One major aspect of the nice guy syndrome is avoiding conflict. The perception is that people especially men are more conflict-avoidant and “nice guys” than in the past few decades. Assuming this is true, I’m wondering how did we get here?
I’ve heard that one reason why so many men today have developed nice guy syndrome is because they have spent much more time around women than their fathers and grandfathers did when they were young. Mothers are the primary caretakers of the children, so, the kids spend most of the time with them before attending school. Then, when they become of school age, they spend most of the day in classrooms with teachers who are overwhelmingly women. Women, the argument is, tend to teach kids, including boys to stay out of trouble, don’t roughhouse, don’t fight, etc.
Digging specifically into how teachers and the school system in general teaches conflict avoidance, even if for good reason, is the policy to not fight. Teachers and parents often tell their students that if someone hits him/her that they should tell the teacher. Do not hit the person back. Let someone else handle the situation. On the one hand, the students are being taught to avoid violence, which is generally good, but it is also consequentially, teaching conflict avoidance. In addition, and it may not be popular to say, but you can’t always avoid violence in life. I guess the question then is how to prepare kids for such instances in a healthy manner?
The tell the teacher advice probably applies all throughout K-12 education, but it is rather prevalent in elementary school. Once kids become older, say, in high school, the school administrators tell the students that if you get into a fight you will be suspended or expelled. I know the school I went to had a policy that if you got into a physical fight, you were expelled from the county school system. I could not have imagined facing my parents if I had to tell them that I was expelled from the entire county’s school system. Therefore, you learn avoid conflict to a degree.
Now, not all conflict is violent, but I wonder if these early lessons translated into avoidance of verbal conflict as well.