03.1 What to Know
Many years ago a report on CNN told the awful story of a man who entered a home in Atlanta and killed all the members of a family except one, a 10-year-old boy. The boy locked himself in an upstairs closet to escape the killer. The police found him as they searched the home after the killings.
Outside the hospital where doctors had examined the boy, a reporter interviewed the minister of the church this boy’s family had attended. When asked how the boy was holding up, the minister said with his face and voice full of pride, “If he wasn’t a man before, he sure is now!” The minister likened this trauma as a right of passage into manhood.
American boys learn to deny their feelings from an early age. Nowhere is this lesson taught more than in sports. During the first soccer game that one of the children of the creator of Fathering in 15™ ever played, the dad of one of the boys playing that day kept yelling at his son because the boy chose not to play.
It was this boy’s first soccer game. The boy came to his dad looking for comfort, but his dad refused to hold him. The boy cried. The dad yelled at his son to stop crying. The boy kept trying to connect with his dad in the only way he knew how—for his dad to hold him.
His dad spurned him, again and again, as he continued to yell at the boy for his choice not to play, and because the boy cried. The dad lashed out, “We signed you up for soccer, and you will play!” The boy turned to his older sister. He walked over to her and sat down in her lap as she wrapped her arms around him. When the dad saw his daughter holding his son, he screamed, “Let him go! Don’t show him any pity!” The daughter let go and left the boy to cry alone.
This boy was only four years old.
Dads are not the only parents who raise their children in this way. Some moms also raise their boys to deny and bury their feelings and the pain in their bodies.
During the same soccer game, the mom of another boy kept her son—another four year old—from leaving the field after he hurt his knee. The boy limped to the sideline. His mother raced onto the field and forced her son to keep playing, despite his complaints and cries that his knee hurt.