'Round here, we don't watch horror flicks. Even disregarding any possible theological, moral, or aesthetic objections, there's the simple fact that I'd be a basket case for months if ever I were to watch one. We do watch movies, though our wild Friday nights are more often spent catching up on some reading (seems safe enough, right?).
But after reading Boys adrift: The five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men, by Dr. Leonard Sax, I'm starting to think that nonfiction books might be close to slasher films on my taboo list. (And the fact that I'm pregnant with our 3rd boy has, of course, no relevance to any possible accusations of overreaction.)
Briefly, the 5 factors Sax identifies:
1)Changes at School (shift away from sensory learning experience, push for earlier reading/curriculum, emphasis on feelings rather than appropriate competition)
2)Video games (which provide a medium--unfortunately not a real one!--for the frustrated competitive urges)
3)ADHD Medications (as he sees it, overprescribed in order to compensate for the educational situations identified in factor 1. Some really scary research cited here.)
4)Endocrine Disruptors (particularly anything in a boy's environment that functions as an estrogen, like the phthalates in plastic. More on this in a minute)
5)Lack of clear, transitional manhood rituals in American culture (i.e. prolonged adolescence).
So these are all scary. But you can DO something about most of them. #1--Try homeschooling, changing schools/being a very involved parent, delaying your boys' start for a year or more. #2--Well, duh. Don't let them play so much (or at all). #3--Be sure the meds are absolutely necessary for your son. Try everything else first (Sax offers a lot of suggestions on this.) #5--Surround your boys with solid male role models (historical as well as present) and make expectations clear.
But #4--now, that's Really Scary.
"...evidence that some characteristics of modern life--factors found literally in the food we eat and the water we drink--may have the net effect of emasculating boys."
"...the average young man today has a sperm count less than half of what his grandfather had at the same age."
"...a young boy today has bones that are significantly more brittle than a boy of the same age thirty years ago."
"Mothers with high levels of phthalates in their system were roughly ten times more likely to give birth to boys whose genitals showed subtle anomalies."
Now, we could go on about the excess hormones from birth control pills, patches, etc. being flushed into our water system. And that's a problem. But even scarier were the parts about pregnant women drinking bottled water or soft drinks and babies using pacifiers and bottles. I freaked since Boy #2 still sleeps with his pacifier (I know, I know...chastise me later) and tried to do a bit more research, finding that pacifiers and many teething toys are now PVC free. But some of Sax's solutions seem a bit impractical for a growing family, for a variety of reasons. Um, glass baby bottles? What about sippy cups? And would it really be a good idea for Mom's emergency water bottle in the diaper bag to be made of glass?
So here I am, in sleepless suspense. But instead of an ax murderer or vampire around every corner, it's an emasculating endocrine disruptor--and I don't think garlic can do much against those.
Anyone else heard about the evils of plastic? Any solutions?
(N.B.--Girls aren't off the hook either. Sax briefly referenced some really disturbing studies about the effect of these environmental estrogens on early puberty, etc.)