Letter: Father’s bullying isn’t ‘toughening them up’
So, there you were, yelling at your sons and calling them “brats” and “liars.” You screamed about how they needed to “toughen up.” And there I was, dressing after my gym workout. Usually I get my stuff together and just leave, but one of your statements slowed my process down to a crawl. You threatened your boys with physical violence.
I methodically checked everything in my pockets, even opening my wallet to make sure my license was there, just to consume time — so your sons felt safe. I made sure they knew I was watching, as subtly as I could
I didn’t know who you were, and still don’t, but, in a way, I do know you. Decades of teaching at the high school and college levels forced me to run into people like you. My doctoral research on trauma psychology made me familiar with your sort of bullying. But this is not what stopped me from getting to my car and to the next appointment of my day.
You see, a half a century or so ago, I was a boy being yelled at about how I needed to toughen up, by my father, an abusive alcoholic. Rather than “toughing them up,” what you’ll create are frightened young men who will struggle with issues of trust, poor relationships, low self-confidence, and a feeling of worthlessness. I know. That’s what I’ve battled for most of my adulthood.
You stormed out before them, and I heard them crying. That broke my heart. I write this not to condemn you, but as a plea: don’t do to them what was done to me. It’s not a life I’d want for anyone, and your boys seemed like good, normal kids to me. Please, change your direction. We don’t need any more anxious men who live behind a fake front of toughness, and our society has to stop seeing violence as a solution.
Dr. Edward Mooney,
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