A Fine Young Man

A Fine Young Man

4.5 2
by Michael Gurian
     
 

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From depression to dropping grades, from incidents of violence to teen suicide, today's adolescent boys are one of the largest at-risk groups in America today. In this bracing and insightful book, the bestselling author of The Wonder of Boys directs our attention to the unknown problems and marvels of this age group, helping parents and mentors shepherd boys

Overview

From depression to dropping grades, from incidents of violence to teen suicide, today's adolescent boys are one of the largest at-risk groups in America today. In this bracing and insightful book, the bestselling author of The Wonder of Boys directs our attention to the unknown problems and marvels of this age group, helping parents and mentors shepherd boys through the challenging ages of ten to twenty.

Puberty encourages guilty alienation and fear. The result is that other boys often have a good deal of influence in the lives of younger adolescent friends, for better or for worse. A number of medical conditions have become almost common among adolescent boys, at least in part because of a lack of support. These range from simple depression, to trauma, to the elaborately named attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Experimentation with drugs and alcohol has become almost common, and these contribute to delinquency and sometimes even to suicide.

In A FINE YOUNG MAN Gurian establishes three major stages in a boy’s progress to manhood: transformation (the metabolic changes from ages nine to thirteen), determination (characterized by alternate aggression and withdrawal), and consolidation (indicated by determining and testing definitions of adult male behavior). He concludes by offering what he considers indications that the process of individuation has begun. He returns often to the worthwhile observation that what boys need at every stage of the process of maturing is consistent support from a variety of sources both within and outside of the family. It is this support that is too often lacking.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Filled with stories and practical advice for parents and teachers of adolescent boys… I recommend it to those who want to raise fine young men.”
—Mary Pipher, Reviving Ophelia
 
“Convincingly illustrates . . . the peculiar pain and potential loneliness of being a boy in America today.”
Time magazine
 
“Provocative… His Wonder of Boys became the impetus for a growing ‘boys movement.’ “
—USA Today
 
“Proactive and ultimately imbued with hope. With persuasive eloquence, Gurian outlines thoughtful and practical steps.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Any parent will find this an intriguing, immensely readable book.”
Book Page
The Barnes & Noble Review
Our Boys, Ourselves: Why Adolescent Boys Are Freaking Out, and What We Can Do About It

Dead-eyed schoolyard killers, slackjawed video-game addicts, rat-pack gang members dedicated to ritual violence and self-mutilation: The '90s sure are a great time to be a boy.

Ignored and essentially stigmatized by decades of academic theory and gender revolution, boys are literally America's latest bete noire — 15 times as likely as girls to be victims of violent crime, 6 times as likely to be dosed with Ritalin, 4 times as likely to be diagnosed as mentally disturbed, 4 times as likely to commit suicide....

The list goes on, but for therapist and manhood guru Michael Gurian, it's time to redirect our energies. Like a growing number of educators, researchers, and parents, Gurian, author of the bestselling The Wonder of Boys, feels that our recent hyperfocus on the troubles of adolescent girls has demonized boys, blaming them as the cause of female self-esteem problems, when it's really boys who are the sinking ships in our postmodern society.

Gurian is certainly on to something, and his passion is contagious. He forcefully and, I think, fairly argues that any attempt to "reinvent" manhood, to groom away male traits such as aggression and love of hierarchy, is doomed to fail. But far from throwing out those early-'90s "problem girl" books, such as Reviving Ophelia and Failing at Fairness, he wants to supplement their lessons with suggestions on how to give boys the structure and guidance they need.

The new studies quoted by Gurian (and citedapprovinglyby Mary Pipher, author of Revivin Ophelia) show that it is boys whose self-esteem plummets more deeply in adolescence, boys who are increasingly failing to graduate from high school and college, boys who are victims of violence or perpetrators of it. As our society moves into the endgame of the industrial revolution, adolescent males have been cut loose from any sort of structure — whether it be familial, clan, tribal, religious, or work-related. Subject to an average of seven testosterone washes a day beginning around age nine, boys are biologically in need of hierarchical structures, and the mentoring available within them, in order to learn self-knowledge and self-control. Without these structures, they become scared, fragile, numb, and capable of doing harm to themselves and others.

So — to paraphrase the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" — what can a poor boy do (except sing in a rock 'n' roll band)? Gurian's book details the three stages of adolescence and comes up with an impressive set of frameworks for parents and educators to apply to the children with whom they come into contact. These guidelines are pragmatic, frequently combine cutting-edge science with the ancient truths of religion and anthropology, and seem neither too new age nor too repressive.

I felt equal relief that Gurian also doesn't come off as an ideologue or woman-basher. For instance, I can't imagine too many feminists arguing against his goal of Stage 3 (ages 18 to 21) emotional maturity, which is that males be "developmentally ready to understand that adult love is love practiced like a spiritual discipline." Much to my loss, I had nobody to explain that to me at 21. But as a parent of a 12-year-old boy, I can see myself reaching for this book often over the next decade.

