Boys say talking about problems is waste of time

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When it comes to discussing their problems, women have traditionally and stereotypically found men resistant or unreceptive to their efforts.

Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science, Amanda J. Rose, recently said it’s not because men usually equate silence with strength, which has long been the school of thought.

“For years, popular psychologists have insisted that boys and men would like to talk about their problems but are held back by fears of embarrassment or appearing weak,” she said. “However, when we asked young people how talking about their problems would make them feel, boys didn’t express angst or distress about discussing problems any more than girls. Instead, boys’ responses suggest that they just don’t see talking about problems to be a particularly useful activity.”

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The revelation about boys’ views on discussing problems resulted from four different studies Rose and her colleagues conducted. The studies surveyed more than 2,000 young people, finding that while boys feel discussing their problems is not particularly useful, girls may, in fact, over discuss problems naturally.

“An implication is that parents should encourage their children to adopt a middle ground when discussing problems. For boys, it would be helpful to explain that, at least for some problems, some of the time, talking about their problems is not a waste of time. Yet, parents also should realize that they may be ‘barking up the wrong tree’ if they think that making boys feel safer will make them confide. Instead, helping boys see some utility in talking about problems may be more effective,” Rose said. “On the other hand, many girls are at risk for excessive problem talk, which is linked with depression and anxiety, so girls should know that talking about problems isn’t the only way to cope.”

The results of the study showed that boys found that talking about their problems was not only a waste of time but also “weird”. In addition, the researchers found that women tended to be pushy when it came to encouraging men to talk about problems in relationships. Women, they found, tended to think that talking through their problems made their problems more easily resolvable. Talking about their problems, they said, tended to make them feel cared for, understood and less alone.

Rose and her colleagues believe the findings, which will be published in an in an upcoming edition of the journal Child Development and called “How Girls and Boys Expect Disclosure About Problems Will Make Them Feel: Implications for Friendships,” will play into how boys and girls in the age group included in the study will behave in future romantic relationships. The researchers believe the relationships will result in a “pursuit/withdrawal” pattern, with the woman acting as the pursuer and the man withdrawing.

Source: University of Missourri, Aug. 22, 2011

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