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The Purpose of Boys: Helping Our Sons Find Meaning, Significance, and Direction in Their Lives Hardcover – April 6, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470243376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470243374
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Family therapist, author and boy advocate Gurian (The Wonder of Boys; The Minds of Boys) observes that many boys are struggling to find a sense of purpose, and society has not sufficiently stepped up to the plate to help. Gurian paints a grim picture of boys who have lost their footing; many are failing in school; turning to drugs, alcohol or gangs; and engaging in violent behavior. Gurian attributes this disturbing trend to a lack of purpose and urges parents to help their male offspring channel their energies into productive lives. By employing a three-family system, Gurian argues, parents can join together with other adults—leaders, mentors, coaches—and such institutions as schools and churches, to help boys refocus and get back on track. The author offers practical suggestions for helping parents address boys' needs, tackling such issues as sexuality, work and overuse of electronic media. Particularly useful are Gurian's boxed questions for discussion, which will help parents and educators communicate directly with boys themselves. He also includes suggestions to help boys succeed in academic settings, for example, using movement, project-driven curricula and debate. Gurian's team approach to raising a son gives parents the tools and encouragement they need to help boys find direction and fulfillment. (Apr.)
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Review

Family therapist, author and boy advocate Gurian (The Wonder of Boys; The Minds of Boys) observes that many boys are struggling to find a sense of purpose, and society has not sufficiently stepped up to the plate to help. Gurian paints a grim picture of boys who have lost their footing; many are failing in school; turning to drugs, alcohol or gangs; and engaging in violent behavior. Gurian attributes this disturbing trend to a lack of purpose and urges parents to help their male offspring channel their energies into productive lives. By employing a three-family system, Gurian argues, parents can join together with other adults—leaders, mentors, coaches—and such institutions as schools and churches, to help boys refocus and get back on track. The author offers practical suggestions for helping parents address boys' needs, tackling such issues as sexuality, work and overuse of electronic media. Particularly useful are Gurian's boxed questions for discussion, which will help parents and educators communicate directly with boys themselves. He also includes suggestions to help boys succeed in academic settings, for example, using movement, project-driven curricula and debate. Gurian's team approach to raising a son gives parents the tools and encouragement they need to help boys find direction and fulfillment. (Apr.) (Publishers Weekly, March 2, 2009)

More About the Author

Michael Gurian is a social philosopher, family therapist, corporate consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of twenty books published in fifteen languages. The Gurian Institute, which he co-founded, conducts research internationally, launches pilot programs and trains professionals. Michael has been called "the people's philosopher" for his ability to bring together people's ordinary lives and scientific ideas.
As a social philosopher, he has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, workplaces, schools and public policy. A number of his ground-breaking books in child development, including THE WONDER OF BOYS, BOYS AND GIRLS LEARN DIFFERENTLY! THE WONDER OF GIRLS and WHAT COULD HE BE THINKING? have sparked national debate. His newest work, THE MINDS OF BOYS (September 2005) provides a revolutionary new framework, based in neuro-biology, by which to understand and care for the educational needs of our sons.
Michael has served as a consultant to families, corporations, therapists, physicians, school districts, community agencies, churches, criminal justice personnel and other professionals, traveling to approximately 20 cities a year to keynote at conferences. His training videos (also available as DVDs) for parents and volunteers are used by Big Brother and Big Sister agencies in the U.S. and Canada.
As an educator, Michael previously taught at Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, and Ankara University. His speaking engagements include Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Macalester College, University of Colorado, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and UCLA. His philosophy reflects the diverse cultures (European, Asian, Middle Eastern and American) in which he has lived, worked and studied.
Michael's work has been featured in various media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, People, Reader's Digest, the Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, PBS and National Public Radio.
Michael can be reached on the worldwide web at
www.michaelgurian.com

Customer Reviews

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My husband is looking forward to reading it next.
P. Cox
This book is crucial because there are now not many experiences to help boys and young men develop a sense of purpose.
Margaret
I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who has a son.
Tony Chen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Tony Chen on April 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm so glad that I read this book while my son is still pretty young. It has changed the way I see my son, interpret his words/actions, and the way I will parent him going forward. His make-believe battles with aliens, his desire to destroy whatever block building we build is all starting to make sense now.

