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How to Cry Like a Real Dad

I remember seeing the funeral of the Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani on tv news and noticing how generals and senior political figures were not just crying but openly weeping.

I couldn’t imagine a funeral like that in the U.S. Maybe a leader would allow a tear to escape his eye, but such sobbing would be ridiculed here.

I mean, can you imagine any of these men sobbing in public?

This is certainly not because the U.S. has manliness figured out. Quite the opposite: we have lost touch with masculine weeping and have no framework to understand it and integrate into our lives.

The Lost Art of the Masculine Sob


Western history is replete with stories of masculine tears. As the author Sandra Newman writes:

Consider Homer’s Iliad, in which the entire Greek army bursts into unanimous tears no less than three times. King Priam not only cries but tears his hair and grovels in the dirt for woe. Zeus weeps tears of blood, and even the immortal horses of Achilles cry buckets at the death of Patroklos. Of course, we can’t regard the Iliad as a faithful account of historical events, but there’s no question that ancient Greeks saw it as a model for how heroic men should behave.

She goes on to note that open crying is present in stories from cultures around the world and was common through the Middle Ages in Europe. Crying was never seen as something to be ashamed of or to hide:

There’s no mention of the men in these stories trying to restrain or hide their tears. No one pretends to have something in his eye. No one makes an excuse to leave the room. They cry in a crowded hall with their heads held high. Nor do their companions make fun of this public blubbing; it’s universally regarded as an admirable expression of feeling.

But in the Industrial Revolution, as tight-knit, multi-generational villages gave way to diverse, dense, and dynamic cities with factories, offices, and large bureaucracies, free emotional expression in men was suppressed.

No tears allowed among strangers, on the factory floor, or in the office.

Maybe losing touch with our history of masculine tears hasn’t been a big deal? I mean do we really even need tears in the first place?

Why We Cry


One controversial theory is that crying helps to expel toxins and stress hormones caused by high levels of stress.

A more widely accepted theory is that crying is part of the body’s physical shift from a fight-or-flight mode (sympathetic nervous system activation) to a rest-and-digest mode (parasympathetic nervous system activation).

In this theory, the actual tears, instead of releasing toxins and stress hormones, release a set of hormones that signal to others a need for comfort and care. In other words, crying is an internal shift from activation to relaxation, and an external signal to others that this shift has been made and comfort and care are needed.

As fathers, when we really access crying, we’re doing two crucial things that help us be the dads we want to be:

  1. Crying releases a lot of physical stress in our bodies, allowing us to be more connected, calm, and clear with our kids and partner.
  2. Crying is a signal to our kids and partners that we are also open to receiving comfort and care from them.

Four Steps to Crying Like a Real Dad


Let’s get to it! Let’s cry like the awesome dads we know we are!

Step 1: Get a safe space (seriously)

Find a safe, alone space to really let go. Eventually, you'll want to be able to cry in front of your kids and partner in a healthy, supportive, and empathic way. We also want to be mindful that we're not putting our kids into a parenting role (e.g., kids needing to comfort us), but rather joining our kids/partner and showing our emotions openly and authentically, not hiding them.

For example, if our child was emotionally hurt by a friend, we can feel their pain and sadness. Or our partner received heart-wrenching feedback from a supervisor that felt shaming and we’re able to feel and share our partner's sadness and tears.

If we've done our internal work on our own, we'll be able to connect with them by allowing our emotions to resonate together, authentically and empathically But chances are, your upbringing, like mine, makes crying feel shameful and unsafe. So start alone, in a place where you’ll be totally undisturbed.

Step 2: Sad songs

Get some tunes. If you know of songs that will make you cry, get a playlist going.

Step 3: Get present with yourself

Before playing the songs, take time to observe and process what you’re feeling, what you’re holding back, and what you refuse to feel.

Step 4: Cry like you mean it

Cry. Like really let go and sob. Let your body and emotions totally take control. Verbal and physical expressions will accompany a deep sob. The more you can lean in, the more peace, lightness, and clarity you’ll have afterward.

