Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men - Leonard Sax, Malcolm Hillgartner 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!