“Lessons of Lifelong Intimacy explores the hidden depths of marriage and relationships. Gurian utilizes cutting edge neuroscience to help couples experience happy and balanced love. This is an important and powerful book.”
--Daniel G. Amen, MD, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, and coauthor of The Daniel Plan
We are pleased to announce the paperback publication of Dr. Gurian’s powerful new book on marriage and relationships, Lessons of Lifelong Intimacy: Building a Stronger Marriage Without Losing Yourself. This book is one of Gurian’s best, exploring 9 principles of a balanced and happy relationship. It answers the question, “Why do some couples stay in love for decades, while others hardly make it past their honeymoon?” in very readable language, and with Gurian’s trademark emphasis on practical strategies.
Dr. Gurian’s research shows that couples who make love last don’t necessarily share every thought and feeling. The secret, Gurian argues, is the balance of “separateness” and “intimacy.” This balance is no easy task, but accomplishing it raises a relationship or marriage to a whole new level of love and success.
A New York Times bestselling author, Gurian brings twenty-five years of marriage and family counseling to the groundbreaking plan in this book. This practical yet personal guide is richly illustrated with stories and case studies and supported by the latest science.
Gurian helps couples work through arguments and also delves into the typical differences between male and female brains, which may explain varying needs for intimacy and distance, and the effects these differences have on relationships.
And he explains how a fighting couple may actually be working together without realizing it, to solve the same problem. In exploring this kind of conflict, he shows what can be done to finally end the major marriage killer of our time--ongoing power struggle between the couple over seemingly small but ultimately large things.
Lessons of Lifelong Intimacy unveils the secrets to lifelong love in a highly readable way. We hope you will grab this book here (link to amazon.com) or through your other preferred outlets.
“Gurian culminates a quarter century of work with clients by elucidating the essential piece of marriage that is missing from so many self-help books: intimate separateness. This new paradigm for balanced marriage will change the way America thinks of love, marriage, and relationships.”
--Farnoosh Torabi, financial expert and author of When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women
Question: For love to last, what are the negative habits to change as soon as possible?
Answer: You’ve probably met couples in which one or both partners interrupt the other person in public. You might even be that couple! Sevda and Tarik were friends of Gail’s (my wife of 30 years) and mine during our early years of marriage. At parties or social gatherings, Sevda, a university professor, insisted that Tarik, a physician, was an “interruptor.” She also insisted that she was expressly not an interruptor. And she confessed that Tarik’s tendency to interrupt created significant marital difficulties.
She was right—it did, and Tarik was oblivious to the damage. Men are often unable to see the effects of their actions during interactions and conflicts. Male heart rates do not rise as high as women’s during a marital conflict or stressful situation, and males may not notice as much about the impending issues because they are not as stressed by a situation.
Scientists Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and Ron Glaser have found that not only women’s heart rates but their stress hormones epinephrine and nor-epinephrine rise during stressful situations in marriage more than men’s. Men’s “hearts,” literally, remain oblivious at times to the possible damage in their actions.
But that’s not the whole story. Women often tend to mirror the public male behavior (interrupting, in this case) in private in more damaging passive-aggressive ways than they realize. The very thing that drove Sevda crazy about Tarik in public also drove Tarik crazy about Sevda in private.
Interrupting more than one should is an example of a bad habit in marriage. Bad habits, taken cumulatively, can harm or destroy love and marriage. Fortunately, no marriage needs to be burdened by bad habits. Here are five habits you can identify and work on right now. If you are involved in three or more of these to a significant degree, your relationship could be in serious trouble right now or down the line.
To try to get immediately to the heart of the matter, reflect on this list separately with some blank paper on hand for writing notes, then compare your notes together afterward. Do this list twice—once for yourself (i.e. “look in the mirror at yourself”) and then for your partner: gently assess your partner’s habits.
Check List of Five Negative Marital Habits
1. Interrupt your partner in public or private? Perhaps you interrupt your partner in both settings. If so, give some examples of both. If just one setting, give some examples of dialogue of interruption in one setting. Some interruption is normal between best friends, but do you do it too much?
2. Avoid doing things you know make your partner happy? Perhaps you know that your partner would be very happy if you cleaned the house, but you avoid doing it. Perhaps you don’t just avoid doing it some of the time (some of the time would be a compromise), but instead, you avoid doing it all the time. Or you do it only when your partner forces you—perhaps through bribery, begging, or anger.
3. Avoid doing things sexually that either you really want to do and/or that you know your partner needs and wants to do? Give examples of sexual experiments you or your partner
want to try—write down why you avoid them. Be specific. If you remember conversations you and your partner have had about these things, write at least one of those conversations down.
