inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #26 of 57: Daniel (dfowlkes) Wed 31 Jan 07 11:33
    <scribbled by dfowlkes Tue 3 Jul 12 10:14>
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #27 of 57: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Wed 31 Jan 07 12:30
    
Dude, that's a FEATURE.
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #28 of 57: Michael Zentner (mz) Wed 31 Jan 07 13:08
    
That's a good time to get that our of your system though. I found out
in college.
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #29 of 57: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 31 Jan 07 16:30
    

David, your book is aimed at a young male audience. But what about young
women? Do you think a 22-year-old female is any more ready for marriage, for
parenthood than her male counterpart?
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #30 of 57: David Hafter (davidhafter) Wed 31 Jan 07 17:42
    
GB *is* aimed at a young male audience but I hope females will read it
as well.  As I discuss relationships with the guys, it is young women
who make up the second half of that pair (except as with gay guys, as
discussed above)and the woman's role is given significant ink.  There
is plenty in GB for a girl/young woman to ponder, as well as insights
into the guys in her life.

As to the question at hand, it depends on the woman and what she wants
to do with her life as to whether or not she may be ready at 22 to get
married and have children.  In the chapter, Worthwhile Women, I
describe the qualities of a WW and teach guys to look for these
(developing) qualities in the girls/women they want to date.  If a 22
year old female has or is developing those qualities and has the
ability to attract a "man with balls", i.e. a guy with some maturity,
integrity and courage, then that is a union I might happily bless.  

I know much more could be said to answer your question, Cynthia, and I
don't mean to dodge it, but I did put an invitation in the book for a
woman writer to take on the task of writing the companion book to GB
for women, and did so for a reason.  For while I feel perfectly
competant to help young women with many of their emotional and mental
health issues when in my role as therpist, I also recognize that my
gender brings limitations; I appreciate the benefits a woman can get
from addressing certain issues with a female clinician and under those
circumstances, I do not hesitate to refer to female therapists.  

As a writer, however, I have chosen to focus on the male side of the
readiness question. A man should not write the companion book to GB for
women.  In traditional societies with established rites of passage,
women usher girls into womenhood and men usher boys into manhood. GB is
my attempt to provide, in book form, some of the mentoring a guy needs
to take good care of himself, learn to make good decisions, and learn
quickly from his bad ones. There are women writers putting out advice
books for girls (not to mention flurries of monthly articles in women's
magazines) but I couldn't find any such books for guys. I would really
like to see a book take on these growing up issues from the female
perspective.
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #31 of 57: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Wed 31 Jan 07 18:23
    
David, you mentioned cross-cultural acceptance earlier. Do you have
any other feedback in this regard including subcultures here in North
America. Are there cultures around the world that tend to address a lot
of these issues sort of as a matter of course? If so, are they tribal?
 Perhaps the issues are endemic to more cosmopolitan life (not there
aren't benefits)
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #32 of 57: David Hafter (davidhafter) Wed 31 Jan 07 23:24
    
The cross-cultural acceptance of my book to which I made reference
earlier is from a slim sample, indeed:  my illustrator, who is
Philipino, and a few African American readers.  Hardly a definitive
sample.  I'm not prepared to give you the academic answer your question
deserves, though if there are any anthropologists (or even anthro
majors) in the crowd, please chime in.

I can say with confidence that the challenge exists of making the
successful transition from child to functioning adult for a given
culture, for both sexes.  Some cultures attend to this challenge better
than others and our modern American culture, in my eyes, is not one of
the more successful ones.  

From the start, we do not support parents in raising healthy kids. 
Despite reliable and replicable research in infant brain development
that demonstrates the importance of kids having adequate time with
their primary care-giver (usually the mother), American mothers often
return to work after six weeks of unpaid leave.  Meanwhile,  mothers in
some European countries have up to a year off and are paid at up to
80%. This is a huge public investment in child development and
successful families.  During this year, an infant's right brain is
laying the groundwork for future affect regulation -- essentially the
child's ability to connect with others and take care of him/herself
emotionally.  

I'm not knocking American mothers; not returning to work or taking an
unpaid year off is not a viable option for many families. Meanwhile,
child care options are expensive and of varying degrees of quality
because those jobs don't pay enough to attract educated, career
minded-people.  We don't respect the people charged with taking care of
our kids for us enough to educate them to do the job well and pay them
a decent wage.

Sports, arts and music programs in schools are falling by the
way-side, as well.  These are areas where kids of differing
temperaments and styles often received excellent mentoring but we
choose, as a society, to spend our money elsewhere.  (pant, pant...)

