Sunday, August 29, 2021

Boys Adrift and Mens' Organizations

As I've been repainting the trim from yellowish to white in our house (this project started just before school began when the little girls caught Covid and they were isolated to the office, so I knew I'd have a little bit more free time as I wouldn't be taking care of them quite so much), I've been listening to books, primarily the Maze Runner books, and podcasts including Jay Mac as well as several on Come Follow Me. A friend a bit ago mentioned how good Boys Adrift (2016) by Leonard Sax was, so while I was waiting for the last Maze Runner to become available, I grabbed Boys Adrift. IT WAS SO GOOD! The Maze Runner was fun, but....

I've heard many of the concepts mentioned in the Boys Adrift, but never to that depth and never all together. I particularly enjoyed chapter 3 about boys and video games. Luckily, my son (now 18) has never really been into video games, but the information was still fascinating. Sax mentions how distractibility is rewarded in video games like Call of Duty. It is treated like an asset, not a liability (usually it's not a good thing to be so distracted). Risky actions are rewarded and required. Boys who play violent video games are more likely to be pulled over and engage in risky driving. They are three times more likely to be in a car crash in the next five years as compared to those who don't play those games. Not only does the sitting around lead to weight gain, but the games tend to have an appetite stimulus effect. Boys who play violent video games tend to see themselves and others as less human. They experience a myopia for the future despite negative consequences. Violent video games are worse than non-violet because the players become desensitized to violence and have less empathy and a loss of connectedness. Success in the virtual world overrides success in real world. Apparently there is lots of evidence saying this can happen. We need to learn patience in real life, not just blowing something up when we don't like it. Boys used to hunt and fish and learned patience in doing those activities, but it is not being learned now. Sax implies there's a connection with these behaviors to ADHD.

In chapter 7, Sax talks about guiding boys to manhood and girls to womanhood. He says people who have a community helping their kids make this transition are most successful. Parents cannot do this alone. He mentions how the Navajo teach boys to be men. He mentions helpful organizations such as Boys to Men, as well as the Boy Scouts, and I believe he one called Somos Amigos who teach: using your strength in the service of others. I started to think about our Priesthood organization and Relief Society and even our youth programs. It was so interesting that he said this about the organizations because like many, I've wondered why this whole hierarchy of priesthood organization when the women don't have an equivalent. Additionally, why did the boys in the church have the Boy Scouts and the girls didn't have the equivalent. I've heard people say, well men/boys need an organization like that; whereas the women and girls don't. That never felt really fair, but according to Sax, there's actually some truth in it. Men apparently thrive more on these hierarchies and goals and competition, and women don't respond to it quite the same; it's not as necessary. Then, there was that whole thing about using your strength to serve others! Isn't that what the priesthood is? A way for the men of God to organize and serve? Honestly, I've heard more than once that without the priesthood, men just aren't likely to organize and serve like the women are. That felt so unfair to the men, but I suppose there's some truth to it. Also in regards to others who help our youth become adults, yesterday, two of my kids got to participate in youth conference. So, I had a greater appreciation for those youth leaders who are helping my kids learn how to become women and men. I'm so grateful for this Church that helps me raise my children into adults. Anyway, lots to think about.

Chapter 8
Sax says he likes to share true stories of real men and the value of masculinity without disrespecting women and devaluing them. He tells the story of Joshua Chamberlain, born 1828, who was educated and inspired to help free the Black slaves. He wanted to serve in the military, but his school wanted to send him to Europe instead. He decided to enlist and led the 20th Main in the battle of Little Roundtop at Gettysburg where they ran out of ammunition and turned to bayonets. This scholar and seminarian felt it was his duty to fight because he knew what really mattered. When it came time to accept victory, Chamberlian told his men to salute the defeated Confederacy rather than act unhonorably. His classic education taught him manners and how to be a gentleman. This was the only part in the book that made   me cry because there was so much sacrifice!

Anyway, this is kind of a ramble, but there's so much more good stuff in the book. I'd highly recommend it! I'm now excited to read Girls on the Edge also by Sax because I have four daughters!

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