Today, I’d like to talk about a great book I have discovered recently: Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph.
This is not a new book as it was edited in 1998 for the first time but it is affirming truths that I feel are definitely still valid today.
I found particularly interesting the following topics covered by the book:
The various stages of growth for boys and how we can adapt our support to their changing needs
The question of school: what is best for your boy. This can help you with questions like “Do I start my boy at school at 5 or 6 years old?”, which I know a lot of parents have.
How to help your boys develop a healthy and positive relationship with sexuality
How to help your son transition well to adulthood
The differences between what a boy needs from his mum and from his dad and from other important adults around him
What if you are a single mum
“It’s ok to be unpopular with your kids once or twice a day! If you have lots of good time together and a long history of care and involvement to draw on, then you have goodwill saved up like money in the bank. Sometimes dads are around so little, they want it all to be smooth sailing when they are there. But kids need to know when they do something wrong. It can be hard to find that middle point between hard and soft. Maybe it’s about being clear, not about using power or force at all.
I have a friend who is very close to his kids, I admire and envy how natural a father he is. But he, too, gets it wrong sometimes. Paul told me once how he lost it with his twelve-year-old son after a nightmare day at work: he exploded over some small thing and sent his son off to his bedroom, yelling at him as he went. The son deserved hardly any of this, the yelling was louder than was necessary, the boy was wincing in fear; it was a disaster.
Paul stood for minutes, ashamed and red-faced at what he had done. He realized it had to be fixed. He went and sat on his son’s bed. He apologized. The boy said nothing, just lay face down on the bed. But ten minutes later, the father was in the bathroom. His son past him on the way to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. As he passed, he said something that touched the father’s heart in a most unforgettable way: “Why is it so hard to hate you?” “
I like this extract as it underlines us two things:
1/ We have limits and it’s important to accept them. If we refuse them, we will feel guilty and we will keep this guilt inside. To be able to go back to his son, this father needed to accept he had limits and that it is ok. So, then he had space inside him to see he was wrong and find the strength to apologize.
2/ By telling his son that he, despite being an adult, could also get it wrong sometimes, this father taught a beautiful lesson to his son. He shared his truth and this can only strengthen the trust this son has for his father. Super heroes only exist in films. Teenagers know that. By accepting openly his weakness, this father entrusted his son as an equal partner.
It also showed to this teenager in the process of becoming an adult, that it is part of life to sometimes get is wrong in the first place but that what counts is what we do with this wrong. Being an adult is having the freedom to correct the wrong. And we cannot hate people who do that