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Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men

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Something scary is happening to boys today. From kindergarten to college, American boys are, on average, less resilient and less ambitious than they were a mere twenty years ago. The gender gap in college attendance and graduation rates has widened dramatically. While Emily is working hard at school and getting A’s, her brother Justin is goofing off. He’s more concerned ab Something scary is happening to boys today. From kindergarten to college, American boys are, on average, less resilient and less ambitious than they were a mere twenty years ago. The gender gap in college attendance and graduation rates has widened dramatically. While Emily is working hard at school and getting A’s, her brother Justin is goofing off. He’s more concerned about getting to the next level in his video game than about finishing his homework. Now, Dr. Leonard Sax delves into the scientific literature and draws on more than twenty years of clinical experience to explain why boys and young men are failing in school and disengaged at home. He shows how social, cultural, and biological factors have created an environment that is literally toxic to boys. He also presents practical solutions, sharing strategies which educators have found effective in re-engaging these boys at school, as well as handy tips for parents about everything from homework, to video games, to medication.


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Something scary is happening to boys today. From kindergarten to college, American boys are, on average, less resilient and less ambitious than they were a mere twenty years ago. The gender gap in college attendance and graduation rates has widened dramatically. While Emily is working hard at school and getting A’s, her brother Justin is goofing off. He’s more concerned ab Something scary is happening to boys today. From kindergarten to college, American boys are, on average, less resilient and less ambitious than they were a mere twenty years ago. The gender gap in college attendance and graduation rates has widened dramatically. While Emily is working hard at school and getting A’s, her brother Justin is goofing off. He’s more concerned about getting to the next level in his video game than about finishing his homework. Now, Dr. Leonard Sax delves into the scientific literature and draws on more than twenty years of clinical experience to explain why boys and young men are failing in school and disengaged at home. He shows how social, cultural, and biological factors have created an environment that is literally toxic to boys. He also presents practical solutions, sharing strategies which educators have found effective in re-engaging these boys at school, as well as handy tips for parents about everything from homework, to video games, to medication.

30 review for Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marianneosharp

    So, before I forget all that I've learned I need to share. I read this book after Allison told me she was reading it and have now recommended it STRONGLY to many of my friends. It's a pretty quick read and makes you aware of big issues that every parent of boys should educate themselves on. These are a few of the resolutions I've made after having read this book. First of all, I will be aware that the public school system is "feminized". Sax, the author, says it would help parents and teachers al So, before I forget all that I've learned I need to share. I read this book after Allison told me she was reading it and have now recommended it STRONGLY to many of my friends. It's a pretty quick read and makes you aware of big issues that every parent of boys should educate themselves on. These are a few of the resolutions I've made after having read this book. First of all, I will be aware that the public school system is "feminized". Sax, the author, says it would help parents and teachers alike to be more conscious of how to keep boys attention as they learn. I've decided for sure that I want to hold Jack back a year (his b-day's in Aug) so he'll be the oldest rather than the youngest in his grade. This was my original plan but now I feel even more strongly about it. Sax says that what was once 1st grade education is now kindergarten. Next, I will be more okay with the fact that boys are "wiggly". Okay, that sounds silly but the fact is that many boys are misdiagnosed with ADHD when the reality is that they have energy that needs to find some good outlets. I already have issues with the fact that school is too long and recess is too short....whatever I can do to compensate for that I will do. Next, I will never microwave plastics. I'm more aware, in every part of our home, of possible "endocrine disruptors". Okay, I admit that this is the sketchy part that you can take too far.....but I really believe that we're surrounded daily by pollutants that can mess up our bodies, and kids are more vulnerable. I think that when they're easy changes like cleaning with natural products (like vinegar) or buying more glass and less plastic, then there's no excuse for me to not be doing it. Sax talks about these different elements that trully are effecting boys and their motivation in life. Next, and this is the one I think will be hard, I will try to not let my boys become addicted to video games. They haven't got there yet, which I'm grateful for, and I have no idea how I will do this but I'll figure it our when I get there. There's some parts of the book that left me frustrated. Sax says that all-boy schools are the way to go. Unfortunately, that's not an option here and I'm not motivated enough to start one up. He mentions some fabulous school in which the boys have fabulous male teachers and the boys all end up being.....well......fabulous. That would be great if we could go to that school but I'm not ready to pick up and move to Virginia or wherever the heck it was to give my boys the perfect education. He made some great suggestions about how to better the education for boys but it would take a serious overhall. He didn't mention this but I kept thinking I should just home school my kids so I could dictate the way that everything was taught. Who knows....... (Britt would never go for that....well maybe there's a small chance......the tiniest ever.) Sax also spoke about the role models boys have in pop culture. That part scares me to death and I'm even more afraid about where it will be in 10 years when they're in High school. He also spoke a bit about how many cultures have a "right of passage" boys go through that makes them a man, no longer a boy. I kept thinking about the mormon "culture" and how a mission can really make a boy a man. He said that using your strength to serve others is the definition of manhood. I loved that part. I'm so grateful my boys have a great dad to look to as a role model. Anyway, such a good book. This guy has plenty of experience and all the right credentials to be talking about these issues. Here's the website: http://www.boysadrift.com/ This is interesting too:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/... If you read it let me know what yout think!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    I started reading this book after hearing about it from a mom of a teenage boy. Her son is a good kid: good student, practices his faith, athletic, mannerly, but she saw warning signs of how easily good kids can go astray when they don’t have someone to help guide them. If she was concerned about her son, I figured I ought to be concerned about mine, since I have five, and three of them still have many years before they enter the turbulent teens. Best to be prepared. It didn’t take like before I I started reading this book after hearing about it from a mom of a teenage boy. Her son is a good kid: good student, practices his faith, athletic, mannerly, but she saw warning signs of how easily good kids can go astray when they don’t have someone to help guide them. If she was concerned about her son, I figured I ought to be concerned about mine, since I have five, and three of them still have many years before they enter the turbulent teens. Best to be prepared. It didn’t take like before I couldn’t put the book down. Dr. Sax relates stories of real boys, told by real parents, and how they were often intelligent kids, who lacked motivation for school or life outside of video games. I could easily imagine any of my boys, given free reign, could easily turn into video zombies. Girls might spend too much time chatting with their friends on Facebook, but boys like to play action-packed video games until their eyes glaze over and their heads drop to the keyboard from lack of sleep. Neither food, nor school, nor senior prom can propel them from the game machine unless a parental foot on the backside gives them an extra boost. So it was with a great deal of expectation that I read Dr. Sax’s book on the “growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men.” I suspect everyone knows at least one (or dozens) of 18 to 30 year-old males who seem to have no motivation for doing much of anything with their lives, but are often content with their low-paying jobs and single status, quite frequently still living at home with Mom and Dad. Before you call me judgmental, look at the statistics: Women now outnumber men on college campuses and in medical and veterinary schools. The number of women entering traditionally male fields, such as engineering and technology, is increasing, while the number of men entering those fields is decreasing. Where are the men going? They’re dropping out of college, or not even entering in the first place. Dr. Sax lists five reasons for the alarming trend of unmotivated males. No, it’s not all the fault video games, although that is the first reason he lists. The others are: the feminization of education, overuse of prescription medication (for ADHD), endocrine disruptors in the environment, and the devaluation of masculinity. He makes compelling arguments for each of the five reasons and all parents of boys should educate themselves on these topics. The one I found most interesting, and the one I’d heard nothing about was endocrine disruptors in the environment. These are environmental pollutants caused from a variety of sources, including phthalates found in plastics such as plastic water and soda bottles, pacifiers and baby bottles. These endocrine disruptors have been shown to cause early onset of puberty in girls, while having the opposite effect on boys. According to Dr. Sax, “The overwhelming majority of modern chemicals that mimic the action of human sex hormones, curiously, mimic the action only of female hormones.” They have also been linked with the disruption of brain function in the area of memory and motivation, as well as ADHD, again, affecting girls differently than boys. He also refers to these chemicals as “environmental estrogen,” as they mimic those female hormones. Dr. Sax further gives evidence that the increase in childhood obesity can be directly linked to these environmental estrogens. There are other alarming symptoms as well: male genital abnormalities, lower testosterone levels and male infertility. Another pollutant in our environment that affects males far more than females is pornography. (See my book review on The ABCs of Choosing a Good Husband). Men no longer need women for sex, just as women no longer need men for babies. As a result, men and women are putting off marriage until much later, or in many cases, forsaking it altogether. Dr. Sax cites the number of men ages thirty-five to forty who have never been married has tripled in the last thirty years. Just twenty-five years ago it was 8%. It currently stands at 22% and is rising rapidly. Dr. Sax also mentions the rise of contraception as a cause of the divorce of marriage from sex. (Once again, Pope Paul VI was right). Dr. Sax says, “More and more boys are discovering that they prefer a sexy image on a computer screen to a real live woman with expectations…” Some of the physical results of this dependency on pornography are the increasing number of men who need Viagra or Cialis. And now the good news: Dr. Sax gives hope to concerned parents (and disaffected young males) by giving concrete examples of young men whose lives were turned around by some simple changes. Enroll in an all-boy school. Get off unnecessary medications. Get unhooked from the video games and get involved in athletic competitions. Have examples of manly behavior from men. Experience the real world by getting outdoors. Do something physically demanding. Sweat. For more information read the book and go to the website: www.boysadrift.com and www.singlesexschools.org.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Sax (author of Why Gender Matters) argues that boys are more unmotivated than in the past because of (1) changes in schools that make them less boy friendly, (2) video games, (3) medications to treat ADHD that cause changes to the brain, (4) endocrine disruptors in plastics that are reducing testosterone, and (5) devaluation of masculinity in our culture. I think my initial problem with this book is that I don't totally buy his premise that we have an epidemic of unmotivated boys. I agree with s Sax (author of Why Gender Matters) argues that boys are more unmotivated than in the past because of (1) changes in schools that make them less boy friendly, (2) video games, (3) medications to treat ADHD that cause changes to the brain, (4) endocrine disruptors in plastics that are reducing testosterone, and (5) devaluation of masculinity in our culture. I think my initial problem with this book is that I don't totally buy his premise that we have an epidemic of unmotivated boys. I agree with some of what he has to say about each of his five points, but he is prone to hyperbole and a doomsday outlook. He also loves to use anecdotes as if they prove his points. There are many better books about raising boys than this one.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heather in FL

