on December 28, 2003
Let me start off by saying I am no conservative Christian. My husband bought this book for me as a sort of last-minute Christmas gift and he had no idea who James Dobson was. But hey, I'll read anything so I gave it a try.
I found myself agreeing with quite a few of his points, mainly about how our culture has become frantic, overscheduled, overworked, and how our children are the losers when parents become less involved in their lives and more involved in their own. He points out how kids who eat dinner with their parents on a regular basis seem to have fewer problems with the law, drugs, etc. He also talks about how popluar culture has become ever more toxic, something we must struggle to help our children cope with or protect them from it. I agree with all of these things, even though I'm considerably more on the liberal end of the spectrum.
At the core of the book (because it is about boys) is that this lack of parental involvement is harder on boys because they naturally need more supervision and guidance than girls to make good decisions. I really enjoyed reading his descriptions of how boys are more active and physical than girls because it gave me some insight into why my three year old loves running in circles roaring, then falling to the ground waving his legs in the air. The book gave me a lot of insight into how boys "work" and I think it will make me worry a lot less that my kid has something wrong with him if he finds it hard to sit still during Mass.
I skimmed over some of the chapter on homosexuality, enough to know I was going to have to agree to disagree with him on that one. However, I was surprised that his tone in that chapter was full of sympathy for the kid who thinks he's gay, although his opinion of what to do about it differs from mine. His opinions of feminism I both agreed and disagreed with. To say the early feminists only had great ideas and no loony ones is to simplify a movement that was important but also very complex, and which has had good and bad lasting changes on our society. I will probably check his notes and read some of the writings he refers to to see if he put his own spin and opinion on these quotes or if he is reporting these womens' opinions accurately. I also skipped throught the last chapter, which basically says that Christianity is the only religion that satisfactorily answers all the questions about why are we here and what are we supposed to do.
And finally, to address a couple of critiscims I read in the bad reviews. While he does believe in a stricter brand of discipline than is politically correct right now and probably has more faith in spaking than I personally do, I never got the impression that he thought you should be whacking your kids around all day, in fact much the opposite. He advocates keeping your cool, your patience, punishing when you need to but avoid constantly punishing and criticizing your child. I agree when he says we're the parents and we do need to assert our authority. And as for having a parent at home, well, I made the decision to be a stay at home mom because I saw value in having a parent at home and fighting against the hectic lifestyles that are becoming the norm in our society. So I basically agree with him on this one. But he DOES say that he knows some women need to work for financial reasons or EMOTIONAL ones, and he hopes that if you do work that you make the effort to stay connected with your kids and find stable child care for them.
So...I enjoyed the book, learned a lot about boys, and kept my anger at differing opinions in check by skipping over those parts and knowing that I wasn't going to agree lockstep with all that Mr. Dobson had to say. But overall I think it's a good insight into our sons especially for those of us moms who were calm girly girls.
on January 15, 2008
Having read a dozen or more negative reviews my conclusion is that they generally just come down to a disagreement on Dobson's view of certain issues, and not the meat of the book per say. These issues could be summarized in, the breakdown of the traditional family, misunderstanding of gender roles, and the effeminizing of males in our society. The majority of people who will negatively review this book are those who already disagree with it ideologically from the get-go.
The thing about "Bringing up Boys" is that it does not hit solely on the problem of radical feminism and homosexuality as it's main premise (despite what you may be led to believe by reading 1 and/or 2 star reviews), although it does highlight them in some areas as the main instigators of a deeper societal problem. The book actually focuses more on the importance of self-esteem, protecting your children from psychological abuse (i.e. teasing), self-control, the effects of violent media, the importance of positive role models, and highlighting the positive strengths of being male.
What you will get in this book is a world-view for raising boys. Despite what you may have been told, it is not about legalism, sexism, intolerance, "papal" obeisance, or whatever else you equate to religion, but instead a greater awareness of who your son is, through a Christian understanding of love, acceptance, and self-worth.
My advice is:
1. If you detest Christian worldview, then don't buy this book - it will rankle your skin
2. If you think you might disagree with something but can be an honest ideologist then eat the meat and spit out the "bones" - there's plenty of meat.
3. If you've read other Dobson material and/or believe in what Focus on the Family is doing then you will probably like this book - if nothing else, it will push you towards praying for your children and your country.
