Job loss or the fear of losing ones’ job can make Normal Males wonder “what next?” Fears abound and isolation increases. Eating habits wane and television increases. Exercise routines flutter away and calls to buddies dwindle. Even for Normal Males it becomes a challenge to balance impending thoughts of doom and shame with the responsibilities of family. Yesterday we looked at the impact on the marital union…today let’s examine the thoughts and fears that most often headline a man’s internal gazette when thinking of his family:
1. What do I tell my family?
2. How do I curb spending without disappointing my wife and kids?
3. What do I want the family “story” to be when others ask? …and how do I ask them for help?
4. Should I lie to my kids?
5. Will my family still love me?
Questions like these scroll through a man’s mind because he has been raised on television and movie scripts outlining a “man’s” responsibilities. There are only bad endings to these flicks when the man admits he is scared, unsure of the outcome, and honest with his wife and kids. He “is” the head of the household or so that is the title he has had for himself since the dawn of his manhood.
Now of course this macho, I can do it myself, attitude can come in handy when anger becomes the “flame” to ignite a job search etc., but most men fail to realize the significant impact they can have on their family for the long term.
Is it not Normal for males to share their internal dialogue, with some edits of course, with their family? Wouldn’t it be beneficial for his children to understand Normal reactions to challenging situations? Wouldn’t it be Normal for a man to ask for help to illustrate to his son that you don’t have to approach every problem or challenge in isolation?
These sound very sensible and downright practical for the health of our gender and the American family moving forward. The problem? We, as a society, have not promoted such sharing and learning. What we have promoted is the Marlboro Man, superheros who can’t share their “secrets” and pain, and individuals who respond by acting out behaviorally which only increases ratings for reality tv.
The sad truth is that Normal Males care so much about protecting and providing for their family that they have co-created, along with the media, a box that they can’t get out of. This box has strong boundaries, makes them feel crazy and lost for a sense of direction.
I have had many experiences in the corporate and health care world and I can tell you this…the amount of time and energy spent on the fears I listed above is monumental from Normal Males. This drains their energy, their mood, and their ability to participate in their day-to-day family activities.
For the Normal Males out there…please connect with other males that you see struggling during a job loss. Share with them your story and the thoughts that ran through your head. They need to know they are perfectly Normal and their family’s will thank you.
For the women out there…I support what you are dealing with and hope that you can find it in your heart to deepen your understanding of your husband’s challenge. Obviously, they need to broaden their awareness of all you are balancing and my hope is they will if they can free up some of the mental space they have been allotting to fear.
Don’t waste an opportunity men to provide a Normal example to your children…you wish you had had one…give them the dad that you all can be proud of moving forward.