4. Criticize your partner too much in public and/or in private? Some amount of critique, judgment, moralizing, and correcting of a partner’s behavior is normal in any long partnership. You care about your partner and figure you know what’s best for him or her. But do you criticize, judge, become reactive, or correct your partner on more than just a few things? If so, list those things.
5. Let your partner criticize, judge, moralize about, and correct you more than is safe for the development, growth, or stability of your own identity and self? It’s normal for all of us to defer to our partner’s critiques sometimes—if we didn’t, we’d lack an essential humility in our relationship. But if you are getting critiqued every day, and if you constantly assume your partner is right and you are wrong, your self-confidence is probably being significantly debilitated. List the critiques you “take” from your partner.
Assuming for a moment that you’ve both done this exercise, compare notes, talk, then use your lists and anecdotes as grist for relational improvement. As needed, talk with a counselor alone or together about these lists. If, as you talk about these things with your partner, one or both of you become either blaming or defensive, set a timer so that neither of you goes on and on (which can make the other defensive or bored or blaming). I suggest three minutes for each description or example of each bad habit (without interruption!). If either of you takes more than the allotted time or interrupts start the particular point over. If one of you tells the story by blaming, start it over. If one of you becomes defensive, start it over.
As you talk about these bad habits in a timed or other safe way, and as you gradually (or immediately) do it without blaming one another or becoming significantly defensive, you will be practicing intimate separateness. This paradox is the key to healthy marriage—the ability in relationship and marriage to stand apart independently while still embracing one another lovingly. Removing your bad habits can ensure healthy intimate separateness in your marriage—at the same time, just working on identifying and talking about those bad habits can be a first major step in the journey.
"13RW: 13 Reasons Why: What All Parents and Educators Need To Know About this Series"
Chances are, if you teach or have tweens or teenagers, you have heard the buzz about the new NetFlix series, "13 Reasons Why" produced by Selena Gomez.
This new series offers an explicit view of what life of tweens and teens is like in 2017. The series has been heralded by these teens as "epic" and "so real," which means we adults in their lives need to dial in. The rating on the series is MA 15+, however millions of younger students are watching and processing the show, and often alone. They need our input!
In my travels as a school teacher and administrator, I often heard students say that we as adults were out of touch with what they were really going through. The tried and true phrase, " You just don't understand me," was often heard in homes and hallways I visited. And some of this is true: while many of the trials and tribulations of growing up are the same in any age, times have certainly changed. With the onslaught of device access and dopamine charged apps, tweens and teens are plugged in most of the day and night. This lends itself to our kids hyper-comparing and hyper-contrasting their lives with each other's. This kind of life can lead to engaging in online conflict and turmoil. With underdeveloped brains and a pre-frontal cortex that lacks maturity, our children's lives can be a difficult road.
A series such as 13RW tries to speak to all this. It is realistic, raw, vulnerable, and powerful. It can serve the purpose of opening courageous conversations of all kinds on a range of topics that lie close to the heart strings of our teens. The slippery slope, however, lies in a teen's developmental stage of life. Mimicking and creating personas and avatars of themselves is a rite of passage that they often experience and welcome. The 13RW series speaks to that rite of passage but in some ways that need guidance and boundaries in families so that parents and teens can process what the teens are viewing.
Two graphic sexual assault scenes are one reason why. So, too, other scenes with a wide range of emotions around harassment and intimidation. The suicide in the show also creates an emotional roller coaster that for any child, especially one with any preexisting mental health issue or trigger--can invite dangerous ideas and inner struggles parents, if disengaged, may not realize are happening.
What the series wins in reality, it lacks in connection to care now, and resources for treatment.
Our kids want to be heard by people that know and love them. The series can help with this if we use it to our advantage. While websites and resources are given on the Facebook page and trailer of the series, I believe these are not enough. While they comprise a wise addition, the series producers missed the opportunity to provide real life scenarios for what Hannah and the adults in the series could have done better.
Hollywood missed the mark on this one, but we don't have to. When we know better, we do better. We can engage with our teens on this. For more insight, click here for a resource guide of tips and conversation starters from SAVE.org, an advocate in suicide prevention. Be in the know!
Ask Dr. Gurian
by Michael Gurian, www.gurianinstitute.com
Q: Is there really a “He” or “She” anymore?
A: Yes. But when we hear the question, we must ask: ‘What are you referring to by He or She?
TIME recently published a cover story, “Beyond He or She,” that was short on actual brain science. It was summarized by the editors of Time this way.
