10 Reasons Demonstrating that the Boy Crisis in America Continues (4 minute read)

This week’s blog has excerpts from a September 29 New York Times article “The Crisis of Men and Boys” by David Brooks. The article captures many of the serious negative implications of fatherless that Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son reveals, and we’ve been writing and speaking about for the last three years.  

The basic premise of the article is that boys and men are struggling in America, and it’s not getting better. Here is some of the data:

  1. Girls outperform boys academically in virtually every subject and at all grade levels.
  2. 2/3 of the top 10% of high school students are girls; 2/3 of the lowest decile are boys.
  3. In the top 16 flagship law schools in the U.S. not one editor-in-chief is a male.
  4. The earning power of men who entered the workforce in the 80’s is 10% less than the previous generation (accounting for inflation), while women’s earning power has increased by 33% during the same time period. Almost all of the income gains in the middle-class family are because of women’s earnings.
  5. Men account for 75% of suicide and drug overdoses.
  6. Policies and programs designed to advance social mobility for kids work much more effectively for girls than boys.
  7. Men’s graduation rates have been flat in recent years, while women’s continue to increase.
  8. The percentage of young men attending college continues to plumet as young women’s enrollment is on the rise. (Colleges are now concerned that if the percentages continue to “tilt” this way, college will soon be unattractive for both males and females.)
  9. According to Richard V. Reeves’s new book, “Of Boys and Men, there is something in society that is “producing an aspiration gap” in young men.
  10. More young men are living with their parents than at any time in the last century.

I want to be clear that I am not faulting women or saying that women are at fault. I’m pleased to see the advances that women and girls have made in society in my lifetime. And we have a ways to go.

Society, including schools and many families, are failing to nurture boys and young men’s skills that lead them to being emotionally healthy. They lack the desire to strive and thrive for a modern masculine ideal. While this type of emotionally shallow, immature, and often hyper-masculine person used to be relegated to the fringes (think gangs, bullies and drop outs), today we’re seeing this type of behavior acted out on the largest and most public leadership stages of government, education and corporate America.

Every day the news and social media is filled with examples of (let’s take just one example) our nation’s political leaders who have zero tolerance for differing opinions (which is a core tenant for healthy government and social discourse), and have no hesitation in denying basic truths (think election deniers) and then making up all kinds of vile lies about their political rivals “across the aisle.” These are our elected leaders! Lord help us…

While I tend to lean towards great optimism, unless many in leadership positions, beginning in the home, don’t respond quickly, we’ll suffer dire consequences in our country. Indeed, we already are. More on what to do about this in the coming weeks.

We need you, all of you, to be your best Tender Lion self this and every day!

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