You Can't Be What You Can't See- Parent Role Models

This week’s Stranger Things theme is toxic and healthy masculinity. Throughout the week, we will be exploring how masculinity impacts Domestic Violence, how to be good models of masculinity, and the importance of healthy masculinity. In Stranger Things Season 3, there are various examples of both toxic and healthy masculinity. Let’s use these examples as ways to understand how, as parents, we can embody healthy masculinity and healthy parenting to teach our children how to be smart, kind people.

Toxic Masculinity and Healthy Masculinity

Toxic masculinity is the notion that societal expectations of men (ex. Being dominate, controlling, and angry) are detrimental to everyone around them and themselves. Toxic masculinity is often referred to when a man does something that is overly masculine to prove their dominance. An example of that would be a father threatening a new boyfriend of his daughter instead of simply discussing their expectations with them. Healthy masculinity refers to the complete opposite, meaning men doing “manly” things but in a healthy way. So for example, being dominate in order to be protective of his family. An example of this would be Hopper’s letter that was discussed last week.

Hopper’s Letter

If you haven’t read last week’s blog, then we need to fill you in on Hopper’s Letter. So this season on Stranger Things, Eleven is still living with Hopper and as El is beginning to date Mike more seriously, Hopper has to deal with those common dad issues. Hopper struggles throughout the season to confront Eleven and Mike about their relationship until the final minutes of the last episode when El finds the letter that Hopper was never able to deliver to her. In the letter, Hopper explains his feelings about her growing up, about how much he loves her, and what he expects from her. This is an excellent example of using healthy masculinity to not only parent but to role model.

Hopper’s Talk with Mike

On the flip side, Hopper also used these emotions in a toxic way earlier in the season. During the first episode, Hopper pulls Mike out of his hang out sesh with El to tell him that his grandmother is sick, but as it turns out that is just a diversion for Hopper to yell at Mike and to tell him to never see his daughter again (watch attached below). This is a great example of toxic masculinity. Hopper used societal expectations of being threatening and angry to discuss a sensitive topic instead of simply and calmly discussing his feelings and concerns with both Mike and El.

Link between toxic masculinity and teen dating violence

Toxic masculinity not only impacts perpetrators but also victims. Because of the ways in which men are portrayed in society, media, and family dynamics, male victims often find it hard to seek help, see the reasons why below:

·      Not commonly viewed as being a victim of abuse

·      Limitations for expected masculinity

·      Lack of positive support when seeking help related to abuse

·      Emotional expectations for anger and aggression

·      Media and entertainment portrays men as dominant, controlling, egotistical

·      Heteronormative views of dating relationships

·      View of feminism as problematic

·      Lack of positive role models

The last reason is why this blog post and topic are so necessary because you cannot be what you do not see and many times the best role models are in the family. So we challenge all of you to embody healthy masculinity, follow the lead of the examples above, and teach our children that being a pono kane is the best way to live.


Teen Alert Program