After a heated conversation with his mother, he slams the phone down and stomps into the kitchen. She's reading the morning paper and heard it all.
"What are you feeling?"
"Seriously, sweetie, I want to talk about it."
This is met with THE LOOK as he makes a 180 and heads to the garage to work on the car.
This is the fifteenth installment in the "Why do Men...?" series inspired from comments on this post.
The alluring WordWhiz asked: Why do men... refuse to talk about their feelings? What are we, mind readers?
Once we men get past the cute toddler stage, moving clearly beyond the baby stage into the little boy stage, there is shift in how we are meant to deal with our feelings. It varies from dude to dude, but this transition happens around age 5 or 6.
In 1953 Kellogg's Cereal released Sugar Smacks. This cereal contained (and thus was aptly named) 56% sugar. In the 80's the "Sugar" was dropped and it was called just "Smacks". It kept the Dig'em frog mascot and, despite dropping "Sugar" from the name, it kept the same sugar content. Why this digression? Read on!
Sometime around the age 5 our little boy (after eating two bowls of Sugar Smacks in chocolate milk, three pop-tarts and a piece of toast that hosted a mountain of Smucker grape jelly) is running through the house making airplane noises with arms outstretched. As the sheer nutrition of his breakfast begins to turn into unrestrained energy, he swoops by Dad who is getting dressed for work. After another circuit around the abode, he makes another run past Dad but something is wrong. The German Luftwaffe Ace on his tail gets a lucky shot and hits the left wing. The boy is unable to control the plane at these speeds. MAY DAY, MAY DAY.
Crash! The door jam of Dad's closet meets the forehead of Dad's first son. The ass of Dad's first son meets the floor of Dad's bedroom. Silence. Slowly the little boy's eyes raise to meet his father's.
"You're fine. Get up. Come on, tough guy, suck it up. It didn't hurt that bad."
This is the moment the tool of our childhood, the cry, is stripped. We spent all of our years utilizing the cry to guarantee parental reaction and attention. In one fateful moment it is made abundantly clear the cry is no longer available. This is not the last "Suck it up" we will hear growing up.
Couple this with how men's feelings work in general. Our feelings are not universal within our mentality. Specific feelings are isolated to specific things - everything in our minds are compartmentalized (holy crap that is a big word). You women have feelings ("how are you feeling?") where as we men have feelings ABOUT things ("how do you feel about this?").
Now, you readers that are also mothers raising little boys, don't take this explanation as incentive to stop the "Suck it up" training. You don't want to raise emasculated men - chicks don't "Dig'em". (how cool is that? I tied the cereal reference back into the post! Look, Ma, I'm a writer, a real writer!)
Solution: You need to do a few things to help extract the feelings your man is having. Be sure you create a safe environment for him to express himself without making it too soft, warm or fuzzy. Let him express his feelings while maintaining his veneer of masculinity. Be sure you are specific. Don't throw out ambiguous questions ("What are you feeling?", "Are you OK?"). Remember he has feelings about specific things, not feelings in general. Another tip - replace "feeling" with "thinking" to get the ball rolling. "Honey, what do you think about the whole thing with your mother?" will get the conversation started. Without ever using the "F" word you will end up getting our "F"eelings.
If you would like your "Why do Men...?" question answered in a future post be sure to leave your question as a comment HERE.