September 5, 2011

Raising Real Men - a review

So here’s a confession, I’m a girl.  I was never a boy nor will I ever be one.  But I am currently raising four boys.  And I have no idea how boys think.  They are foreign to me.  Sometimes I look at them and can’t figure out how their brains came up with whatever behavior/game/idea they just displayed/played/told me.  Truly.  They think differently.  They react differently.  They are different.  Some days I’ll ambush my husband when he comes home to tell him all about the crazy things his sons did, to which he’ll reply, “So?  What’s weird about that?”  Huh?  It’s weird because a girl would NEVER think of that.

I’ve always wanted an Owner’s Manual for Raising Boys.  Then I was given the opportunity to review Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys by Hal and Melanie Young as a part of the Timberdoodle Blogger Review Team and I think it’s as close as I’m going to get!  I have had this book on my list of “to read” for years and now that I’ve read it I’m sorry I waited so long.

Written by conservative Christian homeschooling parents of 6 boys and 2 girls, this book was full of funny anecdotes, real life example and practical ideas.  Over and over again I found myself saying, “Hey honey, listen to this”.  In fact, he left the room several times because he couldn’t get his own work done with me interrupting him every two minutes.  Reading this book was like light bulb after light bulb going off.  “Oh, so THAT’S why!”  “Okay, NOW I understand.”

 The book is divided into two sections.  The first deals with “values” or “virtues” and discusses such things as the need for heroes, what play for boys really is, leadership, and whether to allow weapons or not.  The second half talks more about “civilizing” a boy or the things which will help them grow into well-rounded men.  The authors discuss, among other things, education, responsibility, dating, manners, and whether boys should help in the kitchen.

Some ideas I had heard before, some were completely new to me.   For example, the Youngs discuss how boys are born with the desire to be leaders.  It’s how God made them…because one day they will be in charge of their families, their employees, their community.  They state, “We’ve got to teach them how to submit to authority without destroying their leadership.”  This put disobedience and their often challenging behavior in a whole new light.

 There were a few points I didn’t necessarily agree with, and a few scripture references I felt didn’t support their arguments.  It is also written by a couple who firmly believes homeschooling is the best option and a person who doesn’t homeschool might feel a little ‘judged’ or excluded in some of the comments.  The book, on the whole, however, was well worth reading.  In fact, I’m going to read it again and mark it all up and take notes and write down ideas I have on what I’d like to change about my parenting, new things I’d like to try.  You don’t have to agree with everything to make a book or idea valuable and instructive.

As a mother of boys, I highly recommend this book.  It has changed how I view my sons and helped me create a better vision for how I want to raise them.  I feel like I understand ‘boyness’ just a little better.  This book will stay on my shelf for years to come, and I know I’ll reference it often.  Along with Last Child in the Woods and Boys Adrift, this should be required reading for all parents of boys.

By the way, if you haven't heard of Timberdoodle yet, check out their free catalog.  I do a lot of our school, birthday and Christmas shopping there. (which is why I wanted to review for them...I like 'em!)

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Legal Disclosure:
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.


  1. I'm so glad you got a chance to read it! Great isn't it? I'll also be keeping my copy handy. Your review was great... I'm thinking about just stealing it for my blog and then giving away my extra book with it :-). You were spot on!

  2. I may need to give this a glance-through. My poor little boy is surrounded by sisters, and a mommy who has only ever been/raised the girly kind of human. I'm more than happy to let him play with trucks and planes and balls and swords, but by golly I feel in over my head sometimes... and I see that getting more frequent as he gets older and more independent.