Bringing Crying Into Everyday Life


The loss of emotional authenticity and expression in modern Western masculinity has come at a great cost. As fathers, it has shrunk our emotional connections and restricted the range of emotions we can experience.

Just like our dads and their dads, we unconsciously train ourselves to live in a narrow band of masculinity that keeps us from living out the rich, full fatherhood we know we can have.

We can start to bring real, authentic tears into our daily lives once we re-learn how to sob. For me, after a few deep sobs, I was no longer afraid of opening my heart to whatever challenging emotions my kids and partner were feeling. It has led to more peace, lightness, and clarity for me, but also a deeper connection with them.

May you sob deeply, my fellow dads.

If this article resonated with you, be sure to join The Family Thrive dads' emotional workshop, OPEN-Hearted Fatherhood: An Emotion-Focused Way of Showing Up as the Father You Want to Be.

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How to Cry Like a Real Dad

Masculine weeping wasn't always forbidden. Losing touch with this powerful emotional expression has left modern fathers out of touch with themselves and their family. Here are four steps for bringing the manly sob back.

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Key takeaways

1

We've lost the art of the masculine cry

2

It's cost us connection with our own emotions and with our loved ones

3

4 steps to getting the tears flowing again

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I remember seeing the funeral of the Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani on tv news and noticing how generals and senior political figures were not just crying but openly weeping.

I couldn’t imagine a funeral like that in the U.S. Maybe a leader would allow a tear to escape his eye, but such sobbing would be ridiculed here.

I mean, can you imagine any of these men sobbing in public?

This is certainly not because the U.S. has manliness figured out. Quite the opposite: we have lost touch with masculine weeping and have no framework to understand it and integrate into our lives.

The Lost Art of the Masculine Sob


Western history is replete with stories of masculine tears. As the author Sandra Newman writes:

Consider Homer’s Iliad, in which the entire Greek army bursts into unanimous tears no less than three times. King Priam not only cries but tears his hair and grovels in the dirt for woe. Zeus weeps tears of blood, and even the immortal horses of Achilles cry buckets at the death of Patroklos. Of course, we can’t regard the Iliad as a faithful account of historical events, but there’s no question that ancient Greeks saw it as a model for how heroic men should behave.

She goes on to note that open crying is present in stories from cultures around the world and was common through the Middle Ages in Europe. Crying was never seen as something to be ashamed of or to hide:

There’s no mention of the men in these stories trying to restrain or hide their tears. No one pretends to have something in his eye. No one makes an excuse to leave the room. They cry in a crowded hall with their heads held high. Nor do their companions make fun of this public blubbing; it’s universally regarded as an admirable expression of feeling.

But in the Industrial Revolution, as tight-knit, multi-generational villages gave way to diverse, dense, and dynamic cities with factories, offices, and large bureaucracies, free emotional expression in men was suppressed.

No tears allowed among strangers, on the factory floor, or in the office.

Maybe losing touch with our history of masculine tears hasn’t been a big deal? I mean do we really even need tears in the first place?

Why We Cry


One controversial theory is that crying helps to expel toxins and stress hormones caused by high levels of stress.

A more widely accepted theory is that crying is part of the body’s physical shift from a fight-or-flight mode (sympathetic nervous system activation) to a rest-and-digest mode (parasympathetic nervous system activation).

In this theory, the actual tears, instead of releasing toxins and stress hormones, release a set of hormones that signal to others a need for comfort and care. In other words, crying is an internal shift from activation to relaxation, and an external signal to others that this shift has been made and comfort and care are needed.

As fathers, when we really access crying, we’re doing two crucial things that help us be the dads we want to be:

  1. Crying releases a lot of physical stress in our bodies, allowing us to be more connected, calm, and clear with our kids and partner.
  2. Crying is a signal to our kids and partners that we are also open to receiving comfort and care from them.

