Entrepreneur Dads: Beware The Dangers of Stoic Masculinity

Man up! Be a man! Take it like a man! These are just three of the toxic phrases that young boys hear throughout their childhood and adolescence. As we start a new year, many of us promise ourselves to be better parents, partners and role models, and one of the best ways to start on this is by reflecting on the way in which we, as fathers, exemplify our masculinity for our children of both genders. For our sons we’re showing them what it means to be a man, for our daughters we’re providing a template by which they’ll measure the worth of the men in her life.

While most men learned how to be a man by imitating their fathers, it’s perfectly natural to want to impart a different iteration of masculinity that eschews the more toxic trappings that beset the older generations. Here we’ll be focusing on stoic masculinity, because unlike toxic masculinity it’s far more endemic and far more widely praised.

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Toxic masculinity and stoic masculinity

Toxic masculinity refers to behavior which we might regard as “aggressively male” that tend to be harmful to others including women and children. These include being quick to anger and violence, havinga  derisive approach to emotions and embracing recessive ideals like misogyny and homophobia.

Stoic masculinity, on the other hand, mistakenly equates emotional detachment with maturity and encourages young boys to bottle up their emotions. While this can lead to emotional malnourishment and lead to psychological defects it’s surprisingly lauded in popular culture, most notably exemplified by the Jedi knights in Star Wars.

Rather than practicing stoicism, Dads should strike a balance between embracing their emotions and mitigating their damaging effects by taking a step back and employing (for example) CBT strategies.

The difficult balance for execs and entrepreneurs

Executives and entrepreneurs may find striking this balance harder than most. Not only do their ambitions lead them to spend more time away from home, they encounter profound stress on a daily basis; especially entrepreneurs for whom their business’ success is so inextricably linked to the wellbeing of their family. It’s hard to focus on playing with your kids when what you’re really thinking about is establishing lines of credit from https://businesslineof.credit to improve your business’ cash flow. The best solution is to be open and honest with your partner and your children about your feelings and (to the extent that they will comprehend it) your business. It will be cathartic for you and contextualize your behavior for your children.

Why bottling it up never works

When we’re angered or frustrated or faced with negative emotions in our work or personal life, we have a tendency to repress it when we come home, especially in front of our children. Unfortunately, as much as we may feel like we’re doing it for them it inevitably does more harm than good. It’s bad for us and it’s a bad example to set for our children. By hiding their feelings from others, young boys tend to hide their feelings even from themselves, with obvious psychological consequences.


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