VIDEO: Dr. James Garbarino Discusses Promoting Resilience in Boys

Watch an excerpt from PsychAlive’s exclusive interview with Dr. James Garbarino.

Dr. James Garbarino talks about promoting resilience in boys based on their individual characteristics and temperament, and counter-socialization.

Dr. James Garbarino: I think if a parent was setting out to instill resilience in a boy, they could think about some of this research on androgyny.  They could even do what you might call sort of counter-socialization.  You can go to most any pre-school center still and if two children look upset and begin to cry, what you often see is, they’ll take the girl onto their lap and sort of embrace and soothe her and the boy they’ll stand up and say, “Alright, now tell me what’s going on!”  Given whatever temperamental differences, we probably should do exactly the opposite.  Take the boy on your lap, stand the little girl up and look her in the eye and say, “Tell me!”

So I think there are those very specific things you could do.  Some of it is child specific, some of it is probably gender specific. I think that an example, a good sort of marker is, “Do your kids watch Mr. Rogers?”  There are a lot of tough neighborhoods where the very thing the kids need, particularly the boys, is Mr. Rogers.  And people say, “No, we don’t want our kids watching Mr. Rogers ‘cause he’s too soft.”  And they’re depriving them of one of their hands for resilience.

So, I think that would certainly be part of it.  I think allowing them to sort themselves out based on their individual characteristics and temperament without trying to strong arm them … it’s a bit like when they used to force naturally left handed children to write with their right hands.  It was a brutalization on behalf of some idea which we now say, “Well, what was the big fuss about?  You were going to smear the ink when you wrote with your left hand.”  A lot of these gender things — if people just take a deep breath and relax, you know, they sort of dissipate.

About the Author

James Garbarino, Ph.D. James Garbarino is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Cornell University and at Loyola University Chicago. From 2006-2020, he held the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology and was founding Director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. From 1995-2006, he was Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of Human Development and Co-Director of the Family Life Development Center at Cornell University. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Garbarino has served as consultant or advisor to a wide range of organizations, including the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the National Institute for Mental Health, the American Medical Association, the National Black Child Development Institute, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, and the FBI. Among the books he has authored or edited are: Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My 20 Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases (2015), Miller’s Children: Why Giving Teenage Killers a Second Chance Matters for All of Us (2018), Children and the Dark Side of Human Experience (2008), See Jane Hit: Why Girls Are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It (2006). And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence (2002); Parents Under Siege: Why You Are the Solution, Not the Problem, in Your Child’s Life (2001); Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them (1999. Dr. Garbarino has won many awards from his work in the fields of trauma and abuse. He serves as a consultant for media reports on children and families. Since 1994, he has served as a scientific expert witness in criminal cases involving issues of violence and children.

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