Four Steps to Crying Like a Real Dad


Let’s get to it! Let’s cry like the awesome dads we know we are!

Step 1: Get a safe space (seriously)

Find a safe, alone space to really let go. Eventually, you'll want to be able to cry in front of your kids and partner in a healthy, supportive, and empathic way. We also want to be mindful that we're not putting our kids into a parenting role (e.g., kids needing to comfort us), but rather joining our kids/partner and showing our emotions openly and authentically, not hiding them.

For example, if our child was emotionally hurt by a friend, we can feel their pain and sadness. Or our partner received heart-wrenching feedback from a supervisor that felt shaming and we’re able to feel and share our partner's sadness and tears.

If we've done our internal work on our own, we'll be able to connect with them by allowing our emotions to resonate together, authentically and empathically But chances are, your upbringing, like mine, makes crying feel shameful and unsafe. So start alone, in a place where you’ll be totally undisturbed.

Step 2: Sad songs

Get some tunes. If you know of songs that will make you cry, get a playlist going.

Step 3: Get present with yourself

Before playing the songs, take time to observe and process what you’re feeling, what you’re holding back, and what you refuse to feel.

Step 4: Cry like you mean it

Cry. Like really let go and sob. Let your body and emotions totally take control. Verbal and physical expressions will accompany a deep sob. The more you can lean in, the more peace, lightness, and clarity you’ll have afterward.

Bringing Crying Into Everyday Life


The loss of emotional authenticity and expression in modern Western masculinity has come at a great cost. As fathers, it has shrunk our emotional connections and restricted the range of emotions we can experience.

Just like our dads and their dads, we unconsciously train ourselves to live in a narrow band of masculinity that keeps us from living out the rich, full fatherhood we know we can have.

We can start to bring real, authentic tears into our daily lives once we re-learn how to sob. For me, after a few deep sobs, I was no longer afraid of opening my heart to whatever challenging emotions my kids and partner were feeling. It has led to more peace, lightness, and clarity for me, but also a deeper connection with them.

May you sob deeply, my fellow dads.

If this article resonated with you, be sure to join The Family Thrive dads' emotional workshop, OPEN-Hearted Fatherhood: An Emotion-Focused Way of Showing Up as the Father You Want to Be.

I remember seeing the funeral of the Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani on tv news and noticing how generals and senior political figures were not just crying but openly weeping.

I couldn’t imagine a funeral like that in the U.S. Maybe a leader would allow a tear to escape his eye, but such sobbing would be ridiculed here.

I mean, can you imagine any of these men sobbing in public?

This is certainly not because the U.S. has manliness figured out. Quite the opposite: we have lost touch with masculine weeping and have no framework to understand it and integrate into our lives.

The Lost Art of the Masculine Sob


Western history is replete with stories of masculine tears. As the author Sandra Newman writes:

Consider Homer’s Iliad, in which the entire Greek army bursts into unanimous tears no less than three times. King Priam not only cries but tears his hair and grovels in the dirt for woe. Zeus weeps tears of blood, and even the immortal horses of Achilles cry buckets at the death of Patroklos. Of course, we can’t regard the Iliad as a faithful account of historical events, but there’s no question that ancient Greeks saw it as a model for how heroic men should behave.

She goes on to note that open crying is present in stories from cultures around the world and was common through the Middle Ages in Europe. Crying was never seen as something to be ashamed of or to hide:

There’s no mention of the men in these stories trying to restrain or hide their tears. No one pretends to have something in his eye. No one makes an excuse to leave the room. They cry in a crowded hall with their heads held high. Nor do their companions make fun of this public blubbing; it’s universally regarded as an admirable expression of feeling.

But in the Industrial Revolution, as tight-knit, multi-generational villages gave way to diverse, dense, and dynamic cities with factories, offices, and large bureaucracies, free emotional expression in men was suppressed.

No tears allowed among strangers, on the factory floor, or in the office.

Maybe losing touch with our history of masculine tears hasn’t been a big deal? I mean do we really even need tears in the first place?

