We Make The Monsters
Traumatic stress changes brains of boys, girls differently. We often address the trauma of girls and women because we are more vocal about our trauma, but rarely do I see society address the effects of trauma has on boys and men. Hurt men are hurting us. Look around society today. Boys are going to schools killing their fellow community members, friends, girlfriends, and even their parents. Grown men in power are crying about they aren’t getting attention, they are losing their status.
Men believe they are being overlooked and acting just like toddlers. For generations, boys have been trained to become men who gratuitously sexually harass women walking down streets, on college campuses, online, at school, and in our workplaces. Men are taught to be violent.
Think about all the young boys and men across the globe who are living in war torn countries and poor communities. All these young men have ever known is war, poverty, death, instability, strife, and fighting. The trauma from war will cause many of these young boys will likely cause them to grow in to dysfunctional young men. They’ll be hurt men who will lead, and hurt people hurt people.
We have a boy and man crisis globally, but I’m going to focus on America for the most part. Men are suffering, and the people in their immediate circles are in crisis because of it. I’m not giving men a pass, I’m saying we don’t deal with boys and men in crisis the same way we deal with women in crisis.
Men can literally be self-destructing right before our eyes and we just ignore it. Many leaders of nations, homes, businesses, religious bodies, communities, and ever our homes are flawed, broken individuals and have no business in those positions, because hurt people hurt people. The world hasn’t done a good job equipping men appropriately for the roles we expect them to step into. We expect good men, wise men, protectors, and men who aren’t perverts, but we don’t equip them to be the men we want and need them to be.
Sometimes, hurt parents who were victims of verbal, emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse hurt their children by repeating the very cycle of abuse they hated and endured themselves. When men have children before they’ve received therapy and healed, they often repeat the cycles of abuse from their childhoods without realizing it. By the time most men figure out they are damaged, it’s usually too late. The damage done usually manifests itself in the statuses of the relationships or extracurricular activities (i.e. porn, frequenting massage parlors, engaging in risky behaviors, serial dating and serial cheating).
Some men never figure out they are the problem and continue blaming everyone and anyone for what’s wrong in their lives except themselves. A few men figure out the impact of childhood trauma endured made them shitty people and they desire to change. Many men never realize the significant impact. They refuse to get the help they need to make things better.
I learned this the hard way from very personal experiences. Being in relationships with hurt men hurts sometimes.
I recently had conversations with my father, my son, and an ex who were all impacted negatively because of the lack of parenting and nurturing by one or both parents, sometimes followed by other types of childhood traumas. All these men in my life are having different revelations and different problems because of their issues. What I discovered with all these relationships is there is a common denominator. These men are dealing with childhood wounds that never healed. Their trauma stunted their growth in the same way early substance abuse stunts growth and maturity of substance abusers.
My dad became an alcoholic and developed a personality disorder (clinically diagnosed) because of childhood abuse and neglect. He takes meds and willingly addresses his issues. He hid his issues for years, but as he got older and the stress of his business got to be too much, he broke down. He learned from his doctors he has the type of personality disorder that shouldn’t own a business. Unfortunately, he discovered this at sixty, far too late to fix. Many other men I know have similar stories (i.e. porn and sex addiction) stemming from “mommy” issues which have led to ruined lives, but they have yet to seek professional help to heal and to understand the damage they’ve done to others.
A Lack of Nurturing
Parental nurturing during a child’s formative years is vital for creating good, healthy, whole people. When parents don’t properly nurture their children, the entire world knows it. Many people have children, but don’t have the skills or natural abilities to nurture their kid to life. Sometimes people have children too young and are incapable of giving their children what they need to thrive. We all need to be nurtured. Too often, we expect our boys to nurture women and girls, yet we’ve never nurtured them, so it’s not possible for them to provide it to those they love. From the moment little girls are born, they are hugged and kissed more, because that’s what society says you should do. Parents tell daughters they are smart, and they began instilling stranger danger tales, teaching them how to protect themselves from boys and men, and teaching them how to be in relationships.
Boys on the other hand get rough-housed, often forced to be responsible at a very early age, left unattended more frequently than girls, and are often sent to be with men to learn what men do. Boys aren’t always punished as harshly as girls. They also don’t get the same type of nurturing we give to girls, which is why they grow up to be aloof men. The differences in the way we parent boys and girls can have life-long consequences.
Negative/Neglectful Parenting Patterns
Many parents don’t know how to be good parents, the kind that can grow/make/create healthy young people who become whole, emotionally well adults. I like to say hurt people hurt people, and many parents hurt their children. Those children grow up to become adults who harm us. It’s extremely devastating when we harm boys, because boys grow up and become leaders. When boys are damaged at home, they grow up to injure people in the streets. Men dominate everything, so we can’t underestimate the power of nurturing (or the lack thereof).
When parents do not provide proper teaching and nurturing for their young male children, they put us all at-risk. Being your child’s friend isn’t being a good parent. It’s teaching children they are adults with no rules. Not disciplining your kids isn’t good parenting. Parents who don’t discipline their children teach them the world is their oyster and they can whatever they want, say whatever they want, and act however they want with no consequences (see the current occupant of the White House). These undisciplined, neglected children grow up to become undisciplined adults.
The long-term effects of poor parenting include: anti-social behavior, psychological disorders, an inability to have long-lasting relationships, prone to criminal behavior, sexual deviancy, depression, and low-self-esteem. These effects ooze out into our personal and professional relationships daily. I’ve been in several toxic relationships with toxic men who exhibited these characteristics. How many of us have had bad male bosses, or had terrible boyfriends/spouses? While many men live with undiagnosed mental health issues, impairments, and disabilities, many are just assholes born and raised by terribly ill-equipped or lazy parents.
I can’t say it enough, bad parenting makes life harder for us all. Most parents don’t think of their children as footprints on the world, but they are. Bad parenting hurts us all.
The Effects of Trauma In Children
Trauma experienced by very young children impacts their growth and development. Without treatment, those children can grow up to become dysfunctional adults. Children from zero to two exposed to trauma include poor verbal skills, memory problems, and scream or cry excessively. Children between the ages of three and six, children may experience difficulties focusing or learning in school; develop learning disabilities; lacks self-confidence, show poor skill development; act out in social situations; be verbally abusive; and even imitate abusive/traumatic events.
One study found it’s possible that boys and girls exhibit different trauma symptoms and that they might benefit from different approaches to treatment. One-size fits all approaches to treating trauma won’t do. Boys and girls process trauma differently. They deal with it differently too. The only way to make adults better is to make children better.
Hurt People, Hurt People
If you’ve ever been in a relationship with men who have been abused or neglected, you’ll see some behaviors that resembles the characteristics noted as long-term impact of childhood drama. My dad’s childhood trauma turned him into a violent, alcoholic man slamming doors and even hitting his wives in fits of rage. He mistreated his children, and to this day he still doesn’t always speak to people with respect thanks to my grandmother treating him like he was the man of the house. I have dated men with mother issues who were disrespectful to me, didn’t respect boundaries, were violent, aggressive, and who were comfortable dismissing my opinions. Hurt people, hurt people.
Many serial killers and villainous warmongers were often abused and neglected as children. Hurt people, hurt people, and we need to recognize the connection between childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect to men behaving badly as adults. We as communities create these men. We fail our neighbors by not providing them the information and tools they need to raise healthy people. We overlook them in schools, and we allow them to be physically and sexually abused in the very child welfare systems meant to protect them. We vote to defund programs and services to help people with mental health issues, and we don’t provide adequate long-term supports to care for children born with addictions. Even hurt people are supposed to have bootstrap plans.
We all must take responsibility for the hurt boys who grow into hurt men who hurt us. We see trauma, and we ignore it.
Those terrible, hard to deal with men in our lives didn’t just drop from the sky. Too many men were raised to become the monsters they are today. And while we don’t have to stick around to allow these men to abuse and harm us, we should at the very least try to get to the root of their issues and encourage them to seek professional help. Let’s leave them better than we found them, but not at the expense of your own physical, mental, and emotional health.
Hurt boys will become broken men who harm us when stand by idly and let them.
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