Okay, I'm soap-boxing here, so I'll try and wind down. Just give me a
sec...  For those of you who have read the book, I'm repeating myself a
bit here so I'll be brief: Our culture values wealth, youth and beauty
over all else.  They are our modern Holy Trinity.  In chasing these
tempting but superficial values, we have lost sight of the sorts of
values taught to young ones who making the transition to adulthood
during rites of passage: courage, honesty, loyalty, integrity -- doing
the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. Kids watch
what is going on around them, from lying politicians to hypocracy in
their own backyards, and toss those values, when they are trotted out
to them, over their shoulders.

I have talked extensively to young people today, and I include people
in their late twenties and early thirties, who are so jaded and cynical
that they think those values I just spouted are, well, quaint, at
best.  They sound like how the mafia used to talk about "civilians"
whom they saw as chumps for working for a living. "Everyone else
cheats; why shouldn't I?"    

We need to get a grip as a culture and take these values seriously or
they really will be lost to all but a few.  That is why I wrote this
book in a "grab 'em by the lapels and shake 'em" style.  
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #33 of 57: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 1 Feb 07 07:10
    
>subculture

I live in a heavily LDS area and a lot of the kids get married before
they're 20. And certainly 'because it's the only way I could screw' is
part of it, part of it is that the families are large and help each
other out. I see little boys taking care of their littler brothers all
the time. They grow up learning to nurture and to take care of
children.
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #34 of 57: belated response (satyr) Thu 1 Feb 07 10:09
    <hidden>
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #35 of 57: David Hafter (davidhafter) Thu 1 Feb 07 19:15
    
The culture you describe, Sharon, has the benefit of having more or
less extricated itself from the larger American culture and its shallow
values mentioned earlier.
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #36 of 57: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Fri 2 Feb 07 08:05
    
I read an essay several years ago that argued (in a nutshell) that the
rise of the discipline of mental health (therapy, etc.) was a direct
result of the decline of the power of the Church during the
Enlightenment -- that the Church had provided all of the answers people
needed, and without that external influence they had to stumble around
and find them on their own.  It certainly seems like in strong
religious communities there's more of that sense of place and people
tend to have clearer expectations about their future.  Not that I want
to live in 15th century Europe, myself, or a modern Orthodox Jewish
community, for that matter.  My open-ended, figure-it-out-yourself life
is what I know.

That said... You have specific advice on a wide range of subjects, but
do you think there are any general principles for how to grow balls
without coming away scarred? Or is the scarring what the life lessons
actually are?
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #37 of 57: David Hafter (davidhafter) Fri 2 Feb 07 16:41
    
I think I am stumbling on the word "scarred"... but not because it is
a wrong way to characterize the process of growing balls (maturing,
gaining wisdom, finding courage and integrity...) I won't throw out
euphamisims (sp?) but will say that the process of growing up pretty
much guarantees bumps and bruises.  The more parents try to protect
their kids from any "bad" experiences/pain etc, the more likely the
kids are going to be unprepared for what life inevitably throws at them
once the parents are not around.  This is the source of the
conversation going around about how modern parents often try so hard to
soften life's blows in favor of not harming their kid's self-esteem
that the kids expect life to be easy and things to be handed to them
without significant effort.  I have seen young adults dazed and
confused that people (bosses, co-workers etc) aren't cheering their
every move.  This sort of thing is not helpful to a kid.
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #38 of 57: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Fri 2 Feb 07 21:03
    
>This is the source of the conversation going around about how modern
parents often try so hard to soften life's blows in favor of not
harming their kid's self-esteem that the kids expect life to be easy
and things to be handed to them without significant effort.<

This may follow from material prosperity. The government makes
attempts to soften lifes blows as well including subsidies big and
small. It is ironic that efforts to stabilize end up de-stabilizing. 


Maintaining effort when little is needed seems to be an individual
thing. I can't see being consistent over time as a social phenomenon.
If it were, we probably would have a hereditary aristocracy today. 

BTW, it is remarkable that quite a number of well-off people continue
to work very hard even though their children may not. 
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #39 of 57: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Sat 3 Feb 07 18:04
    

> the process of growing up pretty
>  much guarantees bumps and bruises.  The more parents try to protect
>  their kids from any "bad" experiences/pain etc, the more likely the
>  kids are going to be unprepared for what life inevitably throws at them

Interesting observation, David. It does seem like a lot of modern parents
are doing their kids a disservice through overprotectiveness and excessive
pampering.

When I was halfway through second grade, the public school I attended
contacted my parents about moving me up to third grade. My parents asked 
me if I wanted to skip to third. I thought about it and decided yes, I did.

A month or so after shifting to the third grade classroom, I learned that
my former classmates in second grade were going on a field trip to a dairy.
I thought that was about the coolest thing ever, and I approached my mom. I
said I wanted to be with the second graders on the field trip and I wailed
and wept and whined that it wasn't FAIR, I wanted to go!

She could have gone down to the school and pleaded with them to let me
go on the field trip. She could have wheedled and pushed and insisted
until the school caved in. But she didn't. 

Instead, she sympathized with me about wanting to go on the field trip, 
then reminded me that I'd chosen to move up to third grade. She explained 
that when we make choices we may encounter drawbacks we hadn't anticipated,
but that's the way it is sometimes.

I wasn't very happy at the time, but I accepted that I couldn't have it
both ways. Now, when I look back on it, I realize my mother taught me
a valuable lesson about life. 



David, can you think of any lessons your parents taught you that helped
you "grow balls" as you reach adulthood? 
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #40 of 57: David Hafter (davidhafter) Sun 4 Feb 07 11:48
    
What comes to mind is the focus on work ethic my parents both
emphasized.  They were also big on keeping commitments. Both of those
qualities are valued by my wife, Pam, and myself and we are trying our
best to transfer those values to Noah.  

Pam likes to joke that I have done more jobs than anyone she has ever
known. Well, my sister and I started earning our own money when we were
kids, doing jobs for neighbors, starting little businesses etc. I
caddied at a local country club at 13 which turned out to be quite the
learning experience in terms of exposure to issues of race, culture and
how rich guys cheat their friends and business partners.  I started
regular part-time, after school jobs as soon as I was old enough to be
hired and did a variety of jobs as a teenager, from restaurant and fast
food work to being on a two man TV repair truck crew.

I learned a lot about people as a kid that paved the way for this
book.  It was instructive to see the grown men doing the same work for
a living that I was doing as a teenager.  How did these guys get there
in their lives, I wondered? It interested me. I became sensitized to
social issues (I spent my teen years in Houston).  As I got to know
these guys, some of them turned out to be highly ethical and full of
integrity while others were quite the opposite.  It was the exposure to
their attitudes and behaviors that gave me the most valuable
experience.
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #41 of 57: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 4 Feb 07 12:18
    
I assume you've read Studs Terkel's Working.
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #42 of 57: David Hafter (davidhafter) Mon 5 Feb 07 09:47
    
Yes, I did -- in college.
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #43 of 57: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 5 Feb 07 11:17
    

Your parents' ethic -- the work ethic and the "keep your commitments" ethic
-- is similar to what my parents emphasized, David. 

These two things seem tied together, too. When a person accepts a job,
I was taught that the person is making commitment to give the job his
best effort. 

I've heard people in Human Resources say that youthful job applicants
have an entirely different approach than they did even 15 years ago. 
I'm told that these days, the first questions from young applicants are
about what benefits the company offers, how many paid vacation days,
how many paid holidays, how much paid sick leave. 

These are the kinds of questions I used to wonder about but was afraid
to ask when I was applying for a job. So in some ways it's heartening that 
young people are looking out for their own interests. OTOH, I wonder 
if the emphasis on "what's in it for me?" is another aspect of the
lack of responsible values that you're talking about in reference to
under-25 guys? 
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #44 of 57: David Hafter (davidhafter) Mon 5 Feb 07 15:32
    
I think it is.  I agree that shopping for good benefits makes sense,
but in the staff hiring process(es) that I have been involved in over
the years, I have often been surprised by the sense of entitlement I
get from young people.

Most parents want to do better for their kids than their own parents
did for them -- that's natural and I fall into that category, as well. 
We want our kids to have beeter opportunities in a wide variety of
life domains and take pride out of being able to provide them. 
Meanwhile, even when you work hard not to "spoil" your kids, it can be
hard to teach them value of a buck. 

My parents were born during the depression and carry the lessons (and
emotional scars) of their parents who struggled to keep food on the
table in those years.  I'm glad to have avoided those pressures and
happy that Pam and I could give Noah a secure and safe growing up
environment.  I don't regret not feeling the need to have him go door
to door offering to wash windows for money like I did at 11 or 12.  We
sent Noah to activities instead.  That's great and all -- but we still
have to get on him to do his chores and while he is a loving and
compassionate kid, he knows not need or struggle.  How will that serve
him in the future?

