They'd been trained to identify emotional repression as the essence of manliness. Men who broke down, or cried, or admitted to feeling fear, were sissies, weaklings, failures...
Fear, tenderness—these emotions were so despised that they could be admitted into consciousness only at the cost of redefining what it meant to be a man...
His patients might be encouraged to acknowledge their fears, their horror of the war—but they were still expected to do their duty and return [to the war.] It was [the doctor's] conviction that those who had learned to know themselves, and to accept their emotions, were less likely to break down again.
-Pat Barker, Regeneration
In my Reader Berlin writing class we read passages from a book about the rehabilitation of soldiers suffering from shell shock during WWI. The above really hit me.
Note I will not compare WWI with childraising.
I do however see exactly what happened to myself in this passage: when I became a house dad, I had to deal with a very emotional, traumatic series of events over the span of two years: I quit my job to raise my kids, moved to a foreign country where there was no culture of parents staying at home, hence was very lonely before building a community, learned a new language, and so forth. All of it flew in the face of nearly everything my parents had taught me.
The best way for me to understand these events was to acknowledge and come to terms exactly those two emotions: fear and tenderness.
Now I understand that facing fear and being tender is the beginning of building strength, to keep going every day, because children will not wait.
When I repressed those feelings, I only created the illusion of strength.
And even though my mother voiced great doubt about my becoming a house dad, I respect her even more after learning what I have.