Gentle Men: The Healing Power of Vulnerability

The old-fashioned view of what it means to “be a man” is limiting and even harmful. With mindfulness, men can show up as their full selves—for themselves, their relationships, and their communities.

Adobe Stock/ Monkey Business

Once in a while, during a typical hectic day in our household, my wife will turn to me wearing a pretend-astonished smile and say: “Chris, did you know that we have three boys?” Although it seems like she’s just playfully stating the obvious, I hear her words like the ringing of a generations-old mission bell, a reminder of what’s most important to me. Each time, I’m struck by the responsibility of raising our boys in an era when masculinity, in the way that it’s long been defined, is being called to expand.

Growing up, I was taught that traditional male attributes are things like toughness, emotional reserve, strength, power, and staunch individualism. This image of a “traditional man” feeds into once-clear-cut roles like winner and provider. Edward M. Adams and Ed Frauenheim suggest that this version of masculinity is confined: both limited and limiting. In their 2020 book, Reinventing Masculinity, Adams and Frauenheim write, “Confined masculinity focuses more on a man’s sense of separateness rather than his sense of belonging. For example, many believe they should keep their emotions to themselves, be self-sufficient and show no vulnerability.” By accepting that these qualities are somehow inherent to…


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About the author

Chris Peraro

Chris Peraro is an engaged father of three boys and a committed husband to his wife, Deborah. He loves being alive with them in Boulder, CO. Chris also works as a coach, therapist, and writer to channel his desire for creative relational transformation.