Boys will be boys, but only if we raise them that way — and according to the American Psychological Association (APA), dads shouldn’t.
Maybe this is good news for mothers, who have historically been blamed for everything.
For the first time, in August, they published a set of ten guidelines specifically for mental health professionals working with men and boys, as opposed to the other gender and cross-genders. There haven’t been distinct directives just for the “normal” male because men have always been considered the norm. In other words. the history of mental health advances has been mostly researched and written by men, for men, using standard, average, white male personality characteristics as…well…the standard, average personality characteristics to use as a baseline for the treatment of men with real problems. (Cultural diversities of groups from abroad now living within the United States add an entirely different dimension to the subject.)
The APA claims that men who are socialized to conform to “traditional masculine ideology” are harmed both mentally and physically. What’s missing from their studies is how men who were socialized to traditional female ideology would be any less harmed. In other words, isn’t there enough crap that happens in life to screw up members of both genders?
Also missing from the report is the biological factor. It’s so missing, in fact, that according to the APA, there isn’t any. So the next time your young son wants to kill that cockroach all by himself to show what a big boy he is. don’t let him because his biology should have nothing to do with it.
What to do when he goes through puberty and experiences those emotionally and physically explosive changes? You’re on your own.
Does the APA advocate a gender neutral society? That doesn’t sound like much fun. Thank God men and women are so different.
Of course, it’s all a lot more complicated than this, and we’re sure the APA’s heart is in the right place, but when the discipline of psychology crosses the line into social engineering, it’s going to touch some nerves. The media went absolutely ballistic when they learned about the August guidelines, which went unnoticed by the public at large until a recent APA article and Tweet (Gotta love social media, huh?). Fathers started questioning themselves about the methods they’ve been using to raise their boys.
“Should I make little Johnny quit the T-ball team and enroll him in floral arranging instead? Is this the right age to start teaching him about feminism? Is it wrong that he beat the crap out of that bigger kid who was bullying him? What can I do to make him calm down and act more lady-like?”
No one denies the dangers caused by overly zealous parenting that excessively pushes boys to be tougher, faster, more domineering, to just “suck it up” when things go wrong. (We’ve all seen the movies and those nuts at our kids’ Little League games.) Fortunately, most parents know quite well the right amount of encouragement and education of gender-specific character traits to offer their kids, and they know when to stop. The real societal problem is parents who offer no encouragement or education at all.
If these APA guidelines, henceforth followed to the letter for every young boy, resulted in no more wars, the end to street and domestic violence, and much happier adult men, I would say count me in.
Until then, I say encourage your son to kill that spider in the bathroom, because his future wife sure won’t do it.