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Big boys do cry

To explore the freedom to show emotion in public.

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore the freedom to show emotion in public.

Preparation and materials


  1. If there is anything that 2012 has taught us, it is that it’s okay to cry in public and, in particular, that it’s okay for men to cry openly in public.

    So often men and boys are told that it’s not okay to cry, to show their emotions, to be open about how they are feeling. But 2012 has shown that if men cry in public they will not lose the respect of other people. Often tears show someone who is in control of who he is, someone who is in touch with his emotions and understands that sometimes you can do nothing other than just have a good cry.
  2. We had Andy Murray openly weep at the disappointment of not winning Wimbledon. Many wept with him and felt his sadness and disappointment.

    Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic (for clip, see ‘Preparation and materials’) wept as he regained his gold.

    We saw Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter cry openly at their narrow defeat at Eton Dorney: they gained a silver medal rather than a gold in the final of the lightweight men’s double sculls.

    What this shows us is that big boys do cry and that it is perfectly acceptable for them to do so. These men are at the peak of their physical fitness. They are strong and they are unbelievable athletes. And yet when it is necessary they can freely and openly let their tears fall.
  3. It isn’t just out of disappointment, though, that tears come to competitors. Sometimes it is with pride at achieving a gold medal.

    Andy Murray wept again when he won the Olympic gold.

    Sir Chris Hoy seemed overwhelmed, not only when he received his gold, but also when he carried the Union Jack into the Olympic Stadium in the opening ceremony, and then again when he won his sixth gold medal.
  4. Why should it be okay for these men to express their emotions and not for other boys and men to do the same? Surely, if some of the strongest men on the planet can express their emotions, then it is okay for ‘normal’ boys and men to do the same, too. You should not be seen as a ‘cry baby’. Babies cry because they have no other way to express how they feel; they don’t have the words. Sometimes that happens to everyone, whether boy, girl, Olympic champion or grieving son or daughter.
  5. Crying is important; it is the body’s way of releasing emotion. The reason your tears fall is because you simply can’t contain your feelings any longer.

    We cry when we are in pain, because there is no other way for the body to handle it. The only way to release the tension, to get out the frustration or express yourself, is by shedding tears. If you don’t find a release for those emotions, if you don’t let those tears flow out, the strong feelings may fester and cause you harm.
  6. So next time, if you feel you need a good cry, just get it out. Let out all those emotions. You will probably feel lots better afterwards. You’ll also be in the company of some of the greatest athletes who have ever lived.

Time for reflection

(Light a candle and show the images of the athletes in tears.)

When was the last time you cried? What had happened? How did you feel afterwards?

We need to cry. Let us let out our strong emotions, and share our joys and our pains together.

Lord God,
help us to laugh together, to weep together,
to support one another and help one another.
Help us to be brave, strong, and in touch.


‘Big girls don’t cry’, written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

Publication date: December 2012   (Vol.14 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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