However, his character suddenly changed. He began to get angry and frustrated in class. He was finding it difficult to concentrate and this was effecting his grades. His class teacher was aware that there were difficulties at home, so she asked me to talk to him.
He loved them both, but he didn’t like his dad’s new girlfriend and her son. Archie believed he couldn’t tell his dad what he felt as his dad was so loved-up and Archie felt he had been pushed to one side. He also felt awkward talking to his mum about it, as he didn’t want to upset her either.
He didn’t enjoy travelling between two homes and felt guilty about leaving his mum. Archie was struggling terribly. He was suppressing and internalizing all his feelings as there was nowhere else to go with them. Because of society and the expectations on how men should behave, Archie found it difficult to express how he felt.
How do boys express themselves if they have been taught not to display emotion with phrases like, 'man-up', 'stop being a wuss' and 'boys don't cry!'. For men, society creates an expectation of how men should behave and what masculinity is, includes the expectation that men be the breadwinner of their family and that they display what have traditionally been perceived as masculine traits like strength, stoicism, dominance and control.
We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.
Because of the way boys are socialized, their ability to deal with emotions has been systematically undermined. Men are taught not to feel, not to cry and not to find words to express themselves because this would be in the confines of a socialization, as being unmanly. He would spend time with me once or twice a week and through talking, drawing and coping techniques his negative mood started to shift. Just because men aren’t adept at expressing their feelings doesn’t mean they don’t feel and feel deeply. Men may convert one feeling into another and they may convert stereotypically feminine feelings, such as sadness or vulnerability into feelings like anger or pride.
Is it any wonder that Archie was struggling? He wasn’t able to approach his dad to talk about the whys and wherefores and equally he couldn’t express to his dad his need to cry, to be held and to feel loved. He was afraid he had lost his dad to another woman and her son. As a sounding board and listening ear, I gave Archie the opportunity to grieve the loss of the family unit he had formerly known.
He would have a few tears, and then return to class knowing that he could ask to talk to me at any time. I am pleased to say, his grades improved and two years later he moved on to secondary school, a very personable and happy young man.
I continue to believe that if children are given the necessary tools to succeed, they will succeed beyond their wildest dreams!
In the healthy development of children, particularly children in circumstances similar to Archie, we must search for new and creative ways of supporting interpersonal relationships and strengthening the positive reinforcement of emotion, against stereotypes. This can be found in the ways in which, families carry out the daily activities of their lives. This factor is essential, especially when it comes to divorce and separation. It’s time we changed the stigma of keeping a stiff upper lip and accept that big boys CAN, SHOULD and DO CRY!
The author of divorceseparationcoach.co.uk and a wide variety of inspirational & helpful blogs, to aid you in getting your life back on track after divorce. In addition to your personal coach, her own experiences will provide a unique and considered insight, into the things you can do to keep positive and motivated.