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The Crises of Boyhood May 26, 2011

Posted by occhristiancounseling in development, emotions.

The process of male development is a complicated one in which boys are often left with little emotional support to negotiate. A number of researchers (e.g., Levant, 2001; Pollack, 1998) have identified several normative crisis points in a boy’s life. Levant has noted at least two: (a) at the beginning of school (usually kindergarten) and (b) during adolescence. The first crisis sets the stage for the second and both are relevant to the focus of the current discussion of mother-son relationships. Levant wrote,

The first crisis is actually several years in the making and is fundamentally the result of how we socialize our sons’ emotions. Because of widespread beliefs in U.S. society about how boys and men ought to behave (what I call the “code of masculinity”), we tend to get swept up in a process of shaping and channeling boys’ expression of emotions so that, although boys start out life more emotional than girls, they wind up much less so. By the time a boy enters school he has learned to hide and feel ashamed of two important sets of emotions: those that express vulnerability in one way or another (fear, sadness, loneliness, hurt, shame, and disappointment) and those that express neediness, caring or connection to others. (p. 355)


Levant, R. F. (2001). The crises of boyhood. In G. R. Brooks & G. E. Good (Eds.), The new handbook of psychotherapy and counseling with men (Vol. 1, pp. 355-368). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Pollack, W. S. (1998). Real boys: Rescuing our sons form the myths of boyhood. New York: Henry Holt and Company.



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