But then, before I knew it, I had a toddler -- a boy toddler.
Some things I could understand.
Things like chocolate
and playing outside.
I even learned to play with action figures.
I wish I had read Raising Real Men years ago. (It's a new book, but I definitely could've used the information in it years ago.)
Hal and Melanie Young have six boys of their own and understand the challenges of raising boys. I definitely relate to their statement on page 24, "When we look at the foolishness and immaturity of our little boys we have a hard time recognizing the men they will become."
Perhaps that's the most important theme of the whole book. The idea is not to be a parent that survives each day without completely going insane. The idea is to raise Godly men.
The book starts out by talking about manly virtues.
"And what are the manly virtues?In many cases, they're the same things we complain about in our boys: competitiveness, aggression, a desire for adventure (commonly called recklessness?). We may admire the independent spirit of man but grind our teeth when exhibited by our son. How about messy, scary ideas like heroism, courage, endurance, fortitude? Real men should be protectors, persistent, honorable, and intrepid. There's precious little that's neat and nothing that's quiet about those things." (p. 27)
We discourage risk taking and warn our boys to "be careful."
We don't take enough opportunities to let our sons develop their own sense of adventure.
Please don't misunderstand. This book isn't telling parents to let their sons run wild and get away with all sorts of uncivilized behaviors. "Raising manly men doesn't mean raising barbarians. Men can and should be civilized." (p. 126) Some of the best parts of the book talk about how to cultivate manly virtues while also teaching our sons to fit in well with our society.
In this book, the Youngs share how they taught their sons to interact in society, to lead their families, and to serve God. There are so many useful tidbits of information shared in these pages. I'll share one that particularly rang true with me.
"Boys really need a goal, some purpose for the day. She learned that giving them a list can help them see what has to be done and allow them to be in charge of doing it. It also gives them hope that there really is an end to the school day, if they don't prolong it themselves." (p. 152) I figured this out with Brennan a few years ago, after spending several years butting heads and trying to drag him along as we slogged through his school assignments each day. That's why I rarely start a school day with Brennan without either a written schedule or filled workboxes. I wish I could've skipped over the years of arguing and dawdling and started with a schedule from the beginning.
Throughout the book, Hal and Melanie Young talk about the Biblical principal laid out in Luke 16:10: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much." (NIV) As their boys grew up, they'd give them small tasks so that they could develop responsiblity. As they showed themselves worthy of that trust, they were allowed to take on more responsibilities. With greater responsibility, the children were given more freedom. This model allows their children to develop the skills necessary to become an independent (and successful) adult.
Of course, I still have days where I want to pull my head out. I also find myself thinking, "What in the world is going through his head?" I've also learned that moms of boys often say things that I never thought I'd say. Now that I've read Raising Real Men I understand it all a bit better, and I try not to let it get me down. Most importantly, I no longer try to fit my boy into my preconceived notions that were largely based on my experiences with girls..
My bottom line: If you have a son, you need to buy this book. Read it, and then read it again. Turn down the corners of a few pages (or a lot of pages) and highlight your favorite passages. Refer back to it when you're pulling your hair out because your son is acting like... well... I guess acting like a boy, right? Refer to it also on the days when you think about the future and when you pray about the man your son will grow up to be.
The Youngs ended Raising Real Men with the hope, "May we all become the parents of godly heroes." That's my prayer for my son and for all the other boys I know and love.
Raising Real Men can be purchased from Timberdoodle, one of my favorite online stores for educational materials. What I love most about Timberdoodle is that they have found all of the coolest products to make our school days (and entire lives) more fun. In addition to homeschool supplies, you can find parenting helps and boy-friendly products for outdoor learning.
Even if you aren't a homeschooler, you really should stop by Timberdoodle.com and request a free homeschool catalog. Their products make excellent gifts!
Disclaimer: 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. You can find other reviews of Raising Real Men on the Because Mom Said blog.