A Fine Young Man

A Fine Young Man

by Michael Gurian

Paperback(1ST TRADE)

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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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780874779691
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/1999
Edition description: 1ST TRADE
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 746,104
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 17 Years

About 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.

Table of Contents

Boys on Fire
The Next Level
Nature and Nurture: Adolescent Male Biology and Culture
A Unique Opportunity

Part One: The Emotional Lives of Adolescent Males

Chapter One: Jason and His Brothers: What It's Really Like for Adolescent Boys in America
Jason's Brothers
The State of Male Adolescence Today:
The Declining Safety of Our Adolescent Boys; The Mental Health of Adolescent Boys; Drugs, Alcohol, and the Depression Link; Suicide; Body Image; Attention Defecit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD); Sexual Abuse
Adolescent Males in the Educational System
The Fragile Self
Adolescent Male Self-Esteem
Bravado and Beyond
From Posturing to Trauma Responses
Adolescent Male Posttraumatic Stress
Adolescent Males in Shock

Chapter Two: Protecting the Emotional Lives of Adolescent Boys
The Emotional Neglect of Our Adolescent Boys
Male Biology and the Adolescent Boy's Emotional Disadvantage:
The Male Emotional System; Testosterone and the Emotional Disadvantage; The Deal; The Male Brain, Sexual Biology, and the Emotional Disadvantage; Philip
The Key to Offsetting an Adolescent Boy's Emotional Disadvantage
Resistance to Biological Teaching
The Male Mode of Friendship
Emotional Trauma, Emotional Neglect, and Your Adolescent Boy
The Next Step

Part Two: The Journey to Manhood: The Three Stages of Male Adolescence

Chapter Three: The Crucial Passage: Nurturing the Second Decade of a Boy's Life
Redefining the Purpose of Male Adolescence:
A Brief History of Male Adolescence; The Core Self; The Second Birth; Adolescent Boys Need Clans
The Masculine Nurturing System
A Three-Stage Program for Raising Boys into Men
The Value of Suffering

Chapter Four: Stage 1: The Age of Transformation (Ages 9-13)
Adolescence Can Begin at Nine Years Old
The Formative Years
What to Expect from a Prepubescent Adolescent Male:
School Life; Peers; Emotions and Behavior; His Thinking Process, Including His Sense of Values
What to Expect from Adolescent Boys During Puberty:
Physiological Changes; More about Testosterone; The Emerging Adolescent Male's Brain
What We Can Do to Raise Stage 1 Males into Exceptional Men
The High and Low Ends of the Testosterone Scale
Psychosocial Changes in Stage 1 Males:
The Search for Identity; The Search for Autonomy; Autonomy and the Mother-Son Relationship; The Search for Morality; The Search for Intimacy
The Stage 1 Rite of Passage

Chapter Five: Stage 2: The Age of Determination (Ages 14-17)
Myths about Stage 2 Youths
What to Expect from Our Middle-Adolescent Males
Cognitive Changes through Middle Adolescence
What We Can Do to Raise Exceptional Middle-Adolescent Males
When Does Aggression Become Violence?
Which Middle Teen Behaviors Should We Really Worry About?
The Teen Male Who Seems to Be Suffering and We Just Don't Know Why
Psychosocial Development:
The Search for Identity; The Search for Autonomy; The Search for Morality; The Search for Intimacy
The Emergence of the Homosexual Adolescent Male
Creating and Finding Rites and Rituals with Our Stage 2 Males:
Family Rituals; The Stage 2 Rite of Passage: The Quest for the Self; The Vision Quest Model; Creating Your Own Vision Quest

Chapter Six: Stage 3: The Age of Consolidation (Ages 18-21)
What to Expect from a Stage 3 Adolescent
The Warrior, the Artist, and the King:
The Warrior; The Artist; The King
The Meaningful Testing Ground
Keepers of the Testing Ground
Bruce's Story
Psychosocial Development:
The Search for Identity; The Search for Autonomy; The Search for Morality; The Search for Intimacy
The Stage 3 Rite of Passage

