Watch The Secret Life of Boys (...

Watch The Secret Life of Boys ( )

Evaluate whether the story shown in the film provides support for social learning theory, gender schema/script theory, or cognitive developmental theory. Make sure to support your answer with evidence from the film and convince your group members of its validity and your interpretation. Also, highlight any potential sources of bias you may have identified in the film in your response.

Transcript of the video:

LJ and Lacey Mazzilli are fraternal twins.

Both seven-year-olds like playing baseball with their father.

If he looks familiar, it's because he once played pro baseball.

Base hit as Mazzilli does it again.

Lee Mazzilli used to be an outfielder for the New York Mets.

He helped them win the World Series.

You ought to see what my homework is.

Lee and his wife Dani also have a nine-year-old daughter, Jenna.

Last year, Lee took a job out of town.

He's managing a minor league team in Florida and he now spends half the year away from home. Hi, guys.

Two weekends a month, the family gets together.

But they're having a hard time adjusting to all the separation.

How they adjust is different for the girls and for the boy.

Lacey and Jenna let their feelings pour out.

They regularly write letters telling Daddy how much they love him and miss him.

They spend hours drawing pictures that they send to Lee.

And they spend lots of time talking to him on the phone.

Did you do your homework? Daddy.

Hi, Daddy.

Hey, Lacey Magoo, what's up? Saying how they feel about him. I love you, honey.

I love you too.

And Daddy, before you go, can you talk to me one more time?

OK, babe.

OK, I love you.


Compare this to what their brother does.

Don't you want to talk to Dad? He says he'd rather go outside to play ball.

Now you could say there's nothing wrong with this.

Boys will be boys.

He'd rather play ball than talk on the phone.

But there's a problem.

Since Lee left for Florida, the girls have done fine in school and at home.

But LJ has been acting out.

LJ went sort of off the wall.

Off the wall how?

Well, he's just more aggressive, more quickly to a temper than he usually is, picking fights all the time with the girls, jumping around and poking them here, throwing this across, taking things away and running.

Instigator at times.

Disruptive, not listening to me at all.

Dani suspects it has something to do with LJ's missing his father but being unable to talk about it, to express those feelings. Lee doesn't buy that.

I think, sometimes, my wife likes to get too analytical about a lot of things all the time.

She gets to that deep stuff.

I look at it as being a normal boy.

It's an active kid that wants to play.

Hey, dad, I'm seven years old now, my friend is here, I want to go play basketball.

I don't want to talk to you right now, Dad.

I'll talk to you later.

That's because he's a boy?

That's what I feel.

Boys and girls, do they deal with troubles differently?

Some researchers now say that some parts of life are tougher for boys because boys are more likely to hide their feelings.

Boys aren't born this way says Harvard psychologist William Pollack.

If you looked at female babies and male babies, the male babies are the more expressive babies than the female babies.

And by age five, it's hard to read a boy's expression on his face unless he's in extreme pain.

Pollack has just written a book called Real Boys, which says parents and society teach boys to stifle their emotions, and that damages boys.

I think parents are trying their best out there. Parents care and love.

It's what society does.

It's the messages that boys receive from all over. The message to be a little man.

Absolutely, to stand on your own two feet, cut the apron strings, don't cry to momma, and just to be independent and show that you can do things all by yourself.

The Mazzellis say they treat their on the same way they treat their daughters. But when I pressed them, Dani eventually admitted a difference.

Do you respond differently to Lacey than LJ?

Yes, he's the boy.

I don't want to make him into a namby pamby. That's what every mom will tell you.

At Emory University, Professor Robyn Fivush found that even parents who deny that their child's gender affects their parenting do, in fact, parent boys differently.

She brings parents and their four-year-olds into a room and ask them to talk as long as they want about something that made them angry and sad.

Repeatedly, parents have longer discussions about feelings with girls. Are you upset?

Yeah, I'm upset about [INAUDIBLE].

After minutes of talking about what being upset feels like, [? Brida ?] tells her mother in great detail about how two friends hurt her.

And they didn't want me to follow them. They didn't want you to follow them? Mm-mm.

How come?

Because they wanted to play all by theirselves. Her mother offers a suggestion.

I think they will.

We can talk to them about it.

With girls, parents are much more likely to talk about talking about emotions as a way of dealing with them. There's less feeling talk with the boys.

What do you do when you get angry sometimes?


