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The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It by Warren Farrell and John Gray, BenBella Books, US $25.95, Pp 368, March 2018, ISBN 978-1942952718

The rate of mass shootings has tripled since 2011. We generally blame guns, violence in the media, violence in the video games, and poor family values. It is true that each of these is a plausible player. But, our daughters live in the same homes, with the same access to the same guns, video games, and media, and are raised with the same family values. But our daughters are not killing or committing suicides at the same rate as the boys.

In The Boy Crisis, Dr. Warren Farrell and Dr. John Gray argue that when a boy feels depressed and isolated because he feels no one who knows the real him loves him, no one needs him, and there is no hope of that changing, he may one day find a cliff and drive off. That choice may be direct, as with suicide, or it may be indirect, as in a school shooting. School shootings are homicides that are also suicides — even if the boy doesn’t end his own life literally, for all practical purposes, his life is still ended.

Dr. Warren Farrell is the author of books published in 17 languages including two award-winning international best-sellers: Why Men Are The Way They Are plus The Myth of Male Power. He was chosen by the Financial Times as one of the world’s top 100 thought leaders. Dr. Farrell is currently the Chair of the Commission to Create a White House Council on Boys and Men. Dr. John Gray is the author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. John Gray’s books are translated into approximately 45 languages in more than 100 countries. Dr. Gray’s more recent books include Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, Why Mars and Venus Collide, and Work With Me (with Barbara Annis).

Dr. Farrell and Dr. Gray say that the murder-suicide combination of school and other mass shootings is largely young white boys’ way of driving off the cliff at the end of mental health’s tortuous road. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the increase in suicide among white males led to as many white males’ lives lost to suicide as have been lost to AIDS. Only Native Americans commit suicide at rates similar to whites.

Becoming a dad is not a mission for every son. Dr. Farrell and Dr. Gray say that your mission should be to guide your son discover his mission. It is no piece of cake because there’s no precedent. Our fathers did not learn to discover their mission. They learned to fulfill a mission our grandfathers discovered for them. Our fathers were assigned the mission of being provider-protector for their families. Our dad had two options: be the provider-protector or be a loser. He learned to be a human doing first, and a human being second. This often led him to withdraw from loving himself, and ultimately from the family he loved. To him feeling that his life insurance policy is more valuable than his life.

Dr. Farrell and Dr. Gray argue that your mission is to help your son discover his mission begins with helping him to discover himself as a human being first and then helping him find a way of being a human doing – of making a living – that supports him as a human being. Dr. Farrell and Dr. Gray argue that this reversal of his grandpa’s sequence will ensure your son realizes that the road to high pay is often a toll road – a road that takes a toll on him as a human being. The process that it takes for him to be successful at work often conflicts with what it takes for him to be successful in love; and if he follows his bliss it’s the money he’ll miss – unless he has the discipline of postponed gratification to, for example, work the extra hours it takes to be a successful artist, writer, actor, or whatever is his bliss.

The Boy Crisis explores the reasons behind the growing rate of mass killings and suicides among young boys and suggests how the parents can help their sons face the societal challenges. Dr. Farrell and Dr. Gray argue that our sons’ crisis is a crisis of education, mental health, and sexuality. But, most importantly, it is a crisis of purpose. They convincingly show that our sons’ crisis is equally a crisis of fathering. Dr. Farrell and Dr. Gray bring fresh perspectives to one of the most important issues of young boys. The Boy Crisis will change the way you interact with your son and other young adults. If you have a young son or plan to have one, you must read it.

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