Part Three: Educating Adolescent Boys

Chapter Seven: Schoolboys: Adolescent Boys and the Educational System
Gender Ideologies and Our Educational Assessments
Innovations for Educators: Different Ways Boys and Girls Learn
Natural Nurturance
Improving Sex Education
After-School Programs
Violence in the Schools
Structural Solutions in Educational Systems:
Single-Sex Classrooms; Boys' Schools
The Politics Surrounding Single-Sex Education: Title IX
Other Educational Innovations

Chapter Eight: Virtual Masculinity: Adolescent Boys and the Media
What Do We Know About Media Use?
The Media Are Family Members
How Children Bond with Media Figures
How Storytelling Works
Media Stimulation and the Brain:
Hormones and the Media; Imprinting; Overriding Natural Neural Protections
What First Families Can Do
A New Vision

Part Four: The Refining Fire: Caring for the Spirit of Our Young Men

Chapter Nine: Nurturing the Core of Manhood
New Models of Manhood
The Core of Manhood
Compassion: The Art of Compassionate Conversation
The Score Model

Chapter Ten: The Ten Integrities
Lineal Integrity
Psychological Integrity
Social Integrity
Spiritual Integrity
Moral Integrity
Emotional Integrity
Sexual Integrity
Marital Integrity
Physical Integrity
Intellectual Integrity

Notes and References
About the Author

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


On Friday, July 24th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Michael Gurian to discuss A FINE YOUNG MAN.

Moderator: Welcome Michael Gurian! Thank you for taking the time to join us online this evening. How are you doing tonight?

Michael Gurian: I am doing great, thanks for having me.

Arther from Haverford, PA: How does this book differ from your great book THE WONDER OF BOYS?

Michael Gurian: Well THE WONDER OF BOYS is about boys in general. A FINE YOUNG MAN is about boys 9-21; it covers the 3 stages of adolescence and lays out a plan for raising boys, stage by stage. This one is definitely about adolescence. Thank you very much on the compliment on the THE WONDER OF BOYS, I am glad you liked it.

PAC87@AOL.COM from NJ: Good evening Mr. Gurian. What type of research did you do for this book? Where you surprised by many things you discovered while researching this book?

Michael Gurian: I will answer the 2nd part first. I was surprised when I started out years ago, less surprised now. The sheer weight of the painful statistics were surprising, the extent that boys are suffering. I am on my 5th book about boys. In terms of the exact research it comes from a number of areas. I have lived in a bunch of other countries so I bring an anthropological approach to how boys were raised. I have also been studying the natural sciences--brain science to understand how a boy is built biologically, also the field of psychology and sociology--all of those put together along with my own personal experiences as a family therapist has built this book. But also the internet has been an immensely valuable research tool for chapter tone, which is filled with statistics, which I obtained from various websites like the National Institute of Mental Health.

Matt from Andover, NJ: I'm home from college for the summer and I've noticed that my 12-year-old brother has become incorrigible and obnoxious. My parent's say I was like that, but I think he's much worse. Do you think it's the age, or do you think there are things my parents aren't doing?

Michael Gurian: Well, there are 3 answers to that question 1) Yes, that is normal for some boys that age. It is a time when boys start to pull away from authorities and parents and can become obnoxious. 2) He may be worse and I can't say anything to that nor to what the parents are doing because I don't know more about your family, but 3) either way, you as the older brother can play an essential role as a mentor to that young man.

Arlene from St. Louis, MO: When I was in college I experimented with marijuana. How do I tell my son not to use drugs without lying to him? Or should I lie to him?

Michael Gurian: Thank you for that question, it is a question on the minds of many of us like myself who also experimented with marijuana in college and am raising children. I believe the best policy with young men is to tell them honestly that you smoked marijuana in college and remind them that your brain and your body had finished their development, so that a college student smoking marijuana is very different than smoking it at 12 or 15 or 16 years old--when the brain and body are still developing. To help brief yourself for this conversation with your son, you might want to check out chapters 2 & 5 which go into detail on how the brain develops throughout adolescence and hopefully armed with that information and perhaps even having your son read it himself, he will be able to see the dangers that don't exist as much for an adult in college but definitely exist for an adolescent boy.

Heather from Getsville, NY: I'm a single mother and I'm very worried about the impact this is going to have on my son. I try to get him involved in sports and typical "male" things. What advice do you have for single mothers?

