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Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men Hardcover – July 28, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Single or gay mothers-whom Drexler dubs "maverick moms"-are "real" parents, in case anyone needed reminding. The families they create are "as real and as legitimate as any other." The author, an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, bases her book on an extensive research study she conducted. Though she's curiously cagey on numbers, she does reveal that she interviewed a variety of lesbian mothers, single mothers, sons of single moms and sons of two-mother families. The results of her survey serve as a refreshing antidote to critics who insist that family life today is on the verge of being atomized. In an upbeat but never preachy tone, Drexler retells anecdote after anecdote illustrating her point (namely, that female-headed households may be better for boys than households with men). The book is mostly narrative in structure, with bulleted points at the end of each chapter explaining what "maverick moms" do that makes them successful parents (they encourage their sons to participate in a wide variety of activities; they actively recruit male figures from their families and the community to be in their sons' lives; they model the behavior they want their sons to emulate, and set examples of strength and compassion; etc.). This important work will serve as a beacon to the country's nearly 10 million single mothers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Truly a cutting-edge book . . . important for everyone who cares about the future of the American family."   --Carol Gilligan, author of The Birth of Pleasure
"This important work will serve as a beacon to the country's nearly 10 million single mothers."--Publishers Weekly
"As I read this book, I could almost hear the sound of the flying monkeys swooping   in from out on the right. Books like this are attacked for the truths they tell. And there is no greater truth  you can tell to the nation's single mothers than 'Relax. If you love him, support him,   listen to him--your boy will turn out just fine.'"  --Bette Midler   

"This is a wonderful book--a very necessary book. We live in an age of labels: you're normal, you're  not. For the so-called non-traditional families that want only to make their way in the world, labels can do  incredible damage. Boys Without Men makes a convincing and empathetic case that very good things  come from outside the bounds of our worn-out assumptions."  --Henry Louis Gates W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University   

"This is the answer to those who believe they can attach limits to the idea of family. It's part  guide, part affirmation, part eye-opening proof that family is far less about composition,   than it is about the power of its love and support."  --Jann Wenner, editor and publisher, Rolling Stone Magazine   

"Peggy Drexler is such a perfect guide to parenting in the 21st century, of what makes the most basic  institution of society click, I wondered: How did she get so smart about life? Decades of research, of  course, but also an uncanny knack for seeing inside the human heart.   Pull up a chair and read this book. You'll be a better parent for it."  --Margaret Carlson, first woman columnist, Time Magazine, political columnist, Bloomberg News,  and Washington editor of The Week magazine.   

"This highly readable, well researched, groundbreaking, myth shattering book should lay to rest all  unfounded ideological opposition to nontraditional families. Everyone who wants to see the best interest  of children served must read and act on this book's wisdom and research. "  --Alan Dershowitz, Author and Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University   

"Once a decade, it seems, there is a book that suddenly makes it all clear that what we have been led to  believe about ourselves, gender roles and expectations is nothing more than hooey. This is such a book. A  well-researched and clearly written testament that people are people and   families are not nuclear but functional."  --Rita Henley Jensen, founder and editor in chief, Women's eNews   
"I've always been in the idea business. So it's exciting when I see something blow away  convention. This book creates controversy. And that's good.   Controversy means people are thinking instead of assuming."           --Donny Deutsch, Chairman and CEO of Deutsch, Inc, Host of CNBC's hit show   "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch", author of "Often Wrong, Never In Doubt"   

"Raising Boys without Men changes the terms of our fractious national conversation about how we can  raise boys to become good men. Peggy Drexler's thoughtful, engaging book demonstrates that fine  parenting comes in various shapes, sizes, and genders."  --Judith Stacey, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Social and  Cultural Analysis, Professor of Sociology, New York University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Edition edition (August 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579548814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579548810
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,380,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've spent my career studying sex and gender: men and women, boys and girls, and how they come together in families. As the concept of family continues to pass through a time of stress and redefinition, my research has taken me deep into the lives of individuals across the country. I've explored who they are, what they want, and how they are changing. It's been a fascinating journey.

In part because of the loss of my father at an early age, I've had a life-long interest in how children are affected and shaped by their relationships with the men and women in their families. I've looked at how these early associations influence how they live, work and love -- and how content they are with the adults they have become.

Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family is about the changing connection between fathers and daughters. Using my personal story, research and the first-person stories of the many women I've interviewed, the book examines the state of a powerful bond in a time of unbridled female choice and opportunity. It explores how daughters can enhance the bond, and even recreate it, by breaking through the roles and assumptions of the past.

