We All Have Emotions—Men and Women Just Express Them Differently
Dear Mr. Dad: I’ve noticed that since I became a dad, I’ve been much more emotional. Is that normal?
A: In a word, yes. People often complain that men are “out of touch” with our emotions or that we suppress them. Before I became a dad, I think I might have agreed. But since then, I strongly disagree. Fathers—especially those who are actively involved with their children—feel tremendous joy, anger, affection, fear, and anxiety. The problem is that men in our society don’t generally have places where we can safely express our feelings. We’re supposed to be the tough guy, the stoic provider-protector. It’s hard for most men to talk about their deepest emotions with their male friends. And it’s even harder for us to talk about them—especially the so-called negative ones—with the women in our lives.
As a result, we learn to regulate our emotions. But please remember: regulating is not the same as suppressing. “The ability to control one’s own impulses in the service of caring for one’s children and emotionally supporting one’s spouse would seem to be an important marker of maturity,” write family researchers Phil and Carolyn Cowan. Nevertheless, don’t forget that you provide a crucial model for how your child learns to express her own emotions—fear, anger, disappointment, sadness, happiness, and excitement.
Besides regulating our emotions, fathers undergo a variety of other changes in how we experience and react to the world around us. Here are some of the many ways men say that being a dad has broadened their emotional range. It’s drawn from research done independently by Glen Palm, Barbara and Philip Newman, Phil and Carolyn Cowan, and me.
Read the rest of this article here.