“TIME interviewed dozens of people around the U.S. about their attitudes toward sexuality and gender, from San Francisco to small-town Missouri. Many said they believe that both sexuality and gender are less like a toggle between this-or-that and more like a spectrum that allows for many — even endless — permutations of identity. Some of those young people identified as straight, others as gay, still others as genderqueer, gender fluid, asexual, gender nonconforming and queer. Several said they use the pronoun they rather than he or she to refer to themselves.
“This variety of identities is something that people are seeing reflected in the culture at large. Facebook, with its 1 billion users, has about 60 options for users' gender. Dating app Tinder has about 40. Influential celebrities, such as Miley Cyrus (who spoke to TIME for this article), have come out as everything from flexible in their gender to sexually fluid to "mostly straight."
The article is a fascinating read but it blends and blurs the four different aspects of He/She science (gender science) in order to make its point, which is, as I read it: that humanity is ready to finish with “He” and “She.” I will show in this blog that humanity is not ready to do that nor should it act in that way, but it can finish with the word “or” for sex/gender. The correct approach to sex/gender should be “He and She.”
This blog is the first of a series. In this first blog, I'll look at the biological and neural science. Ultimately, to ensure that we and our children love and are loved, we will need to avoid quick assessments of “he/she.” Four aspects of sex/gender (He/She) need to be delineated, especially when we discuss public policy and social study. These four aspects form, to me, four quadrants or chambers of sex/gender (thus, of human love). I won’t overuse the metaphor of the four chambers of the human heart, but I do think there is some resonance since everything about sex and gender does relate in some way to human love.
What Do We Mean by He and She?
“He” and “She” have been used since the beginning of time because these two words represent the chromosomal pattern we are born with: XX for female, XY for male. You can access the work of the scientists who study these patterns on google or in my books (e.g. Ruben and Raquel Gur, Daniel Amen, Jay Giedd, Sandra Witelson, Camilla Benbow, David Geary, Larry Cahill and many others around the world). As these neuro-scientists have proven, He and She are not going away. Meanwhile, each aspect of He or She can certainly use more scrutiny.
The first of the aspects or “chambers” in sex/gender is, obviously, anatomical. For nearly every human being, this chamber is controlled by reproductive organs, which are built via the X and Y chromosome markers in utero. They are binary, i.e. they are his organs and her organs. These organs work along a hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis to control male/female hormonology. While there are a few XXY and XYY individuals born every year, 99.99 percent of human beings have these binary reproductive organs and are she/he. When the Bible famously says, “And God created man and woman,” the quote refers to this first aspect (penis/vagina and testosterone/estrogen) set of differences.
David C. Page, M.D., professor of biology at MIT recently captured the profundity of He/She: “Our genomes are 99.9% identical from one person to the next as long as the two individuals being compared are two men or two women. But if we compare a woman and a man, the genetic differences are 15 times greater than the genetic differences for two males or two females.”
Marianne J. Legato, M.D., in Eve’s Rib: The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine, warns us to be careful about pretending this is not so. The pretense can negatively affect both women and men in getting needed mental and physiological treatment. “Everywhere we look,” she writes, “the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different, not only in their internal function but in the ways that they experience illness. To care for them, we must see them as who they are: female and male.”
The second aspect or chamber of human love is sex on the brain (recently altered in public discourse to “gender on the brain”). This area of sex/gender difference is generated in utero via the XX and XY chromosomes markers that direct the fetus to differentiate male/female in Mom’s womb before the child is born. The differences between XX and XY brains are generally quite distinct on brain scans.
For instance, XY children (He) come out doing language on the left side of the brain while XX children (She) come out of the womb doing their language and word production on both sides of the brain. Similarly, neural females (girls, women, she) process their daily experience through up to 10 times more white matter activity than males (boys, men, he). Males, on the other hand, tend to utilize up to 7 times more gray matter activity to process daily life and learning than their sisters do.
Like the first aspect of sex/gender, the second requires He and She to be factored into our academic, governmental, media, and social vocabulary if we are to successfully raise and educate children. Scientists have confirmed this worldwide—not just in the U.S.—as they study success patterns among communities that raise girls toward the highest leadership abilities possible. In Saving Our Sons (2017), I share recent stories from teachers and parents who neglected to factor in “sex on the brain” as they raised and educated boys. More boys and men fail when they are not taught boy-specifically. Even churches are now beginning to realize how different the brains of boys and girls are. They, like school systems, are starting to look at failure rates of students, and altering their social systems to include male/female brain difference training. When they do this, both girls and boys are more successful, empathic, and motivated to learn.
The third chamber of sexuality/gender is sexual orientation. This chamber includes the LGB and Q portions of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Queer). We will look at the T (Transgender) in the fourth chamber below.
