Friday, May 13, 2011

Bringing up Boys

Bringing up Boys, Dr James Dobson

I read this a few years ago, realising it had a lot in it, but also that most of it wasn't yet applicable for my little tiny boy. Decisions about schooling, how boys relate, older boys, etc - it all seemed to far away to have to think about.

Now, however, my son is 8, and it all seems a lot more relevant. I enjoyed going back and re-reading it. Just like Bringing up Girls, which I reviewed last year, it contains lots of stories and anecdotes, which makes it very easy and interesting reading.

The main thrust of the book seems to be addressing all the issues that affect boys, so there is a lot of information and statistics to support his views. Dobson presents many issues that affect boys: the breakdown of family, absent fathers, the impact of feminism, women in the workplace, the gay lobby, post-modernism and educational decisions. There is a lot to digest and a lot of background provided so that you can understand the issues. I found this helpful on many levels, not just those related to having sons.

However, I do imagine you could end up feeling very guilty if you are a single mother, if you work as a mother, if you work long hours as a father, if you put your children into daycare, etc. He is sympathetic to the challenges many parents face, but he is also not hesitant in backing his views of things that can harm boys.

Obviously, being written by an American, it has a very strong emphasis on developments in the US, particularly with respect to educational policy and the gay lobby. I found myself wondering how strong the parallels really were between our two countries, but without a doubt it has overlap to the Australian context, perhaps just not as extreme. I did find myself thankful that we don't live in the US and have to deal with some of the issues there. When I first read this book, I grasped the argument for home-schooling and appreciated it as an option for the first time, whereas previously I never had.

Just like Bringing up Girls, I think the most helpful parts are those encouragements and instructions to mothers and fathers - to continue to love each other, serve their families, raise their children with integrity, kindness and love; to be involved in the lives of their kids and seek to pass on their faith.

A challenge to us all, but a worthwhile one.

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