    So, we're doomed. That's what I got from this book. Thanks a lot, Dr. Sax. Unfortunately, so much of what he talks about has been done over generations and we're now seeing the dismal results. Basically I think it comes down to the fact that we're ruining boys through co-ed education, ADD/ADHD misdiagnosis, video games, environmental estrogens, and missing male role models. And I think he's on to something. He makes a lot of sense. I hate it when people make sense when talking about bad things, l So, we're doomed. That's what I got from this book. Thanks a lot, Dr. Sax. Unfortunately, so much of what he talks about has been done over generations and we're now seeing the dismal results. Basically I think it comes down to the fact that we're ruining boys through co-ed education, ADD/ADHD misdiagnosis, video games, environmental estrogens, and missing male role models. And I think he's on to something. He makes a lot of sense. I hate it when people make sense when talking about bad things, lol. I really hate it when I feel like there's very little I can do about some of it. I can't afford a private boys school, and my school district isn't going to have boys only classes. I agree with the author that accelerating education (what used to be 1st grade is now kindergarten, with homework to boot) hasn't helped the US at all and we expect too much of kids that young. I don't think the powers-that-be plan to reverse that action anytime soon even though it's clearly not working. I also agree with the author that the US curriculum focuses too much on book knowledge and not nearly enough on experiential knowledge. And much of the competition has been removed when everybody gets a trophy. Why should a boy work hard to be the best when everyone gets the same certificate he does? Thankfully, I didn't have to deal with an ADD/ADHD diagnosis and resulting medication. While I believe there are many legitimate cases of ADD/ADHD, I think it's WAY over-diagnosed and over-medicated. And now it appears that the medication has negatively affected the portion of the brain that deals with motivation. I shudder to think of all the kids who were misdiagnosed and took the medication and may suffer from lack of motivation as a result. The discussion about endocrine disruptors and environmental estrogens was frightening. I feel like we're killing ourselves slowly. And now I'm thinking it's a combination of processed foods and environmental estrogens that are affecting the country's waistlines, but that's a different discussion. But alligators with shrunken testicles from waters tainted by too many plastic bottles? Freaking scary. The author also brings up a good point about missing male role models and disappearing cultural customs. If a boy doesn't have role models or rites of passage in his life, he's going to turn elsewhere (the media which won't necessarily show good role models -- reality TV, anyone? -- gangs, etc.) to fill that void. Video game play is where I'm going to have a problem. My boys just love them, as does their father. But I know the boys (and probably the father, lol) shouldn't play them as often as they do. I need to find some alternate activities for them to participate in instead of video games. I have to admit laziness has played a role on my part. It's been easier on me to let them play something at home than forcing them to try new things and new activities, which would mean I have to find the activities and drive them places. But I'm harming them by letting them play so much, so that's going to change. I can see why it's so attractive to them: it's easier to accomplish things in a video game than it is the real world. But that shouldn't replace actually trying to accomplish things in the real world, and it appears that's what happens with some kids. I can also see the draw of being able to control something in a video game when you have little control in the real world. So I need to divert their attention. I need to work harder so they don't decide video games are a better place to be than real life. If my boys are more interested in video games than a relationship with a real person when they get older, I have failed as a parent. So here's what I really got from this book: My boys need to play video games much less frequently than they do. I need to help them find something else to accomplish and instill pride that exists in real life. I need to find opportunities for experiential knowledge. I need to pay more attention to what's going into their bodies and try as much as I can to limit the endocrine disruptors. I need to stay involved and try to head off any school issues that can snowball into an "I don't care about anything" attitude. And I need to find more positive male role models to expose them to. Wish me luck!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elevate Difference

    Most of the attention Dr. Leonard Sax gets is for his advocacy of single sex education for boys. In his first book, Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, Sax described the developmental and biological differences between the sexes and how contemporary early education puts boys at a disadvantage. In his follow up, Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men, Sax elab Most of the attention Dr. Leonard Sax gets is for his advocacy of single sex education for boys. In his first book, Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, Sax described the developmental and biological differences between the sexes and how contemporary early education puts boys at a disadvantage. In his follow up, Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men, Sax elaborates on the modern crisis of maleness. Sax is interested in boys, and tends to ignore females except as counter-examples, which is fine because one cannot be all things to all people. Sax also, in spite of himself, writes about a certain class of white affluent suburban boys. He tries to allay critics on both of these counts, with sometimes hilarious results. In explaining how inclusive his work is of all cultures, Sax offers this compelling example: “Emily (or Maria or Shaniqua) goes to college...Justin (or Carlos or Damian) may go to college...” I am still laughing. Maria, Shaniqua, Carlos, and Damian? Are we seriously playing a "Let’s think of Black- and Latino-sounding names" game? At least Sax is trying to fill the ethnic diversity requirement, even if he has a clunky way of showing it. Regardless, the focus of Boys Adrift is the plight of affluent white boys living in American suburbs with a few generations of American living (read: consumerism and apathy?) pumping through their veins. “Damian” is actually not his concern. But whomever he is speaking about, Boys Adrift was written from Sax to parents. From a hyper-academic kindergarten curriculum that favors females, to phlalates that leach into your Dr. Pepper and stunt mental development, Sax covers the basics of what we're talking about when we're talking about the modern crisis of manhood. He identified this crisis of boys as a “failure to launch,” an epidemic of fat, Halo-playing man-children who don't understand why everyone keeps telling them that they should move out of their parents house. Gender issues aside, Boys Adrift would interest anyone seeking a comprehensive history of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder and its treatments and the various, terrifying ways that environmental estrogen has infiltrated our bodies, wreaking physiological (early puberty in females) and societal (sexually mature girls in school alongside their prepubescent male peers) havoc on post-baby-boom generations. The educational problems that Sax describes are applicable to kids of all kinds (even, dare I imagine, Shaniqua), and it's a little annoying to see them attributed to gender difference. Pegging problems like a struggle to pay attention and a failure to get decent grades to a condition of maleness might feel good to parents of a struggling boy, but to a female who failed similarly, it seems wholly unhelpful if not insulting. There is a lot here, and Sax's work will comfort many parents, but the work is not without some contradictions. Early on in the narrative we learn that modern American schooling is not conducive to male brain and body development—it does not play to their strengths or their timetable. Later, Sax cites a statistically notable decline in boys’ intellect since the 1990s. The statistics rely on grades given in school. But if school works against boys, then their grades in school are not a fair or accurate measures of their intellect, so what use are they? Recommended for those curious about education, gender, boys, men, and environmental estrogen. Review by Ann Raber