Approximately 10 percent of mammals, birds, and primates are LGB or Q. They have a homosexual or same-sex biological attraction. Their sexually dimorphic nucleus (SDN) in the medial preoptic area (POA) of the anterior hypothalamus is shaped and acts like the same nucleus in the other-sex brain. In clearer terms, this means that, a gay man’s SDN is the same size as a woman’s, and vice versa. A LGBQ person will likely still have a male or female brain (e.g. verbal centers and white/gray matter activity gender differentiated) but can have a cross-sex SDN such that this one aspect of his/her brain opposes the norm for sexual orientation. This means that aspect 1 of sex/gender generally replicates itself in the SDN of the brain for 90% of humans, primates, and other animals, but not for 10%.
The exact reason for this is yet unknown but we do know is that homosexuality has a genetic component--it runs in families. The Harvard Medical Letter publicized this in the early 1990s and since gene mapping (2003), geneticists have been looking at various X chromosome clusters, such as the Xq28 marker, to try to discover the elusive “gay gene.” Meanwhile, we also know that the size and shape of the SDN (gay/straight) is generally set in utero via hormonal surges that format various parts of the brain. Homosexuality, then, is like Aspects 1 and 2, a biological part of the human being.
The fourth aspect of He and She is the gender/sex brain spectrum. While reproductive sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone exist in each female and male cell, they also exist in differing quantities between human beings. Similarly, the extent to which each individual brain is sexualized/genderized for male/female is vast enough to include all 7.3 billion people on earth. Thus, the first three chambers of sex/gender exist on a spectrum. On that spectrum, the exceptions prove the rule.
Throughout scientific method, this is the case: the exceptions will prove the rule. While approximately 10% of people in the world are LGBTQ, about 20% of people feel that they have male/female brains at or near the middle of the sex/gender-brain spectrum. For instance, while one boy or man (He) may be or feel very “male” on the brain spectrum, another may be or feel what I call a “bridge brain” (a male who thinks and feels more “female”), and vice versa: a She may think/feel more “male” while her sister knows herself as much more female-female.
Bridge brains can now be seen on brain scans in the same way that the SDN can be seen on autopsies. Our GI team and I show these scans at our lectures and trainings so that participants can see how well differentiated all male/female brains are and, also, how wonderfully subtle the brain spectrum is, including around a 1 in 5 exception rate (bridge brains). But even these 1 in 5 bridge brains (who feel like exceptions) are part of the male/female (He/She) brain spectrum. Their brains are still male/female brains, even though they know themselves toward the middle of that spectrum..
The TIME survey, including the GLAAD survey results in TIME, reflect this in a fascinating way (though I don’t think they meant to). The editors of TIME note: “In a new survey from LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD, conducted by Harris Poll: 20% of millennials say they are something other than strictly…cisgender. (Cisgender is the term used for males and females who feel that their own gender identity matches the biological sex they were born into-aspects 1 and 2). The approximate 1 in 5 millennials noted in the survey enjoy seeing themselves as other than cisgender but as the study proved, 4 of 5 people know themselves as distinctly He and She. The exceptions, again, prove the rule.
Even transgender brains prove the sex/gender rule. Approximately .03 percent of people worldwide are born with an extreme bridge brain in a cross-sex body—e.g. a “male” (he) brain (aspects 2 and 3) in a female body (aspect 1) or vice versa: a “female” (she) brain in a male body. Recent studies confirming this have emerged in the U.S., Spain, the Netherlands, and in many other countries (please see the End Notes in Saving Our Sons for more resources).
Most people, then, self-reflect aspect 4 of the four chambers of this sex/gender heart based on aspects 1 and 2, even if their sexual mating behavior and orientation is LGBQ. This vast majority of people seek to love and be loved; succeed and thrive; empathize and care for others; protect family and country; and generate a forward-thinking society from within He and She. They are people like me who also reserve the right to think outside the box; to expand gender roles and gender thinking; and to support others who don’t want to be restricted in singular, limited notions of gender.
Gender Fluidity and Gender Science
Many young people--especially in the developed West where they are not constantly in survival mode--are discussing gender identity in helpful ways that fit their new privileges. TIME reflects this new "gender fluidity movement" in the article, a movement that helps facilitate conversation and protect vulnerable LGBTQ populations. The movement is here to stay.
But it is not new. Among us baby boomers in the 70s and 80s, it was called the “androgyny” movement. We were saying the same things then that are being said now, though we did not have as many words for androgyny. For me as a mental health counselor, husband, father of daughters, and social scientist, the androgyny movement was useful in expanding ideas of masculinity and femininity for myself and my wife, Gail, and expanding girl power for my daughters. I find the gender fluidity movement equally fascinating.
