Friday, January 27, 2012

Boys Adrift, by Leonard Sax

I recently finished reading Boys Adrift, by Leonard Sax.  I was mesmerized by it and it helped to put some more pieces into the big puzzle of life and learning.

Sax is a medical doctor and psychologist living in Maryland and over time, he came to see a pattern in males, how they were more and more disengaged from the real world, and more likely to be labeled with various negative behavioral issues.  So he decided to investigate and try and understand the problem better. 

This book is the collection of his research through the years.  He has decided that the main reasons for male disengagement in the real world is mainly due to 5 causes:

1.  Video Games

2.  Teaching Methods

3.  Prescription Drugs

4.  Endocrin Disruptors

5.  Devaluation of Masculinity

And I must say, they make sense!  I've seen it in my own husband and son.  We females have our own set of problems, but these particular issues relate mostly to the males.

VIDEO GAMES: I first heard of the concept of men needing a challenge from John Elderedge's book 'Wild at Heart'.  And it really rings true.    God made men to seek adventure.  Think of Adam out there in the big world, trying to make a home for him and Eve, and eventually their children.  That isn't easy and it takes a really brave, driven person to do that.  Men are the ones the God has given the responsibility of family to, and he also equipped (most of) them with a drive for just that.  They need adventure, it's wired into their DNA and for good purpose.  But, in today's world, they get so little of that, that they go out and seek it where they can find it. Those thrills, the action.  And the easiest, safest, cheapest way to do that these days is through video games.  They provide all of the 'good' with none of the 'bad'.  Except they create their own issues, as does any substitute for something deep inside of us. Only the real thing will do.  But who can afford to explore the Amazon these days?

Sax gave some fascination details on how video games actually affect the brain and it's development.  It seems that science proves that it can change the structure of the brain permanently.

TEACHING METHODS: Sax is very keen on all boys and all girls schools also.  He doesn't think everyone needs them, but boys esp, often do better in boys only schools.  Esp the ones who are labeled ADHD and hyper and aggressive.  They need a format where they can get their aggression out in a constructive manor, while being encouraged to get done what needs to get done.  He is also a strong believer in waiting to put boys into school until they are 7, as they need the extra year to mature.  Agreed!  I can see it in my own kids, dramatically.  And trying to force your son to act in a way that he is not capable of, will simply force him into believing he is stupid and will create a negative attitude toward school and learning, that often sticks with him the rest of his life.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS:  He believes that the vast majority of children who are on drugs for over activity do not need it.  They just need a different environment that allows them to use up their energy properly and constructively.  He gives a lot of evidence that points to prescription drugs also changing the way a brain develops.  And it's sad to realize that these drugs cause permanent personality and brain damage.  While there may be times when that is still worth it to the child, in the majority of cases, it simply is not.  Drugs are used as an easy way out for parents.  Because they don't want to deal with the other causes of the behavior.

ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS: He talks about how plastics have chemicals in them that cause a boys body to produce more estrogen and less testosterone.  And this causes developmental delays in the brain, bones and endocrine system, again, some permanent.

DEVALUATION of MASCULINITY:  'Forty years ago we had Father Knows Best, today we have The Simpsons.'  Good point.  With all the 'girl power' and feminist agendas being pushed, the male role models have changed dramatically.  And that is having a huge impact in the following generations.  They need mentors who can show them how to live and act, while coming along side of them and helping them through life.  It's so TJE. :)  With role models like EMINEM, no wonder our culture is going to hell in a handbasket. Geesh!

It was a good reminder to me to watch my little boy, to make sure he has good role models in his life, and to make sure I let him be a 'boy', while growing up.  I will also be careful of his time spent playing video games.  I have seen, already, that he gets easily addicted to them even this young.  I also want to work harder at providing real adventure for Drew and Samuel, so they do not need to disconnect from real life to feel that their needs are being met.   

Overall, it was a fantastic book and I would highly recommend it to anyone raising little boys in America today.

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