7 responses to “Why Do We Tell Boys to “Suck it Up”?”

  1. Mark

    We teach boys not to cry because any human society values the *work* a man can do, *not* his feelings or his pain. Only when a massive population of men have been hurt/injured/killed does a society offer a “token” acknowledgement of male suffering. But we men are told throughout life (from our fathers and friends onward) that no one has pity for a source of potential work and profit…unless the man is physically unable to sustain his former production value.

    The fact is that, coming from a male perspective, life sucks but you must gut through it. Civilization was build upon the deaths of countless men suffered in war, plague, and famine. Women and children *must* come first in a crisis situation, because the former is the integral “limiting factor” in a civilization’s potential for growth while the latter is literally the future.

    Is it right, however, to ask so much of our young boys before they even understand the reasons behind our dismissal of their pain? The short answer is no, but the long answer is a very complex subject. The fundamental problem is two-fold: first, “Does anyone truly care about doing something about the treatment of male children?” Second, “If there are such people, how many are there availible (and willing) to change the ‘status quo’?”

    Without acknowledgement or a sizable population willing to speak out or even simply *change* their behavior, nothing stops. And keep in mind that the status quo refers to the various social norms a society *enforces* upon its populace.

    In summation, life sucks and a man has to do what we trained to do, even if we don’t like it.

  2. Deborah

    I feel the need to be the ‘other voice’ in this argument (though I don’t feel strongly about this topic either way)… I have a 7 yo girl and I tell her to ‘suck it up’ about once a week. WHY? because she’s in that stage of crying for attention rather than crying for any internal need. I’ve watched this child grow and I’ve learned to read her. When she’s truely scared, hurt or I can’r actually get a read on her, I comfort her and let it play out. When its obvious to me that she is seeking attention (and not positive attention), I tell her to tough it out, suck it up, or plain old get over it. I’m not going to feed her attention-seeking though crying and tears. If she want’s my attention, she knows how to get it in soo many positive ways – because we’ve talked about it.

    My point is that you don’t know each child, family, or personality – so why do we judge others by the standards we keep for ourselves? Maybe that boy was really struggling, or maybe you read into his face what you thought should be there BASED ON YOUR FEELINGS. Did the boy come back to practice the next week? oh, he did huh? then I guess he’s managed to deal with his feelings enough to endure it again.

    My other thought on this won’t be well received, but I’ve seen that boys and girls deal with their emotions in different ways. Girls often seek comfort from those around them while boys tend to WANT to hold those feelings in tight. Maybe this is Mars vs Venus type stuff (i.e. we are just different at a base level) or maybe it’s environmental pressure ( we encourage one and discourage the other). I’m no expert – but I am the mother of 2 children who seem well adjusted.

  3. Dena

    Telling boys to “suck it up” teaches them to run from their feelings. What a terrible lesson, we as parents are teaching our boys! It is important for us to help kids acknowledge their feelings and help deal with them,whatever they may be. Don’t we expect our boys to grow into sensitive men? If it is not socially acceptable for them to express their feelings as boys how will they learn to be sensitive men?-(which makes a good husband!) Think about it.

    Anyone with boys should read: Real Boys-Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood by William Pollack,Ph.D.

  4. jamie

    I just can’t see the value of ANYONE stuffing ANY kind of feelings inside.

    We lived in England when my children were young and my (then) 5-year-old daughter got a bloody nose at school and came home with a sticker that said, “I was brave.”

    I explained to her that bravery when in pain is not one of our core family values. (What I really wanted was a sticker that said, “I am livid.”)

    Now that my son is a 4th grader, I see so much shake-it-off messaging to boys that I can barely believe it. I get it, but it makes me sad.

  5. Britany

    I think sometimes crying is the best medicine.
    My husband never asks me to “suck it up” if I need a good cry after a stressful day.
    And when he feels down, I think it’s just as important that I encourage him to do what he needs to do to feel better – even if it means comforting him while he has a good cry
    Growing up, everyone in my family was told to “suck it up” – no matter if you were a girl or a boy – I think it made me appreciate the healing affect a good cry really can have.

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