A Fine Young Man by Michael Gurian (Review)

If you’ve got a boy who is approaching teen years, I highly recommend Michael Gurian’s A Fine Young Man. I’ve read and recommended his groundbreaking book The Wonder of Boys before. Gurian’s oeuvre on raising boys is the best I’ve read. He has a philosophy and method to teach boys how to become good men, a method which is grounded in tradition yet answers to and acknowledges the advantages of our changing culture. With A Fine Young Man, Gurian takes it further by focusing specifically on the adolescent years, breaking it down into three stages: Stage 1, the Age of Transformation (9-13); Stage 2, the Age of Determination (14-17); and Stage 3, the Age of Consolidation (18-21). Gurian explains that a boy’s body begins to develop before his mind, and that boys are dealing with chemical changes throughout their entire adolescence, changes that adults sometimes fail to understand.

The chemical explanations made a lot of sense. Gurian talks about grounding your boys in love and security, while teaching them his “CORE”: Compassion, (H)onor, Responsibility, and Enterprise. Gurian explains that all boys need multiple male figures in their lives, and that they need guidance based on where they are in life. In Stage 1, they don’t always say things that make sense because they don’t know how to make sense of the world. The purpose of the parent isn’t to argue against him, but to simply let the boy develop. Gurian also says that boys should not date before the age of 16. To do so any earlier is to create intimacy before the boy is psychologically ready, even if the boy feels physically ready. If a boy is introduced to intimate love too early, it is likely to create a cycle of dependency and manipulation that could continue throughout his life.

I also liked Gurian’s cultural approach. I live in an ethnoburb, and so I know lots of parents from different cultures, and I see how they raise their boys. Gurian, who spent part of his childhood in India and part of his adulthood in Turkey, talks about universal values and rituals that world cultures use to bring men into the world. It’s fascinating because in the U.S., which is the most diverse country in the world, the diversity itself often causes a breakdown in our rituals and traditions for young men. Part of living in a diverse country is learning how to maintain lineal integrity so that our boys know who they are, while at the same time encouraging them to embrace all cultures of the world.

On a personal note, I was struck by how far removed ABC’s are from our own culture, compared to Gurian and his culture, which is Judaism. Jews have a book that binds them together, as well as traditions, such as the Bar Mitzvah and the recitation of scripture. I guess Chinese have Water Margin and all those old texts, but it’s quite different in that it doesn’t really serve as a foundation for Chinese culture, at least not to the same level of importance that the Torah serves for the Jews. Maybe that’s why we tend to scatter–it’s almost unbelievable how many Chinese have run to the SJW causes and have dedicated their lives to attacking Whitey and Chang, and how many others have run to fundamentalist Western religions. I guess in many ways we’re no different from lots of people–we’re in search of something new but rooted in power.

Anyway, check out this book.

6 thoughts on “A Fine Young Man by Michael Gurian (Review)

  1. This will definitely go on my book list.

    I recommend any of Dr. Leonard Sax’s books too. “Boys Adrift” and “Collapse of Parenting” were great.

  2. Thanks, Linda! I’ll check those out!

    I think my next big battle is over screens. They’re everywhere. And it doesn’t help that the teachers assign computer homework.

  3. OMG – don’t get me started on screens! The book “reset your child’s brain” by Dr. Victoria Dunckley changed my life. She has some vids on her website – but I think the book is the best. And I like reading her case studies in the book. Anyways, I think screens are worse than crack for a child’s developing brain.

  4. Linda,

    I just ordered the Dunckley book from my library. That’s actually something that is one of my biggest issues these days. I also just checked out one of her videos: a 3-4 week fast! I love it! Maybe we can do it this summer. We do the chess lessons online, but maybe we can take a break. Or maybe we can start with just a week or two.

    I knew this was going to be a problem LONG before my kids used screens. I blogged about this a few years ago:


    If you have a Waldorf school near you and can afford it, that’s great. If you don’t, the problem is that it’s so integrated in their lives. Homework is online, math practice is online, and chess is online. Plus, the schools now give e-mail addresses to the kids, and the kids use it to communicate with each other.

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