Lastly, I read several other posts by single parents who felt alienated by the books focus on the "nuclear family" (mom and dad). It's too bad the book felt so condemning for you. I would advise that you go to the Dobson's website and do a search on single parenting, where you will find several articles/books/CD's with help for what you are looking for.
on April 22, 2004
I am a Pediatrician, and a patient's mother left this book following a visit. I took it home and began to look through it - I see such "How to raise kids" books frequently, as you can imagine. Most of it was good, solid, practical advice. Most parenting books are reminders of what we tend to forget in the hustle and bustle of daily life. That's a compliment, not a criticism. We physicians welcome any counsel to parents to relax about their little darlings, not fret about their child being slower or faster than another in their development, wondering if each challenge is evidence of some dire malady or another.
What I really liked about the book is the refreshing reminders about the nature of boys. Their physicality, their noise-level, their energy, their love of competition, weapons made from bread or play-dough, their dirty pants and laughter at funny sounds. That "the experts" believe that these are socialized or learned behaviors, and that "boys and girls are the same" has been a terrible disservice to our nation's little guys - and their parents.
Along with this calming counsel are chapters on the responsibility that comes with being a male. Finally, I dare to hope, boys may start to be raised to be men!
Hats off to the good doctor - I returned my patient's book and bought several copies for myself and colleagues.
Enjoy your boys!
on January 19, 2002
A fantastic book, pulls no punches. I didn't agree with everything, and most people won't, either.
That doesn't detract from the main theme: That modern society and culture, and virtually every institution that interacts our boys is failing them, as are most parents.
From TV to teachers, boys are being shaped in un-natural ways by forces with agendas and others with false ideas, and in some instances by sheer laziness. The wreckage can be seen daily as you walk through our culture.
Mr. Dobson's book will point you towards building a more traditional, stronger man as a goal. It's the same role model so disparaged by a wide range of special interest groups.
A strong, emotionally healthy, masculine, and loving man is a threat to these groups, but will be a joy to a future spouse, children, employer, community, and country.
on December 1, 2012
The book begins with several true stories of boys getting in trouble, fearlessly staring down danger, to pursue one mischievous adventure or another. Dobson uses these stories not just for humor but to illustrate a point - men and women are fundamentally different. While that might seem obvious, it is unfortunately a concept foreign to many who shape our culture. After sharing these stories, Dobson dedicates the next few chapters to the physical, chemical, and anatomical differences between men and women, so as to leave no doubt in the reader's mind of the different make-up of the sexes. Here Dobson's credentials as a licensed psychologist (Ph. D. from USC's School of Medicine) really stand out as he explains the direct role testosterone, serotonin, and the amygdala play in boy's development and behavior. He also does a good job of keeping this part of the book from becoming too dry. I think this section is especially important for mothers to read to better help them understand the physiological and anatomical differences between themselves and their sons.
Predictably, Dobson takes a hard stand against divorce and devotes plenty of space to detailing the harmful effects of divorce on all children, particularly boys. "Divorce, when it occurs, diverts the attention of adults away from children and focuses it on their own painful circumstances. This disengagement of parents in our fast-paced and dizzying world will show up repeatedly in our discussion of boys. It is the underlying problem plaguing children today," he writes.
Dobson also takes care to document the relentless assault on men in our society. Led by feminists, Dobson notes example after example of how men have been (and continue to be) belittled and humiliated for years on television, in movies, in the media (including one shocking statement by Katie Couric), in greeting cards, and in academic circles by liberal professors. The collective result, Dobson asserts, is that boys grow up unsure of themselves and unwilling to take risks and responsibilities. In essence, they are afraid to show any signs of masculinity. This, in turn, negatively affects the rest of our culture as any functioning society desperately needs "take-charge men" who are "assertive and self-assured" to be leaders and mangers.
Dobson also points out how this bias against boys has reared its ugly head in the educational system as well. A few years ago, American studies were released that showed boys outscoring girls in math and science aptitude tests while girls scored better in reading and writing skills. Immediately millions of taxpayer money went to fund numerous programs for girls to encourage their interest and participation in math and science programs. Dobson says that, while these programs are fine, he decries the fact that not one penny went to similar programs for boys in reading and writing fields.
What to like: One of my favorite chapters in the book was "Boys in School." It dealt with the educational choices available to parents today and included an in-depth look at home schooling. I have to admit that for years I down-played the virtues of home schooling until I first read Bringing Up Boys last year. Now Karen and I are seriously considering home schooling James and any future children we have. Academically, home schooled children outscore children enrolled in public schools by a large margin and now new studies are showing that, contrary to popular belief, there are no real negative side effects on children's social skills when they are taught at home.
I have to give more kudos to Dobson's book for recommending that children not be allowed to watch television until they are twenty-four months old. Dobson's recommendation was based on his own analysis of child developmental studies. Bringing Up Boys was published in 2001. Just this past week, studies were released which reinforce this belief.