However, we must remember that it is talking about gender, not sex. In this context, it is dangerous to conflate all four chambers of the heart into just one: “gender fluidity.” The androgyny movement expanded our horizons nicely but also pretended there were few or no relevant neural difference between females and males. The academic world, then the public, then our governments and legislators jumped on board. Schools of education at most academic institutions bought so heavily into the androgyny (and now have bought into gender fluidity) movement that they still avoid teaching teachers how to specifically teach boys and girls most effectively.
The result is schools drowning in the mistake. We have classrooms in which teachers are doing their best to try to adapt to He and She learners but meanwhile they are told He and She learners are an illusion. This lack of in depth teacher training leaves millions of learners falling behind or failing in school and then, because school success is essential to life-success, failing in life. Because of a popular but mistaken belief that "sex/gender is mainly socialized, not natural," the educational system conflated the four aspects of gender into one, and pretended there is no important or accurate measure of He and She (aspects 1 and 2) in the brain.
Not He or She but He and She
With four “chambers” of the sex/gender heart in mind, I hope you can now look again at these statements by the TIME editors: “Some of those young people identified as straight, others as gay, still others as genderqueer, gender fluid, asexual, gender nonconforming and queer. Several said they use the pronoun they rather than he or she to refer to themselves. This variety of identities is something that people are seeing reflected in the culture at large. Facebook, with its 1 billion users, has about 60 options for users' gender. Dating app Tinder has about 40. Influential celebrities, such as Miley Cyrus (who spoke to TIME for this article), have come out as everything from flexible in their gender to sexually fluid to "mostly straight."
The TIME editors are not referring to the first two aspects of sex/gender but, rather, the second two. Because of their interest in the second two, they have set up an article that leans toward inviting “gender dissolution.” This is a term I use to describe the state of being that some people believe best protects humanity—a state in which biological and brain science do not exist or are marginalized and ideological input on sex and gender should run the society.
This kind of gender dissolution was championed by the Department of Education recently when it provided a Dear Colleague letter to schools and communities announcing that Title IX (which refers to equality for the "sexes") should be altered, both in law and interpretation, to become about “gender.” To many of us who read this letter, the hope of the ideologically driven DOE was to negate the biological, neurological, and genetic aspects of sex/gender in favor of the ideologically accessible “gender fluidity” concept. “Gender differences” under this kind of thinking became “junk science” or were marginalized; the 60 ways of thinking about gender were posited as replacing He and She.
But He and She are not replaceable: not only are they set on the brain spectrum but all of us need the anchor point of He and She to mate, love, raise and educate children, and thus survive and thrive. On www.michaelgurian.com/about you can click a Research page in which you will see more than one thousand brain-based gender studies proving this point. In contrast, when you read articles, blogs, or Dear Colleague letters that pretend gender fluidity is the whole story, you will generally notice little or no hard science.. This same thing happened during the androgyny movement. Brain scans already existed showing how differently the male and female brains experience education, life, and love, but this science was avoided in the ideological public dialogue.
I challenge TIME to do a cover story on HE and She. It is time to become fully forward thinking: to see gender science and gender fluidity running parallel. If we do this, we will be able to create family and school systems that work best for boys and girls, while also protecting vulnerable LGBTQ populations. We will be able to understand the needs of boys and girls from the inside out, and we will meet those needs. Prison populations and rates of violence will decline as we give female and male children the nurturing they need. We are not opposite sexes—the gender fluidity movement is correct about that—but we are complementary sexes. Both sexes have existed for millions of years and will exist for as long as humanity survives on this or another planet. They are templated to work together rather than in opposition.
Please generously share this blog in your discussions of sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
By Dr. Michael Gurian, www.gurianinstitute.com
Q: Should we have more debates in our classrooms?
A: Yes! As a boy raised by Jewish parents, I spent a lot of my own boyhood debating—debating my parents, debating other kids in Sunday school, debating teachers in their classrooms (sometimes somewhat too obnoxiously!), and debating my siblings. My mother called me “the fastest mouth in the west.” Generally, she meant this both as a compliment and a complaint. I deserved both. With debate in my DNA, I joined the debate team in high school and continued to debate in college.
When I spent a summer in Israel in my 20s, I saw debate as an art form. Because much of my ancestry is Jewish, and I am a practicing Jew, Israel held a great deal of soulfulness for me—I felt immediately at home there in a different way than I did as a Jew in America. Yet, too, I was an American and know America as my home country. How can both feelings of “home” exist in one soul? With my relatives and friends in Israel, this became a matter of debate! We spent many evenings walking through Jerusalem seeking answers that were not, themselves, answers, but were, in fact, just debates. Warmth, passion, bonding, and brain growth occurred in these debates in which no one was victorious but each person felt more successful, more whole.
