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Matthew P. Cochrane
- Publié sur Amazon.com
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.