Over 90 years ago, Lewis Terman attempted to identify the brightest kids in California. There were two young boys who took Terman’s test but who did not make the cutoff to be included in this study for geniuses. These boys were William Shockley and Luis Alvarez, who both went on to study physics, earn PhDs, and win the Nobel Prize. Why did they miss the cut? One explanation is that the Stanford-Binet, the test Terman used, simply did not include a spatial test.
With absolutely no statutory help available for dads in this position, those who find themselves outside of the family unit are, without the help of family and friends, destined for a life of sofa surfing, hostels or other even less suitable places to live. I have heard of dads in this position living in garages and the garden shed. From here it is incredibly difficult for them to continue to maintain relationships with their children, for who would want their children to know that they are in that position? Housing for dads after separation is a critical issue and one which leads to despair for too many.
I was excited therefore, when I received news of a project in London which is specialising in helping dads in these circumstances. DadsHouse is a charity founded by Billy McGranaghan, himself once a lone parent who found it hard when he was alone and wanted to help other dads in his shoes. DadsHouse runs many projects but the most recent is particularly special because it helps dads who are homeless with temporary accommodation, which in turn gives them a chance to build relationships with their children.
From “Boy Is Beautiful” in Psychology Today by Mark Sherman, Ph. D.
What was the picture? Was it a gun? A bomb? The scene of an explosion? No. It was an anatomically correct stick figure of a man. Yes, it was a man with a penis.
My son was very upset – not with my grandson, but with the school, for forcing my son to leave work in the middle of the day to pick up my grandson for what my son felt was an absurd reason. And my daughter-in-law also thought it was ridiculous, as did my wife, and my son’s in-laws, who are far more conservative than we are.
I think my son handled it beautifully. My grandson was upset to be sent home, and felt like there was something wrong with him. And that is how kids feel; you have to be pretty grown up to feel that maybe it’s not you; that perhaps there is something wrong with “the system.”
On the gender gap in occupational fatalities by Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute:
Every year the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) publicizes its “Equal Pay Day” to bring public attention to the gender pay gap. According to the NCPE, “Equal Pay Day” will fall this year on April 12, and allegedly represents how far into 2017 the average woman will have to continue working to earn the same income that the average man will earn this year. Inspired by Equal Pay Day, I introduced “Equal Occupational Fatality Day” in 2010 to bring public attention to the huge gender disparity in work-related deaths every year in the United States. “Equal Occupational Fatality Day” tells us how many years into the future women will be able to continue to work before they would experience the same number of occupational fatalities that occurred for men in the previous year….
Based on the BLS data for 2014, the next “Equal Occupational Fatality Day” will occur about 11 years from now – on January 12, 2027. That date symbolizes how far into the future women will be able to continue working before they experience the same loss of life that men experienced in 2014 from work-related deaths. Because women tend to work in safer occupations than men on average, they have the advantage of being able to work for more than a decade longer than men before they experience the same number of male occupational fatalities in a single year.
It was not one of the five fatherhood programs supported by the US Department of Health and Human Services. As reported by John Hult:
The Sioux Falls-based non-profit had applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to continue the program earlier this year, but it was not among the five fatherhood programs nationwide selected, according to Rebecca Kiesow-Knudson of LSS.
The new grant would have offered $1.3 million to $1.5 million per year for five years. LSS was informed that its application “scored very high,” Kiesow-Knudson said, but that there wasn’t enough to pay for all the programs that needed funding.
Fatherhood and Families offered training on family re-integration for inmates within six months of release from prison, and was available at five adult DOC facilities. The voluntary program was open to anyone without a domestic violence or stalking record who would return to a family role upon release.
The “Mystery Measure” That Lifts Children by Dr. Ned Holstein (This article first appeared in the commission newsletter, The Proposal.)
Despite the 50-year War on Poverty, the social safety net, and the War on Drugs, poverty and social dysfunction of various sorts appear undented.
