Boys Adrift – a must-read book

October 6th, 2019 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Reading Recommendations 7 comments

You have seen those ads for medications that ask questions such as:

  • Do you ever have trouble falling asleep?
  • Are you ever anxious?
  • Does the world ever seem like a scary place?

They might as well ask: Are you human?

I have two questions of my own:

  • Do you have any sons? Daughters? Students? Neighbors? Grandchildren?
  • Do you have a stake in the future?

The 99.9% of you who answered yes need to read boys adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Dr. Leonard Sax. It will not be a pleasant read. Not because the book is poorly writtenit is very readable. But the information it contains and the questions it asks will make you uncomfortable. Truth often does that. While I have a few quibbles here and there and would like to see further information on some of the avenues he explores, overall this is a valuable read.

Dr. Sax is a family physician and an author. I have not read his other books yet, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that this one is only of interest to you if you have sons. That is a bit like suggesting to the rest of your body that it should ignore an infection in your finger. It can’t. The body is interconnected and a danger left untreated in one area doesn’t stay confined. Society is the same. We all have a stake in understanding the ways in which we are failing boys. Things have only gotten worse since the book’s 2016 date of publication.

On the plus side, if you do have specific boys under your influence whether as a parent or grandparent, a teacher, an employer or through your church, synagogue or community, this book will provide you with tools to improve the lives that intersect with yours. Whether discussing ADHD, girl-centered education or endocrine disruptors, Dr. Sax makes a compelling case that, as a society, we are on a dangerous path. Like me, you probably know amazing, mature and wholesome young men. Yet they don’t spontaneously erupt. The more aware we are of the pitfalls on the road that impede boys from turning into men we can admire and upon whom we can rely, the more we can actively intervene to help them achieve that goal.

(If you do like what you see and purchase using the links in this post, we will receive a small commission on the purchase.)

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7 comments

Ildiko Kalcsics says:

Very important topic. Maybe here, in Europe (and, within that, in Hungary as a former Catholic, then Socialist country) oppression of true masculinity is even more tangible than in other, more blessed parts of the world. Where can I buy the book?

Susan Lapin says:

Ildiko, if the bookstores near you don’t have this, then I would try a download through one of the many options for that (Amazon, Barnes and Noble…). I’d appreciate it if you would share how you see masculinity being suppressed in Hungary.

Ildiko Kalcsics says:

O, thank you, Susan, I’ll check the book online. What came to my mind just at a basic, general level (and without knowing what the book contains) is that both Catholicism and Socialism have their own ways of suppressing masculinity. Catholicism with its cult of the Virgin Mary, for example, appeals mostly to women, who, in turn, try to be more like her in sanctity etc. Through this extreme religiousness and “righteousness” men are often embarrassed and their authority suffers a lot, especially in rural villages where this type of religiousness has survived. (After Luther’s reformation, Hungary also had a very flourishing Protestant period of about a hundred years, when about 90% of the country became Protestant and people started to develop more character thanks to the Bible-based faith revolution, but then, with the country being re-Catholicized, things turned back to what they used to be before.) Then hit Socialism after the war, which we know took responsibility out of people’s hands, and that also made man more like children who need the care of others (the State) rather than taking their fate in their own hands. Does that make sense? This is, of course, no exact science, just general impressions of how things worked in those times and what heritage they left for us.

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you for answering, Ildiko. I appreciate the further explanation and I think I need to do some reading on Hungarian history. I was unaware of the Catholic-Protestant-Catholic shift.

Ildiko Kalcsics says:

Yes, that shift is indeed a remarkable phenomenon in our history. Especially the aristocracy was the target of re-Catholicization: they either lost all their fortune and lands, or return to Catholicism. The majority of them did return, taking with them all of their subordinates (peasants and others). Others did not, and indeed lost everything and were even sent on galleys as slaves. There was a famous case when a Dutch admiral named Michiel de Ruyter bought many of them out of this galley-slavery. Many of those who did stand their ground in faith, later experienced divine help in building up their lives again after the loss of their fortunes.

Andrew says:

As always happens when you recommend a book I check it out (I bought it on the Kindle). I am only a few chapters in but I see why you brought this up. He makes some very good comparisons between different children and why some do well at school and some do not. After reading this, I will be looking at “Girls on the Edge” as well.

Susan Lapin says:

I am reading that one now, Andrew. I don’t agree with everything in either book, but it is an eye-opener.

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