Real Men Feel: Ep. 295, When Boys Become Boys | Messages and Development of Masculinity

March 24, 2023

When Boys Become Boys | Messages and Development of Masculinity Episode 295, March 24, 2023

Real Men Feel invites you to redefine masculinity in today’s world. The only definition of masculinity that matters is yours. We remind men that they are human beings and have the right to experience and express all of their emotions. 

One of the most mentioned books among Real Men Feel’s learned guests is When Boys Become Boys: Development, Relationships, and Masculinity, by Judy Chu. Based on a two-year study that followed boys from pre-kindergarten through first grade, When Boys Become Boys offers a new way of thinking about boys’ development.

Judy Chu is an educator, researcher, and author. She teaches a course on Boys’ Psychosocial Development at Stanford University. Her book, When Boys Become Boys, highlights boys’ relational strengths and how boys’ gender socialization can impact their development, relationships, and well-being. 

She also co-edited Adolescent Boys: Exploring Diverse Cultures of Boyhood. Judy currently serves as Chair of the Global Men’s Health Advisory Committee at Movember and co-Chair of the Board of Directors at Equimundo: Center for Masculinities and Social Justice. She also advises The Partnership for Male Youth and the Boys’ Club of New York.

Join us and discover how the comments of one thirteen-year-old boy launched a career. Judy shares that boys yearn to find out how they can show themselves to others without putting themselves at risk. The pressure to conform and be welcomed as “one of the boys” is intense and persistent. 

Boys and men desire genuine, meaningful connections with other people, but some traditional masculinity aspects make such connections challenging. If you can’t be your authentic self, having genuine, meaningful relationships is nearly impossible – yet those relationships are what boys long for.

I had no idea that the masks many men wear start as early as they do in preschool. This conversation was enlightening and sad at the same time.

Topics and Questions

  • 1:25 – You do a lot in support of boys and young men. What first got you interested in that topic?
  • 4:06 – Were these boys opening up and talking to anyone else?
  • 6:17 – Tell me about the study that led to When Boys Become Boys.
  • 10:20 – The three main points of the book.
  • 12:27 – Does the pressure to confirm kick in when boys start going to school?
  • 14:36 – Were the boys aware of the pressure to be more “masculine?”
  • 20:07 – How long did you observe this group of boys?
  • 22:23 – What surprised you the most in your research?
  • 24:43 – What are the masculine norms for a boy in Kindergarten?
  • 27:22 – Was there a price to pay for the boys changing their behaviors?
  • 29:39 – Are masculine qualities more innate or learned?
  • 31:21 – Based on what you’ve learned, do you have advice for parents?
  • 38:00 – What’s the best way for people to learn more about everything you are up to?

“In an ideal world, you could be yourself without the risk of threat or punishment.”

Judy Chu


Judy Chu —
LinkedIn —
Check out the book, When Boys Become Boys

Book a call with Andy →

Listen here:


Want to help support Real Men Feel? Visit

Watch this episode on YouTube.

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Enjoy Real Men Feel on Spotify

Listen to the podcast on Google Podcast.

Let us know what you think here in the comments, or shoot an email to

Grab the Real Men Feel Guide to Friendship for a list of places you can meet more male friends, and subscribe to the Real Men Feel newsletter.

ep 295 When Boys Become Boys with Judy Chu

Photo by Jeremiah Lawrence on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *