If you live in Victoria like me, you will no doubt be reeling from the scenes that have unfolded over the last few days. Thousands of predominantly male, construction workers protesting and causing distressing scenes all over the news.
Whilst I absolutely believe that freedom of speech and standing up for something that you believe in is actually very important, I think the types of behaviour we observed amongst our men clearly indicate a much bigger problem than just being mandated to get a vaccine.
Adult men in large groups being aggressive, raging and hurling abuse at Police, journalists and innocent people walking past says to me that possibly many of our men are actually hurting on a much deeper level than we realise.
When they are pushed to the brink or face a challenging situation this is there way of coping. I mean for many of them it is probably not their fault. Maybe they weren’t taught as children how to express their emotions safely or in an appropriate way. Possibly they were told to ‘toughen up’ by their parents or even worse given beatings or a clip around the ears because that’s just what ‘we did back then!”
As a mother of a young son I know for sure, that this is not the way I want him to stand up for what he believes in. I want my son to know that it is ok for him to feel angry or frustrated, but that he can communicate or express that in more appropriate ways. Ways where he is level headed, compassionate and led by his empathy, humility and integrity. I want him to know that he will always live in a home where all emotions and feelings are accepted, valued and modelled, but that violence of any form will never be tolerated.
Science tells us that when our brains are heightened or in a state of distress, we lose the ability to communicate or behave affectively. It is only once our brain has been regulated or soothed back to the base line that our rational thoughts and ability to make good decisions kick back in. All human behaviour is driven by an unmet need and emotion, so it is imperative that we all have abilities to regulate ourselves when things don’t go our way.
Having emotional intelligence describes ability, capacity, skill, or self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups and is centred around 5 main things: Self awareness, Empathy, Motivation, Self regulation and Social skills.
We can start teaching our children these skills from an early age by connecting them to their emotions and ultimately forming understanding of how to emotionally regulate their own brains, and ultimately themselves. This is done best through co-regulation with a trusted adult. Someone who understands that emotions are an integral part of child development and something to be embraced and used as teaching opportunities for children. Not hidden or seen as shameful.
As I looked at some of those angry men yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel deep inside somewhere was a little boy with an unmet need. A child who was possibly not held when they were scared or angry and given opportunities to learn from their mistakes. Boys left to navigate their own emotions and the ways that they shaped their behaviour.
Boys just like girls, need to be allowed to express themselves freely without judgement or perceptions that they are inadequate for showing their emotions. For it is within these opportunities that our boys learn to trust themselves and their feelings and grow up to be emotionally intelligent, secure and stable men.
Because I don’t know about you, but I truly live with hope that we will never see scenes like this again from rage filled Australian men. I hope that by doing the work with our children now, that we will see breath taking scenes of men standing up for what they believe in by living with empathy, respect for authority and a deeply connected sense of self.
Whilst we can’t change the generations of the past, we can indeed, change the course of the future for our beautiful boys. The next generation of young men are in our hands. Please don’t take that responsibility lightly.
Chaos to Calm Consultancy would like Wadawarrung of the Kulin Nation. We acknowledge the elders past, present and emerging -particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who walked before us supporting and connecting their children to the earth, water and community. Always was. Always will be.