  6. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    For the first couple of chapters I was planning on giving this book one lonely star. I kept reading, it got a bit better and I ended up giving it two stars. Two stars still isn't a great recommendation but ultimately I decided it was worth reading. The middle section contained some information I'm at least glad to be aware of and the last three or so chapters were pretty good, even thought provoking, and for that I'm glad I read it. I found the "Failure to Launch" chapter especially interesting. For the first couple of chapters I was planning on giving this book one lonely star. I kept reading, it got a bit better and I ended up giving it two stars. Two stars still isn't a great recommendation but ultimately I decided it was worth reading. The middle section contained some information I'm at least glad to be aware of and the last three or so chapters were pretty good, even thought provoking, and for that I'm glad I read it. I found the "Failure to Launch" chapter especially interesting. I'm glad he included actual emails from people coming at that phenomenon from different angles; millennial women, parents of failure to launch sons, and failure to launch sons themselves. But oh boy did I want to tear this book apart. Chapters 1&2 were full of stereotypes and assumptions that simply did not apply to my boys (I have four). That's fine, in fact I felt grateful that I totally could not relate to how this author was telling me I'm struggling with my boys. It still bothered me though, especially since Dr. Sax goes on and on about the difference of Wissenschaft (book learning) vs. Kenntnis (learning through experience). Come to find out Dr. Sax has one infant daughter! Oh. My. Goodness. I would venture to suggest that working with the myriad boys he has in a professional capacity is NOT the same as raising them as their parent. That's fine that he has lots of professional experience, but don't go off about the importance of experiential learning when you have NONE as a parent of boys. And come to think of it, he barely any experience as a parent at all. I'm sorry, but with an infant you're just getting started and haven't even touched any of the issues he's addressing. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I do appreciate Dr. Sax addressing an issue that truly is affecting the fiber of our society. It's an important issue, very relevant to me in that it's something I very much want to help my boys avoid. I'm glad for the discussion and the tools this book offers as my husband and I continue to raise our sons.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Clumsy Squid

    "Boys adrift" might raise your awareness of some subjects that deserve further reading and therefore could suffices as a primer into the the topic but even then I'd advice against reading it. The book is chock-full of wild assertions without sufficient backing of reputable research and doesn't seem interested in uncovering underlying causes but seems satisfied with equating some of the symptoms with root causes. Many of his arguments don't hold up to any critical scrutiny. And as if it wasn't ba "Boys adrift" might raise your awareness of some subjects that deserve further reading and therefore could suffices as a primer into the the topic but even then I'd advice against reading it. The book is chock-full of wild assertions without sufficient backing of reputable research and doesn't seem interested in uncovering underlying causes but seems satisfied with equating some of the symptoms with root causes. Many of his arguments don't hold up to any critical scrutiny. And as if it wasn't bad enough that the author relies mostly on anecdotes instead of actual research , at least one fourth of the book is made up of emails that were sent to him. Leonard Sax seems to be a populist who is interested in making sensationalistic assertions. If you are hoping to find a summary of current research look elsewhere.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anna Mussmann

    3.5 stars. The premise that boys today are struggling, especially in school, seems to be accepted more widely among conservatives than progressives. That’s why it’s so interesting to read a book about boys that’s clearly designed to appeal to mainstream audiences. Dr. Sax is quick to explain that girls too need help from the cultural and environmental forces hurting them, but that those issues are discussed in one of his other books. This volume is focused on the rising number of young males who 3.5 stars. The premise that boys today are struggling, especially in school, seems to be accepted more widely among conservatives than progressives. That’s why it’s so interesting to read a book about boys that’s clearly designed to appeal to mainstream audiences. Dr. Sax is quick to explain that girls too need help from the cultural and environmental forces hurting them, but that those issues are discussed in one of his other books. This volume is focused on the rising number of young males who “fail to launch” and the four factors he believes to be behind the problem. 1. Sax argues that schools today are not boy-friendly. 2. He says video games and porn are separating boys from real life. 3. He points to evidence that common ADD/ADHD medications may damage the portions of the brain connected to motivation and thereby make individuals less willing to work hard when they grow up. 4. He says phthalates from plastic may function as endocrine blockers and mess with children’s hormones. This may be linked to increasingly-early puberty in girls and delayed puberty in boys (because the phthalates function like female hormones). He connects this to alarming stats indicating that young men today have lower sperm counts and less bone density than previous generations. 5. He argues that all lasting cultures treat healthy masculinity as something to be taught, but that our own culture no longer teaches boys what it means to be a man. I appreciate Dr. Sax’s recognition that lack of ambition and purpose among young men is a real, huge, important problem; and I gleaned a number of useful ideas from what he says. Yet his framing of these problems is not without weaknesses. The most obvious is the alarmist style in which he writes. He tends to use anecdotes and data as equally evidential and to speak as if a statistical increase in anything bad means that WE ARE ALL DOOMED to be hit with it. Calmer adverbs and adjectives would have made for a book more likely to convince folks who don’t already largely agree with him. His social values also lead him into tension. On the one hand, he argues that boys are different from girls and this should shape how we as a society educate our children. In particular he insists that teaching boys how to be good men is far more productive than trying to act as if both sexes are exactly the same. Bravo! Yet he also wishes to reject any old-fashioned limitations on girls, and says that past cultures were “sexist” for preventing girls from becoming rabbis, medicine men, or whatever. He argues, “There has to be a third way. There has to be some alternative besides ignoring gender on the one hand, and pushing children into narrow and limiting gender roles, on the other. This third way must begin by recognizing the importance of gender, by embracing and celebrating the gendered nature of the human experience. We must use this new understanding of gender not to reinforce old-fashioned Leave it to Beaver notions of gender roles but rather to broaden horizons for both girls and boys.” This sounds good. But what does it mean? The problem is that rejecting past and present cultures and attempting to build an entirely new one is very difficult. Saying, “We should just be nice and sensible!” isn’t enough. Is it possible to “celebrate gender” without defining it through any rules at all? If, for instance, we want girls to be “free” to serve on the front lines in military combat, will boys see any logic in our arguments that men should be protectors of women in general? I don’t have all the answers here, but I think Dr. Sax is missing something big. Even he seems to sense this. He points out rather wistfully that “Scriptwriters seem unable to write a believable story about a boy becoming a heroic man set in our era. The scriptwriters go back five hundred years or more, or set their heroic epics in a science fiction past (Star Wars) or in a fantasy world (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Eragon).” The comment reminds me of a passage in Cindy Rollins Mere Motherhood, in which she points out that our culture has become so feminized that most people would be appalled if a boy actually behaved the way the hero of most old-fashioned stores does and, say, attempted to lick the bully or save the girl. This is where Christian faith is hugely helpful. I would argue that Christian teaching allows us to recognize created differences between the sexes without imposing unnecessary extra ones. Knowing which differences really matter theologically makes it easier to recognize which things are cultural or trivial. I was also interested in Sax’s discussion of the differences between learning through experience and learning by acquiring abstract information. He points out that German uses different words for these types of knowledge. He would like to see much more experiential, hands-on learning in schools so that boys would be more engaged. To a point he is right--of course kids should dissect real frogs instead of doing it through a computer program. Yet if boys would tinker with engines at home, surely that would be more helpful in interesting them in engineering than asking teachers to bring engines into the classroom and direct the exploration. This highlights both a strength and a weakness in Sax's book. He's right that parents can't raise children in isolation: the entire culture is part of the picture. But he also tends to direct responsibility towards institutions and to blame "forces" like culture or plastics, which may erode the individual parent's sense of responsibility. Overall, Sax’s book is a helpful contribution to an important conversation. It is likely to give moderate and progressive parents justification for meeting their sons unique needs and vocabulary to use in advocating for them in school settings. At the same time, it’s less helpful in offering solutions that run deeper than surface-level tweaks.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eileen Holt

    Seriously a MUST read for anyone with sons. This book was very thought provoking. I felt the author was a reliable source based on both his research and personal experience. My husband and I even purchased this book to use as a reference. Boys Adrift isn't "how-to" parenting book. It brings up many issues that parents need to think about, ranging from ADHD medications, gaming, what motivates boys, and pornography. Seriously a MUST read for anyone with sons. This book was very thought provoking. I felt the author was a reliable source based on both his research and personal experience. My husband and I even purchased this book to use as a reference. Boys Adrift isn't "how-to" parenting book. It brings up many issues that parents need to think about, ranging from ADHD medications, gaming, what motivates boys, and pornography.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tanya W

