Ask any boy between the ages of 8 and 16 the definition of the word ‘argument’ and they’ll probably say a ‘fight.’ How can they think otherwise? TV and movies do not show people sitting down and having a constructive ‘argument’ to settle their differences. Instead there are horrendous scenes of fisticuffs, brutality, violence, and death. The media glorifies extremes and teaches desensitization.
Marcus Gonzalez, of The Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Naples, FL, is trying to make a difference in the mindset of young boys before they establish unhealthy reactionary patterns. The Gentlemen Against Domestic Violence ® curriculum is based on a holistic approach to educate boys, helping them to replace stereotypical ideas of men as dominant and gaining power through violence with the idea that men can be gentle, compassionate, and kind — without risking their identities.
Boys grow up thinking they shouldn’t be angry. Human beings need to be emotional; they need to recognize their emotions. But it’s not OK to let the emotions be in control. ‘I couldn’t control myself’ is an admission that emotion prevailed instead of logic. The key is to stop and think logically. There is plenty of room for emotion and logic in the same place. An argument should be a discussion, with each side giving their point-of-view. Toxic anger, on the other hand, hurts people. It’s insulting and abusive and should not play into the equation.
The ‘Raising Gentle-men’ program is not a study in making boys docile either. We want them to be strong and confident. But true strength and confidence is in their hearts and minds, not in their hands. On the contrary, fear and weakness is what keeps us attached to negative traditions, habits, and patterns.
Gonzalez believes relationships should be defined by the word ‘partnership,’ rather than ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend.’ When looking for a partner, he asserts that one should be looking for a best friend and confidante, ‘the other half of yourself.’ It’s about mutual support of dreams and ambitions; it’s not about being in charge and having the other person do your bidding.
Interpersonal communication is complicated. No form of communication is simple. Because of the number of variables involved, even simple requests are extremely complex. We don’t actually swap ideas; we swap symbols that stand for ideas. (excerpt from The Four Principles of Interpersonal Communication, GADV, Shelter for Abused Women and Children)
Self-analysis is an art, and there is great strength in refusing to be a puppet to our first response.Analyzing why we feel a certain way, or what past events evoke a particular anxiety or reaction, are critical to our understanding as spiritual beings.