Jews refer to the structure of the Talmudic debate process as “hevruta,” meaning “pairs.” Midrash (school) students are divided into pairs in which they debate a text, line, or story of the Talmud. They learn to analyze, engage in critical thinking, develop multiple answers to questions. They then analyze and debate these answers further. Success is not necessarily measured by being “right.” Success is intrinsic to the brain development that occurs through the debate process.
In my research over the last three decades, I have found this kind of complex debate underutilized in American schools. We lecture far too much and debate far too little. When we do hold debates, we train kids to be competitive, which is good, but we don’t teach them to value the kind of mental process they will need later in life—in business, government, education, child-raising, marriage, entrepreneurship, entertainment, and anything else they choose.
What is that process? Adaptability. The adults who will be the most successful in our world will be the ones who can best adapt to new complexity. Debate, rather than lecture, teaches adaptability. It stimulates brain centers such as the ventral striatum, caudate nucleus, and basal ganglia to develop synaptic connections that mature and empower the brain, provide it with increased resilience, increase its overall intelligence, and increase that brain’s likelihood of achieving some sense of mastery during the lifespan.
Former Israeli Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, recently wrote an Op Ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he posited that one of the reasons tiny Israel became a global high tech force (with more Nasdaq companies than India, Japan, and South Korea combined), was the emphasis in Jewish education on this kind of debate. I agree with him. The gender-brain research we utilize at the Gurian Institute points to his wisdom. The more teachers and parents will elicit debate from students and children, the more those kids will not just develop singular centers of the brain but ultimately develop what we want most for them: the neural pathways between the limbic system and cerebral cortex that make them mature and successful adults.
This is true for both boys and girls. For boys who are having difficulty in verbal-literacy related classes, for instance (social studies, history, English), especially with writing quality in comparison to girls, debate will help those boys increase their desire to read and help them set up better organized and more detailed papers to write. Ten minutes of debate in a classroom before a writing assignment can work wonders.
For girls who are having difficulty showing leadership and success skills in a STEM class, organized debate, guided by an authoritative teacher who makes sure every voice is heard, can create more love of the subject, and more competence for the individual student. And of course, there can be girls having trouble in English and boys in science, so the debate strategy works for both genders no matter the circumstance.
And more and better debate is not just a matter of the classroom. Every time a dinner table conversation becomes a debate, parents can help stimulate the growing child’s brain. Debate can be very bonding, very fun, at home especially if the parents teach their kids: winning is not generally the point. The point is to become a better debater by listening, hearing, responding, learning, and growing through the passion of discourse. An added benefit: every moment we teach this to our kids, we keep them off their cell phones at the table and keep them focused on family, grit, truth, meaning, and purpose.
Debate that is not obsessed with winning can become a healthy adult way of life. Let’s debate more and lecture less. Our children will be the smarter for it.
Dr. Gurian and The Gurian Institute have been on the move this year to places near and far. Trainings in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, California, and New Jersey...and it is only March!
In each of these locales, the take away feedback is always the same....How do we get more of this?.. and How come I didn't learn this in my teacher training? Or that it did not come with my child's birth certificate?!
Near and far the research of Dr. Gurian and advisors to our Board such as Dr. Daniel Amen, resonate with anyone that has a pulse.
Teachers immediately jump at the thought of understanding those brains better, and parents shake their heads in agreement that we have to dig a little bit deeper to understand what is going on in there, as the message matches with their daily grind.
Recently, I traveled to San Antonio, Texas to San Antonio Academy where Mrs. Hill used one of the ingredients we often prescribe....novelty. Meet Elvis, the class pet, but also a classroom management tool. The ability for Mrs. Hill to teach with this on her shoulder was amazing, but even moreso were the looks on the boys' faces as they were eager to have Elvis on their own shoulder. You see, the simple novelty of Elvis was indeed the catch, but the immediate need to provide and protect also engaged the boys as they sought to rise to the challenge.
Dr. Gurian recently sat down with Know99 in Phoenix and outlined some of the ways that our trainings can benefit your faculty and staff as well as retain quality teachers. With teachers understanding the brain and how it is wired, as well as to how to nurture it, you have healthy teachers that are ready and equipped to meet the infinite amount of needs they are presented with. As my first principal told me, " If you don't feed the teachers, they will eat the children."
Contact us now for summer book studies, workshops, and host a fall summit to help boys and girls thrive!
All of my life I have been surrounded by girls.
Growing up with 4 sisters was quite a chaotic scene, although there were some pretty great moments of calm as well.
As a mother of 4 girls, I am often asked if this is a nightmare. I get the gasps and the stares, the rolling of the eyes and the "Oh you're in so much trouble in a few years".