Michael Gurian: You are asking one of the most important questions any one in our culture can ask today. It sounds like you are doing the right thing. The 2 key things I can say in general are 1) Get your son involved with you in choosing who his male mentors will be and if possible keep the father as deeply involved in his life as you can. And when your son begins the process of pulling away from you, if the father and other males are not intimately involved in his life, then you have the difficult task of not only remaining his mother, but also shifting your style of discipline and parenting to become more "fatherly." For all these questions so far, A FINE YOUNG MAN is like a training manual.

Jill from Beverly Hills, CA: What do you think of the recent report that some people are saying that being gay isn't based on anything genetic and that's it's just environmental? I know you talk about biology in your book.

Michael Gurian: Yes, for many years to come I am sure we will get conflicting reports, however, the biological evidence that homosexuality is in most cases already a part of the brain system at birth seems to me over 15 years of research to be indisputable. I also think it is the most supportive position to take because if we continue the cultural language of homosexuality being "just a lifestyle choice" then we don't have the incentive to fully accept into the human community gay boys and men as well and lesbian girls and women.

Tim Landers from Oak Park, IL: Mr. Gurian. What do you recommend a father to do if his son just does not listen to his father? And to top it off, he lies about stuff all the time. I have had just about all the lying that I can take and I just don't know what to do? Does your book cover dealing with lying children? Any advice?

Michael Gurian: Yes, the book will help quite a bit, the bottom line suggestion that I would make is to increase your authority as disciplinarian and as father including spending more time with the boy. Often boys--and I was one of these--lie as a way of telling their fathers they need more love from the whole family system.

Elana from South Orange, NJ: My husband's family didn't display a lot of emotions when he was growing up, and I see him behaving the same way with our son. I try to encourage him to show more warmth, but it just isn't natural for him. I try to make up for it with my actions. Do you think that's OK?

Michael Gurian: Yes, I do. Boys get warmth from dads who appear not to give it in very subtle ways that are often hard to notice. Boys also get from these kinds of dads a lot of other things they need. If the boy grows into adolescence needing more warmth from men, he will go find mentors who will provide it to him. Your commitment to give him that warmth is something he will also savor all his life.

Margo from Washington, D.C.: I watched a ton of television when I was young, and now I'm a successful lawyer. I see that you think young boys should have their television time restricted. Why should I treat my son any differently from how I was raised when I turned out pretty well?

Michael Gurian: Great question, in one swoop you have destroyed my whole argument! Seriously though, while I also watched a good amount of TV, and while I am not an anti-TV maniac, I also think 1)TV has changed since you and I were young and is more dangerous to kids in its content. 2) I know now how watching large amounts of TV and playing lots of video games negatively affects the brain development of 9-14 years old boys. So I wrote chapter 8 of A FINE YOUNG MAN so that people could see just how careful we have to be with our young adolescent males. Restricting TV doesn't mean no TV, it means monitoring what is watched, setting in home schedules for what is watched and watching some of it with the kids in order to build up their media literacy.

Leonard from Lubbock, TX: My son has lately been breaking his curfew by 5 to 10 minutes. My wife thinks we should crack down because soon it will be an hour or 2. I think she's being too strict. What do you think?

Michael Gurian: Depending on how old your son is, 5-10 minutes is not too worrisome, especially if you or your wife tends to be a little late for things as well. Should he go consistently twenty minutes or more, then I would crack down. Again, this depends on what age your son is. If he is quite young, I would worry about this more then if he is in the second stage of adolescence, which is 14-17. Either way, I think you will find the information in part two of A FINE YOUNG MAN very helpful.

Stacy from Bethesda, MD: My 12-year-old son is suddenly getting a million calls from girls. My husband has already talked openly to him about the birds and the bees. What I'm really concerned about is how to make sure that he treats women with respect. Even when I was young there were a lot of guys who would pretend they were interested in women just to have sex with them. How do I make sure that my son doesn't turn into a jerk?

Michael Gurian: Thank you for that absolutely huge question! Truly the best resource I can give you are my books which are packed with information on how to teach this stuff to boys. If you and your husband can work out common values in regards to teaching respect for women, your son will learn those. Absolutely! Twelve-year-old boys really would rather develop along the moral lines of their parents then anyone else, and issues of sexism are definitely moral issues in our world today. So if your family treats them with that kind of importance, but without overreacting to the normal jokes and jokes of a 12 year old he will turn out great.

