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Notes on 'Ending the Boy Crisis'
Clarifications and further info on boys & depression
In yesterday’s Substack mailing, I talked about the ways in which boys and young men are in trouble. In opening this conversation, I mentioned that most people don’t believe they can be, as white men are the ones in power in almost every system in the United States. I then made the point that the specific men in power today grew up in a different educational system and family structure than boys and young men today.
I believe this point deserves some clarification.
I do not mean that white men in positions of authority in our society, both as individuals and as a group, cannot be in danger due to mental health challenges or addiction. In fact, that demographic is also in serious danger when it comes to these conditions.
What I mean is that they do not lack the systematic power to make change, nor did this group grow up in an educational system that was unfavorable for typical white males.
This demographic is a prime example of the ways in which society can both serve a population and harm them at the same time, as this specific group holds enough power to change just about anything. The problem is, the oppressive traditions of silence and stoicism were so heavily enforced for so many generations — often with physical violence — that they cannot be undone overnight.
Put simply, yesterday’s article is about what parents of boys can do to start helping the boys we have now, who are a different generation who will face a different system of power as they grow up. I care deeply about what’s happening with men and believe any man who is suffering should receive treatment and compassion.
How adult men can specifically make this change, however, is beyond the scope of yesterday’s article — and outside my range of expertise.
If you zoom out on the article and the action items, you’ll see that the article is about how to maintain a healthy emotional attachment with a boy as he grows, and the heartbreaking ways in which we often assume boys don’t need the same emotional attachments as girls.
As I noted in that article, this is just a one tiny part of the solution for how to help boys who are struggling.
Hopefully it’s clear that nothing can fully prevent depression or mental illness in any population. Rather, we hope to help our boys feel like they have people who love them, support them, and who can make space to hold all and any of their complicated emotions.
On boys and depressive expression:
It is clear, and has been for years, that boys and men often express depression differently than girls and women, and bearing that in mind can be helpful for parents.
A few helpful resources on the topic of male depression:
I Don’t Want To Talk About It: Overcoming The Secret Legacy Of Male Depression by Terrence Real (note: This is one of my favorite books on the subject. It’s easy to read and incredibly helpful for anyone who wants to understand men’s relationship with their own depression and what needs to change. Real is a clinician in practice with men, couples and families and one of my favorite writers and leaders in this field.)
Read my original article & action items here: 6 Ways Parents Can Help End ‘The Boy Crisis’