My name is Christine Walker. I am a writer, an educator and a mother of four boys.
I always assumed boys and girls were wired differently. I have three younger sisters and no brothers. My dad never cried. My mom cried a lot. The guys I dated and hung out with growing up almost never cried. My girlfriends cried often. My life experience seemed to validate the assumption that girls feel more emotions than boys do.
And then I had a baby boy, followed by three more baby boys. I learned every flick of their eyebrows and every twitch of their lips. I learned, as well as any woman can learn, that boys do feel fear. They also feel sadness, disappointment, discouragement and the same depth and breadth and variety of emotions that girls feel. It saddens me that at some point they start feeling the need to stifle their emotions, but they do. One by one, I’ve watched all of my boys grow and slowly turn off as many emotional cues in their behavior as they can.
I married a good man, but he wasn’t immune from these pressures either. In the early stages of his career, my husband had a series of difficult bosses; both men and women who seemed to enjoy berating, intimidating and threatening their employees. While I was at home drowning in all the associated bodily fluids that accompany the early years of parenthood, my husband was at work drowning in all the proverbial bodily fluids spewed in his general direction. He didn’t complain, so I was only vaguely aware of his struggles. He came home every night and witnessed mine. He pitched in and shared my burden. I had no way to pitch in and share his.
One night after a particularly brutal stretch, he couldn’t hide it anymore. He walked into our bedroom after we’d gotten our boys to bed and broke down. I was surprised, somewhat irritated, and not very supportive. I have a few regrets in my life, and this is one of them.
Fortunately, my husband was strong enough, even in that moment, to let me know my response wasn’t helpful. I knew he was right and since then, I’ve been working to unlearn all my mistaken assumptions and find better ways to love and support my family.
WHY I WRITE:
Originally, I thought my belief that men should be unemotional was an unfortunate result of being raised with no brothers. I was surprised to learn I wasn’t alone. People all over the world have unfair, and unrealistic emotional expectations for the boys and men in their lives, and these expectations are affecting both men and women (About).
I’m trying to raise awareness of this problem. I’m also working to provide resources and solutions to help fix it. I am not a trained psychologist, nor am I a licensed social worker, but all the suggestions you will find on this blog have documented research to support them. Many of my posts are interviews with industry experts and most importantly, the strategies I share are those I have found useful and practical to implement in my own normal, imperfect family of growing boys.