Guest post by: Caroline Carter
Standing in the queue at Edgars a few weeks ago, my heart broke. Behind me was a family of three – Mom, Dad and Son. There were piles of beautiful, warm fleecy blankets at the check-out point, and the son asked his Dad if he could please have one.
Dad said, “No! Blankets are for girls. Are you a little girl? Shall I buy you a dolly too?” The child was 4 years old. Mom, trying to defend her son asked if boys didn’t get cold? Dad replied, “Boys need to be tough enough to withstand the cold.”
I ached to turn around and correct the Dad, but my own fear of the response prevented me from doing so and I regret not finding the strength to open my mouth. If I unpack the reasons why I was so scared to say anything, it goes back to the belief that women do not back-chat men. The Man is the boss of the family. The man is in charge. The man is the decider. The man.
Goodness! Imagine the pressure men must be under to carry things the way they are expected to all the time… it must be exhausting! Be macho, be strong, don’t show emotion or even think of wanting to be cuddled by a warm fleecy blanket!
Emotion is weak.
Then they grow up to believe that the emotions they possess are anger and apathy. That’s all they’ve been allowed to express.
The sad truth is that this only results in grandiose men being supported by resentful women. And we continue to perpetuate this ridiculous notion by denying our own voices.
How is silence to breed intimacy and mutual respect? Men cannot express emotion and women cannot voice their opinions. But these emotions and opinions are there, and need expression, so when they eventually do bubble over, women go ‘hysterical’ and men become aggressive. These reactions are so unpleasant that we berate ourselves and feel guilty about the way they were expressed so tend to shut ourselves up again.
It’s time for change. It’s time for men to be taught Social Emotional Literacy, and for women to voice it.
If I could hug all the pain, men have been carrying for so long away, I would do it in a heartbeat! It would leave them feeling lighter and more open to hearing what women are dying to say – which essentially is that they love their men, and want a greater degree of intimacy. Which contrary to their men’s belief system is a display of immense strength.
I know I can’t do this for them. Their pain is for them to excavate and feel, and it’s this process that created the vulnerable strength. This can and should be done with support, but to whisk away the pain would be to help the butterfly out of its cocoon, which would rob its wings of the necessary development.
As parents, how on earth are we to expect our children to be holistically developed people, when we ourselves have never been taught Social-Emotional skills. It’s a wonder we get along as well as we do!
That’s why Cool To Be Me was developed. The team of four characters display certain characteristics that all of us have, and show us how to develop as whole, happy peeple who can easily interact with each other and deal with stressors effectively. The programme asks the right questions on the journey to self-discovery. Most adults cannot answer the question, “Who are you?” If we incorporate Social Emotional Literacy in schools, our children will learn how to answer that question as early as 10 years old – what a gift! Their development must include skills like self-awareness, self-regulation, relationship skills, optimistic thinking and growth mindset. Academic learning does not equip people to deal effectively with peers or to collaborate in meaningful ways.
About the author: Caroline Carter lives in Boksburg with her fiancee, Gary and daughter Georgia. She has many interests, the major one being kids and their social emotional development. Caroline started her own Manners4Minors franchise in 2013 and joined the CTBM team at the beginning of 2018 as a Social Emotional Learning Specialist.