Boys “Don’t Cry”

I remember being 5, and having a playdate with my best friend. He was a boy. He fell and skinned his knee, and when he started to cry, his mom said “big boys don’t cry“, and he stopped. He sniffled a few times, took a shaky breath, and stood up.

I think that term has been used over the years to teach boys to be stronger, only it’s misguided and what it actually does is teach them to repress their feelings of sadness and pain. Anger is an okay emotion for boys to display, but tears are not. Tears are not considered masculine enough for our “tougher sex”.

When I found out I would be having a son, I instantly started to worry about the pressures society puts on boys and men. Be strong, all the time. Don’t cry, boys don’t cry. Men don’t cry, babies and little girls cry. That mindset didn’t sit well with me.

We have raised generations of men that do not know how to express their emotions properly. They display anger when they should display sadness, worry or fear. Every emotion, save for happiness, is expressed with anger. When was the last time you saw a movie where in the leading male shed a few tears because he’d lost his leading lady? If there are tears, they’re always associated with a wall punch or two, but it’s usually just the later emotion that’s displayed. Anger.

I don’t want that for my boys. I want them to feel free to express their emotions in healthy ways. When my sons cry, I get right pissed off when people around us mock them or tell them “big boys don’t cry”. Actually, everybody cries…or everybody should.

We need to stop telling little boys to stop crying. We need to stop having them repress their emotions and we need to start teaching them that emotions do not make you weak or less of a man.


About J.C. Hannigan

25. Mother. Wife. Lover of words. Weaver of stories. My first book, Collide, is available in e-book for Amazon Kindle and Kobo.
This entry was posted in blogging, boys, challenges, feelings, honesty, issues, life lessons, motherhood, musings, opinions, parenthood, personal, ranting, tough stuff, trial and error, verbal diarrhea, words, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Boys “Don’t Cry”

  1. Amen! It’s wrong to tell anyone not to cry. I’m a woman and I’ve been told not to cry. Boys constantly hear it and it’s straight up emotional repression.

    • Jess says:

      True! Emotional repression is never good. It just gets worse down the road.

      I also get told to not be so emotional, or my emotional outbursts are chalked up to “that time of the month”…but that’s a post for another day πŸ˜‰

  2. Amen. Someone told me recently that crying was “manipulative” — which made me REALLY angry.

  3. almostakiss says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! This has been going on for far too long. So many other things have changed in society in the last 50 years but this hasn’t seen any progress. Too many angry men walking around that weren’t allowed to express other emotions. Hopefully, there are a lot more people like you who’ll be working to make a difference for the future of mankind. πŸ™‚

    • Jess says:

      Thank you! I’m hearing from a lot of moms that they don’t repress their sons emotions so this is GOOD!!! Maybe this generation stands a chance at kicking that old bullshit mindset to the curb!

  4. Trauma Dad says:

    I think there are applications for emotional repression in balanced ways. Keeping it on a leash is good practice for everybody, and I mean all genders. There’s a time and a place for everything. Like, I can’t just cry and break down emotionally while driving my Pepsi truck through a school zone during lunch hour. But this applies to everybody. Not just men. Because if I do break down while driving a rig, I won’t be able to see, and will be less in control, reducing my reaction time. I’ll probably run over a kid if I allow that to happen. Not because I’m a man, but because that circumstance does not allow for expression. I know that’s an extreme and particular example, but it’s a metaphor. We can damage others emotionally when we fling our own emotions around unchecked. Sometimes repression is necessary. I don’t have the right to express emotions any time, any place, and in every circumstance, if doing so will harm others. I have the right to feel those things, but the application shouldn’t harm others.

    That’s the big issue here. We’re telling people how to feel. But that’s ridiculous. People feel the way they feel. That doesn’t change unless you change the core of a person. One way to do that is by breaking their spirit. And that’s exactly what is happening to our boys (and to our girls in other ways).

    I absolutely agree that this societal obsession with forcing boys not to cry is damaging and ridiculous. If I’m a man driving that Pepsi truck and I need to cry, I should damn well find a spot, pull over, and let it out. And anyone who sees me shouldn’t just start laughing or talking about how weak I am. They should just go “that guy’s having a bad day. I know what that’s like. Maybe I can help.” But no, that’s not considered socially valid. I should instead ram that truck into the side of a Safeway, hurt people that way, lose my job and go to prison, because for a man, all of those things are some-fucking-how a more valid expression of emotion.

    And this “anger is the only option” thing… So true. Two emotions. That’s what men can have. Out of the millions of emotions there are, and the infinite spectrum of human expression, we may either be content… or angry. No sadness, no confusion, no loneliness, no elation, even overt happiness and excitement are considered weakness in men.

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