Dr. Susan vs. Dr. Laura: My boy is too wussy!

Why hello there, Dr. Laura! Ridiculous as always, I assume? This week’s advice comes from her YouTube channel.

The question: I have a fourteen-year-old son in the middle of puberty who is having a hard time controlling his emotions. By nature, he’s a kind, thoughtful, generous, kid with a tender heart, but he can be hurt easily. His whirlwind emotions are making him a target for teasing and bullying. I’m looking for advice for how to help him get through this tumultuous time with confidence and take responsibility for controlling himself as he grows into a young man. In other words, I want him to learn that no matter what, he can only control himself and how he reacts to any situation. He listens to your program and I’m sure your advice will be valuable. His order of authority for decision making is mom, dad, youth pastor, Dr. Laura. But sometimes you come in first.

Dr. Laura
Dr. Laura: living a life made possible by feminism, and then bitching about feminists.

Dr. Laura’s answer: Take him to martial arts. And I don’t mean those silly belt systems where he goes from white to yellow to orange to that nonsense. You really don’t want that. I want you to take him to a really good martial artist who trains in self-discipline, self-confidence, and strength. That’s very important, and it’s very important that it be a male teacher. You didn’t mention if there’s, I mean, you know you said mom and dad, I don’t know what dad’s like, but dad’s going to have to get into gear more, because you know, we’re mommies and we tend to go for, “Oh baby your feelings are hurt,” and at this point in their lives they need to hear a dad say, “Your feelings are hurt? Suck it up!” A lot of women think that’s mean, but that’s part of turning a boy into a man, so I would say martial arts training, very very important, with a really good sensei, a really good teacher who is firm, who is controlled, and who is strong willed. He doesn’t even have to be a big guy. He just has to be somebody who understands the controlling of what’s inside of here. Men in general tend to be stoic, but your boy is very sensitive and he does show his emotions out and that is not serving him well in his life, because the more we attend to our feelings the more they control us, and become a cocoon we are in. So I would say martial arts and dad’s gotta take him to do guy stuff. That would be my suggestion, and every time his feelings are hurt, don’t surround him with cotton anymore, this is time for moms to pull back and dads to push in.

And my answer: Oh, Dr. Laura, you were doing so well with that first sentence! Yes. Take the kid to martial arts. It sounds like self control, as well as the kind of self-confidence you can get by learning a kickass skill, would be great for him.

But the caller should ignore the rest of her advice, and tell her kid to turn off the radio so that he doesn’t hear it either. She’s basically saying that a bullied kid should be put in a situation where he is bullied further by the people in his life that he trusts. No wussy lady coach! No way! He needs a manly man coach to browbeat him! And tell dad to stop letting him be a baby!

Dr. Laura is wrong. Some kids respond well to the manly manly manliness of doing manly things with manly men and sucking it up and not letting your feelings show, but it’s not something you can force, and it will hurt this kid far more than it will help him. You get one chance to help your kid through the disaster zone that is adolescence. Do you really want to make his isolation worse? He’s a thoughtful kid, kind, and generous. Don’t crush his spirit by punishing those qualities inside of him.

As far as the no-belt martial arts, I tried to find what Dr. Laura was talking about, and had very little luck. I think what she is saying is that the child needs some kind of martial arts that doesn’t cater to kids and wusses, but instead, should be the Real Deal. In other words, if you have a sensitive kid who is in danger of being bullied, just knock him around until he stops being such a baaaaaby.

Sign him up for martial arts. Talk to him. Pay attention to him when he has problems, and help him to work through them and know you are on his side. It might be a rough several years – most kids going through puberty would say that it’s a rough several years, regardless of their characteristics – but it will get better, and it will be immensely easier on him if he doesn’t feel like the bullying is coming from all corners.

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Susan

I am old and wise. Perhaps more old than wise, but once you're old, you don't give a shit about details anymore.

7 thoughts on “Dr. Susan vs. Dr. Laura: My boy is too wussy!”

  1. I agree with the martial arts suggestion, in theory; I (yes, me, a lady) have found karate to be awesome. It’s empowering and good exercise.

    I do not agree that female or “sissy man” (where Laura was going with “finding a good strong male”) instructors are a detriment. Different teachers appeal to different students, and different kids work better in different environments.

    And if a young teen is creative and sensitive, encourage that too! Drama or art or music or whatever the kid’s into will also encourage confidence and empowerment. It doesn’t have to be “manly” to be good for a teenage boy.

  2. Okay People . . .There are plenty of reasons to disagree with Dr Laura but could it be that we are all just a little to ready to jump down her throat?

    As it turns out. . . I was in the exact situation with my son when he was in elementary school/middle school and I did exactly what Dr Laura recommended (without her recommendation) and it worked like a charm.

    First off, you can ignore the part where she says try to avoid a female instructor . .. we looked at 5 different “dojos” and there was not a female instructor in sight.  So that point is moot.  If you happen to find a great female instructor then that is fine too.

    Second of all, my son was never bullied by the male instructors.  He was respected and encouraged and challenged and my son got so much out of the experience that I can’t imagine any counseling could have solved.   Not saying that there is anything wrong with counseling and it may be required in some cases but it certainly isn’t’ the first thing I would try as a parent.

    Thirdly,  it did nothing to dampen his kind, sensitive, thoughtful nature.  On the contrary, it helped to leave that part of his personality intact because he gained the confidence to be who he was.  He didn’t feel the need to become aggressive towards others cause he knew he could take care of himself.

    We can all certainly disagree with some things that she has to say . .. but how far do we have to go to disagree with EVERYTHING she says.

    1. I agreed with her about going to martial arts – I didn’t agree with her about seeking only male role models, about skipping the type of martial arts that rewards belts, about having dad step in and do manly things with him.

      Or is there something that I am missing?  Did you do something more that she suggested?  Because as far as the martial arts goes, that was the first thing that I said, was that it sounded like a good idea.

  3. Yeah, Dr. Laura’s first sentence is great, but then after that, it all goes sour.  Her solution wouldn’t take care of the son’s issues, but would only further exacerbate them, and there is a very good chance he would end up with the other extreme, which is an anger management problem.  And then someone could honestly get hurt.  And telling the kid that the qualities of kindness and empathy are not “manly” enough is enough to give him a complete mindfuck.

    During adolescence, emotions are all over the place anyhow because of all the hormonal changes.  This is also the transition time from childhood to young adulthood, and it’s a good time for both parents to teach their son good coping skills.  Exercise–like martial arts–can be a good way to relieve the stress, but you have to know how to deal with it, too.  If the kid has to go to a few counseling sessions to learn better coping skills, then take him.  Everyone needs therapy once in awhile–that’s life. 

    Just one thing: If the parents choose to take their son to a therapist, DO NOT TAKE HIM TO DR. LAURA!

  4. a) I’m the one who will say ‘Grow a back bone’, not the dad. OMG is my husband not masculine enough? Did feminism make me too masculine? EEP!
    b) Martial Arts isn’t Wonderwipe. You can be bullied, even during classes of Martial Arts. The support from parents/family/school has to come along.
    c) Ma’am, get a better adviser than Dr. Laura. SRSLY.
    d) I love working with bullet point abc’s.

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