Remarkably, there exists a simple “mystery measure” that could be implemented tomorrow, costs society nothing, improves the educational outcomes of children; decreases the number of children suffering from anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and attention deficit; decreases teen violence, gang involvement, and arrests; decreases teen pregnancy; increases child support payments; decreases childhood substance abuse; and improves the physical health of children.
Yet this “mystery measure” is barely on society’s radar screen.
To grasp the opportunity before us, we need to reassess the biases that may blind us to real opportunities. After all, if 50 years of sowing the same thing does not seem to be bearing sufficient fruit, perhaps it is time to reexamine our approach.
The “mystery measure” requires us to reassess our view of the family— in particular, how we value fathers and fathering. We have long acted as if fatherlessness is of little consequence to children so long as single mothers are adequately supported financially, either by child support payments or by the social safety net.
The evidence, however, supports the idea that we must explore means of restoring fathering to children, especially by reforming family court traditions that overwhelmingly favor the award of sole custody to one parent, usually the mother. Instead, courts should award shared parenting if both parents are fit and there has been an absence of significant domestic violence. Shared parenting is the “mystery measure” that will help all our children, both boys and girls, at no cost to society.
Despite enormous expenditures to support single-parent families, The Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Justice, the Census Bureau and numerous researchers have reported alarming outcomes for the 35% of children raised by single parents.
Despite the often-heroic efforts of these parents, their children account for:
63% of teen suicides
70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions
71% of high school drop-outs
75% of children in chemical abuse centers
85% of those in prison
85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders
90% of homeless and runaway children
Three recent comprehensive reviews, based on 30 years of research, support shared parenting as the best arrangement for children after separation or divorce.
Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas authored one of the review papers and concluded, “…shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.” 110 experts around the world signed on to his conclusions.
The 2014 consensus statement of the First International Conference on Shared Parenting in Bonn, Germany reads, “There is a consensus that shared parenting is a viable post-divorce parenting arrangement that is optimal to child development and well-being, including for children of high conflict parents.”
And 32 experts with the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts concluded in 2014, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive…”
Many great ideas are simple. Shared parenting is a simple idea that will help boys and girls enormously. It’s time has come, if only we can get past archaic gender stereotypes that place children exclusively with mothers after separation or divorce.
Dr. Holstein received his undergraduate degree from Harvard, a graduate degree in Psychology from M.I.T., and his M.D. degree from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, where he holds a voluntary appointment as clinical Assistant Professor. He is a recognized national authority in his field of medicine. He founded National Parents Organization in 1996. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Council on Shared Parenting. He is a Commissioner of the Coalition to Create a White House Council on Boys and Men. He is the father of three and the grandfather of four.
To subscribe to the commission newsletter, please email WHC@whitehouseboysmen.com
The Gender Role & The Gender Brain in Education by Sean Kullman (This article first appeared in the commission newsletter, The Proposal.)
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) does important work on civil rights, and the single-sex school debate continues to be an important social issue for them. More often, the ACLU believes single sex schools encourage gender stereotypes that only alienate girls and boys and lead to discrimination and a violation of Title IX. The ACLU has filed lawsuits against districts to prevent single-sex school options. “The adoption of single-sex education programs based on sex stereotypes has become widespread across the state of Florida, and should not be permitted to continue,’ said Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project.’” Referring to some of the gender science as “junk science,” the ACLU sees the single-sex classroom as a potentially discriminatory place.
Other nations have run public single-sex schools for decades, while single-sex public education in the United States is a recent phenomenon. New Zealand provides co-educational as well as single-sex options for low and medium income families unable to afford private single-sex schools. New Zealand’s system may provide some of the pros and cons of co-educational and single-sex education because of the sheer number of students and accessibility to data.
Experts cite that boys are struggling in our modern educational institutions and attending and graduating college at significantly lower rates. (Today 57% of college attendees are women and 43% are male). Other experts worry girls are not getting into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at comparable rates as boys. Federal data supports these concerns in math, technology, and engineering.
