Call this post a debunking one. I’m going to debunk what the media, movies, TV shows, and advertisements want us to believe about boys. I’m going to do this with 20+ years of experience dealing with thousands of teenage boys, lots of research, and my own experiences with my son and his friends.
Let me start by saying that while some boys fit the stereotypical images projected on the screen, most do not. Turns out, teenage boys have a LOT of feelings. And they’ll actually talk about them with people they trust. So let’s debunk some myths, shall we?
MYTH #1: Boys break girls’ hearts and don’t care. If you’re a teenage girl, it may feel this way, but most boys care very much about girls’ feelings and don’t want to hurt them. When they appear thoughtless and careless, it’s really more that they’re somewhat clueless. Girls are an enigma to them, and they truly don’t understand female thoughts and actions. But it kills them to see girls cry, especially if they know they’re responsible for it.
MYTH #2: Boys don’t hurt. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve seen big, bulky, manly teenage boys weep. I’ve seen them squirm and fold up into a ball because they’re uncomfortable with how they handled themselves or they have regrets over their actions. Boys definitely hurt. I can’t count the number of boys who have been crushed by their first loves, who spend years trying to get over the pain of a breakup. Sometimes I think boys actually fall harder and faster than girls, and it takes years of practice before they harden their shells a bit and learn to move on.
MYTH #3: Boys don’t worry about their appearance. Wrong. Boys primp. They look to other males they admire for fashion sense. They very much want to fit in with their peers. They worry about acne and will spend any amount of money to make it go away. They’re self-conscious if they can’t grow a beard, if they’re “scrawny,” too short, too thin, or overweight. Girls’ self esteem gets plenty of media coverage, but I promise you, boys have their own body image concerns, and they’re just as real.
MYTH #4: Boys have it easier than girls. While it’s true that boys are entering a world where men still make more money than women and hold more top positions. they also still face a number of challenges. We may have come a long way, but most men expect to support a family and carry that burden throughout their lifetimes. They are expected to be strong and resilient, with little acceptance for weakness.
MYTH #5: Boys only want one thing. Most boys I know are insulted by that stereotype. Truly, they are. I mean, society is basically reducing them to animals with this statement, and they are much more evolved than that. Trust me, I’m not in denial. I’m well aware of hormones, urges, and daily temptations. But a good number of teenage boys want relationships. They want to date, text, text some more, and take a girl they like to Prom. They want companionship just like we do. Sure, they’ll joke around with their friends and brag about their so-called “conquests,” but when you engage them in real conversation, you find that they want to be in a relationship where they can love and be loved.
My point is that we need to give the boys some credit. They are much more complex than we have been led to believe. They love, they hurt, they worry, and they care. If you have a teenage boy in your life – whether he’s your son, nephew, student, boyfriend, or friend – give him a chance to show you who he really is and avoid slapping unfair labels on him. You’ll be surprised what he will share with you when he knows you have a real interest in knowing him.