Book Review:

Raising Boys, by  Steve Biddulph

As the mom of two boys, I feel I am obligated to raise two good men for the sake of humanity. Goodness knows we need them. Boys and men get a lot of bad press. High incarceration rates, low graduation rates, stories about deadbeat dads, sports heros who don’t measure up…even every day battles like men who refuse to do their own dishes or pull their weight with parenting issues…the list goes on. It almost comes across as the “chicken or the egg” question- did boys start letting us down first, or did we start expecting them to first? Who knows.

Either way, I’ve added a new title to my ever-growing collection of books I like to think of as the “please help me not ruin my sons” shelf. I recently borrowed Raising Boys, by Steve Biddulph, from my local library, and ended up purchasing it for my permanent collection almost immediately. What I’ve enjoyed most about this book is the practical advice for the various stages of boyhood into manhood. Biddulph clearly has a wealth of experience helping shape boys and young men in his background as family psychologist and as a parent. As someone who’s currently in the trenches, raising two boys, the advice and description of the early childhood stages were spot-on. I saw my sons in his descriptions, making his “what to do” advice portions that much more valuable.

The book describes what Biddulph has dubbed the “Three Stages of Boyhood”, spanning from early childhood through late adolescence. He discusses, in simple yet thorough terms, the processing and brain development differences between boys and girls, and how parents (and teachers!) can best accommodate this difference. As a mother, I worry a lot about simply not understanding my sons as they grow older. As babies, I had little doubt that I would be able to fulfill their needs. However, even now, as my oldest son approaches age four, I can tell there are some things I just don’t, and perhaps won’t, “get” about being male. I enjoyed reading Biddulphs reasoning behind this.

Biddulph also addresses how to ensure best educational practices with boys. He writes extensively about the dilemma of when to start boys in formal schooling, what “boy-friendly” schools look like, how to handle social issues in the school years, and how to advocate for your son if he faces adversity in his schooling.

I have found this book useful so far, and I have little doubt that it will continue to be useful as my boys get older. I would highly recommend it to parents of sons from birth through school age, and as a teacher, I think it would be a great read for all educators as well!

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