When Love Shapes Minds

In Reshaping Masculinity--Part II, I touched a bit on the rates of depressive tendencies and suicide in young men compared to women. This week, I want to focus intently on the mental health issues that arise around the teenage years and talk about the effect it has as boys grow into men.

As I cited last week, females may have higher depression rates, but males are more than twice as likely to commit suicide. Meaning that young girls recognize their signs of depression or anxiety and seek out the proper medical attention needed for treatment; while boys just internalize these emotions and nothing changes. When depression goes untreated, it can lead to social issues, substance abuse, and increase the likelihood of criminal behavior.

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According to a study by Oxford University, people with depressive issues are roughly three times more likely than the general population to commit violent crimes such as robbery and assault sexual offenses. Furthermore, nearly 80 percent of those arrested for violent crimes in 2015 were males. Of course, we cannot solely blame mental health or gender roles as the reason for violent tragedies, but it’s certainly something to be considered when trying to make sense of the brutal tragedies happening around us every day.

If we start encouraging our sons, nephews, brothers, etc. to open up to us when they have a problem, perhaps we can prevent some of these violent outbursts that are often a result of repressed emotions. It is incumbent on us to remind them that they don’t need to “be a man” in order to gain respect; they are already enough as they are, flaws and all. Boys and girls, men and women alike, should feel comfortable asking for help, and this should be our new normal.

To that end, I do my best to tell my sons who are still very young how much I love them and what handsome and wonderful little princes they are. Of course, I am no expert and a young mother with hopes of raising affirmed men who love themselves so much they know how to show this to others. No more should the expression of emotions and admission of weakness be something we discourage in our little boys and young men, but something we applaud them for, and it starts at home.

Granted, all of this might seem like talk but it starts with one little man at a time. Broken homes do exist, mother and father figures might be absent, yes, but the dream and hope is that society recognizes the values and importance in shaping the minds of our little boys along their journey to young men.

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I would like to conclude by asking us to keep the families of the recent Sante Fe school shooting in our prayers. I, like many who are weary of this senseless violence, long for a day when these tragedies are no longer the new norm in our country. We may not have all the answers to the cause of the pandemic of violence plaguing our society, but I do believe that love of self and others goes a long way toward shaping loving, peaceful, and law-abiding citizens.

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