    This book was so hard for me to get motivated to read... I renewed it 3 times, then checked it out again and renewed it three more times. So today I started over while substitute teaching (the teacher had everything well planned out, so I had a lot of reading time). There have been a few examples in the book that seem very overgeneralized and I have to admit I felt annoyed a few times. I'm left to wonder after reading it how much merit some of these theories have (I mean is it possible that thes This book was so hard for me to get motivated to read... I renewed it 3 times, then checked it out again and renewed it three more times. So today I started over while substitute teaching (the teacher had everything well planned out, so I had a lot of reading time). There have been a few examples in the book that seem very overgeneralized and I have to admit I felt annoyed a few times. I'm left to wonder after reading it how much merit some of these theories have (I mean is it possible that these 5 factors have the greatest impact on unmotivated boys... I get video games... but plastics... I think it's a stretch!). It is also somewhat academic/laborious reading... but I'm glad I stuck with it as it also seems intelligent and is backed by enough research to warrant serious consideration and at least further research. It's a little scary to see this growing "Failure to Launch" social phenomena. It's definitely not where I want my 3 boys to be. The five factors Dr. Sax has found to be the most significant in the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men are: 1- Changes at School 2- Video Games 3- Medications for ADHD 4- Endocrine Disruptors (plastics) 5- Revenge of the Forsaken Gods (referring to a lack of good male role models). Having read this, I do not own and may not ever buy a video game console (if I do, I'll have a 30 minute limit). I'm going to transition from plastic to glass (I can hear the sound of breaking glasses and dishes in my mind as I write!). If ADHD medications are indicated... they aren't yet, I will try to avoid them. I will try to get my kids outside and into nature and hands on real-life activities more than I currently do (that's what they really love anyway!... not a surprise). I really don't like the portrayal of how children are taught at school (a smart group that learns and a dumb group that plays in Kindergarten)... it certainly does not fit with our experience so far in elementary school . Okay, so here are my notes and quotes, meant mainly for me: Parents have been deceived about the value of computer-based experience for their children (it's not as valuable as "real-life" experience. Also, getting children out into the outdoors helps children with ADHD. Team competition socialized boys (girls generally value friendship over team affiliatioon). A girl who thinks she's smart will perform better; conversely a boy who thinks he's smart will not try as hard and thus will perform worse. "Build the girls up, break the boys down" captures the essence of research. Boys want to be "master of their fate", video games give a feeling of power. Time spent on video games is inversely realted to success in school. There's a causal link between violent video games and antisocial behavior (it's more toxic than TV). ADHD meds contribute to lack of drive when the childrem grow up (they damage the part of the brain responsible for tuning motivation to action). Plastics (PET, phthalates) are associated with the early development of girls and emasculation of boys (they slow and disrupt puberty). An interesting thought expressed by email to the author... "You mentioned 'the engine that runs the world.' As for me, I think that the engine is the love of a good woman and the ambitions we have together for the family we are raising and for the world we want them to inherit... Has our intellectual elite and our popular culture tinkered with 'the engine that runs the world'? Have we violated something that the ancients knew intuitively but which we have arrogantly ignored?" Kent Robertson... (speaking for myself, it seems that answer to that question must be yes looking at some of the trends discussed in this book). p.161 A boy does not naturally become a gentleman-- by which I mean a man who is courteous and kind and unselfish. That behavior is not hardwired, It has to be taught. p 163 Manhood isn't something that simply happens to boys as they get older. It's an achievement-- something a boy accomplishes, something that can easily go awry. If we ignore the importance of this transition, and fail in our duty as parents to guide boys through it, then we will learn the hard way why traditional cultures invest this transition with so much importance. p 171 What does it mean to be a "man"-- using your strength in the service of others. See also John 15:13. Loved the idea practiced by Georgetown Prep School (for boys)... "Somos Amigos". The boys go with chaperones 1:4... to the Dominican Republic and live among the Dominicans for 5 weeks. "You can preach all you like, but there's nothing like putting a shovel into a boys hands to teach him some lessons." Mr. Kowalchick (of G. Prep School). Unless she's an actress or a supermodel, a woman's success in the world is less a function of her appearance than it is of her competence.. What you can do ulitmately matters more than how you look.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    I have four boys. They have their issues, but they are pretty great. I am feeling optimistic that they are going to launch, at least the three oldest that I have a better read on. In fact, making sure they launch is like the main goal of my husband and my lives right now. "How can we be sure that all these children leave our house on or very shortly after their 18th birthday?" we say. "And take all their things with them?" I would feel extremely concerned if my boys were not on a path that seeme I have four boys. They have their issues, but they are pretty great. I am feeling optimistic that they are going to launch, at least the three oldest that I have a better read on. In fact, making sure they launch is like the main goal of my husband and my lives right now. "How can we be sure that all these children leave our house on or very shortly after their 18th birthday?" we say. "And take all their things with them?" I would feel extremely concerned if my boys were not on a path that seemed to be leading to launch, and I think it is nice that this book exists to support parents if they are feeling at a loss. Many of the things he discusses in here feel intuitively right to me. My oldest boy was an extremely active and energetic boy, and I worried a lot that going to school was going to be a disaster and I'd get the ADHD call, but somehow it never came and school has gone great for him. I credit this mostly to amazing and tolerant teachers who allowed him to stand and fidget at his desk as much as he needed to while doing his work. But I would have, without question, pulled him from school and found a different arrangement before drugging him for their convenience. I have a deep rooted fear of video games and frankly am astonished that any person in the whole world allows first person shooter video games into their house at all, much less allows their tender young boys to play them. I liked that advice for the most part. The plastics part was spooky. I really liked the discussion about how successful cultures provide a clearly marked route to manhood, guided by men. Overall, though, I just didn't like the alarmist vibe. I didn't disagree with the advice, per se, but the tone would have scared me to death if I had read this when my oldest was a baby boy. The good news is that if you just don't buy a gaming system or many electronics, allow your boys to be bored sometimes, apparently luck out in the school department, and allow them to be fully responsible for lots of things in their lives from an early age like cleaning bathrooms and getting homework done (dovetails nicely with a general lazy, or shall we say laissez faire parenting style) things really can work out just fine. (Ask me in fifteen years, ha.) I guess the point of the book is that sometimes parents do all those things and their boys are still adrift, and that is really scary, and there is still plenty of time for things to get rocky in our home. The main virtue of the book, I think, is that it gives parents permission to think way outside the box and find a totally different sort of school and social situation for their boys if one is not working which is not easy but may be necessary. But if you have a young son, take heart. Things can be ok.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Excellent book by a PhD researcher, and family physician about some of the headwinds affecting boys today. The author focuses on five main areas, backed by research, that show what is contributing to boys not reaching their potential today: 1) Video Games. Studies suggest that some of the most popular video games are disengaging boys from real-world pursuits. 2) Teaching Methods. Profound changes in the way children are educated have had the unintended consequence of turning many boys off school Excellent book by a PhD researcher, and family physician about some of the headwinds affecting boys today. The author focuses on five main areas, backed by research, that show what is contributing to boys not reaching their potential today: 1) Video Games. Studies suggest that some of the most popular video games are disengaging boys from real-world pursuits. 2) Teaching Methods. Profound changes in the way children are educated have had the unintended consequence of turning many boys off school. He eviscerates kindergarten today, and shows that the (largely) female population of teachers are expecting boys to sit and concentrate longer than they are developmentally able. 3) Prescription Drugs. Overuse of medication for ADHD may be causing irreversible damage to the motivational centers in boys’ brains. In particular, adderol and the like make boys concentrate, but remove motivation. Yikes. 4) Endocrine Disruptors (from plastic bottles, mostly). Environmental estrogens may be lowering boys’ testosterone levels, making their bones more brittle and throwing their endocrine systems out of whack. 5) Devaluation of Masculinity. Shifts in popular culture have transformed the role models of manhood. Forty years ago we had Father Knows Best; today we have The Simpsons. I had a hard time disagreeing with anything in the book, and appreciated the mix of real-world encounters with research. I especially enjoyed that the end of the book had an entire chapter devoted to, "okay, you've read about the problem - here are some ideas about what to do".

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

    Wow! If you have a young boy you owe it to them to read this book. I am amazed how much has changed since I grew up in the late 1970' and early 1980's. Author describes how factors such as 1). Changes in school curriculum 2). ADHD medicine 3). Video games 4). lack of male role models & 5). Estrogen products in the environment combine to drive boys to "check out" from the real world and kill their motivation. The improved video game graphics and internet make for a perfect escape from a boring aca Wow! If you have a young boy you owe it to them to read this book. I am amazed how much has changed since I grew up in the late 1970' and early 1980's. Author describes how factors such as 1). Changes in school curriculum 2). ADHD medicine 3). Video games 4). lack of male role models & 5). Estrogen products in the environment combine to drive boys to "check out" from the real world and kill their motivation. The improved video game graphics and internet make for a perfect escape from a boring academic environment with limited opportunities to "do things". Reading this book and reflecting, on my own experience I think the point is that young boys need to "do things" not "hear things". Also young boys need to be able to conquer some obstacle, competing in an uncertain environment for a prize. Modern schools discourage "doing" and "competing" because classroom teaching is cheaper and competing means someone's feeling may be hurt. Unfortunately video games fill this void. Leading many young boys to hate school and the real world prefering a fantasy world where they feel more alive. This book contains strategies for helping our boys to engage and thrive in the real world. Also how to protect them from estrogen in the environment (primarily from plastics such as bottled water) and overanxious school officials who want to prescribe medication to maintain order. Again a must read for parents

