On Old Men and Tear Ducts

Before I get to my subject, let me say that I do not like any part of the movement the last few decades to feminize men. I like the good, old-fashioned guys who believe in supporting their families, who work hard, who shoot guns, and who don’t “share” their feelings with everyone they meet. [That does not mean men shouldn't help out at home or change diapers: my father is the manliest man I've ever known, but I never saw him get up from dinner and not help with the dishes].

I hope that estab…

  1. Indaba

    My father in law was born in what is now Pakistan to a military man and nurse mother who worked during the war. He was sent to British boarding school and is a tough old guy. He also put business first and other women first, over his wife and family.

    My father in law is retired and old now, and those times of spending New Year’s Eve away from his family, at some place with another woman, are long faded. Once, we had just had our second child, he was supposed to visit but, half way through, left to meet a lady at some resort. Astounding! He has Altzeihmer’s and is being looked after by his wife, my mother in law.

    We had him over for dinner. His son and grandsons stood up and sang a series of Scottish songs with much gusto, and arms around each other, swaying from side to side. When I glanced over at my father in law, I saw him weeping openly through out.

  2. Indaba

    Mr. Indaba has suffered from his father’s behaviour and born the brunt of his mother’s ire too. I see that painful upbringing and impact on him as a man, which is why I support him more than I should at times.

    Mr. Indaba is a fishing, hunting killing machine, but has always cried during movies, Man from Snowy River, and I like that very much about him. he never says he loves me or tells me I look lovely. He brings me tea and downloads female movies and cleans his guns while I watch them. I know that is his way of showing his love and that is fine.

    Now, our two sons love to tease Mr. Indaba about his frequent weeping during films. They were surprised when he cried when #1 son left for university.

    I point out to him that he has been a good and dedicated father. That is a great reason to cry.

  3. Jimmy Carter

    President Reagan moves Me to tears regularly still.

  4. Dave Carter

    I’ll be 51 in a couple of weeks, and I’ve noticed something like what you describe.  Few things move me to choke up like certain types of music, or stories involving our veterans.  And funerals, but that isn’t a recent phenomenon for me.  I expect my own funeral will be the first and only one in which I keep my composure, and even that isn’t a sure bet. 

    As to your second question, I see no cause for shame.  As long as we’re not blubbering like bloody fools all the time, the occasional show of genuine emotion carries no disgrace to my way of thinking.  

  5. skipsul

    I’ve gone rather the opposite way.  When in school I had a rep as a crybaby because I teared up quickly when angry (which was rather a lot as I was low man on the social totem pole and thus targeted).

    Yet as I’ve gotten older I find less and less to move me, not even funerals for family members (though in one such case this was for mixed reasons).

    There is no shame in weeping for me, but maybe I’ve just grown colder.

    For you Tabula, take comfort in it, that you remain un-jaded by life.

  6. raycon and lindacon

    If we are growing old with Grace, then we are given a special dispensation from God to display the truth of our feelings and see ourselves as endowed with the sensitivity of God’s Own Spirit. 

    Our emotions connect us to a truth that our mind cannot see.

  7. Fake John Galt

    Coming up on 50 myself and have noticed the same with me.  Not weeping but tearing up in some situations.  I can mark it down to starting on my father’s death.

  8. Scott R

    Nothing to be ashamed of, Tabula — I hope, anyway, because I’ve been cursed with that gene my whole life, and, yeah, it’s getting worse with age.

    The wierd thing is, I’ll remain completely stoic through big traumatic events — 9/11, hardship or death of someone close, major surgery for a family member – but it’s the little things — an idyllic moment on a family vacation, a beautiful song, a movie, even the replay of an old sporting event — that bring tears.

    They say all tears come from sadness — even supposed tears of joy — and that sounds right. The anticipation of death, of loss, of “good-bye” is what it’s all about, I think. 

  9. Matthew Gilley

    According to the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness, crying is acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon. Not sure if that helps.

  10. tabula rasa
    Matthew Gilley: According to the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness, crying is acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon. Not sure if that helps. · 18 minutes ago

    This will be useful next time I go to the Grand Canyon.  Does Swanson have anything to say about a granddaughter’s dance recital?

  11. Aaron Miller
    Scott Reusser:

    They say all tears come from sadness — even supposed tears of joy — and that sounds right.

    If I may, here’s my theory.