Dr. Joseph Cox, former Director of the International Boys School Coalition and father of a daughter who is an engineer, argues that “women who are the product of single-sex education are significantly more likely to study math and science, and in all-boys schools, young men tend to be less self-conscious about studying music, art or acting, and they are more open to sharing their feelings.”
Parents and educators are looking for solutions and new approaches. Gender and learning has its promoters and detractors, but the research around single-sex education has gathered promising data for new ways to educate, helping boys and girls succeed. The ACLU worries this data could be misused and lead to discriminatory practices.
Sean Kullman is an educator and writer. He sits on the steering committee for the Coalition for a White House Council on Boys and Men
The Primacy of Moderate Self-esteem by Marty Nemko (This article first appeared in the commission newsletter, The Proposal)
Careers Tips for Boys’ Parents: Toward Moderate Self-Esteem
Part one of a four-part series that helps parents help set the stage for their boys’ career success. Some advice applies to girls.
If a boy’s self-esteem is too low, he can’t envision a significant career goal let alone be motivated to do the work to achieve it. On the other hand, too-high self-esteem risks complacency or the unrealistic belief he could do anything—Not everyone has a realistic shot of becoming a doctor, lawyer, or astronaut. Self-esteem should be just high enough to engender the sense that, with effort, there’s a range of rewarding careers in which he could succeed.
Alas, it’s harder than in previous generations for boys to acquire even moderate self-esteem. When I started out as a career counselor 30 years ago, my male and female clients were equally confident in themselves. Today, my female clients are, on average, more confident.
That’s understandable. Disproportionately, today’s boys get messages that female is good, male is bad. For example, I just googled the terms “Girls Rock” and “Boys Rock.” There are 300% as many listings for “Girls Rock.” There even are books and posters that explicitly encourage girls to be violent against boys. For example, most books go out of print in a couple years but the book and poster, published by Workman, a major publisher, “Boys are Stupid. Throw Rocks at Them!” remains in print a decade after publication! Even if the book were an attempt at humor, if it were “Girls are Stupid Throw Rocks at Them!,” a publisher would not even have agreed to publish it and if it did, groups would immediately demand it be pulled from the shelves.
Of course, books, posters, and tee-shirts in themselves won’t destroy a boy’s self-esteem. What increases the risk is a boy who is already vulnerable and then experiences a daily retinue of negative imagery and few male role models. Many boys already think they’re inferior. That mindset is unlikely to open them to a reasonable range of career opportunities. So parents might want to do one or more of the following:
Identify and frequently remind him of his strengths. Is he bold yet fair and only takes reasonable risks? Is he usually kind? Able to fix things? Does he write well? Stay alert for his latent as well as apparent strengths and point them out to your boy. Do it often.
Conversely, praising trivial accomplishments and excessively tolerating bad behavior leads to the aforementioned too-high self-esteem. Limit praise to legitimately praise-worthy behavior. Of course, do set limits and issue criticisms as appropriate, although corporal punishment is a no-no. That teaches that an acceptable response to bad behavior is violence.
Keep on the lookout for boy-friendly teachers at your son’s school. Perhaps visit classrooms and ask parents of boys at your child’s school. 87 percent of elementary school teachers are women, among the highest percentage in the world, so you may not have a high-quality male teacher to vie for.
But female teachers vary in how well they treat boys: Do they allow for plenty of movement: Active boys have a harder time sitting all day than do many girls. They may prefer reading about insects and monsters more than do girls. They may like plot-driven stories of adventure and heroism more than talky books about relationships between girls who are clearly superior to the male protagonist. Does the teacher accept a measure of “hyperactivity” or is she too quick to refer the child to the principal or to a physician for Ritalin
Encourage your child to pursue extracurricular activities that are respectful of boys’–especially your boy’s ways of being. Sure, for some boys, that’s sports and rough-housing but if your boy is, for example, artistic or bookish, of course, respect that. After school, some boys would rather read a book, draw pictures, or yes, watch TV or play a video game. In moderation, there is nothing wrong with that. Indeed, recent research finds that video games yield a surprising array of learning and personal development gains.