Thomas from Omaha, Nebraska: My wife has recently given birth to twins (one boy and one girl) and I am curious to find out how different you think the raising process should be from boys compared to girls?

Michael Gurian: Every child is an individual and I believe first and foremost every parent needs to trust their intuition at the same time, my work is definitely based in the reality that boys and girls have different brain systems, different hormones, and different innate behavioral systems. Our task is complex because we have to nurture and honor the boy as a boy but not remove him from what works for girls so far that he feels alien to girls. Over the last 30 years, we have experimented with turning girls into boy and girls into boys. Most of us are now seeing the flaws in this experiment and yet we are thankful that boys have more emotional options because of it and girls have more social option because of it. So when we raise our own kids we can have the best of all worlds now. We can let boys be the natural creatures that they are and we can help them to develop in the areas where traditionally they have been restricted from developing. For instance, in the area of talking about feelings, both THE WONDER OF BOYS and A FINE YOUNG MAN try to create a new system of thinking about males in which boys can have this whole new range of nurturing and life experience and yet not lose their boyishness or be convinced that being male is in some way defective.

Ellen from Edina, MN: Why do you think adolescent males are 4 times more likely to drop out of school than girls?

Michael Gurian: I think there are a number of reasons why boys are making up 70% of the D's and F's... 1) A lot of them feel pressures to enter the workplace and prove themselves as early as possible. 2) Our high schools are not as boy friendly as we like to think. Boys need a lot of attention from their teachers--many of the boys who drop out are in classrooms with 25-30 students. These boys simply are not getting the educational environment they need. 3) A lot of what is taught in high school is not what boys want to learn. Boys who are vocationally directed find this boring, so they drop out. 4) Boys are now getting the lowest grades and they involve themselves in less student activities than girls. We haven't noticed this coming onto us, but actually our schools have become places where the power that girls have is increasing and it is confusing to a lot of boys who feel left out, isolated, and unable to find a niche.5) A number of the boys who drop out have difficult home situations and the school is really not to blame. It is important never to forget this. And lastly we find that boys who play organized sports successfully are less likely to drop out. One thing we learn from this is that sports can be great for boys but also, if a particular boy doesn't perform well in sports and has no other niche like debate or science, or chess; his lack of sports performance can really make him feel left out. These are just a few of the reasons that we are finding our boys so far behind our girls now in high school.

Montgomery from Somerville, MA: Do you think today's young man has it harder than any boy growing up in the past? As far as dealing with negative pressures...

Michael Gurian: In a way yes, and in a way, no. On the no side, our boys are not going through the Great Depression or fighting a war. Most of them aren't scraping to survive. In this way our boys are actually living a life easier than perhaps a hundred years ago. However, while those obvious pressures may not exist for many of our boys, the pressures have become subtler and in that way are worse for boys now than ever before. Pressures like sexual pressure, pear pressure, breakdown of moral authorities, families in crisis, lack of spiritual focus, lack of mentors, lack of rites of passage etc. These are not like a war, but they can be even more debilitating to a lot of boys and if we add in lack of economic opportunity--brought up in poverty or a victim of racism--we have a boy living the hardest life a boy has lived in long, long time.

Erin from Evanston, IL: What do you think of the recent school shootings?

Michael Gurian: About 15 years ago, adolescent boys began to form gangs in the inner-cities. That was our first huge warning from the culture of boyhood that our guys needed more love and attention, structure and discipline, more opportunity and understanding. Over the last 15 years, the pressure on boys, the pain they experience, has been building and building and now we are seeing in rural areas the same sort of violent behavior we have been seeing in the inner-city. This is the next wave of signals from the culture of boyhood that we have as a civilization in the late 20th Century, neglected our boys.

Moderator: Thank you so much for your wonderful answers tonight! Do you have any closing comments for our audience?

Michael Gurian: Well, I have to thank you all for having me and for asking questions. I am honored to be part of a whole new way of looking at our culture through the eyes of our boys. Thank again!

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Fine Young Man 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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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.