Yeah, who do you hit sometimes? You.

And who else?



The mother doesn't focus a child in on the feeling of anger itself an on how he experiences it, but on what he does in terms of acting out on that anger.

And mothers are surprisingly accepting of these kinds of reactions, that that's sort of an appropriate thing to do with anger. But not so much with girls.

When girls talk about how they feel, they give detailed answers.

If you won't let me play with them, then I would be alone and I'll be sad.

And their mothers encourage this kind of talk.

How does that feel when you're alone?

It feels bad and I don't like it because I need to play with someone if I'm all alone.

Boys typically answer this way.

Do you remember ever being sad?

Have you ever been sad?


I think that the message that boys are getting is very much one that emotions are something that are inside me.

Whereas girls are really getting the message that emotions are things that are between people.

By age six, say researchers, it's clear that boys have learned to keep their feelings to themselves.

At the University of Connecticut, Professor Ross Buck hooks boys and girls up to a polygraph machine and registers nervous sweat.

Then he shows them slides, some pleasant, others more threatening.

Girls visibly react to the slides, but boys faces usually show, well, take a look.

It's not that he's not having a reaction.

Look at his polygraph reading, it shows he's feeling lots of motion.

He's just not expressing it.

When you don't express emotion, others don't know how you're doing, so they can't respond appropriately.

These 12 and 13-year-olds at West Middle School in Andover, Massachusetts are aware that something different is expected of boys.

I think we are equally sensitive, but girls are allowed to show it.

Society lets girl show their emotions more than boys.

And if a boy steps out of the box and becomes super sensitive, they might be called names-- Or criticize them. --or criticized by their peers.

I think the box that society has placed on boys makes it really difficult to go up to people and to say to them, you know, I have a problem.

So I mean even though there's guidance counselors, and there's teachers, and there's parents and stuff, I personally feel uncomfortable going to people with a problem.

Also, like when a guy has a problem, especially if like another guy is making fun of you at school, if you were to tell your parents about it, and then someone were to find out, say you got your parents to like call their parents, that is like, totally, you'll be like made fun of for the rest your life.

That's like wussy, that's like a mama's boy.

So you'd like never want to do that.

This boy says he was teased for a month because he cried when he got hit in the shin with a baseball.

I will be teased about it for the rest of that year probably.

And maybe it will even continue throughout the summer.

Because it's not normal.

Well it's not "normal" for a boy to cry.

Jeff's and his best friends' mothers have been talking about it and say, it's tougher for boys these days. Girls can move out of the stereotype, be tough, loud.

It's fine to be a tomboy.

It's not OK to be a tomgirl.

And I think that there are far more acceptable behaviors for girls.

Which is completely different from when we are growing up.

Oh, absolutely.

Again, I think boys had the latitude much more so.

But I think now it's swung the other way.

And wow, all of a sudden girls have this freedom and this latitude that boys don't. And boys are finding themselves increasingly forced into a more and more-- Boxed in. -narrow path.

Of course, isn't some of the difference between boys and girls biological?

Some of this boys are born with, right?

I mean some of it's testosterone.

There is a natural difference between boys and girls. Testosterone makes the difference.

But the kind of boys who can't express their feelings, that's not testosterone doing that, that's what we're teaching them when they're children.

Why is this a problem?

Well some researchers believe boys' emotional repression is why they are more likely to act out in school, to be diagnosed with learning disorders and behavioral problems, to engage in a reckless behavior like binge drinking and criminal activity, or the sadistic hazing practices that happen at some marine training camps.

What happens to girls who are brought up in a way in which they're forced to be not a full person. They starve themselves.

They cut themselves.

And people consider that a warning sign.

And we say they have a depression and they either need to go to a hospital or need to go see a doctor. What do boys do?

They take pins and stick them into other boys and we say, boys will be boys.

Pollack says it's this kind of repression of feelings that leads more boys to end their lives.

Suicide is a major national boy crisis, but we don't call it that.

Boys are four to six times more likely to kill themselves than girls.

They won't be ashamed.

They won't ask for help.

They'll just do.

And what they do is pull the trigger.

In South Boston, Kevin Cunningham was a popular 17-year-old, an honors student. To the outside world, he had no problems.

Then, last fall, he stunned his family by hanging himself.

His parents, Colleen and Larry, had no idea he was unhappy.

Obviously, he must have had something because he wouldn't have done this.

But you couldn't see it.

