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The Damage of Telling a Kid to "MAN UP"

To The Adults Who Tell Their Boys To “MAN UP!”

“Man Up!” she said to her son. Her son has been showing signs of anxiety come Monday morning when it was time to go to school. What she doesn’t know is that her son has been a victim of bullying for the last year. Due to the “man up” mentality, her son hasn’t felt comfortable sharing his experiences with his mom or anyone. 

Dear Parents or any adult who cares for kids, 

At some point someone may have told you to “man up”, or “stop acting like a girl". Maybe it was because you fell really hard on the playground or you cried because you lost a game. Maybe it was because you were made fun of by a group of kids and felt like an outcast, so you cried. Whatever it may have been, the unforeseen consequences of telling someone to "man up", can cause a negative residual effect, that can last a lifetime. 

If you want your boys to grow up in a world where he can’t express his feelings, instead learn to suppress his feelings, just tell him to “MAN UP!”. 

If you want your boys to grow up feeling completely disconnected from his emotions, instead learn to lack empathy, just tell him to “MAN UP!” 

If you want your boys to withdraw from real conversation because he feels like what he has to say may not be good enough, just tell him to “MAN UP!”

When your boys are told to “MAN UP” you’re telling him his feelings are not valid. Instead this escalates in to feelings of shame and insecurity, while questioning himself.  

This can turn into anxiety, anger, feelings of isolation and depression. 

By telling your boys those two words, when he finally has the courage to tell you about an event at school that may be bothering him, you shut him down. 

Too many school aged kids are taking their own lives because they don’t have a safe place to express themselves and feel validated. 

More young male teens, who turn in to young men, are abusing drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse is on the rise as a coping mechanism for repressed emotions. This can very well be directly correlated with learning to keep their feelings in, otherwise according to their own support system, they wouldn’t be viewed as a "man". 

We all want our kids to be able to defend themselves and fight their own battles. Without a loving environment, support system that facilitates healthy conversation, we will continue to feed the problem. 


Many times the kids who are abusive to others are actually holding a tremendous amount of anger inside. These are the very same kids that may have been told to “MAN UP!” at some point in their life. 

When I say the two most destructive words you can say to your boys or girls are “MAN UP” I mean it. 

Respectfully from one parent to another,

Lauren Brooks
Mother and Step Mother
3 girls and 1 boy


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