Psychologist and historian, Lloyd deMause (1) points out that boys’ problems with aggression and lack of impulse control is more connected to the lack of tender nurturance, physical touch and verbal cooing they receive as infants rather than testosterone levels (which is relatively equal in boys and girls during early childhood years). Consequently, boys don’t learn to self-soothe as well as girls do.
What if we guys spent more time early on, could linger longer in the nurturance mode (rather than the Accelerated Learning to be a Man mode) and we dads and granddads spent more time in the holding, feeding, stimulating (and, yes, changing) modes? Oxytocin, (2) the bonding hormone that increases for moms, also increases for dads in these situations. What a wonderful bilateral curriculum– providing support, taking it in, learning how to appreciate our essential vulnerability as humans.
Of course, we know there’s more involved in preventing gun violence — the ease of access to guns and our allergy to regulating our freedoms in this country, for example. Plus, if we’re honest– we love our guns. We really do.
But what if we first started by examining and revising our Male Code (3), looking at how men are nurtured and how we learn to nurture others? Might this help in preventing or reducing the impact of the many forms of male aggression with which we currently struggle?
*I’d like to acknowledge my new grandson, Abe Rocky, who
generously contributed to this post.
1. Lloyd deMause, “ The Origins of War in Child Abuse,” printed in Journal of Psychohistory, 2010.
2. Ilanit Gordon, Orna Zagoory-Sharon, James F. Leckman, and Ruth Feldman Biol Psychiatry. 2010
Aug 15; 68(4): 377–382.
3. Robert Garfield, Breaking the Male Code: Unlocking the Power of Friendship,