“That must have hurt,” I said in awe, as my six-year-old friend showed me his bloodied knee.
But like a volcano, keeping things bottled up inside eventually leads to an eruption.
And being a five-year-old girl, I had to ask, “Did you cry?”
He stared at me incredulously. “Boys don’t cry.”
Having seen a boy burst into tears just a few days earlier, I begged to differ, but my friend shook his head firmly.
“My dad gets angry when I cry,” he revealed. “Boys aren’t meant to cry.”
At that point, his mother came in and asked us if we wanted ice-cream. Silly question—of course we did! Our conversation was instantly forgotten.
Years later, I was walking through a crowded shopping centre when I saw a familiar face and called out to him. A catch-up was in order. So we headed to the nearest bench and of course the topic of relationships came up.
He told me that he had recently ended a three-year relationship with a girl whom he’d been hoping to marry. A week after they broke up, she had begun dating a good friend of his.
“How are you coping?” I asked.
A fleeting expression of hurt crossed his face. It then vanished so quickly that I was left wondering if I had imagined it.
“I’m fine,” he said coolly, before swiftly changing the subject to something more neutral. Only the slightest tremor in his voice betrayed any hint of the emotions he kept bottled up.
I didn’t push him to talk about it. But now, as I think back to that moment, I contemplate whether I should have.
I wonder just how much a father’s admonition affected the tender heart of a six-year-old boy. Cultural stereotypes of what men should and shouldn’t do can impact their willingness to share their feelings, even with loved ones. Men are less likely to talk about experiencing depression than women, meaning that they are often left undiagnosed and untreated. But like a volcano, keeping things bottled up inside eventually leads to an eruption.
Where did some people get the idea that boys shouldn’t cry? It certainly didn’t come from the Bible.
The Bible is filled with stories about men who dared to show emotion. David and Jonathan wept together when they were forced to part ways. Peter wept when he realised that he had denied Jesus. Nehemiah cried when he heard that Jerusalem was still in ruins. The elders of the Ephesian church wept as they farewelled Paul.
And let’s not forget the shortest verse in the Bible—the one which tells us that Jesus, our ultimate example, wasn’t afraid to shed tears.
It’s time to redefine society’s version of manhood.
Big boys—and godly men—do cry.
Vania Chew is PR/editorial assistant for RECORD.