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    This was for book group and even though I'm done raising my one boy, the topic fascinates me. I think it's worth reading for everyone raising boys. Here are some notes I took. 1. don't give your boys the stimulant class of ADD meds, they shrink a certain part of a boy's brain and when he is off the drugs, seems lazy and less motivated. only tested on rats tho. I was sooooooo glad I never gave con meds even tho I wanted to because he had such a hard time focusing. He was SO strong willed he refus This was for book group and even though I'm done raising my one boy, the topic fascinates me. I think it's worth reading for everyone raising boys. Here are some notes I took. 1. don't give your boys the stimulant class of ADD meds, they shrink a certain part of a boy's brain and when he is off the drugs, seems lazy and less motivated. only tested on rats tho. I was sooooooo glad I never gave con meds even tho I wanted to because he had such a hard time focusing. He was SO strong willed he refused any discussions about finding out if he had ADD. In HS I even wanted him to take adderall... I'm so grateful Con was adamant about not taking ANY sort of drugs. Evidently there are all sorts of studies about the effects of plastics/BPA/thalides on boys and girls. They affect hormones and slow down puberty in boys and advance it in girls. Environment estrogens are bad. They also make fat cells bigger. The author says humans are getting fatter, which we all know, but also dogs and cats, and even wild rats. More males have genital abnormalities, lower sperm counts, less testerone and more fertility problems due to hormone disrupters. Make sure even your kids' toys and pacifiers don't have thalides. don't micro plastic of any type. Use glass and metal. don't give your kids sealants at the dentist unless they're free of thalides. Don't try to talk to boys face to face, doesn't work. Talk shoulder to shoulder as in a car or walking. the author thinks kindergarten now is too academic and boys can't sit all day so they hate school from the beginning. They need more competition in school. They need contact with nature daily where they actually touch and smell it. Video games are obviously very compelling. if you're going to take them away, find something compelling to replace them with. We need bonds between the generations. Dad is important to your boys! but other men as well. Immigrant teens do better in US schools than US teens do but only for the first few years before they become like US teens. Boys/young men don't want to work hard, do skilled labor. you can't find them in the US anymore but you can easily find drs and lawyers. they go to college but don't really know what they want to do. boys are slower learners than girls when younger. video games sap motivation to do other things like school, friends, exercise, sports, even girls. the author suggested 1 hour per day after all other tasks done. he said priorities for teen boys should be 1. family, 2- school, 3 friends, 4- video games

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

    Wow! If you have a young boy you owe it to them to read this book. I am amazed how much has changed since I grew up in the late 1970' and early 1980's. Author describes how factors such as 1). Changes in school curriculum 2). ADHD medicine 3). Video games 4). lack of male role models & 5). Estrogen products in the environment combine to drive boys to "check out" from the real world and kill their motivation. I certainly would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficeit Disorder if I was growing Wow! If you have a young boy you owe it to them to read this book. I am amazed how much has changed since I grew up in the late 1970' and early 1980's. Author describes how factors such as 1). Changes in school curriculum 2). ADHD medicine 3). Video games 4). lack of male role models & 5). Estrogen products in the environment combine to drive boys to "check out" from the real world and kill their motivation. I certainly would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficeit Disorder if I was growing up today, if my parents followed "medical advise" I would have been sedated so that I could pay attention in school. These drugs appear to kill motivation later in life. I am angered that the Pharmaceutical marketing machine has been permitted to profit off our substandard education system while possibly hurting our boys in the longer run. The improved video game graphics and internet make for a perfect escape from a boring academic environment with limited opportunities to "do things". Reading this book and reflecting, on my own experience I think the point is that young boys need to "do things" not "hear things". Also young boys need to be able to conquer some obstacle, competing in an uncertain environment for a prize. Modern schools discourage "doing" and "competing" because classroom teaching is cheaper and competing means someone's feeling may be hurt. Unfortunately video games fill this void. Leading many young boys to hate school and the real world prefering a fantasy world where they feel more alive. This book contains strategies for helping our boys to engage and thrive in the real world. Also how to protect them from estrogen in the environment (primarily from plastics such as bottled water) and overanxious school officials who want to prescribe medication to maintain order. Again a must read for parents.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Terry

    Excellent book! Dr. Sax makes a well-documented case for his 5-pronged theory of why modern American boys seem so unmotivated. I found some of his reasons surprising, but after reading his reasoning, they make sense. I was a little skeptical of the phthalates connection, but after doing a little outside research, it seems that he's spot on. The writing is fluid and conversational, and I like his writing voice because it's fair and measured. My only complaint about this book is that I wish he woul Excellent book! Dr. Sax makes a well-documented case for his 5-pronged theory of why modern American boys seem so unmotivated. I found some of his reasons surprising, but after reading his reasoning, they make sense. I was a little skeptical of the phthalates connection, but after doing a little outside research, it seems that he's spot on. The writing is fluid and conversational, and I like his writing voice because it's fair and measured. My only complaint about this book is that I wish he would delve deeper at times. I wanted to know more about nearly every one of his factors, but it seemed like he was ready to move on to the next item. I enjoyed the balance of problems vs. solutions. Some of the factors are enviromental and difficult to control but others are well within the control of parents. I feel empowered knowing that I'm able to do something about most of these problems. It's well within any parent's capabilities to control video games and make sure their kids aren't on a bunch of unnecessary ADHD drugs. Getting your son into a quality, all-boys' school is a bit much for most parents, but it's good to be aware of issues in schools that can negatively affect boys as they learn and grow. I was pretty interested in his criticism of early childhood education. The way he described kindergarten is exactly how my kids experienced it. Having spent a lot of time in my kids' kindergarten classes, I saw how most of the boys were not ready for the academic onslaught they faced. They didn't get to explore or play; they sat at tables with worksheets and pencils. If they didn't finish, they didn't get the 15-minute recess that was the bright spot of the day. In this book, Dr. Sax talks about a kindergarten in Europe that doesn't have a classroom; it's completely outdoors. It's a very interesting idea.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Dr. Sax outlines in detail five factors that he claims are responsible for disengaging boys from school, life, and the real world of striving and achievement and loss. The five factors are 1) the feminization of the public school system, 2) video games, 3) medications for ADHD, 4) endocrine disruptors, and 5) the complex issues surrounding the transition from childhood to adulthood when so many positive role models for boys have been lost. This was a fascinating book to read even if you don't e Dr. Sax outlines in detail five factors that he claims are responsible for disengaging boys from school, life, and the real world of striving and achievement and loss. The five factors are 1) the feminization of the public school system, 2) video games, 3) medications for ADHD, 4) endocrine disruptors, and 5) the complex issues surrounding the transition from childhood to adulthood when so many positive role models for boys have been lost. This was a fascinating book to read even if you don't entirely agree with the author's assertions and would make for a great book club discussion. I was especially appreciative of the author's suggestions on how we might turn the situation around, and found myself thinking quite a bit about the men and boys in my life. Dr. Sax is a very strong advocate of single-sex education, and while that is not a viable option for my boys, I agree with many of his arguments for that kind of experience. The take-home lessons for me include: the importance of being proactive in your child's educational experience; being very vigilant about the type of video games played and the amount of time spent playing them; thinking twice about microwaving food in plastic containers and drinking from plastic containers; being more understanding of wiggly boys; the importance of having multiple male role models for my boys as they make the transition to adulthood; and the importance of bonds between generations of males. As an LDS mother of 3 boys, I found myself profoundly grateful for the programs of our church, missionary experiences, and the role Boy Scouts has in my boys' lives. I highly recommend this book for any parent of boys.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Walt

    With the name Eddy, perhaps you can imagine why I got interested in being adrift. You know, swirling around, unanchored, etc. Anyway, I read BOYS ADRIFT recently, after my brother-in-law finished it. He seemed to like it, thought it had direct application. My boys are grown up and men now. That doesn't necessarily mean they're totally moored, but it does mean the responsibility, even any deleterious consequences to themselves and others therefrom if they're not, has more or less shifted entirely With the name Eddy, perhaps you can imagine why I got interested in being adrift. You know, swirling around, unanchored, etc. Anyway, I read BOYS ADRIFT recently, after my brother-in-law finished it. He seemed to like it, thought it had direct application. My boys are grown up and men now. That doesn't necessarily mean they're totally moored, but it does mean the responsibility, even any deleterious consequences to themselves and others therefrom if they're not, has more or less shifted entirely to them. Nonetheless, my interest in boys doing well hasn't completely waned. Furthermore, I'm not above fussing over what I might have done better myself, even though it's too late. I come to reviewing Sax's book late in the game. There are numerous comprehensive and valuable reviews out there. I won't add anything by being effusive. I will say this. The dynamic, the environment, the context in which children are raised today is much different than it was when I raised our four children, three of which were adopted, two of which were boys. BOYS ADRIFT deals with this new environment that differs significantly from the era they grew up in. From what I can tell, the book does a fairly good job. I enjoyed reading it and contemplating its suggestions and assertions. If I were to make a recommendation, I would suggest that anyone reading this book read one in counterpoint to this one. One thing that seemed to escape me in my reading was a recognition in its narration that all characteristics of humanity, including those of boys, exist on a continuum. The fixes articulated won't work for everyone.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jocie