What Not to Like: While much of Dobson's book is well-thought out and carefully written, there are times I feel he veers into the territory of rhetoric and exaggerated claims. For example, after citing numerous examples of male-bashing on television (all true, by the way) he makes the following outlandish claim: "There is not a single example, as I write, of a healthy family depicted on network programming that includes a masculine guy who loves his kids and is respected by his wife. None!" Now, I watch very little TV, but I know that statement is simply not true. While the vast majority of what appears on television is not edifying, there are good, wholesome options available - and there have been for some time. Dobson made his point clear enough; he did not need to underline it with blustery rhetoric.
Conclusion: All in all, Dobson has written an extremely helpful book for parents raising sons in a world full of physical, mental, emotional and moral dangers. Though not exhaustive, Dobson does a good job of identifying many of the threats present in our society to raising Godly young men and he helps parents think through these problems while offering many practical and smart solutions. His research is indicative of his vast amounts of education and common-sense. My wife and I have both found this book to be invaluable as we have mapped out parental strategies for our firstborn son over the past year.
Though I do not agree with all of Dobson's stances, in this book and in general, I admire him for honestly tackling problems inherent in our culture. He is not afraid to offer unpopular opinions - opinions that are, the vast majority of the time, reliable and right.
Whatever your opinion is of James Dobson, no one can deny that his life's passion is for stable families in today's society. I realize some folks will be turned off by Dobson's comments about homosexuality, feminism, single parent homes, etc. However, that is a reflection of his value system and he is certainly entitled to share his thoughts with the reader on raising a boy in today's world. Besides, Dobson is tough on men by challenging them to be men instead of boys! I wonder, did Dobson's critics read any of those comments clearly stated in his book?
Among the points covered in the book include:
1. Yes, there is a difference between boys and girls!
2. Psychological aspects of boys vs. girls.
3. The necessity of having a father figure in the home.
4. The relationship between fathers and sons.
5. The relationship between mothers and sons.
6. Boys tend to take more risks than girls and enjoy safe "roughhousing" with their fathers.
7. How to discipine boys.
As the father of a son and 3 daughters, I can attest that there are indeed differences between the sexes and that they should be raised accordingly.
Dobson speaks from many years' experience as a licensed psychologist. Many people in the past and present (and in the future) have benefitted and will benefit from his wisdom.
Read and enjoy. Highly recommended.
on December 17, 2001
This book gives great information to the new parent or the seasoned parent on the issue of raising boys. I work with hundreds of parents throughout the year and specialize in very active boys and girls. "Bringing Up Boys" offers great tips and advice that give you a new perspective on understanding your child. Get "The Child Whisperer" by Matt Pasquinilli as a simple aproach to communicating effectively with any child, but most especially with boys. "The Child Whisperer" has simple steps to follow and you will find that both books really compliment each other.
on October 30, 2001
The book, Bringing Up Boys, by Dr. James Dobson is awesome! It is timely and filled with practical advice that parents will find extremely helpful. Dr. Dobson does a fabulous job not only in helping parents raise their sons, but he offers biblical principles that gives parents the TRUE authoritative facts about brining up boys. I learned so much about my son that I never knew. Don't waste another minute without learning the facts about boys. Buy this book today. It is a must read to for parents or guardians that are believers raising boys.
on March 18, 2002
If you hold to the liberal-left viewpoint, please do not purchase this book. It will only serve to anger you. If you hold to the conservative-right, and you have a son(s), you will find this book most beneficial.
Dr. Dobson gets to the heart of the matter when he reminds us that we must bear in mind that we are raising men, not boys. As a mother of a 3 month old son, I have found the information to be very eye-opening. Dr. Dobson emphasizes the importance of the father in the life of every boy and how our young sons must make the transition from an infant who is dependant upon it's mother, to an independant "man-to-be".
His loving candor makes this a most enjoyable book to read, and his common sense & christian values are most refreshing. I am glad I made the investment in my son's future by purchasing and reading "Bringing Up Boys".
on October 2, 2007
This was the first book I read by Dr. Dobson. We adopted our son at 3 days of age 2 years ago and I read this book after we received it for Christmas 2006. I hope other parents of boys and girls will read this but especially parents of boys. Dr. Dobson uses many examples and defines terms and theories and other information well for those of us who are not experts in the field of child development. He discusses various ways of child rearing. I most appreciate the section on why our country is where it's at now considering it's history of disgarding the family unit and trying so hard to feminize boys and mascinulize girls since the 60's. But he gives us hope that we can change these patterns and defy the culture of today!