You couldn't see it in him at all.

No, if he held it, he never showed it.

He never said, Dad, I really got to talk to you about this or that.

He never seemed to have any problems.

Suicide is the extreme case.

But Pollack says all boys suffer because we teach them to be tough little men.

If we were to say to girls when they were four or five, be on your own, don't express your feelings, don't cry, you're being a baby, we'd say, oh my god, we can't do that to her.

But we do it with boys, not because we don't love them, but because we think that's what will make them real men and real boys. But what we don't know is that doesn't work that way.

As you've seen, boys who are feeling emotional pain and can't express it can wind up in deep trouble, in the most extreme cases, taking their own lives.

So how do you reach a boy?

How do you draw his feelings out before they lead to problems?

As John Stossel continues, you'll see how an expert does it.

Will his approach make a difference in the Mazzilli family?

The Mazzilli children look forward to winter, when they'll be able to spend more time with their father. He's now in Florida half the year, coaching a minor league baseball team.

All the orange colors are when we're going to be seeing Daddy.

This calendar helps the kids deal with the separation.

If you want to count ahead, how many days until next time it's orange.

LJ, can you count?


While Lacey Mazzilli and her twin brother LJ both miss their father, Lee says only Lacey says she miss him. Lacey said, well, Daddy, why'd you take this job?

And I said, why, honey?

And she said, I wish you didn't take this job.

And I said, why?

She said, because I want you home so I can hug and kiss you.

LJ doesn't talk about missing Daddy.

But he's been getting angry after visiting Lee in Florida.

LJ won't get on the plane.

And I'm trying everything I can.

What is he saying?

Is he just going?

I'm not going.

I don't care what you say, I'm not going.

I'm not going.

And then he runs from me.

I have to go get him, pick him up, bring him over kicking and screaming onto that plane. LJ never said why he wouldn't get on the plane.

But Dani thinks it's because he misses his father, but doesn't know how to express it. Yet Dani has a conflict about how to deal with all this.

She thinks boys who are too emotional will be called namby pamby.

At the same time, she wants LJ to let his emotions out.

I think that men showing emotions is not an unattractive thing.

I think that we women spend all our lives trying to get men to talk to us, and to try to tell us things, and to be more affectionate and emotional, and tell us how they feel about things.

We're always forever trying to get it out of a man. But that's namby pamby.

Not necessarily.

See there are two standards here.

No, because why can't you be the strong, silent type who expresses himself too? What a [INAUDIBLE].

How can a person be both?

It's a dilemma for boys and their parents.

I wonder what I could learn if I just asked the kids about missing Dad.

When he goes, does it hurt?


When he leaves to go on the plane when we drop him off, we always say, I miss you, I love you, I'm going to miss you so much.

The girls immediately talk about how they feel, how they sometimes cry for Daddy.

LJ says, he doesn't cry.

Not me.

So you cry, and you cry, but you don't.

How come you don't cry?

I don't know, because I'm a boy and not a girl.

There you have it.

He's a boy, he doesn't cry.

But Dr. Pollack says, this was no way to help a boy say what he really feels.

I've got this little thing here I thought we might do together.

Pollack says they way to learn the truth from a boy is to do something with him, some activity, anything he likes, in LJ's case building, a truck out of LEGOs.

Over time while doing this, LJ told Dr. Pollack what I assume is the truth, and what was the opposite of what he told me, the professional interviewer.

Do you ever cry when you feel sad? Yeah.



With other people or just by yourself?

By myself.

Do you think people know that you're crying? No.

You don't let them know, huh?


You're not supposed to show them?


Why didn't he say that to me?

The difference was when you talked to him there were three or four girls around, there was mom and dad around. It was what I would call a public space.

Boys are very almost phobic of being ashamed.

When I talked to him, I did three things that were different.

I put him in a safe space, in which there weren't other people or at least a lot of people watching.

I engaged in action because it's so important to engage in action and play with boys when we talk.

And I let him lead the talking.

And once that started, I did one other thing.

I shared my own feelings with him.

I told him about my own childhood, how my own father had been away for a while.

And all of a sudden, his sadness and his feeling, it just opened wide up.

It must be really hard not having your dad at home.

Yeah, it is.

So what do you do about it?

I do what usually my dad does.

Like what?

I do my homework in his office when he does his work.

Oh, so like in the same place where he would do his work?


So it's almost like you're right where he'd be, huh?


