“What’s Happening to Our Boys?” is the title of a book by well-known author Maggie Hamilton and released by Penguin Books. We have covered this book before, but this content is still incredibly relevant. All the more relevant as we approach International Boys’ Day on 16 May 2019. Put it in your diary now!
As the father of two young adult sons, I didn’t realise how much the world had changed and the changes that today’s boys and teenagers have to face. This book will open the eyes of parents and other adults. In addition to the good, the bad and the ugly, it provides a lot of very good ideas on how to raise well-adjusted and resilient boys and young men.
Greg Donnelly MP, Labor Whip for the Upper House in State parliament, hosted a breakfast to celebrate the launch of ‘What’s Happening to Our Boys?’, with Maggie Hamilton as the speaker.
I went along because Maggie has been an amazing supporter of fatherhood and families. The one phrase that stuck in my mind from Maggie’s presentation was that modern parents are in a battle with the ever-increasing power of the ‘Superparent’.
The trouble is the Superparent is not a human being. The Superparent is the disparate collection of modern media and marketers whose only interest in your son is their ability to extract money from him (and from you too), from the cradle to the grave.
The Superparent’s only value is ‘money is king’; morals don’t come into it.
So much for the safeguards of the free market, as the greatest man to walk the planet observed 2000 years ago, ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’. Money, like media, is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.
Marketers begin their pitch to your son from 6 months of age or even younger. As brand loyalty is worth $100,000 to these brand masters, they are determined to do anything to get it, and so the avalanche of media begins.
James McNeal, the inventor of ‘drool marketing’, says: “Consumer behaviour begins officially at 16 weeks of age”, or as Mike Searle, former president of Kids-R-Us says, “If you own the child at an early age, you own this child for years to come”.
The Superparent wants your child at all costs, and besides branded bibs and clothing accessories, the TV screen/computer screen is its main engager. The Superparent will tell you, via the TV screen/computer screen, that it’s all about ‘education’.
Maggie Hamilton reveals that:
Kids learn twice as fast when parents show them what to do than when it’s explained on a screen… the simple fact is that TV viewing isn’t a good idea for very young children. For over a decade, experts have been urging parents to avoid TV for under 2s, as it can affect their early brain development.
Maggie’s chapter on the secret life of boys is equally alarming as Maggie documents the world of cyberspace that boys face, the dangers of online chat rooms, file sharing, predators and perverts, porn addiction, gaming addictions and the more familiar drug and alcohol problems that young boys are facing at an earlier and earlier age.
As 17-year-old Daryl said, “Parents are very oblivious about what is happening on the net.”
The most exciting chapter for me is called ‘Why Dads Matter.’
It’s a big journey from boyhood to adult life and, like mums, dads have much to contribute. ‘For a boy a close relationship with his father is like gold,’ explains Toby, 16. Boys need their dad’s strength, comfort, guidance and protection. The boys I spoke with were in no doubt how much their dads meant. ‘Having a father around means his presence empowers you and gives you something to strive for,’ said Luca, 15. ‘If you don’t have this, you don’t know how to act, except from your friends. Without your dad it’s hard to know about your body and a whole lot of things.’ Tom, 12, agrees. ‘If a father lives with his son and is strong, he’s like an anchor, one constant who models what they become.’
I had the privilege of reading ‘What’s Happening to Our Boys?’ before it was published. You will find my endorsement inside the title page. I believe this book IS a must read for all parents with sons. If you have boys, I encourage you to get your own copy and read it and make your own judgement. Then the best thing you could do is pass it on to your friends.
Yours for our boys,