    Coed education, video games, ritalin, toxins, no role models- oh my! Trying to raise young MEN in our current culture? What makes a real man? NOT someone who is still living off of his parents of wife so he can lounge around, it seems most people are in agreement upon that... The IQ of young men has been dropping since the 90's, while 'failure to launch' has doubled. Why? This book gives a lot of food for thought, and is research-based. I am not convinced about the toxins yet (maybe I don't know w Coed education, video games, ritalin, toxins, no role models- oh my! Trying to raise young MEN in our current culture? What makes a real man? NOT someone who is still living off of his parents of wife so he can lounge around, it seems most people are in agreement upon that... The IQ of young men has been dropping since the 90's, while 'failure to launch' has doubled. Why? This book gives a lot of food for thought, and is research-based. I am not convinced about the toxins yet (maybe I don't know what to do about that, so I don't want to know!), pretty convinced that coed education is a bad idea (another item to add to the long list of what is wrong with public school in the U.S.). We are already against public school and ritalin, so that wasn't new, although I gained more information about how detrimental they are. The only thing that I felt I could apply is that video games need to be balanced by thrilling real-life experiences. We have already limited the video games, but our sons are still languishing. The importance of team competition to young men was also a new and important concept to me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    From what I've read, it seems pretty clear that Leonard Sax has an agenda: he hails single-sex education and blames video games, ADHD medication, and estrogen-like substances in plastics as the cornerstones of "what's wrong with boys today." Those who agree with him will have lots of opportunities to nod along, but I doubt this book will change the minds of those who don't. He supports his claims with anecdotal evidence and fills his endnotes with cherry-picked scientific studies that are flatly From what I've read, it seems pretty clear that Leonard Sax has an agenda: he hails single-sex education and blames video games, ADHD medication, and estrogen-like substances in plastics as the cornerstones of "what's wrong with boys today." Those who agree with him will have lots of opportunities to nod along, but I doubt this book will change the minds of those who don't. He supports his claims with anecdotal evidence and fills his endnotes with cherry-picked scientific studies that are flatly contradicted elsewhere. This is an easy read and I'm not sorry I finished it, but I do recommend that readers keep their critical faculties engaged as they read rather than accepting all of his claims as scientific fact.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    It’s over a decade old now, but Dr. Leonard Sax still has a lot of salient things to say about boys—and suspicions as to why so many of them become unmotivated, lazy, and depressed men. His opinions, backed by his expertise and considerable research, will strike many today as being rooted in gender stereotypes. But I think that is the point. The dissolution of gender has left so many boys rootless. They don’t know what they’re supposed to be, how they’re supposed to behave, who they’re supposed It’s over a decade old now, but Dr. Leonard Sax still has a lot of salient things to say about boys—and suspicions as to why so many of them become unmotivated, lazy, and depressed men. His opinions, backed by his expertise and considerable research, will strike many today as being rooted in gender stereotypes. But I think that is the point. The dissolution of gender has left so many boys rootless. They don’t know what they’re supposed to be, how they’re supposed to behave, who they’re supposed to imitate. Sax has some ideas for them, founded in sociology and child psychology (and a hefty dose of Judeo-Christian values and a bias for single-sex education). I do not have children, but if I ever had a son, I could imagine myself returning to this book for inspiration and hope, even decades out, because I expect that the epidemic that he saw in 2007 will be even more monstrously pronounced another decade from now.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisajean

    Sometimes reading this book felt like being lectured by my grandpa - “Video games are rotting kids’ brains! Kids today eat too much junk food. You need to learn to get your hands dirty. Boys will be boys! Etc.” Other times I was intrigued by the research cited and curious about proposed solutions. I care at lot about how to give boys (and girls!) a good education and am struggling to figure out what masculinity is and what it should be in today’s world and how it should inform my teaching. This Sometimes reading this book felt like being lectured by my grandpa - “Video games are rotting kids’ brains! Kids today eat too much junk food. You need to learn to get your hands dirty. Boys will be boys! Etc.” Other times I was intrigued by the research cited and curious about proposed solutions. I care at lot about how to give boys (and girls!) a good education and am struggling to figure out what masculinity is and what it should be in today’s world and how it should inform my teaching. This book was thought-provoking but also seemed to have a lot of blind spots, a heavy reliance on anecdotes, and a narrow focus on one specific type of boy. So, overall, I’m glad I read it, but I won’t be in a rush to recommend it to others.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mindy Smith

    This book is a MUUUUUSSSSTTT read for anyone with boys! I can honestly say this hs been a life-changing book for me. I don't usually like to read self help/parenting/guide books like this one, but this one blew my socks off! I can't wait to read it again. Cole is reading it now, it meant so much to me. I'm excited to read the girl one. These five factors driving the unmotivation of young boys are so spot on! I loved the facts behind all of these and I actually made the decision to take Lincoln o This book is a MUUUUUSSSSTTT read for anyone with boys! I can honestly say this hs been a life-changing book for me. I don't usually like to read self help/parenting/guide books like this one, but this one blew my socks off! I can't wait to read it again. Cole is reading it now, it meant so much to me. I'm excited to read the girl one. These five factors driving the unmotivation of young boys are so spot on! I loved the facts behind all of these and I actually made the decision to take Lincoln off if his medication while reading this book. So many amazing thoughts and ideas. This was an AMAZING book! One of my favorites of all time! 10 stars!!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Whitt

    Boys Adrift attempts to identify the major factors to the growing problem of unmotivated boys. I pretty much just said the title of the book, didn't I? Well, that's what the book is about. In a nutshell, Dr. Sax believes that five factors are having a real and lasting effects on our male youths: 1. An inadequate elementary education system. 2. Video Games 3. Improper use of ADHD medications and the like 4. Endocrine disruption in our environment 5. Lack of positive male role models Not much about this Boys Adrift attempts to identify the major factors to the growing problem of unmotivated boys. I pretty much just said the title of the book, didn't I? Well, that's what the book is about. In a nutshell, Dr. Sax believes that five factors are having a real and lasting effects on our male youths: 1. An inadequate elementary education system. 2. Video Games 3. Improper use of ADHD medications and the like 4. Endocrine disruption in our environment 5. Lack of positive male role models Not much about this list strikes me as novel and Dr. Sax even states that his ideas are not altogether new. I do give him props on his packaging, however. His book is well-written, interesting, and thought-provoking - everything a book like this requires. Dr. Sax seems to take his subject very seriously and seems to question his sources. There are plenty of studies to go along with his theory. In the spirit of full disclosure, I do not have any sons. I am currently raising two daughters. But I too have noticed a stark difference between the boys in my childhood and that which I see today, and I'm only 33! I can't imagine what my father and grandfather feel about the young boys today. But still, I'm going to discuss each of Dr. Sax's factors as succinctly as possible to provide my impression. #1 was uniquely interesting to me. Dr. Sax clarified for me that girls brain development is even 2-years ahead of boys at the ages of 3-5. My impression was this was only a generality at puberty. As he says, a gift of a year may be a huge step toward giving your son the right footing for school. Dr. Sax offers that single-sex classrooms could also be an essential tool to help some boys deal with social pressures. I completely agree, but I fail to see how this can be effectively produced. Dr. Sax offers some guidance of limited value (approach the principal as a team of concerned parents, don't be aggressive, etc.) but the basic truth, at least as I see it, is that most parents are unfamiliar of a single-sex classroom. If this is true, then I doubt an actionable majority of parents can be persuaded in this experiment. #2 Oh this is a pet peeve of mine. I am a video gamer. I play as often as I can which is generally between 0-6 hours a week. I play video games that are violent in nature and some of the games I play were even mentioned in this book. I remain unconvinced that video games fundamentally threaten the growth of young boys. I play video games now and I used to play video games from about the time I was 8 or 9. But this is where I am forced to give my bias pause. Kids today play much more realistic video games much earlier than 8 or 9. So, while I can to a degree attest to my own experience of growing up on video games, I shouldn't be so arrogant as to presume that my experience is the same as boys' today. However, I do think this more about an issue on responsible parenting. This chapter reinforced my own decision to know the video games my kids are playing. I plan to play them with them. The guidelines for video game rules are just common sense to me. Furthermore, I agree 100% on Dr. Sax's view of games such as Grand Theft Auto as inappropriate for young minds, and I appreciate that Dr. Sax did not take the popular notion that playing video games leads to more violent kids. It's simply not true for the majority of gamers. #3 I am generally hesitant to put any medication into my body, including common drugs like Tylenol. I just trust my body and mind (perhaps too much in some cases). But Dr. Sax's position on the pervasive diagnosis of ADHD and their associative medications resonates voluminously with me. I especially took notice to his criticism of pediatricians to "test" a potential diagnosis with medication. Scary stuff. #4 I learned something new in this chapter albeit I've taken it at face value. Plastics have always been an innocuous material for me...perhaps even sterile. Any news that claimed harmful effects of plastics I just chucked in the ever-growing mental bin labeled "junk news". With articles one day claiming X food causes cancer but then the next days article claims the same food decreases the risk of heart disease, it's hard to really accept the onslaught of claimed scientific study. Everything has positives and negatives. Yet, the study Dr. Sax references seems at least mildly credible and something worthy of creating a discussion. #5 I don't think this chapter is worth going at length about. I couldn't imagine if most adults didn't recognize the sheer lack of male role models in family life as well as in the media. I know for myself that sometimes when I don't want make the right choice, I recall the number of children that I am constantly in contact with, and I choose not to let them down. I do not especially want to be considered a role model, but I really do not want to be considered a bad model. In general, Dr. Sax makes several valid points and packages it into a neat pentagon shaped box. I would recommend any parent of a son to read Boys Adrift. I am surprised that there was very little mention regarding homosexuality but perhaps he put that discussion in with his book Gender Matters....he'll only tell you about it a dozen times throughout your read. That also bothers me. Still, I'd recommend it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Smith