Perhaps this is indeed true. But a common misconception about girls is that they are "dramatic". That they are exhausting. That they just never stop talking.
There is a very valid reason for that. Their brains tend to process experience with up to 10 times more white matter activity than male brains often do. White matter activity keeps the brain constantly on, making internal connections, especially between feelings and words.
And just as there is a continued concern about our boys and their social-emotional wellness, I have a continued concern about our girls.
It is this: Well meaning, well intentioned adults miss the mark when they dismiss some very real opportunities for guidance as "drama."
What girls do with their mouths, boys do with their hands. They test boundaries and defy gravity with their moods.
They push with their words and often go to what I call "crazy town" when someone doesn't reciprocate their text or message on social media.
Dr. Gurian has taught me that indeed there is a valid reason and some strategies to propel your daughter forward. Some of these lie in listening, really truly and actively listening.
Rosalind Wiseman says "The art of listening is to be prepared to be changed by what you hear."
Stephen Covey says to "Seek first to understand as opposed to being understood."
And alas, once we have listened, a bi-strategic approach is to listen, but then allow one parent or one other adult to give one solution or strategy to you.
Our standard responses of "Walk away", "don't play with her", "just ignore her", doesn't help much. Sure, these strategies may help momentarily but they don't help much. They in some cases re-victimize the victim, and they certainly don't properly advance the maturity of the situation.
In this video clip, Dr. Gurian outlines the "why" behind the aggression and how developmentally it is in line with the rites of passage of a young woman.
"The Other Side Of The Report Card"-what a novel concept!
As I listened to Dr. Michele Borba's 1 :30 minute promo clip for an upcoming conference, I marveled at the thought of what I had longed to put into words all of these years.
After 22 years in education, we still miss the mark in places. Why? Because, in some places, our "lens" is off.
Recently, in our Gurian trainings, I have had teachers and administrators approach me after the training with tears in their eyes. They say that they need to apologize to their own children, and their former students, for not reading the cues that those children gave them. Not recognizing what that particular brain needed .... I always assure them that they did not "ruin" these children, but with their new knowledge, how empowered they have now become to read the subtle yet imminent cues those brains give them.
our district around. He worked hard to value and rename many of the positions in the district so that people would recognize their contributions to the organization at large, would value the return on investment they gave, and would be cognizant that teamwork did not have an "I" in it.
However, in his quest to please parents and to uphold the mission of the district, he rolled out " rigor, relevance, and relationships" as the "theme of the year". He proclaimed that everything we did that year was going to be part of the three R's.
I remember thinking, what he missed was the first"R" -relationships.
One of our Gurian certified trainers and licensed professional counselor by day, Travis Webb, said it so eloquently when we spoke the other day. "Attachment and attunement. We all need to be attached to something bigger than ourselves."
As we train across the country, the theme continues to ring true. "Pick me!"
"I am over here!" ..... " " I want to answer the question!" .... these are not defiant children, these are not deregulated children, these are kids looking for one ingredient that we as adults sometimes get wrong: A gain in relationship.
The Gurian Institute has been very busy this week as we wrapped up our 3rd Gurian Winter Institute on the shores of Tampa Bay and St. Pete Beach, Florida. What a wonderful weekend of learning and courageous conversations!
Blog by Michael Gurian
In thirty years of working with children, I have never been more worried than I am right now for our sons. Some boys are doing very well but millions are disappearing into violence, imprisonment, social withdrawal, listlessness, virtual worlds, and real life self-destruction. If we don’t end this national pattern, our boys and young men will become increasingly destructive, both to others and themselves because nearly every social problem we face in our civilization today—unemployment, income equality, incarceration rates, religious extremism, domestic abuse, mental illness, health care inequities, and painful violence against women—intersects in some way with the state of boyhood in America.
My fear for young males extends to young women. As the father of daughters, I know that every social movement we spark on behalf of males will help females. All of us are interconnected. A nation of males in distress is very bad for girls and women. To help you not only raise and support boys but also, hopefully, to inspire you to become a part of what I believe to be a growing social movement, I have written SAVING OUR SONS.
The book begins by proving these eight precepts of boyhood in the new millennium, then provides solutions and practical strategies to help boys survive and thrive.
1. As we have all felt and sensed, many of the social systems within which we raise and care for our children—schools, neighborhoods, social programs, and families—have changed in the last fifty years such that males in general face systematic neglect despite our public presentation of males as inherently privileged. Seeing our sons—really seeing what so many of them are suffering—makes up the first chapter.
2. To help boys survive and thrive I argue in the book that we must alter our thinking to include all three parts of gender--nature, nurture, and culture. In the book I show that our academic and media attention to “masculine norms and gender stereotypes” is no longer enough help for boys (or girls) because these stereotypes and norms are not the primary causes of the problems our children face today.