It’s long been argued that role models portrayed on TV and in movies affect kids. So boys need to see positive role models in the media, especially since their teachers will overwhelmingly be female
So…. Show your boy books with positive male protagonists. PBS has assembled this list, “Best Books for Boys.” It offers many types of model boys, not just athletes, soldiers, etc. nor just hyper-feminized types.
Do remember that even as boys get beyond the traditional age when parents read aloud to kids, your 6 to 10 year old may still enjoy it, and it’s a good parent-child bonding experience.
Similarly, encourage your child to watch TV shows and movies that present positive boy and men protagonists, who demonstrate heroism, prudent risk-taking and drive, used to admirable ends. Alas, there is a dearth of recent such movies so I’ve had to dig into the archive. Fortunately, all are available on NetFlix, Amazon Instant Video, etc: Back to the Future, Home Alone, Dead Poets Society, ET, Field of Dreams, The Black Stallion, The Great Escape, James and the Giant Peach, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Lion King, Rocky, Big, The Red Balloon, Rudy, and the first Harry Potter movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Helping your child acquire reasonable but not excessive self-esteem lays the foundation for a thoughtful, fair-minded exploration of career options. How parents can facilitate that will be the subject of my next article, to appear in the next newsletter.
Marty Nemko is a career counselor and on the Coaltion for a White House Council on Boys and Men. His bio is in Wikipedia.
The Single Sex Classrooms Debate by Michael Gurian (This article first appeared in the commission newsletter, The Proposal.)
When I began to develop nature-based theory more than 25 years ago, I did not know it would be used in all of the ways it has been. I am proud of its application in our nation’s schools. Our teachers are our heroes and they need all the tools they can get, especially to help struggling students.
Among my initial findings were the struggles both boys and girls experienced in schools and communities because the staff and parents were only learning about gender roles (which is indeed a very important topic) but not gender. Gender, not gender roles, impacts every student’s learning curve. My nature-based gender theory starts with gender brain science (the nature part of the human equation), then moves to nurture and culture; it gives teachers, parents and others a holistic way to create healthy social systems for both boys and girls.
Of course not everyone agrees with the gender lens. The ACLU’s attack on single gender classrooms and schools is an example. Utilizing “research” from a very small cadre of social thinkers that do not represent the ideas of most people in the field, they argue that differences between males and females are minimal, (i.e. the gender lens is unnecessary), and that allowing schools and parents to choose educational options is dangerous. These folks make their points by attacking schools, misquoting and misconstruing my work and the work of others in the field, and saying that they represent the gender science and the families of our era.
In an interesting twist to this ongoing debate, a recent New York Times story on single gender education included a number of schools the Gurian Institute has worked with. However, the paper chose not to report any of the information from the scientists I asked them to talk with, nor print any of the responses I and others gave them to the superficial and cherry-picked theory in ACLU lawsuits. They basically published the few people and superficial ideas that fit the ACLU ideology.
In order to understand this debate fully, I hope you’ll go deeper. Please study the schools that are innovating with a gender lens, whether they are coed, single gender, Montessori, or other, and raise your voices in support of them.
We will leave a legacy of choice and educational excellence for all students no matter their zip code if we come together in support of options in education.
Michael Gurian is an internationally recognized author, family therapist, and child advocate. gurianinstitute.com
“Young Voices” is a new program on TV/radio in which young men tell their stories of living through the boy crisis. They also attend events live in the field to listen and offer their voices. A few representatives attended the Democratic Brown and Black Forum in Iowa. Here are the three short videos from that event.
Live From The Field: Introduction
Bernie Sanders Campaign Representative Interview
Martin O’Malley Campaign Representatives Interview
While mothers and fathers offer somewhat different views of the division of labor in their household, there is general agreement about who in their family is more job- or career-focused. For example, in two-parent households where the mother and father work full time, 62% say both are equally focused on work, while about one-in-five (22%) say the father is more focused and 15% say the mother is. Differences in the responses to this question between mothers and fathers in this type of household are modest.