This has become enough of a question in our times that I hear the UC
addmissions system now *expects* kids from middle class/privilaged 
backgrounds to have done some community service work.Applicants end up
going down to Mexico on house-building trips with their churches, for
example, volunteering in community action programs and the like to
fulfill a college addmissions requirement.  I can only hope that the
experience is meaningful for the yhoung person beyond jumping through
the hoop...
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #45 of 57: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Mon 5 Feb 07 22:25
    
It does seem like it'd *have* to have an impact, if only by seeing
people in conditions different from the ones they grew up with.

I can definitely speak to the difference in what younger job
applicants are looking for; a couple of years ago I was flying home and
sat next to a guy just out of college who was coming to apply at the
company I work for.  His main question seemed to be "what's the job I
can do there that's the least amount of work?"  Anecdotal, but creepy.

I hear a lot about the kids who are tweens and young teens right now,
though, that they seem to be much more socially conscious and a bit of
a change from the current crop of college graduates.  Do you see kids
like that in your practice?  
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #46 of 57: David Hafter (davidhafter) Tue 6 Feb 07 10:21
    
I currently lead a team of people who provide mental health services
for Medi-Cal eligible kids and families.  Many of these kids have
extensive trauma histories.  Social issues and their consciousness of
same tend to be lower on their priority lists.  The age group you list,
however, matches that of my son and his friends and yes, some of them
are socially conscious (Darfur, the war...)

Well, folks, it looks like we are down to our last day of this formal
time period for this interview.  I will continue to check in regularly
over the next few weeks and address any comments or questions regarding
the book.  I want to thank David Gans for getting me in touch with
David Adam Edelstein and getting me involved in this process.

It is my most sincere hope that this book starts many fruitful
conversations on topics which are too often not directly addressed.  My
older readers (anyone over 25) have said, almost without fail and
usually wistfully, "I wish someone had showed this to me when I was
younger.  I might have made some different choices."  

When people hear that I have written a book and ask me what it is
about, I invariably get the following response, even with them getting
only a thumbnail sketch of GB's content:"Hoo boy! I know somebody who
really *needs* that book!" Then they go on to tell me a story about
their little brother, an in-law or a cousin who has lost himself in a
negative or prematurely committed relationship.

This is a book that can "just show up" on the bedroom desk of a
teenager or even on the family coffee table.  It can show up in a
college kid's mail with a supoprtive note from someone who loves him. 
I know the title and some of the salacious sounding chapter titles can
be a little off-putting to some people but those are just the things
that get a young man to have a look at a self-help book --not their
everyday read, you know. Anyway, I don't mean to just come across as a
salesman for the book (not that I would mind selling some more copies)
but I hope this interview accomplishes spreading the GB word beyond
those of us who enjoy having these sorts of conversations with one
another.  

Again, it has been a pleasure and a privilage to spend these two weeks
together.  I look forward to your questions and comments and hope this
has been useful and interesting for you.  If you want to extend your
comments on the book to another forum, please consider joining my
website and making comments after the chapter snippets for each
chapter.  I set them up to be blog-able --  www.growingballs.com.

David Hafter
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #47 of 57: Cupido, Ergo Denego (robertflink) Tue 6 Feb 07 13:37
    
>So in some ways it's heartening that young people are looking out for
their own interests. OTOH, I wonder if the emphasis on "what's in it
for me?" is another aspect of the lack of responsible values that
you're talking about in reference to under-25 guys?<

Part of the difference may be a shift from an opportunity culture to a
security culture. To a considerable degree both cultures are products
of conditions that ebb and flow without much deliberate human planning.
Both cultures also have pluses and minuses. The USA tradition and
mythos is strongly opportunity oriented, probably an anomily in human
history. As we move toward a security culture, the mixture is
uncomfortable if not downright miserable.  Europe is more security
oriented but has had many years of experimentation and may be closer to
"getting it right". 

Of course, there are others currents at work in all cultures, some of
which are amenable to human modification 
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #48 of 57: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 7 Feb 07 09:26
    

Thanks so much for joining us for the past two weeks, David. It's been
a thought-provoking conversation and I wish you (and your target audience!)
all the best in getting the message out there. Though our virtual
spotlight has turned to another conversation, this one doesn't have to
stop. This topic will remain open for further comments indefinitely, so
I'm glad to hear you'll stick around a bit longer!
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #49 of 57: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Wed 7 Feb 07 14:21
    
Thanks, David! I've already passed my copy of the book on to parents
with a 14 year old son. Let's hope some of it sticks!
  
inkwell.vue.291 : David Hafter, "Growing Balls"
permalink #50 of 57: David Hafter (davidhafter) Wed 7 Feb 07 22:15
    
Thanks, y'all.  Be seeing you...
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

 
   Join Us
 
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook