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’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.