3. As we look at all aspects of boyhood, we must make nature our starting point and baseline. There is a natural boy we can understand, assist, and protect, one boy at a time. Among the elements that assault this boy today are hidden neurotoxins that attack male genetics and socialization and, thus, can utterly derail male development yet often go unrecognized in our everyday lives. In this book, I will help you find these neurotoxins and construct family plans to protect your boys from them.
4. A non-malicious but also not-benign Dominant Gender Paradigm(DGP) has emerged in the last fifty years in “The Big Three” (our academic institutions, governmental/legislative agencies, and media). This DGP deploys often superficial ideas about males that keep male life underserved, under-funded, and under-nurtured. The book features way you can understand and confront this paradigm in your daily life and local community.
5. Ensuring gender equality for girls and women does not require gender sameness. In the new millennium, neuroscience shows us that males and females are not the same, though their brains overlap a great deal across a wide gender spectrum. We can now build equality without the false premise of sameness, and we must do so if we are to help all children.
6. It’s been difficult to revolutionize the lives of our boys, and thus our men, in part because we confuse the ordinary lives of most males with the lives of alpha and criminal males. Hyper-focused on “the 10 percent” (the leader/alpha males and frightening/pathological males), we neglect the deep needs of too many of our sons, which makes the boy crisis worse, and puts females in greater danger.
7. Now is the right time for revolution because there are now significant child development institutions already in existence around our nation and our world that show specific success-data for saving our sons. I’ll provide examples of these proactive and revolutionary communities and schools throughout this book.
8. What we do now to help boys will help girls and women, because their needs are interdependent. The oppressor/enemy approach to women’s rights popularized over the last fifty years has created a false impression of separation between women’s and men’s needs so it could uplift women. Now, however, the situation of our sons has become so dire we will not be able to advance the cause of girls’ and women’s equity any further without ending the cruelties and neglect our culture perpetrates on our males.
Overall, I believe an advanced kind of parenting is essential in our complex technological world so this book provides you with science-based best practices for ensuring male maturity and developmental milestones from birth to 25 that fit our new millennium’s technological and social revolutions. The newest research on screen time, videogames, cell phone use, and social media addiction grounds this book.
And if you’ve read any of my other books, you know that my work is multi-cultural. This book will not be a repeat of my previous books except that, like them, it includes current and new research from more than two dozen different countries and cultures.
Ultimately, I hope you’ll find that this book is a bridge. Wherever you fit on the ideological spectrum, I hope the insights and suggested policies in these pages will inspire and resonate for you personally. If you have daughters, as I do, I hope you’ll also feel inspired to spread this word and mission with personal vigor as well.
To learn more about the new book by Dr. Michael Gurian (February 2017), please click www.michaelgurian.com or find it on amazon.com and other booksellers.
About the Book
In Saving Our Sons, Michael features the latest research in raising and helping boys in all settings, including the development of social-emotional depth and emotional intelligence, male motivation, and resilience. He tackles topics of significant importance in the new millennium, including neuro-toxicity and the male brain, and electronics and video game use. Linking practical solutions with strategic new policies based on thirty years in the field and twenty years of institutional work through the Gurian Institute, Michael provides a seven-stage model for the journey to manhood in the new millennium.
The book also tackles social and cultural issues facing our sons. Two of the book’s chapters provide readers with successful ways to challenge governmental and academic institutions, as well as the media, to see boys fully and fairly.
In its eight chapters, Saving Our Sons is a unique combination of powerful writing, new research, practical strategies, and passionate social advocacy that helps our nation act on behalf of boys and young men—one home, one school, and one community at a time.
“Michael Gurian is a leading edge teacher with the rare ability to combine the personal, the practical, and the political in very accessible and powerful form. In Saving Our Sons, he has written a real pageturner. Its eight chapters take on one of the fundamental issues of our time—how we raise boys—from a science-based perspective that will catalyze new thinking and new strategies for families, schools, and communities in need. This is a very important book.”
—Daniel Amen, M.D., author of Unleashing the Power of the Female Brain and The Brain Warrior’s Way
“Michael Gurian’sSaving Our Sons is an immensely powerful mirror on the state of boyhood in America. Dr. Gurian’s depiction of the problems and issues facing our sons is remarkable in its thoroughness. The book’s tone is forceful but not strident, warm and engaging without sentimentality or hyperbole. Gurian provides practical solutions for each issue he explores—economic, social, emotional, political, and personal. This is a must read for everyone in America and indeed the world who cares about and is caring for our boys.”
—Troy Kemp, Executive Director of The National Center for the Development of Boys