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The Inner Lives of Boys

Pete Springer/OPB

We recently did a show with two teenage girls and author Rachel Simmons about her book The Curse of the Good Girl. We discussed the difference between being a “good girl” and a “real girl” and how childhood pressures end up affecting women far into adulthood. It was a great show - you can listen here - and a number of people wrote on our site: “hey, what about boys?” So, we are responding with an hour devoted exactly to that: to boys and the pressures they face.

I have a two year-old son so I can’t help but wonder if author Michael Thompson, an expert on boys, is right when he says:

America’s boys are in trouble.  They are the most violent in the industrialized world. Many are unable to express their emotions. On average, boys are doing worse in the classroom than they were 10 years ago.

Right now my son is senstive and emotional. He likes to play with trucks and dolls. And while he is assertive I certainly wouldn’t consider him aggressive. Is all that about to change?

Again, Michael Thompson, here with some of the questions we really need to delve into this hour:

American boys are troubled psychologically; they are not finding either success or peace of mind. Many are silent, angry and hard for adults to “read.” Why? Is it because so many of American boys do not have a father? Is it because they spend too much time playing video games, or because they do not have adequate role models? Why is it so difficult for adults to talk to boys and learn what they are thinking? Are we raising our boys the wrong way? If so, what is the right way?

And how does the way these boys grow up affect them as adults? If a “good girl” becomes a “perfect mother” who starts the cycle of repression all over again, what happens to boys? How are men affected by the realities they face as children?


  • Peter Mortola: Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology and the coordinator of the School Psychology Program at Lewis and Clark College
  • Derek Herman: Freshman at Roosevelt University. He is from Portland and graduated from Park Rose High School
  • Riley Keltz: Junior at Lincoln High School


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