The worrying state of modern boys

posted by Eivind on August 3, 2009, at 10:20 pm

It is with a certain level of sadness, worry and tension that I observe the behaviour of young boys around me where I live. So many appear to have no anchor in themselves. They appear completely at the mercy of peer pressure, playing into what they believe their friends think is cool. What this looks like, when they gather up in groups, is a lot of screaming, hitting each other, telling each other what useless shits they are. With many, there seems to be a competition going in which the winner is the one who can dish out the worst insults.

This dynamic isn’t completely unfamiliar to me, as this behaviour was prevalent when I was their age. But it’s getting worse. Guys who are supposed to be friends tear each other down, conducting psychological warfare as a way of bonding.

What happened? Why are so many young boys extremely cruel to each other? They seem to be adopting the teenage girl drama and, perhaps to compensate for their resulting feminization, pack it into boastful macho behaviour. I can only imagine how confusing life must be for them.

Did we forget about these boys when we decided on who needed help (generally girls and women)? Have we demonized the male gender so much so that boys now use the heritage of “men are scum”-feminism to make friends? Whatever the reason may be, these boys are lost and stripped of control of their body, speech and mind. I worry about them.

The latest movie I looked at was Buddha’s Lost Children and I believe it holds some answers. Abbot Phra Khru Bah teaches us that the key to unlocking boys’ potentials is to expect things from them, to treat them with respect, to love them while holding them responsible for their actions, to not shy away from punishing them if they have done wrong. When fathers stop to lovingly punish their sons for fear of abuse or of being reported to the authorities, love has disappeared. They are not taught the laws of karma and are left to fend for themselves, with noone to tell them right or wrong. This is the dramatic result of reframing love the willingness to let others to do themselves whatever they want. For young boys, love without toughness is cruel.

So if you have a boy who shows signs of this behaviour, don’t be a soft, anxious sap who lets him get away with it. Treat him like a man. That’s what he wants. He wants to feel as if he belongs to a true brotherhood.

For that to happen, however, you have to be a man, which, hopefully, is why you’re here.