Our amazing church has been doing a great series on work – its importance and its purpose for us as Christians. Recently, our Pastor decided to talk about how to raise kids to have good work ethics, and it was during this sermon that he brought up the controversial topic of our boys being “adrift.”
Our Pastor spent a good majority of his sermon on the crisis of boys in our society. He was careful to point out first and foremost that the responsibility was ultimately on the parents and the church community to prepare our children for successful adulthood, however, he is realistic in taking a good look at the conditions in our world today that are failing to do well for our kids.
Being a parent of a wonderful, active boy, and pregnant with a soon-to-be-due second boy, this really saddens (& maddens) me. I definitely don’t think “all hope is lost” or anything like that, however, I do believe in presenting information like this so that it can be critically looked at. Being ignorantly in “bliss” is a lie, it’s our responsibility as parents, teachers, and spiritual parents of kids to care about statistics like these.
His message on boys in particular in our society is based off of the book, Boys Adrift, by Leonard Sachs. For listening to all our Pastor has to say on this topic, start at 7:30 minutes. Watch Here!
5 Factors that are causing our boys to be adrift:
1) Teaching Methods (our school system) – kindergarten is now about learning how to read and write instead of playing and exploring. Boys are not developmentally ready at that age to learn how to read or write – girls, however, are actually developmentally ready to read and write and have a greater desire to please the teacher. Girls in our school system have an edge from the first year they experience school, and this could be what is causing our boys to carry this with them throughout school (a failure mentality – or simply not being academic).
Its alarming to realize the actual statistics of men in universities compared to women… our Pastor mentioned that the statistics say there are more girls currently, than boys. At Baylor university, where our Pastor’s boys went, the ratio was actually 10 girls to 1 boy! This should be nothing new, as it has been noted before by other authors and researchers, but the implications for the future are not good. More and more men will not be getting college education, even less will go through to obtain their Masters, or any Post Graduate work and achievement.
Competition is hard-wired in men, not to say it isn’t something that some women may also have innately, however, it most often shows up in males. Our Pastor mentioned how our society has been ridiculously limiting the amount of competition in a young boy’s world. Even in their young sports (since the 80’s when “self-esteem” became a huge issue), competition is stifled when everyone is given a trophy at the end – regardless of how they performed or even if they actually wanted to be there. They get a trophy for just showing up (and not even perfect attendance). The implications of what all this is teaching our kids could be written about in a whole book, however, you can only imagine what it is doing as far as their entitlement feelings go.
The bottom line of his first point was that boys aren’t just lazy or undriven, or as the feminists who created the “The Boys Are Stupid, Throw Rocks At Them” t-shirts a few years ago… it’s simply that the teaching methods we use today are not suiting them.
2) Prescription Drugs – Again… our teaching system is failing our boys and future men. The classroom environment calls for them to be able to sit still… for very long amounts of time, starting at the very young age of 5. Recess has been shortened dramatically, which affects girls as well in their ability to learn and absorb information in the classroom. School used to be about exploring and adventure and play. Boys aren’t wired for that experience of sitting calmly for hours, with less and less recess time allowed. The drugs our doctors are prescribing really DO calm boys down, and DO make the classroom more manageable for the teacher, but for most boys who don’t actually need the ADD/ADHD medication, it was less about what is best for the student, and more about what is best for the teacher.
This just really gets to me being a mom of boys, that they will have to face this kind of unnecessary hurdle in life.
Our Pastor pointed out a particularly scary fact they’ve found from years of research, that many of these drugs actually damage part of the brain that is involved in drive and motivation, and even create depression in our young men!
3) Video Games – they are not “all bad” they are great for instilling the competition… however, when it is EXCESSIVE and unmanaged by the parents, it has been proven to damage the same parts of the brain that stimulate drive and ambition, and making them anti-social. Apparently, its easier to have their social life online or in gaming than creating a social network in person. Anti-social behavior is a “killer” in the marketplace, boys (and girls) need to be plugged in to relationships and learning – making those brain connections of how to be social creatures, and to know how to respond and react in socially acceptable ways. The great thing about this point is that parents have total control and can monitor the time allowed to play.
4) Environmental Factors – the main environmental factor affecting our boys (and girls) is plastics. It used to be that we drank everything out of glass… however, now our children are raised on drinking and eating everything out of plastics from baby bottles, to water bottles, to microwavable plastics and dishes. They’ve found that when plastic is heated and warm, releases estrogen hormones that are then digested by our kids causing changes in their bodies that past generations didn’t have to deal with. The estrogens cause our girls to be over-developed (7th grade girls looking like their 18), and our boys to be under-developed (a 7th grade boy looking like he’s under 10).
5) The Devaluation of Masculinity – This was the most important point according to our Pastor, and the one he was most anxious to talk to us about. Our society has been attacking gender differences for years now, with the ultimate goal of taking away the whole IDEA of being a boy or a girl, of being a man or a woman. “To be a man, a boy must see a man.” Boys must be taught how to be men… it is not hard-wired, as many boys In every enduring culture (that lasted 1,000’s and 1,000’s of years), boys were led into manhood by a community of adult men in the society, and girls were led into womanhood by adult women in the community. We’ve truly lost this today, and our boys and girls are lacking from it.
The dad in the case of the son, and the mom in the case of the daughter, and the community is involved in the bringing up as well, are responsible for showing them how to be a woman and a man.
He also mentions the dangers that girls are facing, the same author has also done the same kind of extensive research and compiled it into a book called Girls On Edge. Please watch the rest of the video to hear the girls’ issues, they are important as well.