June 12, 2009

Boys Adrift by Leonord Sax

9 of 10: Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men is, undoubtedly, a change from my regular fare, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

This book is about the changes in society that have made it increasingly common for men in their late twenties and earlier thirties to still be living at home with their parents, working a part-time job, spending their time online or playing video games, and basically going nowhere with their lives.

The five factors he discusses are:
  1. School becoming too serious too quickly (i.e. kindergarten now is what first or second grade used to be) and boys in particular are just not developmentally ready for it, turning them off to school from the very beginning, which many of them never recover from.
  2. Boys are increasingly likely to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD even when they don't have it (studies apparently show that ADHD/ADD medication has a positive effect on students that don't have ADHD or ADD, so the idea that your child improves when they go on the medication doesn't necessarily mean they have ADHD or ADD) and the medication they go on has long-term affects.
  3. Video Games (oh, aren't you SO surprised to hear that?). He talks in-depth about how video games give boys a sense of control and gives them instant gratification (and reduces their desire to do things that have delayed gratification).
  4. Chemicals that imitate sex hormones and make boys less male. I kind of rolled my eyes at this one when I read the introduction to it, but by the end, he'd presented a lot of convincing evidence. Time to throw out the plastic water bottles, people (I sound insane, but so be it).
  5. Lack of positive male role models. He talked about how, 50 years ago, the father figure was portrayed as smart and capable (think "Father Knows Best") while most fathers now are portrayed as total doofuses (think "The Simpsons"). In fact, Kim just wrote a post about this the other day and I completely agree with both her and Dr. Sax.
Boys Adrift is amazingly readable - I was never bored and I kept stopping to reread parts out loud to Bart. I'm certain this is a book I'll return to if I have sons.


  1. Oh. I definitely just starred this in Google Reader. I work with teens in treatment and it's possible this might apply. You know, there's a slight chance.

  2. Ooh, nonfiction! Thanks, Jass. I'll check this out.

  3. Oooo, this looks awesome. I want to read this.

  4. I have heard about this book--and I am DYING To read it!! Next up on Library Reserve, thanks girly!


  5. Hmmm...
    I have to ask.
    Were you paid to read this?
    I AM raising boys, and you've now teased me (but in a sort of scary way).

  6. I emailed Jenny back to tell her, but I thought I'd mention it here too, just in case anyone else was wondering. . .

    I didn't get paid to review this book - I read about it on a personal blog I follow where it was mentioned in passing and I thought it sounded really interesting. I just checked it out from my local library.

  7. I've heard that "plastics mimicking hormones" thing before--there's some thought that it's responsible for the fewer numbers of boys that are being born these days. Scary stuff.

  8. Yes, I have heard bad stuff about plastic water bottles, but mostly it sounded like a bunch of hooey to me, such as drinking from plastic bottles is how somebody got breast cancer. (Aren't there just MAYBE some other factors involved, when everything we buy these days has various chemicals, etc.) Sounds like this one would actually have some evidence with it. Plus, my boys could stand to be more manly, not less :) Thanks for the review.

  9. Sounds like a great book. I'm having my first boy in Sept, so boys are on the brain! I am naturally sceptical of studies, correlations, factors that affect something else, etc, ever since my stats class in college. Therefore, I appreciate it when someone backs up their conclusions with REAL EVIDENCE. Sounds like this is a book for me!

  10. Thanks for sharing! I'm totally interested now especially since I have a son.


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