Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Raising Real Men - Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys

Raising Real Men - Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys

Raising Real Men - Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys

  • Written by Hal and Melanie Young
  • Paperback - 256 pages
  • Great Waters Press - January, 2010
  • 2011 Book of the Year (Christian Small Publishers Association)
  • Written from a Strong Biblical Perspective by Parents of SIX boys
  • Available through the Timberdoodle Company for $15.00 $12.75

Anyone who reads my blog with any regularity knows by now that I have boys.  Twin boys.  It is also common knowledge that I feel that raising them is the single most important thing I have ever been called to do.  It certainly isn't easy, and I often worry if I am doing a good enough job.  I can be very hard on myself!

I love listening to and reading the experiences of other parents.  It helps to shore me up and give me hope.  Most recently, I have been benefitting from the wisdom and experience of Hal and Melanie Young. In their book, Raising Real Men, Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys, they share about their parenting journey with SIX boys.

They won me over in the introduction, and for me, it kept getting better.  This book manages to capture so much of what I feel is important for my sons!

It is divided into two parts.  The first is "Virtues in the Rough".  The focus of this part is on what makes boys special, and how to appreciate and direct these wonderful traits into assets.

I am a champion of men.  I do NOT like the gender neutrality creeping into our society.  We have gotten to a place where boys wear skinny jeans, guyliner and have more piercings than the girls.  Their hair is long and pretty and they carry murses!  The Dads in TV shows and commercials can barely string together a coherent sentence, and according to their scripts, they would be unable to function without their much smarter wives, who (thankfully) all seem to have a soft spot for these bumbling buffoons they married.

I have known my boys for over eleven years now, and I can assure you, they were born with an aversion to anything feminine.  Let me show you two boys who wouldn't even consider such things as make-up and salon visits.

muddy boys

jeep

As you can see, their sense of adventure,  love of dirt and rather fearless nature were not taught.  It wasn't until they became aware of the world around them, that things started to change.  I probably should have realized what was happening when I started asking things like; "Sweetie, should a superhero really whine like that?", "Is that character supposed to be a boy or a girl?" or "Why is that little girl terrorizing the entire household, and where are her parents?".

About this same time they also learned to whine, and question their instincts more often.

pond babies

fountain

I will admit that boys are loud, they can be aggressive, and being still isn't really their strong suit.  This clashes with my femininity, and yes, it even gets on my nerves.  But  this is the way boys are made, and with good reason!

It probably isn't culturally correct to say this, but men were made to hunt, gather and protect.  I have seen very creative ideas in the upcycling community, but no matter how much decoration and ribbon I put on a frappicino bottle, it's still a frappicino bottle.  The same is true for boys.  No matter how much medication, mediation, and feminization they receive, they were still born boys, and will always be boys.  Of course they can still cook, sew, comfort and love, but they should not be belittled or put down if they also like cars, competition, noise and sports.

Hal and Melanie spend seven chapters discussing the fantastic qualities of boys, the reason they need the proper role models, and how their biblical view lines up with their observations. While each chapter ends with a page of notes and references, they never attempt to pass themselves off as experts.

The second half of the book is titled "Civilization for the Tough".  Raising young men who appreciate their male qualities doesn't mean setting a pack of barbarians loose on the world.  We must also cultivate them to be socially responsible, respectful, and goal oriented.

Things that I feel very strongly about are discussed in these next chapters.  How to manage money, work ethic, manners, education and love are just a few of the topics.  The last chapter provides encouragement in regard to sending our boys forth into the world.

There is also an appendix.  If you have shy, quiet boys who may be a little bit anxious, your needs are addressed here, as well as how to gently challenge a boy without making him feel embarrassed or in danger.  They also quickly discuss giving our sons permission.  The guidelines for when it is okay to "break" rules.  For instance, starting fights and bullying is unacceptable, but defending themselves or loved ones is always okay.  (I always told my boys they might get in trouble from authorities, but I would back them 100% if this happened)

As a mother of boys, I found this book to be a great source of advice and encouragement.  In the few places where I didn't exactly line up with the authors, I was able to appreciate their viewpoints.  This may be because from the very beginning they stated that they do not pretend to be degreed boy psychologists, bible theologists, or authorities on hyperactive youth.  They are parents.  Real parents, of real boys, who are growing to become real men.
Hal and Melanie Young have been involved with parenting, political commentary, writing and homeschooling from coast to coast, including California, Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina. They have eight children from 20 on down and have homeschooled them from the beginning. The Youngs live in North Carolina, learn everywhere, and believe true riches don’t involve money.

Follow Hal and Melanie on Twitter, Like the book on Facebook, visit the website, or sign up for the Raising Real Men newsletter.

You can buy the book through Timberdoodle.  The price is currently $12.95. .


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As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of Raising Real Men in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.  Timberdoodle is a fantastic source for parenting help, ideas for boy friendly outdoor learning, and many other homeschool supplies and curriculum.