Don Wallace is the author of a novel, HOT WATER, and of essays in Harper's, Parents, The New York Times, and other publications. Articles by Wallace appear in the current (July) issues of Redbook and Self.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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)
Library Journal
Beausay and Gurian are both clinical psychotherapists, previously published authors, and the fathers of boys. In their new works, they focus on the development of adolescent boys, sharing a concern for boys' complete growth--physical, spiritual, emotional, and religious--to adulthood. The books have different tones, however, and are directed at different audiences. Beausay addresses the parents of teenagers, assuring them that they will survive. Teenage Boys! is very upbeat with a flexible, not prescriptive, approach; suggestions are practical ideas for parents to try. Gurian's book is less a parenting book, although it will interest parents of adolescent boys, and more a work on adolescent male psychology. A Fine Young Man draws from biology, psychology, and sociology to paint a detailed picture of the tasks an adolescent boy needs to undertake to become a mature adult. Although the volume is somewhat scholarly in tone, no detailed bibliography is provided. Gurian helps his readers understand the teenager in depth, but his ideas are sometimes subject to challenge. Teenage Boys! is highly recommended for all parenting collections. A Fine Young Man is recommended for collections in adolescent psychology and larger parenting collections.--Kay L. Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD
Don Wallace
July 1998

Our Boys, Ourselves: Why Adolescent Boys Are Freaking Out, and What We Can Do About It

Dead-eyed schoolyard killers, slackjawed video-game addicts, rat-pack gang members dedicated to ritual violence and self-mutilation: The '90s sure are a great time to be a boy.

Ignored and essentially stigmatized by decades of academic theory and gender revolution, boys are literally America's latest bête noire -- 15 times as likely as girls to be victims of violent crime, six times as likely to be dosed with Ritalin, four times as likely to be diagnosed as mentally disturbed, four times as likely to commit suicide....

The list goes on, but for therapist and manhood guru Michael Gurian, it's time to redirect our energies. Like a growing number of educators, researchers, and parents, Gurian, author of the bestselling The Wonder of Boys, feels that our recent hyperfocus on the troubles of adolescent girls has demonized boys, blaming them as the cause of female self-esteem problems, when it's really boys who are the sinking ships in our postmodern society.

Gurian is certainly on to something, and his passion is contagious. He forcefully and, I think, fairly argues that any attempt to "reinvent" manhood, to groom away male traits such as aggression and love of hierarchy, is doomed to fail. But far from throwing out those early-'90s "problem girl" books, such as Reviving Ophelia and Failing at Fairness, he wants to supplement their lessons with suggestions on how to give boys the structure and guidance they need.

The new studies quoted by Gurian (and cited approvingly by Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia) show that it is boys whose self-esteem plummets more deeply in adolescence, boys who are increasingly failing to graduate from high school and college, boys who are victims of violence or perpetrators of it. As our society moves into the endgame of the industrial revolution, adolescent males have been cut loose from any sort of structure -- whether it be familial, clan, tribal, religious, or work-related. Subject to an average of seven testosterone washes a day beginning around age nine, boys are biologically in need of hierarchical structures, and the mentoring available within them, in order to learn self-knowledge and self-control. Without these structures, they become scared, fragile, numb, and capable of doing harm to themselves and others.

So -- to paraphrase the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" -- what can a poor boy do (except sing in a rock 'n' roll band)? Gurian's book details the three stages of adolescence and comes up with an impressive set of frameworks for parents and educators to apply to the children with whom they come into contact. These guidelines are pragmatic, frequently combine cutting-edge science with the ancient truths of religion and anthropology, and seem neither too new age nor too repressive.

I felt equal relief that Gurian also doesn't come off as an ideologue or woman-basher. For instance, I can't imagine too many feminists arguing against his goal of Stage 3 (ages 18 to 21) emotional maturity, which is that males be "developmentally ready to understand that adult love is love practiced like a spiritual discipline." Much to my loss, I had nobody to explain that to me at 21. But as a parent of a 12-year-old boy, I can see myself reaching for this book often over the next decade.

Don Wallace is the author of a novel,Hot Water, and of essays in Harper's, Parents, The New York Times, and other publications.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780874779691
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/1999
Edition description:
1ST TRADE
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
384,830
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Filled with stories and practical advice for parents and teachers of adolescent boys… I recommend it to those who want to raise fine young men.”
—Mary Pipher, Reviving Ophelia
 
“Convincingly illustrates . . . the peculiar pain and potential loneliness of being a boy in America today.”
—Time magazine
 
“Provocative… His Wonder of Boys became the impetus for a growing ‘boys movement.’ “
—USA Today
 
“Proactive and ultimately imbued with hope. With persuasive eloquence, Gurian outlines thoughtful and practical steps.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Any parent will find this an intriguing, immensely readable book.”
—Book Page

Meet the Author

Michael Gurian is a psychotherapist and bestselling author whose books include The Wonder of Boys and The Good Son. His work reflects the diverse cultures (European, Asian, Middle Eastern, and American) in which he lived, worked, and studied. He has taught psychology, religion, mythology, and literature at three American universities and at Ankara University in Turkey. He lives with his wife and two children in Spokane, Washington.

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Fine Young Man 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for anyone who raises, lives with, works with, counsels, teaches or needs to relate to young men in today's society! I found it so enlightening and helpful to me as the mother of two sons, an elementary school teacher and a wife. It really opened my eyes to some of the reasons why 'boys will be boys' and led me to appreciate so much more the differences between men and women. We need more people in our society who are educated as to how to mentor boys as they grow into young men.