263 of 279 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2001
Some time ago I read this book and found it to be incredibly insightful. Not only did it help me understand my sons better, but I also came to understand myself better as well. I so enjoyed it that I came back to this review page recently to find suggestions of other books of this type. I was shocked to see that the rating had dropped precipitously since I'd first read it, brought down by a batch of scathing reviews. I noticed that they all sounded strangely the same - using hyperbolic, if not hyperventilating rhetoric, nearly all of them charging the book with "misogyny". As if championing the role of a father in a boy's life is somehow "woman-hating." Or suggesting that boys will be boys, so why don't we channel their natural aggression into positive activities is "dangerous". Naturally, most of these attackers did not cite examples (those who rely on name-calling and invective rather than reasoned thought never do.) There was one exception, though she completely misrepresented the author's point. I hope those of you considering this book are guided more by the reviews that actually discuss the ideas in the book, rather than those reviews poisoned by political agenda. This is an important book well worth your consideration.
60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2005
Gurian has done an astoundingly thorough job in addressing the issues many of us face in raising boys today. I have read other books about raising boys, including other books by Gurian (also good), but this one by far is the most comprehensive, thoughtfully put together book I've ever read. I think that anyone who is thoughtful about raising sons and committed to doing the best job possible should take a good look at this book and give serious consideration to his ideas.
Gurian admits in this book that he does not have all the answers and is constantly working to refine his suggestions. I love what he has done and how he has done it, by actually talking with many families and kids around the world, and using this information, along with neuroscience, and his rich cultural background and education to formulate these suggestions.
The book is based on the unique testosterone driven neurological needs of males. It explains this in detail and how to best support a boy's development and channel a boy's natural aggression into a positive and constructive way of life through out the different stages of development. If you do not believe in the idea of "testosterone driven neurological needs" of boys, then this book may not be for you. But there have been many studies done that have shown the differences in male and female brains and much experiential evidence that there are differences. Any teacher and parent I have asked who has both sons and daughters attests to these differences. Again, if you are a parent of boys and committed to doing the best job you can, this book deserves a sincere look, and these ideas, serious consideration.
I do see this book as a passionate advocate for boys and maleness, but NOT as male over female promoting. Near the beginning of the book, it strives to dispell the common impression that girls are the ones in crisis by comparing staticstics about girls to those of boys. But the intent I got from it is the presentation of a reality check about the state of our boys, and a plea for change because of the crisis we have on our hands of delinquent boys. But, if I could change one thing about the book, it would be how this plea is presented - fewer comparisons to girls. I think the statistics for boys are revealing enough on their own.
Yes, it does point out how mothers, society, and even fathers and other males can and do unwittingly harm boys' development, but I did not take offense to this because I see this book as a very practical, caring, and passionate guide to raising boys. If read in its entirety, readers would see that Gurian SUPPORTS mothers, holds them in the highest esteem, and sincerely calls for increased respect and support for mothers from family and society.
Some reviewers have pointed out that he does little to promote the intact family. He does mention this to be the ideal case in most circumstances. But he is also saying that in the absence of this ideal situation, or in the absence of extended family being available, here is how to try to mitigate some of the inherent risks associated with those scenarios. Even if the ideal situation does exist, here are the components that should be present to help you raise your son.
I am a single mom of fraternal twin boys about to turn fourteen. For us, most of what Mr. Gurian is saying in this book rings very true so far. My sons have naturally gravitated toward the activities (i.e., constantly challenging themselves, striving to improve skills), a rich family life, (i.e., Gurian's second and third families, the "tribe"), and many male mentors suggested by Gurian. Currently, they are very, very successful despite the fact that I am a struggling single mom. They have many accomplishments, are well rounded, have great discipline, and have a very bright future ahead of them. This book has helped me navigate some territories unknown to me in raising my sons, and has validated other guiding methods I've used before reading the book. It has helped me correct some of my mistakes, think through some tough choices, and I will continue to refer to it. I think it's one of the best books, if not THE best book out there on raising boys!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 1999
This is a well balanced and important book about boys. In fact, considering the violence that our society's boys are acting out, this is the only book on the market that really explains how we can help boys to become healthy in all ways. I found Pollack's book to be the same-old, tired tirade about how we should just let boys cry, but frankly that is a one-note argument (not to mention 20 years out of date). I find it astonishing that so many people deny the role of biology in our behavior, as if testosterone had no effect on boys. Please, can we get over the politically correct arguments of old and understand that it is both nurture AND nature? This is the only book that seems to support this. Besides, the biology part of this book is only one aspect (a fact lost on some of these other readers, making me wonder if they really read this book or are just ignoring the wisdom found in this book because it doesn't echo their tired arguments?). And despite some suspiciously well-planted Pollack-positive comments here, Gurian gives a well-balanced and inclusive look at all of the ways that we can support our boys. Instead of making it an either-or argument, read them all and make up your own mind.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2005
Many people who grew up or lived through the 70's gender identity crisis here in the US have adopted certain kinds of stories about the relationship between men and women. Women are the victims of male oppression. Women need to be protected from men. Often cited in support of this view are studies that show girls don't get called on as often as their male classmates, women are discriminated against in the workplace and suffer from unfair expectations about the division of labor at home.
