Originally posted on August 26, 2011
A recent study found that boys do not like talking about their problems because they find it pointless and strange:
“For years, popular psychologists have insisted that boys and men would like to talk about their problems but are held back by fears of embarrassment or appearing weak,” said Amanda J. Rose, associate professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. “However, when we asked young people how talking about their problems would make them feel, boys didn’t express angst or distress about discussing problems any more than girls. Instead, boys’ responses suggest that they just don’t see talking about problems to be a particularly useful activity.”
Rose and her colleagues conducted four different studies that included surveys and observations of nearly 2,000 children and adolescents…. [B]oys did not endorse some negative expectations more than girls, such as expecting to feel embarrassed, worried about being teased, or bad about not taking care of the problems themselves. Instead, boys reported that talking about problems would make them feel “weird” and like they were “wasting time.”
Rose went on to state that parents should take a more balanced approach when dealing with boys. She suggested that parents should stress the importance of talking about some problems while acknowledging that they may be “‘barking up the wrong tree’ if they think that making boys feel safer will make them confide.”
There are numerous reasons why the studies reached these conclusions. One reason is cultural. Boys are taught to deal with their problems on their own. Another is that males are more assertive than females, and may seek to solve their own problems rather than ask for help. Another is that boys may cope with their problems in different ways. Males do tend to be more action oriented, so talking about something may be less effective for them.
That said, the researcher shows that the feminized approach is not always the answer. I have experienced this personally in dealing with my childhood issues and in seeing how other male survivors cope. Many of the most stable, grounded survivors I have met never went to therapy. They found other methods of addressing the problems they developed as a result of abuse. Obviously this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some things do need to be talked about. But falling back on telling boys to behave like girls seems to prove absolutely pointless to boys.