Before I tell you about this book, I need to tell you why I read it. Last June I got
married for a second time, and this bride came with a ready-made family of three kids.
Now, I had a couple of kids in my first marriage, so it’s not like I was totally clueless
here. But this gal’s youngest was a boy, and both of my kids were girls. That posed a
bit of a problem.
The little guy had spent maybe—and I'm being nice
here—a whopping six months around his biological male parent. Other than that, he’d been
raised by women. I knew that I was going to need some help on this one. My new
mother-in-law had bought a book to help her daughter raise her son, but it was still on
It was Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson.
I’d read Dobson’s book on disciplining kids during my first marriage, and
it had some good tips in it. This book was worth a shot.
At this point,
it is my duty as a book reviewer to provide you with something of a disclaimer. Dr.
Dobson is a devout Christian and doesn’t hide that from the reader. He wears it like a
badge of honor and touts some very conservative beliefs. If that bothers you, or if you
already have an opinion of him and his ideals, then you can stop reading now. If you
believe that way, too, you probably have already read the book and can quit here. Should
you fall somewhere in the middle of those two sets of ideology, then keep reading.
In Bringing Up Boys, Dr. Dobson espouses some pretty strange
ideas. Things like there are real differences between boys and girls—and those
differences are good things, and we should embrace them. He explains that there really
is such a thing as right and wrong, and we should teach that to our sons. According to
him, parents are in charge of the house, and the kids, especially boys, should respect
them. He seems to be pretty sure that two parents in the house are better than just one,
and that both parents need to be active in the lives of their young boys in order for
their boys to grow up and be good men. The point is also made that all kids—that
includes boys—will emulate the behavior they see at home. Pretty strange and scary
He gives practical tips for how to help your son do better in
school and act better in general. Each chapter of the book ends with a question and
answer session that takes his theories and shows the parent how to put them into
practice. On that hand, it’s a great book.
The book also denounces a
couple of topics in very strong terms. He speaks out boldly for an entire chapter on
homosexuality and the harm he sees it doing to society. Dr. Dobson takes on the feminist
elite of the nation as one of the major reasons for the high number of dysfunctional
males in America. His position on both of these topics is exactly what you would expect
from someone with his background. He also bashes dads that leave their families instead
of staying to raise them. Yes, he’s a fundamentalist, but I’ve already warned you about
If you surf over to Amazon.com and look this book up, the first
editorial review will give you a very slanted and unfair view of the book. Don’t let
that keep you from reading it. This is a good guide to raising a young man. Like any
guidebook, it's not exact, and it won’t solve all of your problems. It will give you
insight into how boys are wired and what makes them who they are.
the book; use the parts of it that make sense to you, and discard the
Then go outside and play catch with your son. Or ride bikes. Or
talk to him. Or hit some golf balls with him. Or build a tree house together. Do
something that tells him you love him.