My son is sensitive. He is anxious. He is fearful. He doesn't hide these things about himself very well in social settings.

When he was in kindergarten his teacher advised counseling. So we went, and the counselor saw him for 2 or 3 sessions and basically said "this kid is fine," then saw his father and I on our own for a bit and sent us on our way. He eats, he sleeps, he exercises. He isn't a behavior problem and does fine academically. He just isn't … happy.

He's 8 now and started a new school this year. He wants friends, of course, and doesn't have them, really. I feel as if we haven't trained him properly in how to be a boy. Don't cry. Don't show fear. Dominate. Etc.

The new school is bigger and has a different culture. Boys and girls don't play together, which puzzles him. It's all terribly depressing, but "boys and girls don't play together here" hardly seems like a reason to change schools.

Of course he is having problems with some other boys. It isn't too bad yet, and there are some potential friendships as well. But I hate feeling tempted to tell him "if you want to make friends, you have to quit being such a sissy." (Of course that could be edited to: you need to complain less. But isn't what I'm really saying is, express your needs less? Be more masculine? To an 8 year old?)

ETA: I would never tell my son, and neither would his father, to be less himself or to act in a more "masculine" fashion. I was verbalizing some of my own struggles and fears and guilt. After all, I was raised in this place too, so I have received some bad messages from patriarchy. I'm not perfect. But I assure all of you that home is a safe place for our boy, and I appreciate your concern.