I love this video and song. I see the faces of my two boys and all the men I have cared about in it. Please listen and watch.
Here are some lyrics from it:
Let me go, I don’t want to be your hero…
Everyone deserves a chance, to walk like everyone else.
Baby needs some protection…
Men are supposed to be our heroes. We women think we don’t think that way anymore. But, we often do. It probably started with all those fairy tales. Here are just a few:
- The prince who kisses Aurora and wakes her up after 100+ years…
- The prince who saves Rapunzel and Cinderella…
- How about this one? Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater. Had a wife and couldn’t keep her. Put her in a pumpkin shell, and there he kept her very well.
I have two boys and I often think about all the mixed messages they get about what it is to be a good man, a hero. I can already see them getting confused. And the pressure. I feel the pressure they are already under when my boys are out there on the basketball court. I see it on the intense faces of the men and fathers who watch them.
The mixed messages boys get
Boys are told to be strong, to stand up for themselves. They are also told to be gentle and not mean. One day they’re told it’s okay to cry. Then they’re told to “man up.”
Boys are told by coaches they “suck” and to “not play like a girl.” Then, they are told that girls are equal and to treat them with respect.
Boys get hazed by other boys. Boys challenge and try to overpower each other on a regular basis. They are shown over and over that top dog, Alpha dog wins. Where do they go with their feelings? Nowhere. It is not okay to cry. But it is, it’s ok. If you do, though, I’ll make fun of you and call you a crybaby.
Then comes marriage …
When boys get married, they are told to express themselves. They are told to share who they really are, to deal with emotions and say how they feel. Yet, they have been taught (and maybe they are biologically driven) to compete and fight. Now they have to share, express themselves, be gentle, compassionate and kind? Who was that way with them? Hmmm…
Little boys don’t get their feelings hurt.
I met a woman the other day who said in front of her 30-year-old son, “Little boys don’t get their feelings hurt. I never once worried about my sons getting their feelings hurt. If they came home with a black eye, I knew they would be fine.” They don’t feel hurt? What are they supposed to do when they experience normal, human responses to hard stuff? Where can they go with this?
Are you expecting him to be a Hero?
I have been guilty of expecting my husband to fall into a stereotype too. I expect him to be the hero sometimes. How? Here’s an example.
My first instinct is to get mad at him when he didn’t know what to do about household things, like a broken hot water heater. Somehow, I still unconsciously expect him to know about and handle this “manly” stuff. It isn’t fair. And I can tell that at times, he has felt bad and a little embarrassed about not knowing what to do too.
I usually catch myself nowadays. I realize most times when I am doing the “Hero” thing. Then, I try to remember all the things he is so good at and successful at. I can’t expect him to be the Hero and the Prince Charming who knows what to do and will take care of all things.
Empowering girls, boys getting left behind
There’s a lot of pressure and mixed messages we send to men and boys nowadays. There has been a big movement toward empowering girls and helping them to maximize their potential, use their voices, and be equal. Yet, I believe the boys may be getting left behind in having their complex issues addressed. We are expecting a kinder, gentler man but still facing him with the same challenges from the past. Our boys are struggling. The world is changing and we want them to change, and yet we don’t.
Here are some marvelous organizations out there that have been set up to provide healthy, empowering, and supportive guidance for men. Check out this one The Good Man Project . Another one is Victories of the Heart. And please think about these things with the boys and the men in your life. Like us, most are probably doing the best they can with what they have. And feeling like they might be falling short.
About the author: Cherilynn M. Veland, LCSW, MSW, is author of the forthcoming book Stop Giving It Away. She leads a new self-advocacy movement intended to help women reach out, speak up, and take action steps for what’s best for them. Please support this effort by liking the Facebook page and/or subscribing for updates. You can also connect on Twitter and Google Plus.