By: Praise T. Oluwasina

Dearest Gentle Reader,

There is a saying that “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”, and neither is avoiding certain topics as a society builds a Better Man. Much like sailors navigating turbulent seas to refine their skills, young boys find themselves facing challenges seldom acknowledged or discussed.

The boy child faces unknown waters in the vast ocean of societal expectations, which call for fortitude, flexibility, and a strong sense of self. These difficulties are frequently accompanied by silent battles that go unnoticed, which leaves a gap where the weights placed on youthful shoulders are hidden behind a curtain of social silence. For young boys, society has imposed a complicated web of duties and expectations that define what it is to be a “real man.” These expectations, nevertheless, are rarely examined closely or honestly. The boy child carries a great deal of weight, but societal standards prevent boys from acknowledging their responsibilities.

It becomes clear as we embark on our investigation of these unexplored waters that understanding and empathy can only be fostered by deciphering the nuances of the boy child’s experience. It’s time to set out on a mission to reveal the unsaid battles, bring attention to the difficulties young boys encounter, and start a conversation that breaks the taboo around their particular issues.

The first unexplored topic is emotional suppression, which is like a wall of ice created against a boy child. It’s no secret that boys struggle with the pressure to maintain a stoic façade since they grow up in a society that discourages showing emotion. When emotional navigation is denied, mental health issues flourish and internal disputes go unresolved since the required support networks aren’t available. Because of these kinds of beliefs, boys are frequently dissuaded from expressing their vulnerability or seeking support for their mental health issues, even in the face of intense internal and external pressures. Many boys suffer in silence, unable to express their emotions or get the help they so desperately need, as a result of the stigma associated with mental health in men.

All of this has its roots in the idea of toxic masculinity, another uncharted water of society.  The idea of toxic masculinity hangs heavy over boy children, enforcing strict standards on what it means to be a “real man.” It is difficult for guys to rebel against these expectations since they impede their ability to grow personally and express themselves authentically. Because of this issue, males are put under pressure to fit into stereotypes, which impedes their ability to express themselves authentically and grow as individuals. For the boy youngster, escaping these expectations becomes a difficult undertaking.

In addition to impeding personal development and genuine self-expression, the pressures from society for boys to conform to conventional roles also play a major influence on the educational gaps that exist. Boy students face particular difficulties that are frequently disregarded in conversations as they strive for academic excellence. Gender prejudices greatly impact males’ performance, and the narrow conversation often reinforces the false notion that girls are the only ones who face scholastic difficulties. This discrepancy highlights the necessity of tackling gender-related concerns in the educational framework as a whole to promote a more welcoming and equal learning environment for all students.

The strain on boy representation, role models, and image among young boys is another silent struggle. Boys struggle with what society expects of them in terms of appearance. Body image problems and a skewed sense of self-worth are caused by the unrealistic body ideals that are promoted by the media. Being six feet tall, having a big chest, chiseled jars, and a six-pack is seen as a real man’s fantasy. Boys are isolated in their adolescent journey by these unsaid forces.

Not only that, but it’s well established that representation matters, particularly for young people. However, the boy child lacks strong role models that exhibit empathy, vulnerability, and healthy manifestations of masculinity. Instead, they are frequently exposed to media images of hyper-masculinity and toxic behavior. Boys are deprived of varied narratives to aspire to and this lack of representation perpetuates damaging stereotypes. In contrast to the prevalent emphasis on empowering girls, boys frequently receive little support and advocacy. Few initiatives target their particular difficulties, thus they lack a safety net to help them deal with the difficulties of growing up.

 

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This lack of discussion on the boy child’s troubles leaves a void where problems linger unaddressed. We must elevate these issues in the public conversation. Promoting the interests of boy children is not about downplaying the difficulties that girls encounter; rather, it is about calling for a more inclusive conversation that acknowledges and tackles the complex problems that impact both sexes.

 

Navigating the Path Forward

We must acknowledge the particular difficulties experienced by boy children and take appropriate measures to alleviate them as we navigate these unexplored waters. To start, this involves encouraging frank discussions about what it means to be a man, dispelling myths, and providing secure environments where boys can be themselves.

Education is essential to this path. We can enable the boy child to succeed academically and emotionally by supporting social and emotional development, offering mental health resources, and implementing inclusive curricula that accommodate a variety of learning styles. In addition, we need to push for laws and programs that put boys’ health first. Examples of these include fair access to mental health treatments, encouragement of boys to pursue higher education, and the fostering of healthy male role models in the media and society at large.

We open the door to a society that is kinder and more understanding when we recognize the unfamiliar seas that the boy child must go through. It’s time to break down the walls of silence and have candid discussions about the difficulties they encounter. We can only bring about a future where all children, regardless of gender, can flourish free from the constraints of society by raising awareness and advocating together. Let’s set a new direction and work toward a time when boys are encouraged, given authority, and given the freedom to realize their full potential.