The Good Son

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The Good Son "After almost two decades of my working with boys and young men—in classrooms, in prisons, in community agencies, and in my therapy practice—my fear for them grows," writes Michael Gurian, in his new book, The Good Son: Shaping the Moral Development of Our Boys and Young Men. "More and more they are in the obvious state of moral emergency that the media tracks through their stories of boys shooting up and placing bombs in schools, and of men shooting up workplaces. But there is the hidden emergency as well—the gradual decay in character education and emotional support systems for boys and young men." In The Good Son, Gurian, a family therapist, tells of his own struggles as a boy. Born in 1958 to a family that moved around the world (his father worked for the Foreign Service), Gurian presented his parents "with a powerful emotional and moral puzzle," he said in an interview. "My parents were always on a spiritual quest," he says, embracing, over the years, Hindu, Bahai and Quaker faiths. Gurian has no problem with spiritual mixing and matching (today, he's both Jewish and Unitarian). "But in their parenting styles, they were vacillators. They'd be really structured with me for a while, and then they'd be permissive; they were always experimenting." As he grew, Gurian's behavior worsened. Eventually, a doctor prescribed Ritalin, a drug prescribed for hyperactivity, which is now called Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). Gurian thinks that, at least in his case, the drug did more harm than good. "My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Kono, called my parents and said, 'We'd rather have the wild boy than the zombie.'" Today, Gurian is troubled by the rise in such diagnoses and drug treatments. In the U.S., approximately 3 million kids are on Ritalin—and 90 percent of them boys, he points out. Can this many boys really be biochemically

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