OMG, raising boys is so frustrating! I mean, raising girls is just as frazzling (I have both), but the raising boys thing is throat-punching me lately. Ugh.
Before I come over all negative and whiney, let me tell you the things I LOVE about raising my boy:
1. No future or current periods to angst over
2. He loves a cuddle
3. There is pride in raising a feminist male
4. Fashion angst is minimal
5. Threatening to remove screens as a consequences works every time
6. Fart jokes (I quite like ’em)
7. Zero friendship issues (generally)
8. Zero stress about what other people think of him (generally)
9. Surprise and delight when he exceeds our (rapidly plummeting) expectations
10. He knows being a brother to his sisters is his most important job.
Okay, so I love my son, so like you, I love raising boys. But, let’s face it, we need help! We so need help! Help!
Here are 16 books by people who profess to know what raising boys is like. They are full of helpful advice and caring. We like that. I hope you find something that solves some of your boy angst here in this list.
16 books about raising boys
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1. Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph
There is a reason that this book has sold millions and made Steve Biddulph a household name. Steve writes about the wonder of boys in a warm, open-hearted way. The book is packed with much-needed practical advice in a concise, get-to-the-point way. The Aussie bible for boy parenting.
2. The Making of Men by Arne Rubinstein
I saw Arne Rubinstein talk about his Making of Men program at Woodford last year. He had his adult son (I think he’s about 24) with him and the connection between the two of them was all I needed to know to get this book and follow Arne. An articulate, generous, commonsense book written by the kind of man we want to raise our boys to be.
3. Boys Should Be Boys by Meg Meeker
Meg Meeker is a smart, no-nonsense US paediatrician and parenting expert, and this book is testament to her approach. If you need help understanding the why, then setting boundaries and disciplining your son, Meg can help.
4. Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Steven James and David Thomas
The authors of this guide are both US therapists and fathers who between them are raising five sons. This holistic book focuses on the physical, emotional and spiritual elements of a raising a son and how to help them develop into the man you want him to be.
5. Prince Boofhead Syndrome by Michael Carr-Gregg and Elly Robinson
You know from the title that (a) this is an Aussie book (hello Boofhead!) and (b) it’s not mucking around. Dr Michael Carr-Gregg is a leading parenting expert who penned the hugely successful Princess Bitchface Syndrome. This companion book for mothers of boys has the same down-to-earth, commonsense approach. Major takeaway: we parents need to pull our socks up quick smart!
6. Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax
Dr Leonard Sax (he’s both a medical doctor and a PhD in psychology) believes that modern society has led to boys becoming less resilient and less motivated. This book identifies factors that are making our environment toxic for boys like our current educational model; the proliferation of video games; medications for ADHD; general endocrine disruptors; and a lack of good role models. It’s pretty heavy-going, but worth a read as Leonard’s solutions are practical and generally worth a try.
7. The Modern Parents Guide to Kids and Video Games by Scott Steinberg
In my opinion, this is an essential book for any parent of a boy. If we can’t control the video games, we probably can’t control the boy. Scott Steinberg, noted futurist and video game expert, offers lots of practical advice for integrating video games into family life. Think tips on monitoring, setting rules, limiting play time, and all the rest.
8. That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week by Ana Homayoun
We need this book – oh, how we need this book! I haven’t actually read this one yet, but believe me I am going to. Ana Homayoun is a US academic counsellor is a The blurb says, “At last, the solution for getting disorganized boys back on track. Missed assignments. Lack of focus and enthusiasm. Falling grades. For too many boys and their frustrated parents, these are the facts of life. But they don’t have to be. ” I’m in!
9. Conscious Parent’s Guide to Raising Boys by Cheryl L Erwin
The title of this book makes me giggle a little. I mean, I don’t think I’m unconscious when I’m parenting my kid, but you never know! The book is written by a family therapist, and it does make you think about being more mindful in your everyday interactions with the kids. It’s really about opening up the communication channels, teaching your son the skills he needs to ask for what he wants in a caring way, and raising a conscientious, well-adjusted adult.
10. Angry Young Men by Aaron Kipnis
I read this book a long time ago as part of my education post-grad degree. I think my son was about four at the time, and even then I knew that it was an important read for parents. Not all boys become angry young men, off the rails and out of control. But many do. This book is written by Dr Aaron Kipnis, who was himself an angry young man who turned himself around with a lot of help from many.
11. Calm Parents, Happy Kids by Laura Markham
Boys (girls too, of course) will argue and negotiate and they can be really very mean. In the midst of the onslaught, the best thing we can do is stay calm and in control. This gem of a book can help with that. A lot.
12. The Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian
If this list is starting to make you wonder what’s wrong with our boys, this book could be the antidote. Sort of. Michael Gurian believes that there’s nothing wrong with boy’s aggression and competitiveness – it just needs to be effectively channelled. Some of his methods for doing so feel a little disrespectful to me, for example, he thinks nothing of publicly calling out bad behaviour. He’s also very biased due to his own history and seems to have a problem with mothers, and women in general. So, it’s a sketchy one, but I include it here because the earlier chapters on the neuroscience of boys’ brains and the tribal references he finds are truly fascinating.
13. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson
This book has been around since 2000, but it keeps on selling year after year. It’s a good reminder that boys internalise much of their emotional life. We may never outwardly see the turmoil that is going on inside, unless we know what we are looking for. This book can be a map to help us find the clues.
13. The Way of Boys by Anthony Rao
This one is aimed more at boys aged about seven and under, but it’s still a good read for mums of older boys. Some great insights into why boys do what they do by child psychologist Anthony Rao. The chapter on bullying is especially good and Anthony’s thoughts on society’s propensity to medicate ‘boy behaviour’ are interesting.
14. Helping Your Angry Teen by Mitch R Abblett
Not all teen boys are angry, but many are. In this book, Mitch Abblett teaches mindfulness skills to help parents get a grip on their own anger and role model calm, effective communication. There are some excellent strategies here for improving your connection with your teen.
15. The Strength Switch by Dr Lea Waters
This one is a handbook for parents of both genders. It reminds us that parenting our kids’ strengths is much easier than fighting weaknesses. This book particularly resonated with me because in the past when my son didn’t display ‘typical boy’ traits, I had a tendency to see that as a ‘weakness’. I no longer do that.
16. Thriving by Michael Grose
Michael Grose is one of my favourite parenting authors. In many ways, he focuses on raising the parents, rather than the children (which is a lot like my own philosophy – good people raise good kids). This book is all about being a good role model for your kids, something we know boys especially thrive on as decent role models can be few and far between for them. You might also like to also check out Michael’s book A Man’s Guide to Raising Kids.