From Jim Ellis interviewing Dianna Thompson in The Legacy:
Many in society are aware of the prevalence of divorce and have a general idea of the impact on children. The landscape of fatherless homes is harsh, as shown by the statistics.
The non-profit National Father Initiative reported on a U.S. Census Bureau finding that 24 million children in America – one out of every three – live in biological father-absent homes. Nine in ten American parents agree this is a “crisis.”
According to research conducted by Joan Berlin Kelly, author of “Surviving the Break-up,” 50 percent of mothers “see no value in the father’s continued contact with his children after a divorce.”
The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry report “Frequency of Visitation by Divorced Fathers,” claimed that “40 percent of mothers reported that they had interfered with the noncustodial father’s visitation on at least one occasion, to punish their ex-spouse.”…
Thompson believes she knows where the fathers – the supposed deadbeat dads of the world – have gone. “I really think the fathers are right where the courts put them – locked out of their children’s lives.”
Rather than try to change the basic nature of boys, why not work with who they are? Consider the all-too-typical case of Justin, a Southern California boy who loved science fiction, pirates and battles. An alarmed teacher summoned his parents to school to discuss a picture the 8-year-old had drawn of a sword fight — which included several decapitated heads. Justin was a well-behaved, normal little boy, but the teacher expressed grave concern about Justin’s values. The boy’s father was astonished, not by his son’s drawing — typical boy stuff — but by the teachers lack of sympathy for his son’s imagination. If boys are constantly subject to disapproval for their interests and enthusiasms they are likely to become disengaged and lag further behind.
I know what you’re thinking. Many dads still have not earned the “involved” adjective. Perhaps they’re emotionally distant, focused on the traditional breadwinner role. Or worse, far too many are absent entirely, leaving their children without a father and the mothers to fend for themselves as sole parent and provider. (Of course, women who’ve chosen to raise their children without a male partner or spouse are a different story!)
So what’s the problem with the phrase “involved dad?”
For one thing, it lets the uninvolved off the hook, as if those of us who are present in our kids’ lives are the exceptions, or exceptional, doing something different, unusual, special. No, we’re not; we’re just dads. Let the rest of them be labeled “uninvolved dads,” with the assumption being that a father by definition is one who does more than inseminate a woman.
Recently the oafish dad characterization has changed. After the complaints to a Lowes paint commercial in 2014, advertising agencies changed how they potrayed dads, and the public encouraged it. This is an ongoing collection of positive dad commercials. #RealStrength Dove Men+Care January … Continue reading →
Also, if there is any truth at all to evolutionary psychology, which tells us that women prefer mates who are achievers, what will it mean to Grant’s daughters and the daughters of others, when their pool of eligible men diminishes due to this still not well-known gender gap?
I cannot think of any time when a group that was stagnating in their achievements was being asked to support the aspirations of a group that is outdoing them.
What human trafficking looks like for young men by Ian Urbina in the New York Times.
Mr. Andrade, who died in February 2011, and nearly a dozen other men in his village had been recruited by an illegal “manning agency,” tricked with false promises of double the actual wages and then sent to an apartment in Singapore, where they were locked up for weeks, according to interviews and affidavits taken by local prosecutors. While they waited to be deployed to Taiwanese tuna ships, several said, a gatekeeper demanded sex from them for assignments at sea.
Once aboard, the men endured 20-hour workdays and brutal beatings, only to return home unpaid and deeply in debt from thousands of dollars in upfront costs, prosecutors say….
“It’s lies and cheating on land, then beatings and death at sea, then shame and debt when these men get home,” said Shelley Thio, a board member of Transient Workers Count Too, a migrant workers’ advocacy group in Singapore. “And the manning agencies are what make it all possible.”
“You go with pride, you come back with shame.” Read the whole thing here.