    Joy is a response to togetherness/love. Sadness is a response to separation; a longing for what we want and need. All emotions can deviate, but those are the directions they are supposed to point.

    Tears of joy occur when the joy is so pure that we momentarily realize what tremendous beauty we are separated from. We feel our distance from perfection. It’s analagous to being suddenly thrust together with a much beloved person (spouse/child/parent/friend) and knowing you will be separated again just as quickly. It’s like glimpsing Heaven from a car window while the car speeds away.

    Not all people gain appreciation of life as they get older. But many do. Especially when one’s children are grown, when work is slowing down and one has more quiet time to reflect, one’s eyes are opened and those glimpses of Heaven might indeed become more frequent, more powerful.

  12. Joan of Ark La Tex

    I was raised in a very traditional chinese fashion. Even girls were not allowed to cry. Public display of emotion was regarded as, well, shameful. Later in my life, I learned that it is because self control is such a highly regarded value, that to lose it implies irresponsibility.

    The only time I saw my father cry, was when he gasped his last breath. He died with 2 streams of tears on his face. Those tears spoke deeply to me. That he knew what was going on for the last month we thought he was in coma. That he was waiting for my mother to sit next to him before he could let go. That he loves us and he was reluctant to leave us.  I am so thankful he cried. 

    So cry TR, just cry. I do wish you more tears of joy not pain. 

  13. Joan of Ark La Tex
    Aaron Miller

    ……. one’s eyes are opened and those glimpses of Heaven might indeed become more frequent, more powerful. · 1 hour ago

    I remember holding my first born in my arms  when he was about a week old and I cried inconsolably. It was the first time in my life I felt so overwhelmed by perfection ( glimpse of heaven?); I was exultant and disquiet all at the same time. 

  14. Nanda Panjandrum

    TR: Thanks for this – and a friendly reminder: [Mt. 23:27-29; Jn. 11:35].

  15. Gretchen

    TR, my father sounds a lot like yours. I frankly don’t remember whether he choked up or not when young, but I saw him do it occasionally when he was older and it never seemed unmanly to me.

    I wonder what Jojo changed her mind about?

  16. 10 cents

    I never cry because I am a real man. I do sometimes have something in my eye but that does not count.  Recently while I am reading a post on  Ricochet the screen goes blurry but I am sure it is a monitor problem.  Of course sometimes my eyes sweat and my voice cracks but that is due to overwork. Some may think I am in a state of denial but I deny that.

  17. Bryan G. Stephens
    Joan of Ark La Tex

    Bryan G. Stephens: As we men age, our testosterone levels go down. We tend to calm down, get angry less, and can have less sex drive. Sometimes there is also an increase in our estrogen.

    Both of these hormonal changes can effect emotional responsiveness. Increased estrogen will tend to lead to more tearfulness in men.

    Oops, is the reverse true to woman? Do I get to wear the pants at some point? :P · 22 minutes ago

    Well, tend to masculinize as they grow older with the decrease in estrogen.

  18. Bryan G. Stephens
    ChrisZ: Bryan Stephens is almost certainly on the right track.  I’d add, as a more general personal observation, that most men (and all women) underestimate the amount of shere physical strength it takes for a man to keep composure, in a variety of circumstances: controling temper, mastering fear, holding emotions in check. As you get older (and also when your very young) you simply don’t have the same physical reserves to draw on.

    On the other hand, the manly heroes of the Greek Bronze Age evidently cried like babies over all sorts of things, so there’s that to consider. · 1 hour ago

    Cannot really figure age into it. They died young, usually.

    However, our own “stiff upper lip” stoicism is a Roman tradition. The Romans though the Greeks were histrionic, to say the least.

  19. Red Feline

    I grew up in the school of the “stiff upper lip”. To show emotion was considered weak and offensive. This applied to girls as well as boys. No suggestion of the “weaker sex” in Scotland. The men knew better, from experience. You probably all know that the Celtic women would join their men in battle. You’ve heard me on the subject of getting my man’s back as he gets mine. :-)

    Even yet, I very rarely cry. I freeze up and just can’t cry. As Brian says, the process whereby men mellow as they mature, had the opposite effect on me. I’ve become much more realistic and even cynical.

    Have seen Les Mis. yet Tabula. I’m not sure that I want to. I read the book years ago, as it so artificially played on the emotions. Now perhaps I will to see if I cry at the end. Bet I won’t! :-)

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