    Favorite Quotes: • It’s not enough to teach well, you have to teach well to kids who are ready to learn. Kids who are developmentally right for learning. • In English, we read about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But the Hebrew might be better translated as the tree of the experience of good and evil. Adam and Eve are forbidden to eat from that tree. They are forbidden the experience of evil. • There is more than fifty years of research on the importance for child development of multi Favorite Quotes: • It’s not enough to teach well, you have to teach well to kids who are ready to learn. Kids who are developmentally right for learning. • In English, we read about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But the Hebrew might be better translated as the tree of the experience of good and evil. Adam and Eve are forbidden to eat from that tree. They are forbidden the experience of evil. • There is more than fifty years of research on the importance for child development of multi-sensory interaction with the real world. • Computers don’t have to be motivated to do what you tell them to do, but children do. • Both cognitivism and cognitive based educational strategies ignore the crucial question - what motivates kids to learn? The first thing that happens when you ask kids to do stuff they have no interest in doing is that they stop paying attention. • ...the regions of the brain associated with negative emotions in teenage girls are closely associated with the language areas of the brain. In boys of the same age, by contrast, brain activity associated with negative emotion is localized primarily in the amygdala, a nucleus with comparatively scant connections to the language areas of the brain. It’s easy for most middle school and high school girls to answer a question like “how would you feel if you were X?” because the area of the brain where the feeling is happening is closely linked to the area of the brain where talking happens. For boys, that’s not the case. … it is genuinely difficult to answer the question, “How would you feel if…” … A better question for most boys would be “What would you do if…” That question may sound similar, but it is different and is actually much more boy friendly for most boys. • Team competition has another benefit for boys who are motivated by the will to win - team competition socializes boys. It teaches them to value something above themselves. It subordinates some of the ego and the egocentricity that these boys often manifest. I’ve seen the principal of team competition engage many boys who otherwise don’t care very much about school. Individual competition is seldom as successful and is almost guaranteed to disengage many boys. • Boys are more likely to understand that friends don’t have to be your teammates and teammates don’t have to be friends. And boys are more likely to be invested in the success of their team regardless of whether any of their friends are on the team. • For girls, and for many women, if you believe you’re smart you’ll actually be smarter. You’ll learn better and do better on tests than if you think your dumb. A girl who thinks she’s good in math will test better than a girl of the same ability who thinks she’s bad in math. But that effect simply doesn’t hold true for boys. A boy who thinks he’s smart in math won’t necessarily test better than his equally bright peer who thinks he’s not so smart. The boy who thinks he’s smart may actually test worse than his peer, because boys who think they are smart in a subject tend not to work so hard studying the subject. • I regard this finding as clear and unambiguous because all studies of this question have yielded similar results. There are no studies pointing in the opposite direction. • The destructive effects of video games are not on boys cognitive abilities or their reaction times, but on their motivation and their connectedness with the real world. These boys may be highly motivated, but their motivation has been derailed. • Professor Craig Anderson, chairman of the department of psychology at the University of Iowa, has pointed out that the strength of the evidence linking video games to antisocial behavior is every bit as strong as the evidence linking second hand smoke to lung cancer or lead poisoning in infancy to lower IQ scores. Professor Anderson also notes that the controversy now surrounding video games is reminiscent of the controversy surrounding cigarette smoking in the 1960s or lead poisoning in the 1970s. After all, most people who are exposed to cigarette smoke will never get lung cancer, and some people who get lung cancer are not smokers and have never been exposed to cigarette smoke. Likewise, Professor Anderson would argue, not all boys who play video games 20 hours a week will disengage from real life, and not all boys who disengage from real life are video game players. • The first consideration should not be how many hours per day or week your son is allowed to play these games, the first question should be what kind of video games he’s allowed to play at all. Violent video games that reward antisocial aggression … should not be permitted in the house. Period. Antisocial aggression means aggression such as killing police officers or prostitutes, that runs counter to all acceptable social behavior. • Another consideration is what activities are displaced by playing video games. If your son is neglecting his friendships with non-gamer friends to spend more time playing video games, then he’s spending too much time playing video games. If he refuses to sit down to dinner with the family because he’s in the middle of a video game, then he needs some help from you getting his priorities straight. Or maybe there’s a more complex dynamic at work. I’ve seen more than one family where dad is fighting with mom, daughter Emily is perpetually angry at both mom and dad and son Jared just doesn't want to deal with it. So he uses video games as an escape and an excuse. He just stays in his room with his door closed. So if your son seems to be using video games at least partly as an excuse to get out of family activities, you have to ask yourself some hard questions about why that might be so. • I strongly recommend you not allow your son to play video games in which the player is rewarded for killing police officers or non-combatant civilians. The video game industry itself provides a rating for games, assigning an M for Mature to this kind of antisocial violence. … but just because a game is rated T for teen doesn’t guarantee that it is appropriate for your son. • I found that parents can do this kind of compulsory signup for a boy only up to about age 12 or age 13. If you drive a 15-year-old boy to an activity he doesn’t want to attend he may simply get out of the car and walk away. • You have to know your child and find the school that is the best match for your child. • Mastercraftsman can make six figures. They have work even in a soft economy. Their jobs cannot be outsourced to India. And a craftsman’s job provides wonderful intrinsic rewards that come from mastery of a challenging skill that produces tangible results. How many white collar jobs provide nearly as much satisfaction? • “I’ve had to explain to him that sometimes you just have to do unpleasant things so you can enjoy yourself later. He wants instant gratification, and I know he gets that from video games.” • The desire for beauty is very strong, so strong that one might accept all sorts of false substitutes if one couldn't find the reality. Of course the sad thing is that spending lots of time on video games can keep you from achieving the very things that the desire for sent you to videogames in the first place. Who has time to study and get involved in urban development if he spends all day playing SIM city? • ...in order to treat a problem, it may be helpful to know something about how it seems to those who suffer from it. -Richard R • “He is resentful of us, yet at the same time he needs us to help him.” • “I sense that I am only a marital separation away from sinking into such a funk. When I think how little I would need to be content, compared with how much I produce, it’s amazing. But somehow it works. I work ridiculous hours and earn ridiculous money. Yet I personally expend only about $200 a month of it on food, haircut, sundries. Whatever new clothes I have a given to me as gifts because I have little interest in how I look. I live in a comfortable home in a pleasant neighborhood and a whole wonderful busy suburban lifestyle. But only because I want that for my wife and children. Take my dear ones away and I need none of it.” -Kent Roberts • To be a man a boy must see a man. A boy does not naturally become a gentleman, by which I mean a man who is courteous and kind and unselfish. That behavior is not hardwired, it has to be taught. • Leadership from responsible adults makes the difference between boys schools where girls feel safe and welcome and boys schools where girls feel unsafe. • “A boy does not naturally grow up to be a gentleman. You need a community of men showing boys how to behave, and that’s what we have here.” • Almost every culture of which we have detailed knowledge takes great care in managing this transition to adulthood. • There is no enduring culture in which cowardly men are esteemed or in which brave men are held in contempt. There is no enduring culture in which lazy men are celebrated while hard working men are despised. • Manhood isn’t something that simply happens to boys as they get older, it’s an achievement - something a boy accomplishes, something that can easily go awry. If we ignore the importance of this transition and fail in our duty as parents to guide boys through it, then we will learn the hard way why traditional cultures invest this transition with so much importance. • But neglecting the gendered needs of adolescents can be dangerous. Boys and girls differ with respect to risk factors for social pathology. We recognize the perils of oversimplifying or exaggerating gendered differences. But as the medical world has discovered, the risk of not attending to real differences that exist between males and females can have dangerous consequences. Ignoring or denying this challenge will not make it go away. Indeed, when adults choose largely to ignore the critical task of sexually enculturing the young, they are left essentially on their own, perhaps with some help from Hollywood and Madison Avenue, to discover the social meaning of their sexuality. The resulting, largely adolescent created rituals of transition are far less likely to be pro social in their meaning or consequences. Young people have an inherent need to experience sexual maturing within an affirming system of meaning. • I don’t want to overstate the importance of a TV show, not even a show as iconic as the Simpsons. My own assessment is that TV shows reflect our society more than they shape it. Either way, the success of the Simpsons clearly demonstrates that the image of the American father in the American mind today is quite different from where it was forty years ago. • Forty years ago, if a boy was told to grow up, he knew what that meant. … But if you ask a boy today to grow up, what does that mean? Who is he supposed to act like? HOmer Simpson? Michael Jackson? Rambo? Mel Gibson? • Those boys are learning through their sweat the answer to the question, “What does it mean to be a man?” the answer is, “being a man means using your strength in the service of others”. … “Men for others” • Every culture must make choices and value judgements. Indeed, one can almost define a culture by the choices its people make. We must choose individually and collectively how we are going to define masculinity. If we abstain from this choice, that failure to make a choice is itself a choice, and the marketplace will make the choice for us. • Gilmore found that the more difficult it was to eek out survival in a particular time and place the more strongly that culture celebrated traditional notions of manhood and masculinity. • Don’t approach the principle or other school administrators by yourself. There’s power in numbers. Recruit half a dozen like minded parents and approach the principal as a group. One parent is just an annoyance. Six parents can’t be ignored. Six parents acting together can change things. • A few simple changes might accomplish a great deal. • But please remember, if you are asking your school to make changes, avoid an adversarial approach. Remember that teachers and administrators fundamentally want what you want. They want girls and boys to be excited about learning. • “You can’t change a bully into a flower child, but you can change him into a knight.” I would adapt that logic in the context of video games. You can’t change a video game addict into a kid who loves chatting on the phone for hours, but you can change him into a competitive athlete. • What’s not to like, as we saw in chapter four is that these medications may damage a crucial area of the brain responsible for drive and motivation. What’s not to like is that young children are being medicated to make the teachers' job easier. Not because it’s in the best interest of the child, but because it simplifies classroom management. • Children who have problems only at school but not in other settings but not in other settings generally do not have ADHD. Moving that child to a different school, or changing the way that school teaches your son may fix the problem. • Even if your son has a strong father or father figure in his life, he also needs a community of men who together can provide him with varied models of what productive adult men do. • Enduring cultures have strong bonds across the generations. • Traditional Judaism, the various Christian denominations, as well as Islam all have long traditions of gender seperate activities. All these traditions embrace the truth that children and teenages must be taught by adults, not by one another. • There has to be a third way. There has to be some alternative besides ignoring gender on the one hand, and pushing children into narrow and limiting gender roles on the other. This third way must begin by recognizing the importance of gender, by embracing, and celebrating the gendered nature of the human experience. We must use this new understanding of gender not to reinforce old fashioned Leave it to Beaver notions of gender roles but rather to broaden horizons for both girls and boys. • If we’re going to recreate an idea of real men that advantages boys without disadvantaging girls, then we must give careful thought to what stories we are going to tell boys and young men. We must tell true stories that affirm real men and the real value of real masculinity, without disrespecting women or devaluing women’s accomplishments and importance. • We don’t have all the answers, far from it. But I think we’re at least asking the right questions. • No one person is going to be able to do this alone. We have to work together. So please, let’s get in touch with one another. • We all want the same thing - a healthy world for our children and our grandchildren. We all realize that healthy means more than just having enough food to eat and clothes to wear. It means our daughters and our sons living lives that are meaningful and fulfilled.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Great book with great advice on how to raise boys. Highly recommend!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Pak

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Good book and my first introduction to some of the Concepts. Main points. 1. moving up of curriculum from 1st to kindergarten puts boys in. Classrooms trying to learn too early. Holding boys back is common solution. Finland doesn't send kids to school until age 7. Girls brains develop faster for the type of learning. 2. Our system teaches more knowledge of facts instead of experiential learning as in the past. 3. Video games can teach violence and more exciting than studying. 4. Boys are overpre Good book and my first introduction to some of the Concepts. Main points. 1. moving up of curriculum from 1st to kindergarten puts boys in. Classrooms trying to learn too early. Holding boys back is common solution. Finland doesn't send kids to school until age 7. Girls brains develop faster for the type of learning. 2. Our system teaches more knowledge of facts instead of experiential learning as in the past. 3. Video games can teach violence and more exciting than studying. 4. Boys are overprescribed for add/ADHD. The drugs have bad effects on the boy's personality after no longer taking the mess. They can be more apathetic and angry. 5. What is th best school for each child. Single sex schooling has shown that boys can thrive to explore subjects they enjoy without social pressure of what is masculine. 6. Endocrine disrupters. Plastics and some public water has estrogen in it that slows boys puberty. 7. Role models. Boys need male role models in their community.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Larissa Anderson

    ***3.5+ stars but rounding up - I especially recommend this book to any parent with a son under the age of 5 to add to the arsenal of important ideas to consider. Dr. Sax is extremely educated (MD, PhD) and hard working (speaks around the country, written a bunch of articles and books). I agree with most of his hypotheses even if they only represent a subset of modern maladies. 1) video games can create serious long term problems 2) ADHD over diagnosed and stimulant rx create more issues than you m ***3.5+ stars but rounding up - I especially recommend this book to any parent with a son under the age of 5 to add to the arsenal of important ideas to consider. Dr. Sax is extremely educated (MD, PhD) and hard working (speaks around the country, written a bunch of articles and books). I agree with most of his hypotheses even if they only represent a subset of modern maladies. 1) video games can create serious long term problems 2) ADHD over diagnosed and stimulant rx create more issues than you might think 3) current US school philosophy is generally not "boy friendly" 4) family unit crumbling and scarcity of appropriate male role models 5) endocrine disrupters are jacking reproductive health (best section imo) His writing is avuncular, trying to share *his wisdom as he looks at a big picture colored by his extensive life lenses. I could probably capitalize that *h as he is likely a conservative Christian (inference not validated at Wikipedia yet). Some progressives will balk at the tone, but he does try to consciously ratchet back his preachy propensity. It is rather fear-based which does not appeal to me, but the anecdotal evidence from his practice and as feedback to his public presence are fascinating. Would like to have seen more positively applicable ideas for typical parents to implement. The whole education section is aggravating in that good ideas are overshadowed by the fact that he advocates for things that are generally only accessible to the elite. While he absurdly seems to think most people will up and move even out of their own state for scholastic opportunities, he does acknowledge that most people are not in a position to change the system. I wonder what he is doing in that realm beyond writing books that may be getting attention by policy makers.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I picked this book up because I am increasingly noticing that many boys struggle in school and many young men seem to struggle to find their place in the world. As my friends become the parents of teens and young adults, it is almost exclusively the boys who are the ones who are getting poor grades, dropping out of college and having trouble landing in a worthwhile career, while girls from the same families thrive in their various pursuits. Through my own observations of students in my classroom I picked this book up because I am increasingly noticing that many boys struggle in school and many young men seem to struggle to find their place in the world. As my friends become the parents of teens and young adults, it is almost exclusively the boys who are the ones who are getting poor grades, dropping out of college and having trouble landing in a worthwhile career, while girls from the same families thrive in their various pursuits. Through my own observations of students in my classroom (3rd and 4th grade), it is primarily boys who are struggling to meet grade level expectations. After nearly 2 decades as a teacher, I have watched the curriculum and expectations change, and the changes I see seem to benefit the way girls think, learn and develop, while being in conflict with how (and when) most boys develop. Reading this book gave me the objective facts to back up my own subjective observations. Additionally, the author discusses other factors which may potentially contribute to this phenomenon of male under-achievement, including hormonal changes caused by plastics and other toxins in the environment. With a topic this complex, it is next to impossible to prove causality, but this book has some fascinating insights and I would recommend it to parents, teachers, and anyone else who is concerned with the growing population of boys and men who are struggling to succeed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I found this book interesting and informative. Sax explains with research why boys today are unmotivated and underachieving. Some chapters were more interesting to me than others, but the whole book was definitely worthwhile to anyone raising boys. Here are my notes: don't start boys in kinder until they are ready (they will enjoy learning more and be more successful), boys need to have more experiential/hands on learning experiences (not in front of a computer), they need more contact with natur I found this book interesting and informative. Sax explains with research why boys today are unmotivated and underachieving. Some chapters were more interesting to me than others, but the whole book was definitely worthwhile to anyone raising boys. Here are my notes: don't start boys in kinder until they are ready (they will enjoy learning more and be more successful), boys need to have more experiential/hands on learning experiences (not in front of a computer), they need more contact with nature, they need to read a variety of books for fun, boys excel with competition (not just athletic), they need to interact with good male role models, they need hands on training in working and serving, and lastly Sax explains in depth why video games are especially addicting to boys and the reasons why they are so harmful to their motivation and progress. He gives a basic guideline for video games: no more than 40 minutes/day during the week and 1 hour/day on weekends...and only in this order 1-family, 2-schoolwork, 3-friends, 4-video games. Make sure your kids have a hobby to replace video games. There is really a lot more discussed in this book, these are just the things that most interested me.

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