Why We Cry


One controversial theory is that crying helps to expel toxins and stress hormones caused by high levels of stress.

A more widely accepted theory is that crying is part of the body’s physical shift from a fight-or-flight mode (sympathetic nervous system activation) to a rest-and-digest mode (parasympathetic nervous system activation).

In this theory, the actual tears, instead of releasing toxins and stress hormones, release a set of hormones that signal to others a need for comfort and care. In other words, crying is an internal shift from activation to relaxation, and an external signal to others that this shift has been made and comfort and care are needed.

As fathers, when we really access crying, we’re doing two crucial things that help us be the dads we want to be:

  1. Crying releases a lot of physical stress in our bodies, allowing us to be more connected, calm, and clear with our kids and partner.
  2. Crying is a signal to our kids and partners that we are also open to receiving comfort and care from them.

Four Steps to Crying Like a Real Dad


Let’s get to it! Let’s cry like the awesome dads we know we are!

Step 1: Get a safe space (seriously)

Find a safe, alone space to really let go. Eventually, you'll want to be able to cry in front of your kids and partner in a healthy, supportive, and empathic way. We also want to be mindful that we're not putting our kids into a parenting role (e.g., kids needing to comfort us), but rather joining our kids/partner and showing our emotions openly and authentically, not hiding them.

For example, if our child was emotionally hurt by a friend, we can feel their pain and sadness. Or our partner received heart-wrenching feedback from a supervisor that felt shaming and we’re able to feel and share our partner's sadness and tears.

If we've done our internal work on our own, we'll be able to connect with them by allowing our emotions to resonate together, authentically and empathically But chances are, your upbringing, like mine, makes crying feel shameful and unsafe. So start alone, in a place where you’ll be totally undisturbed.

Step 2: Sad songs

Get some tunes. If you know of songs that will make you cry, get a playlist going.

Step 3: Get present with yourself

Before playing the songs, take time to observe and process what you’re feeling, what you’re holding back, and what you refuse to feel.

Step 4: Cry like you mean it

Cry. Like really let go and sob. Let your body and emotions totally take control. Verbal and physical expressions will accompany a deep sob. The more you can lean in, the more peace, lightness, and clarity you’ll have afterward.

Bringing Crying Into Everyday Life


The loss of emotional authenticity and expression in modern Western masculinity has come at a great cost. As fathers, it has shrunk our emotional connections and restricted the range of emotions we can experience.

Just like our dads and their dads, we unconsciously train ourselves to live in a narrow band of masculinity that keeps us from living out the rich, full fatherhood we know we can have.

We can start to bring real, authentic tears into our daily lives once we re-learn how to sob. For me, after a few deep sobs, I was no longer afraid of opening my heart to whatever challenging emotions my kids and partner were feeling. It has led to more peace, lightness, and clarity for me, but also a deeper connection with them.

May you sob deeply, my fellow dads.

If this article resonated with you, be sure to join The Family Thrive dads' emotional workshop, OPEN-Hearted Fatherhood: An Emotion-Focused Way of Showing Up as the Father You Want to Be.

I remember seeing the funeral of the Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani on tv news and noticing how generals and senior political figures were not just crying but openly weeping.

I couldn’t imagine a funeral like that in the U.S. Maybe a leader would allow a tear to escape his eye, but such sobbing would be ridiculed here.

I mean, can you imagine any of these men sobbing in public?

This is certainly not because the U.S. has manliness figured out. Quite the opposite: we have lost touch with masculine weeping and have no framework to understand it and integrate into our lives.

The Lost Art of the Masculine Sob


Western history is replete with stories of masculine tears. As the author Sandra Newman writes:

Consider Homer’s Iliad, in which the entire Greek army bursts into unanimous tears no less than three times. King Priam not only cries but tears his hair and grovels in the dirt for woe. Zeus weeps tears of blood, and even the immortal horses of Achilles cry buckets at the death of Patroklos. Of course, we can’t regard the Iliad as a faithful account of historical events, but there’s no question that ancient Greeks saw it as a model for how heroic men should behave.

