Book Review: Boys Should Be Boys by Meg Meeker

15 Apr

Taking a family road trip to Kentucky kept me from posting for a couple weeks, but it also gave me the chance to read Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons by Meg Meeker.

Before I get started with the review, let me qualify my perspective.

  1. I DON’T believe in gender specific parenting.
  2. I DO believe in holistic, CHILD SPECIFIC parenting.
  3. A BIG part of the whole child is their gender.

Therefore, I LIKE the idea of books about boys as well as books about girls.

It’s also important to state at the beginning that I think it’s time to let go of the debate about whether boys or girls have it worst and focus on doing a good job for all children. Each sex has its own challenges and gifts. There has been gender inequity, but fighting about who has the current short end of the stick is silly. Boys benefit if we raise healthy girls. Girls benefit if we raise healthy boys. Writing a book about boys does not hurt girls and vice versa. The better we understand how to parent and teach both sexes, the better off both boys and girls will be.

I was interested in this book because:

  • I am raising boys.
  • I work with challenging boys.
  • I am writing a continuing education workshop on caring for boys.
  • It was available on i-Tunes, so I could listen to it while driving.

If I were grading Dr. Meeker’s book against other books about boys, I’d give it a  “B.” I found it useful and inspiring. It’s a good book, but I’ve got high standards. Here’s the criteria I used:

  • Boy-specific data and ideas: Much of the information could be applied to boys or girls equally. While the book expressed the ideas in a boy-centered way, the information wasn’t uniquely innovative or outstanding for boys. The “Seven Secrets” were good ideas for raising all kids.
  • Quality of parenting advice: It was good advice. Solid, but not exceptional.
  • Relevance and usefulness of stories and examples: Stories were decent examples, but not particularly inspiring or illustrative. You didn’t read them and say, “Wow, I never thought of it that way. I see this boy’s story in a whole new light.”
  • Data and information was new, innovative, or engaging: Most of the information was stuff most people had heard before. While it was good to be reminded of it, there were not revelations that would rock anyone’s world.
  • Ideas were thought provoking, applicable, and could be practically applied by busy parents: For a book to be worth most parent’s or teacher’s time, it needs to have some very useful, applicable, plug-and-play ideas that will work and change our daily practice. The book contained some very good suggestions, but it would be difficult for most people to come away with much more than a few ideas to try.
  • Reading the book inspired me to be a better parent, teacher, youth worker, etc. The last chapter was inspiring, and I did come away with a full heart wanting to be a better dad.

As far as other things that I consider important, the book was pretty weak.

  • Cultural diversity is barely mentioned.
  • Principles of adult learning hardly there.
  • The perspectives and needs of exceptional children were only briefly mentioned.
  • Best Practices for parents or professionals weren’t clearly identified but were mentioned in passing (unconsciously).
  • Other professionals were quoted a couple times. Other professional organizations that are accessible or useful to readers or participants weren’t memorably mentioned.
  • Developmental ages and stages were not discussed.
  • Parenting Styles were not discussed.
  • Learning styles were not discussed or integrated.

I don’t expect most parenting books that are published to include all of these, but I think it’s good to be aware of their importance.

If people are looking to pick it up from the library and browse through it, here’s what I’d read:

  • Chapter 4 on media that is very insightful.
  • Chapter 7 on moms.
  • Chapter 8 on dads.
  • Chapter 12 on 10 tips for making sure you get it right was encouraging and inspiring.
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Posted by on April 15, 2010 in Book Reviews


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