Being a parent, and knowing how to parent in a positive way, is such a challenge nowadays. Perhaps because we don't have as many "village elders" anymore, to help guide us and help raise our children, we're almost completely alone trying to figure out the "best" way with-in our current culture. Also, as Leonard Sax suggests, our current culture has changed so much, even from just 30 years ago, it's definitely hard to know how to forge ahead with suitable parenting ideas for this current time.
I am so appreciative of authors like Sax who have cared enough to do the leg work and Sax has come up with five suggestions as to why some of our young boys seem so unmotivated and underachieving. Sax has definitely come up with very interesting and extremely helpful opinions (the five factors are: video games, teaching methods, prescriptions drugs, environmental toxins, devaluation of masculinity). For me, it was a great, and important, read as I knew there was something missing with-in our current culture for our young boys, and yet I didn't or couldn't put it altogether, and so, in "Boys Adrift" Sax explains some of the issues in such a clear light. And it makes a lot of sense. Also, the environmental concerns explored in this book are a bit alarming, and I am so glad to now be informed on how to avoid exposure to both certain plastics, as well as, certain medications.
Last year, I took my 5-yr-old son out of SK because the teacher was complaining he wasn't paying attention in class and couldn't sit still, and I started to homeschool him. He still has days where he has trouble focusing, and usually stands for his entire math lesson, but I am now able to understand him more, that this is his nature, and because of that understanding I am able to provide better educational choices for his young mind, and I can tell already that this has been very positive for him.
Moving forward, as parents of boys, we can use Sax's advice and make the best choices for our sons. To become responsible for our children, not to have our current culture dictate all of our children's ideas and behaviours.
Lastly, I really loved all the great suggestions in the last two chapters, Detox and Afterword. Very helpful. Especially in the Afterword where he suggests creating parenting communities who hold fun and safe events for our kids (like ping pong or Guitar Hero tournaments), and to communicate together as parents. Perhaps this will create that "village" we are sorely lacking.
As an educator, I couldn't agree more with Sax's findings about this generation of boys passing through the public school system. Certain aspects of this group's learning curve is disturbing to say the least. Twelve- to eighteen-year-old boys are openly disconnecting from the system in alarming ways that suggest they no longer take an active interest in the normal patterns of life. Their performance rates at school have dropped off; their interests in holding a job are minimal; and their obsession for video games has taken off at a torrid pace. It is Sax's view that the potential cause of this phenomenon does not lie in one or two areas alone such as playing dangerously high-powered video games in one's free time. Rather, it could be to do with a combination of factors that include the effects of the high tech explosion, the change in learning styles from experience-style to book-style pedagogy in the classroom, the introduction of harmful chemicals and hormones into the environment, and the overuse of stimulants like Ritalin to combat ADHD-type disorders. Current research shows that male students, as opposed to their female counterparts, are more vulnerable to these effects because of a number of physiological conditions such as sex drive and body metabolism. The gender divide definitely favours the girls in the classroom. They are, on the whole, from my experience, more motivated, better organized, and more sanguine in relation to future plans. I found Sax's diagnosis to be clearly defined from a medical and psychological perspective - after all, he is licenced MD and PhD - and very helpful in regards to helping parents help their children in turn to develop a more naturally-balanced lifestyle that helps them mature and realize their full potential. Sax suggests throughout the book that the social and economic implications of an unlaunched adolescent life are nothing short of disappointing and disruptive to all concerned within society. This problem, unless addressed in a concerted and intelligent way, has huge negative consequences for our general well-being down the road: growing illiteracy, higher unemployment, increasing malaise, and a preponderance of disconnected adults who are no good to anyone including themselves. The book is well written and easy to understand. I recommend the book to anyone who wants a good starting point for researching this fascinating subject. Sax has provided ample cross-references for following up research in this field.
on April 26, 2010
If you have young boys, you have to get this book, (or the CD's, I listen to them in my car). The things Dr. Sax talks about make total sense once you hear them. When we were growing up, it was just common sense. Mom and Dad would say "go outside and play." Play hockey, play baseball, play soccer. Build a tree house, look for frogs in the pond, go fishing. We lived outside, And when we played, it was usually a competition. This is what young boys are supposed to do, but many don't these days.
The other side of the book, the ADHD drugs, the chemicals in plastics etc just scare me to death, but all parents should be aware so they can make informed decisions if the occasion arises. Again, when you hear what he is saying and relate it to young people you know, you will say Aha!
on April 30, 2016
Many factors that I had already noticed about diffident and unambitious young men of my acquaintance were noted by Dr. Sax here: too-easy access to pornography (leading to unrealistic expectations of relationships with women); excess estrogen in water supplies and diet; lack of valuable male role models; and the "feminization" of the school environment. I have also tutored three boys who were (incorrectly) diagnosed as either hyperactive or with attention deficit. One was dyslexic, and a slow reader, one had mild Asperger's syndrome and the third was merely bored. Video games, for the young men and boys I deal with, are actually a beneficial factor - for truly hyperactive children,and many with autism spectrum disorders, the intense concentration they bring to playing video games helps alleviate their symptoms.
on January 15, 2015
VERY useful book. Not overly depressing, either, which is saying a lot, given the books on this topic. I like how the author breaks the issue down into five factors (and further breaks them down within these factors) then tells us as parents what we might do to address each one. Lots of great examples.