Best of 2020: ON BOYS Year in Review

The phrase “best of 2020” is a bit laughable. 

Using the term “best” to describe a year that’s included a global pandemic, remote schooling and massive disruptions to work and socialization seems almost…inappropriate. And yet, even 2020 had some bright spots.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

ON BOYS audience continued to grow. Our downloads increased by 207%. (We had nearly 281,000 downloads in 2020 vs. 88,000 in 2019). We interviewed 36 different experts, including New York Times best-selling authors (hello, Peggy Orenstein!) and the Washington Post’s On Parenting columnist (Meaghan Leahy!). We had our first three-time guest (Mr. Ryan Wexelblatt, aka ADHD Dude) and we conducted conversations across time and space. (Maggie Dent was in Australia when we spoke; Baro Hyun, Japan.)

We also hosted our first ON BOYS Interactive, a live web-based event in which we brainstormed solutions to the challenges of remote learning.

We’ve got more ON BOYS Interactive sessions planned for 2021, as well as podcast episodes featuring Amy Lang (the Queen of the birds & bees!) and Richard Louv, author of The Last Child in the Woods and Our Wild Calling.

But first, ON BOYS year in review. Here’s the best of 2020:

5. Helping Boys Grow Into Healthy Men (w Ted Bunch)

“I think the biggest challenge for us is really allowing our boys to show us, say to us and demonstrate to us who they really are, Bunch says, without us excessively trying to mold them. Our job isn’t to make boys conform; our job is “to allow them to blossom, to really show who they are.”

4. Boys and Sex (w Peggy Orenstein)

Contrary to her expectations when she began reporting the book, Peggy found that boys were “insightful narrators” of their lives and experiences. Boys are acutely aware of the issues that affect them, of the “rules” that govern their behavior and social success and of society’s evolving definition of masculinity.

3. Managing Emotions (w Ellen Dodge)

Try “tell me the story.” When you see your guys doing something — positive or negative — ask them to tell you the story behind their actions. If you see a feeling on your son’s face, ask him to tell you the story behind the feeling.

2. ADHD w Ryan Wexelblatt the ADHD Dude

…a lot of people still misunderstand ADHD. Making matter worse is the fact that “school is not designed with the male brain in mind,” as Ryan says. On top of that, many people consider ADHD a mental health issue, not a learning disorder. That conceptualization makes things harder for our boys, who face social stigma and internal shame. Often, their parents are judged as well; too often, educators and others consider ADHD a “character flaw” or the result of poor parenting.

1. Decoding Boys with Dr. Cara Natterson

According to Dr. Natterson — a pediatrician, mom of two and author of Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys — the first changes of puberty can begin as early as age 9. But because those early changes are largely invisible to parents’ eyes, we may misunderstand our boys’ mood swings and behavior. And because our culture has long ignored male puberty, many of us simply allow our boys to self-isolate behind closed doors, instead of talking to them about the changes they’re experiencing.

You’ll have to listen to hear Jen & Janet’s personal favorites!


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