A Post About A Little Boy Crying Started A Conversation About Toxic Masculinity

Young boy crying and looking down towards the floor.

Little boys are raised to be manly men, and we’re finally getting to a place where we can admit exactly how messed up that is. Boys, girls, and anyone outside the gender binary are all just growing up to be adults. How they’re taught to manage their emotions as children will determine a lot about what kind of adults they are. A woman named Lyra Balearica shared a story illustrating how easily parents go all wrong with boys during formative life experiences.

Balearica works in some sort of health service field where she sees kids getting their blood drawn regularly. There’s bound to be tears in that scenario. I remember both tears and screaming and desperate bargaining in my doctor’s office anytime a needle came into view. As a girl, I was allowed to cry about it. This did not stop the needle, but it was a good emotional release. A little boy, however, often has a very different experience.

She writes:

The way our culture treats boys sickens me. I had an 11 year old boy( in my room to have blood drawn today. He was crying. Not bawling or throwing a fit, just a few nervous tears.) His guardian kept telling him to ‘man up’ and ‘stop asking like a sissy’. Then she threatened to record him crying to show it to all his friends, which made him cry more. I told her we had a strict no recording/photo policy and she got made at me for ‘ruining the joke’.

When this woman went to the bathroom I told the kid it was okay to express his emotions however he needed to and even grown men are scared of needles. That everyone is scared of something and he was brave for doing it even though he was scared.

Stop. Telling. Boys. They. Aren’t. Really. Boys. For expressing emotion.

You know why women and femmes have to fear violent men? Because of this shit that represses boys and men. Crying doesn’t make you weak. Fear doesn’t make you weak. But berating a child for showing those things make you one weak ass adult.

I wonder how the weak ass adult she’s talking about would have reacted if she said this to her face. Presumably, work etiquette prevented it, but it’s great that Balearica snuck in a positive word to the poor kid having a meltdown. Mocking your children for showing their feelings is always a bad look, and it’s compounded by attaching those feelings to gender. The post has been shared over 115 thousand times, which is incredible. It seems like Balearica has limited who can comment and say what, because there are very few responses for a thousand+ Facebook post. They’re all in agreement:

We’ll never know what the dissenting voices had to say about Balearica’s interference, but hopefully someone who really needed to see it, read it. And maybe the next doctor’s visit will be just that much better for a different little boy.