Michael Gurian does an excellent job explaining why our sons, especially, need a purpose. With a good mix of real parenting stories and scientific evidence (about what's going on in boys' brains and bodies as they grow up), the book provides a solid case for parenting our boys differently than girls, and how practically to do it. Boys' brains and bodies are wired up differently -- this partially explains those age-old gender stereotypes (e.g. boys are project-oriented, girls are relationship-oriented; boys can usually only focus on 1 thing at a time, girls multitask, etc). But more importantly, it requires us parents to nurture/encourage/motivate them differently than we might think.

As Gurian eludes, there is a perfect storm happening against the development of boys today. And the data looks bleak. Think about this: 85% of the world's ritalin is taken by boys in America. For every 15-19 year old girl that commits suicide, there are 5.5 boys who do so in that same age range. On whole, this generation of boys in America lack purpose, doesn't work hard, is overentertained, and is overmedicated. As a result, they're checking out of education, losing their sense of self, and not motivated to engage in anything meaningful.

Given this situation, this book proposes that the key to buck the trend is to help boys find their meaningful purpose in ways friendly to boys. There's questions and conversation-starters at the end of every chapter.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence R. Hackett on May 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A pat on the back...a nudge in the ribs....a kick in the pants...a 2 x 4 along the side of the head all motivated me as I read Michael Gurian's latest (and I think greatest) book about and in behalf of boys. Thank you Michael!

His reminders about the importance of the extended family, community and other guarantors brought back fond memories of my own youth and the way all these critically committed influencers contributed to helping me become a man, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather and now grateful gad-about in the lives of many children in my community.

THE PURPOSE OF BOYS, I think, provides the essential launching pad from which one can find hope and direction in helping our challenged young males find their way. I will be using the material to do a better job in both my educational activities and volunteer relationships...not the least of which will be the seven young men in my own family!

For the past 20 years I have been pleading with my elder-peers to take seriously our role as mentors and grandfriends to the children within our arenas of activity. Much of my plea has been without evidence and context, beyond my own observation. I have worked my way through all of Michael's writing and appreciated the thoughts, experiences and teaching of his many colleagues through careful attention to footnotes and bibliographies! The last few years have seen a lot of improvement in my arguments and invitations.

I will use the clear and compelling teaching of THE PURPOSE OF BOYS as I renew my efforts to make a difference, both in the lives of the several "families" boys need as well as a personal provider to the needs of boys.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Someone's Mom on July 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a really excellent book which purports to address america's current "boy problem". Why is it that so many young boys are on Ritalin? why so many fewer boys end up completing college than girls of a similar socioeconomic status? why it appears that boys do less well in school from an early age?

What's interesting about Gurian's analysis is he doesn't simply engage in blaming -- he doesn't blame schools or teachers or the media. rather, he asks us to think a bit deeper, asking whether the role of boys and men as well as the meaning attached to being a man has changed as a result of our industrialized society. He yearns for a return to an earlier era where there were clearly defined roles, expectations and rites of passage for young boys. and yet, he's not sexist. he doesn't necessarily seek to reimpose outdated gender roles, but rather to help boys and men find a sense of purpose in life today. This work incorporates many practical suggestions for activities that parents can carry out with boys, as well as addressing the importance of mentors. this would be a useful read for any parent or school administrator.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Steven Svoboda on November 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Why has Michael Gurian, author of over twenty books mostly relating to children and/or gender, devoted a book to boys and purpose? In answer to that natural question, the author lists "some of the core issues of male purposelessness", including schools not trained in caring for and motivating boys; media "attack[ing] males as defective and dangerous (and, quite often, just plain stupid) without also providing a variety of strong role models"; families lacking male role models or not understanding their critical importance; and "workplaces helping young women secure employment, but assuming young men will do just fine at landing a job, even though millions are not finding useful work." The author also tabulates Dr. Tom Mortenson's stunning statistics on the impact a lack of purpose can have on boys. As just two examples, for every 100 women between ages 20-24 who commit suicide, a shocking 624 men of the same age kill themselves, and for every 100 women aged 18-21 in correctional facilities, we put an astonishing 1,430 men behind bars. Perhaps most astonishingly to many, Judith Kleinfeld of the Boys Project observes, "Even white males of high earning college educated parents are increasingly falling behind equivalent females."

Gurian adroitly notes that a whole range of forces such as extended family members, schools, faith communities that have supplemented and reinforced parental efforts in years past are currently "in flux or breaking down." Medication of boys for behavioral issues is soaring at the same time that boys' relationships to their fathers deteriorates and more boy-friendly aspects of education such as competition, outdoor learning, apprenticeship, and coaching are on the wane.
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