August 22, 2019

The Side Effects of “Boys will be Boys”

Identity Development
Mental Health & Wellbeing

In a recent post of mine, I talked about a message that is shared in our culture where men are told to not talk about their emotions. I discussed how men are told to bottle up and suppress their emotions instead of sharing how they truly feel. Growing up, you see this message shared in schools, on sports teams, in church, and in our homes.

As a result, we see some boys start to act out in different ways. Some will get into physical altercations, verbal arguments, or fight with their parents. One response that is common in our society when these things happen is, “boys will be boys”. This response is furthest from the truth. Usually when boys start to act out, it is them trying to call for help.

Anxiety Leads to Aggression

I have sat down and talked to many adolescents and young adult men who are acting out in school or at home, who admit that they do not want to be acting out. They do it because they feel like it’s their way of saying, “I’m not okay, and I need to talk to someone.” When I first started meeting with them, most do not understand why they are acting out. However through conversation they start to realize that it is their way of crying out for help. They really just need a space to be able to talk about their emotions and to even talk about what is causing them anxiety or depression. Unchecked anxiety and depression tends to lead to aggression towards oneself, or others, which is the exact opposite of what anyone wants.

Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental disorders in childhood and adolescence. There is a relationship between anxiety and depression and it can lead to aggression. Anxious youth have a heightened risk for the development of depression, and the majority of depressed youth have a history of anxiety. Contrary to popular belief, boys dealing with anxiety and depression is just as common as girls who deal with these issues. So why is it that when boys are calling out for help, we turn our backs and say statements similar to, “boys will be boys”, or ,“he will grow out of it,”?

What can I do?

If you feel like this post resonates with you, or is hitting a pressure point for you as you think about yourself or your child, then it may be time for you to reach out to one of our therapists here at Optimum Joy. Being able to open up and speak about your feelings can not only transform your life but your child’s life as well. It can lead to happier and healthier relationships and families.

Whether you are ready to make a change towards a healthier life, or if you feel like you just need a place to be able to talk about where you will not be judged, give us a call; we would love to work with you.

Written by therapist Alex Parlette

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