The decline of manliness is not a new observation. We have discouraged men from acting like men for decades now….now that the little danger, and the three-quarters of a century without a world war is questionable, or should be, did we defame manliness when we did not think we needed it, only to find it rare, now that we obviously do?…We have discouraged boys from becoming men. And now we will likely berate them for not defending us from terrorism today.
From Karen Woodall in Huffington Post UK’s Building Modern Men series:
I work in the field of family separation and I meet disposable dads every day. These men, who appear at times to me to be nothing more than the ghostly imprint of what a father is, are suffering. Not that you would know it, so unpopular is their plight. Gaslighted by the system which surrounds the family as it separates, these dads, who were pregnant with their partners (in that most modern approach to sharing all of the experience of bringing forth life), now find themselves routinely cast out of the family after separation. Dads are not welcome in post-separation family life, especially if they are going to cause trouble by wanting to actually parent their children. For those modern men who gave their all to fatherhood, the injustice of such a swift eviction from the lives of their children after separation, is a bewildering attack on their very sense of self….
Dads after separation were once described by the CEO of Gingerbread (the single parenting charity) as ‘secondary resources, most effective when strategically employed.’ Translated this means, dads are useful to mums after separation because they can babysit and be included on the rota for the school run. Dads as helpers, are acceptable so long as they are doing as they are told. Dads as hands on active parents, sharing the care, the chores, the long nights of tummy aches and sickness are not routinely acceptable. In fact as a practitioner working with dads who have been evicted from their children’s lives after separation, I have witnessed dads being told that their desire to care for their children is ‘aggressive and upsetting’ to their children’s mother.
On October 14, Princeton University and Brookings released a new issue of The Future of Children, focused on marriage and child well-being. After reviewing family research over the last decade, the issue’s big takeaway, co-authored by Princeton sociologist Sara McLanahan and Brookings economist Isabel Sawhill, was this: Whereas most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide range of outcomes, there is less consensus about why. Is it the quality of parenting? Is it the availability of additional resources (time and money)? Or is it just that married parents have different attributes than those who aren’t married? Thus a major theme we address in this issue is why marriage matters for child wellbeing. Although definitive answers to these questions continue to elude the research community, we’ve seen a growing appreciation of how these factors interact, and all of them appear to be involved. In other words, although scholars are not exactly sure why marriage matters for children, they know that marriage does matter for them….
Yesterday, the news was even worse for the family-structure denialists, after the New York Times highlighted a major new study from MIT economist David Autor and his colleagues showing that less-advantaged boys are floundering in school and society — and more so than their less-advantaged female peers — in part because, compared with more-advantaged boys, they are less likely to grow up in a married home with their father. In particular, compared with their sisters, less-advantaged boys “have a higher incidence of truancy and behavioral problems throughout elementary and middle school, exhibit higher rates of behavioral and cognitive disability, perform worse on standardized tests, are less likely to graduate high school, and are more likely to commit serious crimes as juveniles.”
A review of “Fatherless America” by Chester E. Finn in Commentary:
And as for the now-absent biological father, even when he provides financial support and regularly visits his progeny, Blankenhorn is brutally candid: “The end of co-residency and the rupture of the parental alliance mean nothing less than the collapse of paternal authority. Visiting fatherhood almost always becomes disempowered fatherhood, a simulacrum of paternal capacity. . . . [O]nly wishful thinking permits us to continue viewing him as a parent at all. At bottom, he is no longer a father. A second reason for the low visibility of the type of fatherlessness arising from family breakup has to do with social class. Whereas illegitimacy happens mostly among people who live on the other side of the tracks, much divorce and separation take place in “our” own neighborhoods, indeed among our friends and relations, and sometimes even ourselves. If we are honest, we will acknowledge that this makes it harder to condemn the practice, or even to depict it as a pressing social problem. We are engaged, in Senator Daniel P. Moynihan’s evocative phrase, in “defining deviancy down.”
The entire review is here. Please note that the book is not new. Fatherless America and this review were written in 1994.