Monday, September 13, 2010

J. Steven Svoboda - Defining the Purpose of Boys

I recently reviewed the re-issue of Michael Gurian's Mothers, Sons, and Lovers for Wildmind Buddhist Meditation, under it's new name The Invisible Presence: How a Man's Relationship with His Mother Affects All His Relationships with Women.

J. Steven Svoboda's recent article for MensNewsDaily (yes, I know the general tone of this site), "Defining the Purpose of Boys," looks at another of Gurian's recent books:
The Purpose of Boys: Helping Our Sons Find Meaning, Significance, and Direction in Their Lives. By Michael Gurian. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. 248 pp. $26.95 (also in paperback, $11.53 at Amazon)
It's a fine review - here's a taste:

On the positive side, Gurian is to be commended for delving headlong into the often controversial topic of values, going so far as to suggest ten specific values that three-family systems should consider aiming to teach to boys: the values of legacy, give and take, failure, independence, identity, self-reflection, ethical action, self-discipline, self-doubt, and faith. Regarding the value of self-reflection, the author notes that recent brain science is just now confirming that “many of the parts of the brain that are involved with self-reflection also control ethical and moral decision making.”

Gurian strongly supports having boys work outside the home for a wage as soon as they can, emphasizing that after-school activities do not substitute for the experience of earning money in employment for which showing up properly groomed and on time is a requirement. The author pointedly observes that “a lot of the time boys used to spend doing… values development, work, and moral learning… from extended families and institutions—is now spent in ‘media time.’” Moreover, “[m]edia use is beginning to affect boys’ abilities to become fully functional men.” Sometimes, parents are discovering, all that is needed to start a marked improvement in their sons’ behavior and school performance is to disconnect the television and video games.

He also mentions another element of the book, one which was the focus of the book I reviewed - the idea that young men need a rite of passage, some form of initiation to help them transition from boyhood to manhood (i.e., separation and individuation from the mother).

Check it out.

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