WILLIAM S. POLLACK,
With Kathleen Cushman
when we need peace and order, our boys may be creating
a ruckus we can't control. Just when they need to be learning
most in the classroom, they may stop doing their homework
or caring about whether they succeed in school. Bombarded
with violent images from mass media, they gravitate toward
games and movies that make our hair stand on end...
boys somehow hardwired to be this way?
Or are we part of making it happen-and if so, can we change
his ground breaking 1999 bestseller Real Boys, clinical
psychologist Dr. William Pollack opened our eyes to the
national crisis of boys, revealed their unique emotional,
psychological and physical needs and gave parents practical
advice about how to raise boys today. In Real Boys' Voices,
Pollack let us hear boys speak for themselves, and in
their own voices, about everything from violence, school,
parents, depression, girls, suicide, sports, sex and spirituality.
Dr. Pollack, along with Dr. Kathleen Cushman, has created
THE REAL BOYS' WORKBOOK (Villard Books; May 2001; $15.95).
This unique, instructive workbook is filled with advice,
exercises and stories to help parents, professionals and
boys themselves understand boys-and how to make life with
them better. Through writing down responses in the workbook,
using the charts and summaries, and taking part in the
provocative question-and-answer sections, you will gain
insight into boys and their problems, understand how your
own set of expectations can be damaging to them, and ultimately
be better equipped to interact with boys in effective
and powerful ways.
Pollack begins the REAL BOYS WORKBOOK by debunking three
widely-believed myths about boys, which he calls the Boy
WILL BE BOYS-We're taught that boys' testosterone levels
make them "naturally" more aggressive, when
in truth a boy's behavior is shaped more by his loved
ones than by nature.
SHOULD BE BOYS-Society expects boys to hide "weak"
emotions like fear, hurt or shame behind a stoic mask,
and only anger is an acceptable emotion. In fact, there
are many diverse and healthy ways to express oneself
as a male.
ARE TOXIC-We believe that unless they are kept under
strict controls, boys are dangerous to society; actually,
boys are empathetic and caring with a strong desire
perpetuating these dangerous stereotypes, parents and
teachers end up hurting-rather than helping-boys, even
when their intentions are good. Dr. Pollack tells parents
and teachers that they must free boys from this "gender
straitjacket of the Boy Code" and instead must give
boys "the freedom to act with boldness and courage,
to display their physical and intellectual prowess...and
express their full range of emotions and capabilities."
on nearly two decades of clinical work, fresh interviews
and research as well as Pollack's own clinical studies,
Pollack delivers a step-by-step manual for interacting
with boys and intervening in dozens of difficult situations.
The REAL BOYS WORKBOOK covers everything from younger
boys' early expressions of sensitivity, sibling wars,
aggressive behavior at school and dealing with death or
divorce, to adolescent issues of drugs, sex, sports and
violent television and video games. For each subject,
Pollack provides written exercises as well as advice on
what (and what not) to say. As Pollack writes, "working
through this book can help you reflect on your own habitual
responses-and perhaps reexamine your beliefs about boys."
instance, the REAL BOYS WORKBOOK section on bullying includes:
thoughts on bullying, a real life bullying anecdote, a
chart of warning signs, specific advice on helping a boy
who's been bullied, fill-in-the-blank questions for the
parent or teacher, and a checklist of things to work on.
Pollack asks tough questions: "Is there anything
about your response to a student's aggression different
when it's a boy, not a girl, who's involved?" And
for teachers or youth workers: "Think of the most
disruptive boy in the group you work with. Now write down
two or three things you like or appreciate about that
student." Pollack's questions force parents and teachers
to pay closer and more thoughtful attention not only to
boys, but also to how they respond to the boys.
tragic shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton,
Colorado left the nation confused and afraid about the
threat of extreme violence and its connection to boys.
Since then, instances of copycat shootings have taken
place across America. Never before has it been more urgent
that parents and teachers communicate openly with boys;
yet in many ways the shootings have made this more difficult.
In Real Boys Voices, Pollack analyzed the national legacy
of fear-the Columbine Syndrome-that remains. He revealed
how the violence has made America afraid of boys, how
teachers, parents and students are stereotyping types
of boys who may be violent, and how boys themselves are
afraid-afraid of being victims of violence, afraid that
if they are different, they will be falsely accused of
being predisposed to murderous rage and afraid to discuss
the real feelings they have inside themselves for fear
that they will be considered violent.
REAL BOYS WORKBOOK offers a practical guide to talking
with boys about rage and violence. Pollack addresses the
different issues believed to be at the root of these repeated
school shootings-isolation, loneliness, the need for attention,
confusion over how to express hurt, and violent images
in the media. By intervening sooner rather than later,
Pollack hopes we can avert future tragedies. He stresses
that parents and teachers must be on the lookout for signs
of depression and sadness; must neither exalt boys who
fight nor ostracize boys who show their vulnerability;
and that boys, as angry and aggressive as they may become,
are highly unlikely to become dangerous in any way.
leading authority on boys, Dr. William Pollack has compiled
the definitive guide to understanding boys of all ages.
The REAL BOYS WORKBOOK will give parents and teachers
the comprehensive advice they need to guide boys successfully
through the special challenges they face.
Pollack, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, is the codirector
of the Center for Men at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical
School, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry
at the Harvard Medical School, and a founding member and
Fellow of the Society for Psychological Study of Men and
Masculinity of the American Psychological Association.
He and his family live in Massachusetts.
Cushman, Ed.D. co-authored Schooling for the Real World
and Circus Dreams: The Making of a Circus Artist, which
won the American Library Association's Notable Book Award.
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