Teaching Boys To “Get Over It”

“Too bad.”

“You’ll live.”

“Tough.”

“Get over it.”

These are phrases I find myself frequently uttering to my four boys after either I’ve told them no, or they’ve suffered some disappointment that had them convinced that the world is out to get them. Typically this comes after multiple pleas or justifications about why something isn’t fair. I take a decent amount of flak for it because there are some things which I feel require no explanation other than, “because I said so.”

Learning how to cope with things when they don’t go your way is, in my opinion, key to being successful. I can’t stand people who wallow in self-pity, hold grudges, whine to get their way, or fixate on a bad experience. I hope I can instill in my guys the tools that allow them to move forward when life deals them a bad hand.

Over the past several months in the Twin Cities, there have been heartbreaking stories about the disappearances of three young women. Click on their names for links to recent stories about Danielle, Kira, and Mandy. Prime “persons of interest” in each case are the men they were involved with, and in Kira and Mandy’s case, the women were trying to end the relationships. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Southwest Center for Law and Policy & Office on Violence Against Women, particularly in abusive relationships, “the most dangerous time for victims is at the time of separation.” Evidence strongly points to each of the significant others being involved with or at least knowing something about the girls’ deaths or disappearance. Heinous as the crimes themselves are, it’s unforgivable that anyone who may know of their fate have made Kira, Danielle, and Mandy’s families and friends suffer through the unknown for months on end, without knowing what happened to their daughter, sister, or friend, and not being able to properly lay them to rest.

What is it that makes some men feel entitled to hold onto something at all costs? I know nothing of the families of the men involved, and I’m certainly not trying to cast blame upon them, but at what point did this attitude take root? And more importantly, how can I make sure that my sons grow up respecting women, believing that “no means no,” and knowing when to let a broken relationship go?

Of course I’m aware that there are also women who turn crazy after a break-up, but the reality is that a woman is much more likely to face a violent end. According to the same DOJ report, 34% of the murders of women are perpetrated by their intimate partners. That statistic is only 4% for the murders of men.

Society places a lot of blame on women for “choosing” the wrong partner, but I’ve had intelligent and responsible friends who have been stalked and relentlessly harassed by ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends. It’s scary. And the main driver was a guy who couldn’t take no for an answer. I hope parents of teenage boys consider having serious and candid discussions about this type of behavior before it has a chance to start. And teach them to gracefully accept disappointment, and even rejection.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013

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