She goes on to note that open crying is present in stories from cultures around the world and was common through the Middle Ages in Europe. Crying was never seen as something to be ashamed of or to hide:

There’s no mention of the men in these stories trying to restrain or hide their tears. No one pretends to have something in his eye. No one makes an excuse to leave the room. They cry in a crowded hall with their heads held high. Nor do their companions make fun of this public blubbing; it’s universally regarded as an admirable expression of feeling.

But in the Industrial Revolution, as tight-knit, multi-generational villages gave way to diverse, dense, and dynamic cities with factories, offices, and large bureaucracies, free emotional expression in men was suppressed.

No tears allowed among strangers, on the factory floor, or in the office.

Maybe losing touch with our history of masculine tears hasn’t been a big deal? I mean do we really even need tears in the first place?

Why We Cry


One controversial theory is that crying helps to expel toxins and stress hormones caused by high levels of stress.

A more widely accepted theory is that crying is part of the body’s physical shift from a fight-or-flight mode (sympathetic nervous system activation) to a rest-and-digest mode (parasympathetic nervous system activation).

In this theory, the actual tears, instead of releasing toxins and stress hormones, release a set of hormones that signal to others a need for comfort and care. In other words, crying is an internal shift from activation to relaxation, and an external signal to others that this shift has been made and comfort and care are needed.

As fathers, when we really access crying, we’re doing two crucial things that help us be the dads we want to be:

  1. Crying releases a lot of physical stress in our bodies, allowing us to be more connected, calm, and clear with our kids and partner.
  2. Crying is a signal to our kids and partners that we are also open to receiving comfort and care from them.

Four Steps to Crying Like a Real Dad


Let’s get to it! Let’s cry like the awesome dads we know we are!

Step 1: Get a safe space (seriously)

Find a safe, alone space to really let go. Eventually, you'll want to be able to cry in front of your kids and partner in a healthy, supportive, and empathic way. We also want to be mindful that we're not putting our kids into a parenting role (e.g., kids needing to comfort us), but rather joining our kids/partner and showing our emotions openly and authentically, not hiding them.

For example, if our child was emotionally hurt by a friend, we can feel their pain and sadness. Or our partner received heart-wrenching feedback from a supervisor that felt shaming and we’re able to feel and share our partner's sadness and tears.

If we've done our internal work on our own, we'll be able to connect with them by allowing our emotions to resonate together, authentically and empathically But chances are, your upbringing, like mine, makes crying feel shameful and unsafe. So start alone, in a place where you’ll be totally undisturbed.

Step 2: Sad songs

Get some tunes. If you know of songs that will make you cry, get a playlist going.

Step 3: Get present with yourself

Before playing the songs, take time to observe and process what you’re feeling, what you’re holding back, and what you refuse to feel.

Step 4: Cry like you mean it

Cry. Like really let go and sob. Let your body and emotions totally take control. Verbal and physical expressions will accompany a deep sob. The more you can lean in, the more peace, lightness, and clarity you’ll have afterward.

Bringing Crying Into Everyday Life


The loss of emotional authenticity and expression in modern Western masculinity has come at a great cost. As fathers, it has shrunk our emotional connections and restricted the range of emotions we can experience.

Just like our dads and their dads, we unconsciously train ourselves to live in a narrow band of masculinity that keeps us from living out the rich, full fatherhood we know we can have.

We can start to bring real, authentic tears into our daily lives once we re-learn how to sob. For me, after a few deep sobs, I was no longer afraid of opening my heart to whatever challenging emotions my kids and partner were feeling. It has led to more peace, lightness, and clarity for me, but also a deeper connection with them.

May you sob deeply, my fellow dads.

If this article resonated with you, be sure to join The Family Thrive dads' emotional workshop, OPEN-Hearted Fatherhood: An Emotion-Focused Way of Showing Up as the Father You Want to Be.

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