17 June, 2010

Raising Boys

On the weekend I saw this post by Meredith and pursued this book called "Raising Boys". I found it hidden in a local library, so decided to put all my other reading aside (I have several books on the go at present) and check it out, after all it is a lot cheaper to do that than wait for a less hectic time and have to buy it.

Even though I'm reluctant these days to read parenting books, this one was more from a psychological point of view - looking at gender differences, brain and hormonal differences. It is not written from a Christian perspective, but that's not too much of a concern for a discerning reader. There are many good things about the book, but I'll start with the things I didn't like.

I skipped over the evolutionary theories, which were contained mostly in a short section. With my oldest at 11, I felt quite confronted with some of the ideas of how to talk about sex, sexual orientation, masturbation and the section about pornography was definitely off target when parenting with a Christian worldview. Of course the idea that sex is only for marriage was not mentioned.

On the other hand, there were many excellent things to learn. The serious effect that testosterone has on the body and what to approximately expect when in terms of behaviour. He demystified some of the behaviour surrounding boys, for example, when boys are rowdy it is often because they are anxious and just want someone to take a firm lead. There was a very useful chapter on what Dads can do and also about sport.

Some specific lessons I learned:
  • it's okay to step back and let them do stuff with their dad, in fact if I don't I'm interfering with that important relationship
  • because I provide a lot of services to them, I have a lot of bargaining power (this is useful when answering the question, "Why should I do what you ask me to do?")
  • teaching boys to do housework is not only good for their future, but allows a better relationship between them and us (as they will talk while doing), it gives them good self-esteem and helps them to develop organisational skills
  • that most boys need help learning how to organise themselves (more so than girls)
  • it is important for me to keep being affectionate with them, even as teenagers as well as complementing them
  • because boys have fewer connections from the language half to the sensory half of the brain it is important to read to them, talk to them a lot and explain things
  • 1-2 extra activities outside school is the maximum we should allow
  • staying connected with your son through the challenges of puberty is very important
Parenting is a massive challenge. Essentially though I learned that because our children have two parents still together who love one another, a father who is involved in their lives and a family who eat together two or three times a day puts us well above average. Yes, you can make yourself guilty about lots of stuff you don't do well, but these basics are a massive start.


Meredith said...

Hi Wendy,

Glad you found the book. I was encouraged to read your assessment of it, not dissimilar to mine. In fact, just before I popped into Google Reader and found this post of yours, I hit PUBLISH on a post addressing some of the more uncomfortable issues of this book, especially in regards to sexuality. And there we agree too. Except that what you did in one neat post has taken me three very long posts to say! I've never been good at being succinct.

And I agree totally with your last paragraph. In fact, my next post is going to be one about "good enough" parenting which is basically what you have said in that paragraph. So in fact it will have taken me four long posts to say what you have said in one. :-)

But once I am done on that one I shall be getting off my parenting hobby horse and hopefully writing something about the Bible again!!

Thanks for finding the book and for posting your views.


Wendy said...

Meredith, I found myself focusing more on the teenage side of things because that is more unknown territory for us and more imminent than for you. I wondered if that coloured my assessment a little.

On the succinct side of things, that has been drummed into me by my writing critique group - so it is good to see that my writing (even as free as blog writing) is starting to reflect that!

Thank you for pointing me to such an informative book.

Karen said...

Thanks for that great summary Wendy, I read Raising Boys a while ago now (back when I thought I mightn't ever have a little girl to raise!) and it was good to refresh my memory.
I don't mind reading Steve Biddulph's books generally, he also has some quite challenging and thought provoking stuff to say about the dangers of full time child care for babies and younger toddlers. All good food for thought as I'm getting ready to extend my maternity leave for an extra six months!

Ken Rolph said...

You might be interested in the following book:

What's happening to our boys
by Maggie Hamilton

She talks about the threat to boys of rampant consumerism, unfiltered technology and stealth advertising. I'm glad mine is already grown up!

Wendy said...

I was wondering just the other day where you were Ken - you've been quiet! I'm not sure I want to read a book like that, I'd rather keep my head in the sand.