As boys enter the second decade of their lives, they are confronted with tremendous challenges at home, at school, and in personal relationships. In a phenomenon long overlooked by the media and policy makers, adolescent boys are the most at-risk group in our society today, facing the highest incidence of addiction, violence, mental illness, and emotional neglect. Building on his pioneering work in The Wonder of Boys, Michael Gurian now explores the misunderstood life of the 90s male adolescent, providing parents and mentors with eye-opening and practical wisdom. Gurian answers tough questions about the changes boys face, focusing on new understandings of the hidden biology of the adolescent male; the development of emotional structure and social adaptation; the changing emotional safety within the family unit; necessary rites of passage; and the critical shifting in the attitude of society, educators, and the media in order to nurture adolescent boys into loving, wise, and responsible men. Giving us the tools to better nurture, discipline, and cultivate our adolescent males, Gurian delivers the most responsible and enlightening assessment of young manhood in our time.
Carrying forward some of the themes first introduced in his book The Wonder of Boys (1996), Gurian focuses on male adolescence, a crucial stage of development that, he argues, is in crisis today, being both misunderstood and diminished in importance. Drawing on his own research and experience as a psychotherapist, he lays out a picture of male adolescence that is often bleak: adolescent males are four times as likely as females to commit suicide; only one out of six adolescents diagnosed with ADHD is female, and that 90% of adolescent discipline problems in schools are about males. The thrust of his approach, however, is proactive and ultimately imbued with hope. Gurian emphasizes the importance of family in the three distinct stages (transformation, determination and consolidation) of male adolescent development, which can begin as early as nine and extends through the early 20s. In the nurture/nature debate, Gurian falls somewhere in the middle, explaining and validating the importance of both male "hardwiring" (the genetic component) as well as emotional and cultural "softwiring." With persuasive eloquence, Gurian outlines thoughtful and practical steps parents and other caregivers can take to create the kind of positive role-models and nurturing support systems that will help boys successfully negotiate the passage to manhood. (July) – Publishers Weekly