gets needlessly snuffed out. As I write this, a young man on the threshold of a beautiful life, studying in one of the esteemed colleges of India, has chosen to end his.
Maybe it is time to end those mothballed narratives and bring up children as persons, laying adequate stress on EQ. Gender Agnostic upbringing might equip our children to handle pain.
Oh yes, it is okay for boys to feel and share.
Because they carry a pumping heart too. Like Girls!
Image source: See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only.
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Anupama Jain is the author of 'When Padma Bani Paula', a breezy novel about second
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