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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 boys 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.Building on the success of his guide to raising healthy young boys (The Wonder of Boys, Michael Gurian has written the next chapter--a book focusing on the much-maligned adolescent male. Gurian asserts, "We do not understand adolescent-male development, and therefore are unable to give our adolescent males the kind of love they need to become fully responsible, loving, and wise men." Adolescent boys may appear to be self-sufficient, but Gurian asserts that they actually need their parents and elders desperately. The author carefully illustrates what we--as parents, mentors, and educators--need to know about male adolescents, and what we can do to aid them on their journey to adulthood.
In the face of many sociologists and scholars who strongly declare the contrary, Gurian claims a biological basis for many male behavioral traits. In A Fine Young Man, he employs convincing data from scientific studies on neurological development to assert that female and male brains have significant differences, and that testosterone plays an important role in male development and behavior.
But A Fine Young Man offers far more than theory. Gurian's arguments are firmly rooted in reality, and he offers specific suggestions for typical family dilemmas. He breaks down the stages of development into preadolescence, early, middle, and late adolescence; discusses education and the role of the media; and suggests ways to keep aggression (caused in part by the testosterone flooding the adolescent male brain) from becoming violence. In a social sense, Gurian says, adolescent boys are our most undernourished population, and A Fine Young Man encapsulates his hope that our neglected young men receive the nurturing they need. --Ericka Lutz
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