Author and counsellor Barry MacDonald is bringing his Boy Smarts seminar to Mission.
These are daunting times for raising boys. Many parents worry about the possibility that their boys are being mentored by screen violence and hyper-sexualized media content. They worry about pop culture’s ability to normalize impulsive, disrespectful, and self-destructive behaviour. They worry that boys are internalizing confusing and disturbing versions of masculinity such as those represented in the video game Grand Theft Auto, and that boys are being conditioned, through dazzling and hypnotic media images, to become ever more aggressive.
“In addition to worrying about the influence of a media-saturated culture that seems to equate violence and masculinity, parents have many other concerns,” said MacDonald.
“We often hear on the news about the widening gender achievement gap in schools, where many boys are floundering, disengaging, giving up. As I reported in my book, Boys on Target, boys are at greater risk than girls for most of the major learning and developmental disorders – as much as four times more likely to suffer from autism, attention deficit disorder, and dyslexia.”
Many people have images of what boys are supposed to be and what they are going to be like, said MacDonald.
“In Boy Smarts I argue that society can channel boys into a sort of cultural straitjacket that molds mind and enforces behaviour by confining emotional expressiveness; that boys who want to become real men fear appearing as wimps in the eyes of their peers, and especially their fathers.”
MacDonald adds, “Despite the media’s clichéd portrayals of boy troubles as caused by fatherless homes, lax parenting, excessive video gaming, and broken educational systems, many know that seeking out easy targets of blame does not help anyone.
“Understanding that we have common concerns, we also know that we need to consider each situation, each boy, one by one. As I listen to the unique stories of parents and respond to their varied concerns about their boys’ development in each of my workshops and books, I have endeavoured to provide real-life guidance tailored to the different needs, strengths, and personalities of the young boys in our care.”
Boy Smarts takes place April 20 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Clarke Theatre in Mission.