Book Title: The Wonder of Boys
Author: Michael Gurian
Year of Publication: 1996/2006
Publisher: Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Penguin
Author’s Web-site: http://www.michaelgurian.com
Full Book Available in: English
Want to understand how God made boys the way they are, what they need to grow into mature and moral men, and what practical steps that you as parents can take to guide your sons from childhood to adulthood.
In tribal cultures, boys are brought up by all of the men in the tribe to honor and respect their biological differences as males. In our culture, it takes parents, male role models, and the society (media, education institutions, government, etc.) to train up a man to respect the body that God gave him, personally connect with God, find meaningful work, learn how to interact with men and women, and be a positive contributing member of society. This book is also very helpful for single mothers to encourage them to find male role models for their sons. They do not need to bear the brunt of raising sons all alone.
Boys need a “tribe” of three families to be involved in their upbringing: Primary caregivers, Extended Family (people they see daily,) Culture & Community (church, media, community figures, etc.)
God made girls and boys differently just as he intended: Boys need a lot of space to explore, boys hear better in one ear than the other, boys process and release feeling in quick bursts of energy due to testosterone, boys delay emotional reactions in order to solve problems first, and aggression (not violence) is hard wired to them. We as parents need to understand and channel these qualities in a positive way.
Boys and men need nurtured competition and goal-oriented work. Organized sports and hobbies are important for them to connect with a sacred purpose that God has for them.
A boy has a second birth into manhood (after age 10.) Adolescents need to have male mentors with whom they can honestly discuss the “shadowy/ sinful” side of self, self control, spirituality, relating to females, finding meaningful work, etc.
Gurian explains the elements and techniques of healthy discipline. There are many practical tools that Gurian gives in the book. A few key discipline techniques include: demonstrate to the boy how his actions affect the world around him, redirect his aggression to inanimate objects, use a stern tone, take away toys or privileges, negotiate and provide choices when possible, make tasks and chores into “games,” and NEVER hit or use violence in discipline.
In teaching morals, values, and spirituality, we must be clear on where we stand first. Gurian explains the stages of a boy’s moral development, and how to navigate these. Stories of “heroes”(like mythology and true Bible stories) capture their attention better than lectures and are great ways to teach boys about the qualities of moral, strong, and spiritual men.
Teaching boys about sex and love requires honest conversations regarding sex, love and commitment. Boys need to know that their sexual feelings aren’t bad in and of themselves, and that God made their bodies for a sacred purpose. Male mentors can help them acknowledge these urges while also teaching self-control and respect for others.
Give boys important work from an early age. God made us to do important work in his kingdom. Work helps males feel like they belong, gives them confidence, and helps them be responsible “husbands” in society.
In the past couple of decades, educators, government, and media has been focusing on child rearing and education geared to females to give them equality in our society. However, research shows that we are not focusing enough of our time and resources on raising boys:
Boys are more likely to drop out of school
Females outnumber males in college and graduate school
Boys are more likely to be physically abused by a parent than girls
Boys are four times more likely to commit suicide
Very helpful chapters focused on mother-son and father-son relationships. A couple of key lessons for mothers (especially single mothers) are: Mothers should not force sons to care for their emotional needs. Boys should be allowed to separate from mothers in their second decade of life into the world of men. Some good advice for fathers: Fathers need to make a conscious decision to be involved as fathers from conception, and they need to be self aware of their values, beliefs, and actions as role models for their sons. A personal relationship with frequent communication is vital for fathers and sons.
I am more aware of the wonderful ways that God made girls and boys different. I will embrace those differences, and ask God to help us to raise our son into the man God desires him to become: A man who follows Christ, is a good husband and father, and makes a positive difference to world around him.
© 2011 The Family Project