Do you ever pretend like you're being him?


Pollack also does something we parents rarely do.

He makes a brief statement and then shuts up.

I think if you got a chance to talk about how you felt about your dad, you'd feel better. I know.

You say to him, if you talk, I think you'd feel better.

And then you stop.



Because you don't keep going after a boy.

With girls, the more we say, the more we interact, the more they interact.

With boys, we want to touch on their feelings and then give them space to go back, not feel ashamed, think, and then come back to us.

The typical example is the little girl rushes home from school, bursts in the door, is almost always in tears, and says, Mommy, Julie wouldn't let me play with her, and she said these bad things about me to Jamie, and what am I going to do about all this?

And Mom sits down and she says, oh, let's talk about it.

And they have a soda together and they talk for hours and hours and hours. And she says, oh, Mommy, you really helped me.

Johnny comes home.

He has a scowl on his face.

He's lost the soccer game.

Mom knows something's wrong.

In her gut she knows something's going wrong.

He says, nothing, Mom, I'm fine.

He goes to his room.

What should a parent do?

Don't push him.

Give him a little bit of space to save face.

And then he'll come out of that room and he'll give a signal.

It won't be one it's easy to know about, you have to learn about that.

He might say, when is dinner going to be ready?

Or, when is Dad going to be home?

That's his signal, without knowing it, for saying, I need some help.

Do you think he knows that you're sad and that you miss him?


I had one mother who talked about what she called car therapy.

Her son would do this kind of thing after a soccer game or a difficult time at school.

And she'd wait for that moment, he'd come out, and he'd say, when's dinner ready?

And she'd say, you know, John, let's not do dinner right now, let's go for a ride and get some ice cream.

And his eyes would light up.

And they get in the car and they go for the ride.

But it wasn't the ice cream, it was the action, and the free space, and the safe space with mom.

And on the way there she'd say, you know, you seem a little upset.

And tears would come to his eyes and he'd talk about his feelings.

And he could talk in a way he could never talk in front of other people.

So she protected his shame, she opened him up, and then she helped him to speak.

Pollack shared these thoughts with the Mazzillis.

A month later, we returned to see if anything had changed.

Hey, big guy.

Where's your backpack?

It's in the car.

How was school today?

It had.

Now when Dani senses there might be something bothering LJ, she gives him time to be alone and then offers to play a game with him like this question answer game.

Who ever makes a basket gets to ask a question. OK, I'll answer any question you ask me. [INAUDIBLE]

You got to ask me a question.

This following exchange did just happen.

Dani swears she and LJ didn't stage it for our camera.

What do you feel like when you're away from Daddy?

I miss him.

I miss him.

Dani calls it basketball talk and says it's working.

LJ has stopped acting out in school and he's happier at home.

How did you feel about Daddy not being at your baseball game?


You have to wait for the moment, absolutely.

And if you miss the moment once, that's all right.

But if you don't know about the timed silence syndrome and you keep missing the moment, then the boy withdraws more and more and more, and we lose touch with our boys and they lose touch with themselves.

How bad do you want to beat Mommy?

Really bad.

That's what I thought. I think missing the moment may be the same with both boys and girls, John.

But LJ has now had therapy, his mother is treating him differently.

Is he a different kid?

Yeah, he hasn't really had therapy, but his mother is talking to him more about this, his father too. I think he really is different.

I just talked to his father yesterday.

He said LJ came down to Florida to see him.

And when he left, he wrote this wonderful note.

I'm sad I'm leaving today.

I'm really going to miss you so much.

You are so brave to me.

I really love you from the ground to god.

From a child who never ever wrote a note to him before.

John, you have a son and a daughter.

Now do you encourage your son to be the strong silent type?

I don't think I do.

But those are the signals he seems to give me.

He doesn't want to talk about his feelings as much as my daughter does. I think we're born with some of this.

It sounds to me some it may be genetic.

You think that it is inbred.

You and I were talking earlier that it comes from thousands and thousands of years of a particular kind of masculine behavior. Men had to stand in the woods with the spear to kill the animal.

You had to be quiet and not show your emotions.

Maybe we've evolved differently.

But you know, it used to be that women expected men to be that way.

And now we want them to be in touch with their feelings and-- You're impossible.

--to be sensitive.

It's all our fault.

Why is it our conversation?

Do you think this is a male female thing?

You're outnumbered here too.

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