Friday, June 13, 2008

Bringing Up Boys

It has now been a few weeks since I finished Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson, but I must say, his words have surely resonated in my head a few times since then, compelling to me to mother my two beloved boys in a certain way.  It was a fantastic read and one I feel is worth digesting, especially for parents and grandparents of little boys!  

Dobson lays out a clear, conservative message in his book.  Boys will be boys, and there aren't two ways about it!  His initial chapters outline the biological gender differences, citing the unique surge of testosterone 6-7 weeks after conception when a male baby in utero undergoes a "hormonal bath" resulting in the male brain taking on a different structure and nature from that of a female.  These biological differences lay the groundwork for unique boy-ness that can only be understood and embraced with the right attitude and perspective.

Dobson then lays out a clear picture for the raising and disciplining of boys.  He urges his readers to provide a firm, structured environment for boys, yet encourages them to allow their boys to "blossom" in their unique boy ways.  Statistics pop out of the page left and right as Dobson makes the provocative case for the necessity of raising boys on the straight and narrow in a world that dictates otherwise.  The completion of a chapter of reading would always send me reeling--I would spout off facts to my husband and friends, convinced that we had "so much work to do" in raising our boys!  It was truly inspiring.  I almost feel the urge to go back and read certain portions just to remember the nitty gritty in my daily time of need!

Probably my most valuable lesson gleaned from Boys is that I can do a better job of celebrating my sons' unique and wonderful boy-ness!  Often I catch myself aghast and perplexed at these little wrestling, aggressive wonders.  Dobson helped me understand that our day-to-day boy antics are really part of the general boy development framework.  And gosh that makes a mama breathe a sigh of relief just when she needs it!  Thank you, Dobson.

Have you enjoyed this book?  Don't hesitate to offer your opinions in addition to mine!  
And God bless all of you mothers of boys--He knows you need it! ;)


Eileen said...

I'm familiar with this book, but even with two often-challenging little boys, I confess I've never read it.

I should.

Your timing is excellent, this may be exactly what I need right now. (You sold me with your "sigh of relief!")

Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

Julene here. (I guess that only matters to Kat!)

I really appreciated that book, which a friend of mine gave me. As my boy gets bigger, a whopping 18 months, it amazes me how his boyishness is already SO evident in his interests and behavior. What I took away is that boys need risk and adventure, so dh and I have to remember to give him constructive opportunities where that is appropriate and and also a learning experience. That brings me to the following recommendation...

Another book called Wild At Heart by John Eldredge addresses the need for boys to be initiated into manhood by older men, esp the father. Initiation often involves risk and adventure, it challenges boys and gives them an opportunity to strive with all their might toward a goal. That's how they learn what they are truly capable of as they face challenges later in life. Without that, insecurity develops that affects all areas. I could continue, but I recommend you read the book (esp for fathers but it's also great for us moms to get a glimpse into the male mind!).

Wild At heart can also bring insights and healing to fathers who want to be great fathers but may have broken relationships with dad or others, or are insecure about that role.

Not to distract from Dobson's book, but I think the combo is even better! They approach things very differently but together offer us help for the amazing challenge of raising up our boys!

Kat said...

I'll have to read this book, and I've also heard great things about Wild at Heart! I'm lucky to have a husband that is already trying to think of ways for C to experience "controlled risk-taking" - he's very into the idea of all-boys camps since that's what he did for over 10 summers! - and I see the need for that more and more as C gets older.
Thanks, B-Mama, for the reminder that I wanted to read this book!

Juris Mater said...

B-mama, I read this a while back and LOVED IT--the most helpful literature by far that I've read about raising boys. I hope I can reread it every year or so. Our culture is pretty feminized, and we don't have the struggles that used to naturally make boys into men. Good to get some insight into all of this and much more!

Mary Alice said...

Has anyone read Raising Cain? A mother of three boys mentioned it to me at the ball field recently, and I am thinking of checking it out.

I think that boyness is one of the things that has made homeschooling a good fit for my family this year. My oldest boy needs to grow in conformity and self control, but in order to excerise these virtue muscles he also needs plenty of time to exercise his large muscles, out there running and wrestling and playing. With my three year old boy, I joke that he is sometimes like a puppy, you can see when he has been cooped up to long he loses his self control, so I need to make sure that he is "let out to run" early in the day!

With girl boy twins, the natural gender differences are so interesting to watch.

Right Said Red said...

You've already convinced me that I need to read this book. I have some time, Charlie is only 2!

texas mommy said...

argh...comment deleted. Here it goes again:

Loved Dr. Dobson's was very eye-opening. I had this idea in my head that it would be easier to raise boys than girls, but he argues that it is more difficult to raise boys to be men than to raise girls to be women in today's society. The cultural feminization of boys starts at a very early age.

We just had our friend Father Phillip in town and he centered his whole ministry, The Amator League, around speaking to men about being true men of God. We always have great conversations with him about raising boys.'s not just a book about older boys. In fact, it was very reassuring to read it now when our little guys are very busy being boys. It helps me to encourage and discipline in the right way. As in, it is ok to use a stick as a sword, but it is not ok to direct it at your brother's head.