While it is true that we can improve the lot of women in society, Gurian makes the argument that we should avoid thinking that because society has been unkind to women, it must be nice to men who are the villians of society. Society isn't very kind to boys either:
Boys, not girls, are more likely to be victims of violent crime in school; on average, girls today have higher educational aspirations than their male classmates, as many boys aspire to manual labor jobs like carpentry or plumbing; girls, not boys have better self-esteem through most of their school years; girls, not boys tend to get better grades overall; in total, there are more women in graduate programs in the US than men. Even today, when we send citizens to fight in wars, those armed forces are predominantly male. Lastly, societal expectations and norms both at home and at work prevent many men in the US from enjoying fully who they are as humans... rewarding them for being the "strong silent types" who deny their emotions and are not allowed to develop fully their social skills in a way that expresses their unique qualities as men. Society isn't treating most men very well either.
Gurian's book makes the case that the path to a healthier society involves improving conditions for boys as well.
For both men *and women* who are interested in improving gender relations in their community or even just understanding the male half of the population, this book is a well-written, thought-provoking read.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 1999
With two boys, aged 8 and 11, I stood on the brink of their adolescence feeling unprepared and clueless as to how I should guide them. Then I read this book!
Its basic review of the physiological differences between boys and girls was insightful and thorough. It has already changed my parenting in the areas of discipline, my attitude towards video games, their "rough-housing" behavior, etc. I found this book was more comprehensive than "A Fine Young Man", by the same author. It has a great balance between exploring underlying principles and offering practical tips for successfully parenting boys.
I can't wait to give this book to my husband for Fathers Day! This book is an affirmation of all the wonderful things he already does with our sons and an encouragement and guide for the years ahead.
After reading this book I feel better prepared to release my boys on their journey to manhood!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2005
I'm currently reading this book for the second time since my son was born, and when I'm done I would like my husband to read it. Gurian recognizes the biological differences in the brains of males and females. He writes about how to discipline a boy effectively by taking these differences into consideration. His theory is that boys have different needs from each parent, and that boy children often need different methods of discipline than girl children because their minds work differently. I don't agree with every single thing he says, but most of it makes perfect sense.
I think this is a very important book and should be read by anyone raising a boy or teaching boys.
32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 1999
After reading so many negative reviews of this book written by females, it made me want to immediately go out and get it. I did. The problem with our modern society is that we just do not want to face the natural FACT that males and females ARE different. Do not say that out loud, however, or you will be branded a chauvinist. Today's adolescent males are scared, confused and insecure. I wonder what has caused this. (Not really) We still encourage females to BE females, be proud of it and be as much a contributing member of the business world as men have always been. With boys, however, we do not encourage. We tell them what they SHOULD NOT do. We teach them, subconsciously, that they are now to pay for the centuries of repression of women committed by what one of my students termed, "a bunch of dead white guys." Thus, we have self-assured, confident women and insecure, weak men. No one really believes that men are put on the earth to dominate women, men are stronger, men are better and all that rubbish. I don't agree with previous readers fears that this book is dangerous because it will lead to a perpetuation of the "John Wayne" mentality. That is the opinion of fools. If you want someone to "tell it like it is," without the psychobabble that really says nothing at all, get this book.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 1999
With my background in boys' camps and the criminal justice system, I see the whole range of boy development on the grand scale. I would have appreciated a more closely-footnoted text given Gurian's daring (and welcome) challenging of the current (and ineffective) attempt to treat boys as if they are imperfect girls. The books major strength is its avoidance of sappy psychobabble. This book is not anti-women in my opinion. On the contrary, I think he bends over a little too far to soften the harsh reality. If you didn't like The Wonder of Boys, then Gurian's next book, Fine Young Man will not make any sense as it goes the next step.
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2001
I am so disappointed to actually see reviews with 2 stars. Gurian's book gives us tremendous insight into the biological differences between boys and girls. When I had my son I was very concious of making sure I wasn't "making him into being a boy" as my psychology classes in college suggested. My son never had an interest in dolls, he didn't even know what to do with them. My son instictivly picked up balls and cars. His first word wasn't mama or dada, it was ball.
Gurian tries to dispell the feministic approach that we have all grown up to believe for the last 20 years, that boys and girls are equal. Trying to get boys to play like girls only ends in frustration. Everyone knows boys and girls are different, understanding the differences helps you treat your sons in ways that make them more successful.
This book gave me tremendous insight into how my boy thinks and reacts to the world as well as the other men in my life.
This book makes sense.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2001
This book gives me so much insight into how I could relate with my 14-year-old son. It helps me with seeing my son moving into the adolescence stage, which could otherwise be quite painful and confusing. Through this reading, I could much better understand his behavior in an informed and hopeful manner, rather than reading into his motive and feeling hurt and desperate. The balanced and comprehensive content coverage is useful, the tips are practical, and the stories and cases are interesting.
I highly recommend this book to any parents with boys.