The book Real Boys by William Pollack explores the lives of boys. He states that boys hide they feelings. So it may seem on the outside that a boy is tough, cheerful, and confident, but really they are sad lonely and confused. He looks at the mask boys have been put on. Also explains how to get behind that mask. He goes over the boy code and explains it. Also he goes over the truths behind the myths. He goes over many other things also. I will try to outline the book as well as possible.
He explains that boys hide their feelings they may seem normal on the outside but on the inside they are hiding something. When they are asked if anything is wrong they say no everything is just fine. This is because ever since the boy was a child he has been taught not to express his emotions. Little boys are made to feel ashamed of their feelings. Also society places an emphasis on boys separating from their mother at an unnecessarily young age. Often the result of all this is that the boys decide to be silent. They learn to suffer quietly and retreat behind the mask. This is why the boys do not express their feelings, because they are told not to. What tells them not to is the boy code. It says the men should be stoic, stable, and independent. Boys are not to share their pain or grief openly. Also this code says the boys should be daring and do risky behaviors. The most traumatizing code is the fact that boys should not express feelings which might be mistakenly as feminine dependence, warmth, and empathy. This causes boys to never act this way and hide these feelings. These are the reasons the mask is formed over the boy.
Pollack states that there are stereotypes about what boys are and how boys should behave. These stereotypes continue to perpetuated, many of us know some of these are outdated and some are simply untrue. A myth that has been made of boys is Boys will be Boys This thought that nature controls boys behavior is untrue. It is not true that testosterone brings aggression and violence in every boy. The danger with this myth is that people assume that they have less power to affect a boys personality, behavior, or emotional development. The truth is that a boys behavior is shaped more by love than by nature. Another myth is that Boys should be Boys, that they must fulfill the stereotype of being a machoman Society forces boys to be masculine. These stereotypes for a boy to be somebody he doesnt want to be. This forces him to hide his true emotions. These myths should be discarded from our culture, so the boys can express their feelings.
Boys are immensely loving and they yearn for relationships back, far more than we have ever realized. This goes unnoticed because when boys are tender and affectionate, society does not support them because it sees them violating the boy code of masculine toughness and independence. Boys often relate in ways adults dont recognize and for this reason it goes unrecognized. These boys express love in different ways such as different actions, work, and other things. Boys need this love and affection given to them even if it is not recognized or seen from the boy.
Contradictory to popular belief the love of a mother is extremely important to boys. The love of a mother actually make s boys stronger, emotionally and psychology. Mothers should not enforce the gender stereotypes upon their boys. Mothers want a boy to be able to express his emotion, but they do not want them to be wimps. The mothers want to get closer to their boys but they believe cannot because they believes boys need to be independent. This is not true; the mother should get close to the boys. Sometimes it is not society, which forces the boy to be masculine; it is the confusion of the mother. The mother wants her child to grow up and be athletic and tough. This causes boys to sometimes loose the ability to show their emotions and relate with others. Mixed messages from mothers cause an even greater problem they confuse the boy and make the boy think they have not satisfied their mothers expectations of being a man. By giving her son love and support, she is turning him into a man who is masculine and can also express his feelings.
Fathers also play a crucial role in the boys life. But the relationships seen between father and son are far different than those seen between mother and son. Fathers can teach their children how to express certain emotions. Fathers stimulate their children unlike the mothers who soothe them. Fathers feel empathy for their boys and this causes boosts boys masculine self-confidence. Boys who are close to their fathers since infancy have been shown to benefit from this greatly. There have been studies to show that when a father is involved in the childs life the boys turn out to be less aggressive, less overly competitive, and better able to express their feelings of vulnerability and sadness. Fathers can get involved in the boys lives by joining the activities they do and supporting their boys. In order for the child to feel comfortable expressing his emotions, the father must also actively try to show his emotions. Showing the child it is okay for a man to show his emotions. The father plays a major role in a boys life.
Since boys are stereotyped as ones that are stoic loners, they friendships of boys are not taken extremely seriously. When indeed they should be taken seriously, because they are extremely important to boys. When looked upon closely it is seen that boys have tremendous depth and intensity in their friendships. It is just that boys friendships are governed differently and expressed differently than girls friendships. Boys cannot be involved in emotional talks with each other because they are afraid of being called homosexual or being perceived as feminine. Because of this reason boys tend to be involved in more competitive things such as sports. One finding Pollack had that surprised him was the fact that boys do talk to each other a lot. Boys speak a lot on the phone with their friends. Boys build friendships in social activities they do not sit down and talk, but they do other activities as they speak to each other. Also friends who are girls are very important to boys. It allows them to connect with a part that has been lost with relationships with other boys. The relationship with girls allows boys to come out from behind the mask and experience things that would go against the old boy code. The aspect of friendship is extremely important to the boys.
Sports allow boys to express a full range of emotions from the exhilaration of the last minute goal to the disappointment of loosing, to the joy of winning. Sports allow a place where it is okay to express your emotions, to be spirited, emotive, and passionate. Sports transforms boys, lets them come out from behind the mask and defy the roles of the boys code. These sports provoke tremendous swings of emotions, sometimes guys even cry. Sports also let boys develop more affectionate relationships with each other; more trust is put into one another. The coach of the team serves as an extremely important role model in the life of the boy. One bad thing about sports is that it is over competitive and becomes an opportunity were boys express anger and hostile feelings. Also sports can teach boys to mask or ignore serious injuries. Sports do give good opportunities to the boys as long as there is a good coach and good parental support.
Depression affects boys in a variety of ways. It may make them feel sad, anxious, or numb. There are different signs that may allow you to detect whether a boy is depressed: Increased withdrawal from relationships and problems in friendships. He may act tired and not take interest in many things, or he may act impulsively. The frequency of outbursts of anger increases. The boy may deny his feelings of unhappiness. He might have trouble concentrating or have a sleeping or eating disorder. He may have a low self-esteem and harsh self-criticism. Increased aggressiveness or silliness may be seen in the boy. There are other signs also that can be seen as a trend in depressed boys. Sometimes the depression can lead to suicide so it should not be left undetected.
This book, Real Boys by William Pollack, was an excellently written book. He went over general stereotypes put on the boys in our society. He showed how the stereotype harmed the boys and how to help the boys come out from under their masks. He explained the importance of the rolls of the mother and father. From my own experience I would have to say that the generalizations made n this book are true to my own experience. The fact boys are not supposed to express their emotions has put a burden on us. We must hind what we are feeling and sometimes we explode with all the stress put on us. This book has much truth to it and should be read by parents and teachers so they know how to treat their boys.