One of my fav parenting books is called Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph. It’s a pretty honest, confronting book. Biddulph is a family therapist and has been writing books for decades.

My little boy is getting ready to turn 7… in 31 days, so I thought I’d brush up on my parenting-a-boy skills. In Biddulph’s book he looks at what boys need in three different stages of life:

  • Birth to six years
  • Six to thirteen years
  • Fourteen and up

The first stage, he calls, ‘The Gentle Years’. This is when us mummas are the most important people in their world – woo hoo! They learn about love and affection in this age group, so pile it on thick mummies. The second stage he labels, ‘Learning to be Male’. It is in this age bracket that the dads begin to have more influence over the little munchkins. Here, little boys usually follow in their father’s footsteps, taking on their interests and observing what it is like to be a man. No pressure fellas!

The last stage, ‘Becoming a Man’, is when the baby boy bird tests the boundaries of his nest, preparing for his first flight. Squawk. Friends become more important and it is crucial that the teen boy has a trustworthy male mentor to help him to develop the necessary skills to complete his progression into manhood.

I found this structure so helpful. Being a female, it is sometimes hard to understand exactly what my little boy needs from me. Biddulph insists it is crucial that us mummas maintain the affection throughout their life: a hair rustle here, a hand hold there, perhaps a little peck on the cheek when appropriate.

As I said at the start this is a confronting book. One of the biggest calls is Biddulph’s opinion of ADD. In this book he has renamed it DDD (Dad Deficiency Disorder). He tells a story of a boy who would often get so sick he’d end up in Intensive Care. His father was a medical specialist and every time the boy was sick, the father would rush home to be by his bedside. When the father stopped going away for work, the sickness stopped. It’s controversial stuff but what if it’s true?

This book gets you thinking. It may sound a little harsh at the beginning but ultimately it is empowering parents to be the best they can for their little boys. Instead of getting sucked in to our individualistic culture, Biddulph encourages parents to reach out into their community and make connections to help boys through the turbulent teen years. Instead of letting them loose to make their own connections, Biddulph advises that parents gently guide them to the right kind of people, if they can.

Parenting can be such a sensitive subject. We all have our own way of doing things. But sometimes it’s good to get an expert’s opinion. It’s healthy to broaden horizons and see where we’re missing the marks and where we are getting it right.

PS There’s also a girl version called Raising Girls. I haven’t read it yet but might be a good read if you have girls.

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