My first book was the much discussed, Raising Boys Without Men. It introduced readers to boys in single and two-mother families. The book earned wide praise and was a finalist for a Books for a Better Life Award and a Lamda Literary Award.

I've been fortunate to share my ideas and findings in a variety of academic settings, including presentations at Harvard Law School and Harvard Medical School.

I've also appeared on and written for a wide range of national and international media, including: The Today Show, Good Morning America, NPR, The New York Times, USA Today, Good Housekeeping and Parents magazines. My columns appear regularly on Huffington Post.

I am a long-married mother of a son and daughter. I live in New York City with my husband and two yellow Labrador Retrievers.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Twin Mom on February 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm more stunned by the reviews than by the book. I think the book has interesting information and a valid perspective that isn't heard often.

But to understand that, one needs to actually read the book and also to understand sociological methods of study - studying human experience is not like studying cause and effect in a lab. One also needs to hear and grasp the difference between studies on boys with fathers who have abandoned them - the studies most often cited and associated with stats about the negative effects of not having a father - and this study which is on boys who do not have a father in the picture and never have. In this way, this is new research.

The book doesn't, to me, say that men are not necessary to boys - in fact the author spends a great deal of the book talking about how boys who do not have fathers get access to (and are encouraged by their "maverick moms" to get access to) men and male role models. She finds this to be of benefit for the boys.

She does also say that, based on this research, she sees boys being raised in this specific circumstance (boys without fathers who have abandoned them and who are being raised by a mom or moms) doing very well and developing in a very balanced and healthy manner.

My issue with the book is two-fold. I'd like to see more research and a follow-up with the subjects of her research - I think that would lend itself to a stronger work.

I also just found the writing to be generally unorganized and a bit repetitive. This was very distracting to me as I read.

So interesting information - would like more research and more data - writing itself only so-so.
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167 of 220 people found the following review helpful By tastycake on August 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Drexler claims point blank that boys do not need fathers. This is a significant claim to make, and, if true, would have enormous consequences for the way we think about family. Therefore, it is imperative to investigate what her research actually says, and more importantly, what it does not and cannot say. Accordingly, there are two things wrong with Drexler's book - the methodology and the argument itself.

First, the methodology. These are the three most glaring errors in her methodology:

1) The control group for her study is made up of one person - herself (page 28). She sets herself up as a "one woman control group" to make comparisons to her group of 90 fatherless families. Anyone with even a cursory understanding of research methodology knows that this is completely unacceptable, and that the control group has to be as similar in size and attributes as possible to the group that is being investigated.

2) She uses a small, unrepresentative sample - 30 lesbian moms, 30 single moms by choice, and 30 single moms by circumstance - (page 27) to make inferences about the population as a whole. Again, a cursory understanding of statistical and research methods shows that unless you have a sufficiently large, random sample, you simply cannot make inferences about the whole population. But Drexler uses her research to claim that ALL boys do not need fathers. For more of her bias and elitist sample, see pages 24 and 25.

3) She does not measure outcomes using a well-tested instrument with which to determine how the children are doing across measures of child development and well-being.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Liljeannie on November 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a single, straight mother raising two young sons alone. I ordered this book because I fear the boys might be missing out without a father in the house. Although the book has some great summary tips about things mother's can do, it seems to focus mainly on lesbian couples raising boys. I didn't find most of that information helpful, as it does not apply to my situation. There was very little in the book targeted at single moms doing it alone. And on top of that,'s "suggestions" to me were two books about lesbians. Hahaha, I'm not really offended, and have an open mind, but I need a book JUST for single moms without a partner.
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51 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Ben W. on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I`m a progressive and open-minded person,but this agenda-driven tripe had me wretching after the first 10 also upset me when the author described situations where these "father deprived" sons latched on to what few men they were allowed to have contact with,but were then pulled away by the male-hating mom to "protect" him from the "negative" male contact he was desperately seeking.Not only idiotic,but cruel in my view.No one with any compassion for boys could agree with the authors biased and agenda-driven conclusions.Curiously,the author contradicts herself by suggesting that sons need some male contact(grandfathers,uncles,etc.)just not dad.This book is nothing but "feel good" junk science,and its also part of a larger conspiracy to eliminate fathers and to eliminate any other male influence from our boys lives,both at home and in the public school system.If that sounds like paranoia,I can assure you that you wont have to look far to find evidence of anti-father bias,it is that rampant.
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