Bringing Up Boys

Bringing Up Boys

by James C. Dobson, James Dobson


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Here’s sensible advice and caring encouragement on raising boys from the nation’s most trusted parenting authority, Dr. James Dobson.
With so much confusion about the role of men in our society, it’s no wonder so many parents and teachers are asking questions about how to bring up boys. Why are so many boys in crisis? What qualities should we be trying to instill in young males? Our culture has vilified masculinity and, as a result, an entire generation of boys is growing up without a clear idea of what it means to be a man.

In the runaway bestseller Bringing Up Boys, Dr. Dobson draws from his experience as a child psychologist and family counselor, as well as extensive research, to offer advice and encouragement based on a firm foundation of biblical principles.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780842352666
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 10/01/2001
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 786,518
Product dimensions: 6.31(w) x 9.44(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Bringing Up Boys

By James C. Dobson

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2001 James Dobson Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 084235266X

The Wonderful World of Boys

Greetings to all the men and women out there who are blessed to be called parents. There is no greater privilege in living than bringing a tiny new human being into the world and then trying to raise him or her properly during the next eighteen years. Doing that job right requires all the intelligence, wisdom, and determination you will be able to muster from day to day. And for parents whose family includes one or more boys, the greatest challenge may be just keeping them alive through childhood and adolescence.

We have a delightful four-year-old youngster in our family named Jeffrey who is "all boy." One day last week, his parents and grandparents were talking in the family room when they realized that the child hadn't been seen in the past few minutes. They quickly searched from room to room, but he was nowhere to be found. Four adults scurried throughout the neighborhood calling, "Jeffrey? Jeffrey!" No answer. The kid had simply disappeared. Panic gripped the family as terrible possibilities loomed before them. Had he been kidnapped? Did he wander away? Was he in mortal danger? Everyone muttered a prayer while running from place to place. After about fifteen minutes of sheer terror, someone suggested they call 911. As they reentered the house, the boy jumpedout and said, "Hey!" to his grandfather. Little Jeffrey, bless his heart, had been hiding under the bed while chaos swirled around him. It was his idea of a joke. He honestly thought everyone else would think it was funny too. He was shocked to learn that four big people were very angry at him.

Jeffrey is not a bad or rebellious kid. He is just a boy. And in case you haven't noticed, boys are different from girls. That fact was never in question for previous generations. They knew intuitively that each sex was a breed apart and that boys were typically the more unpredictable of the two. Haven't you heard your parents and grandparents say with a smile, "Girls are made out of sugar and spice and everything nice, but boys are made of snakes and snails and puppy-dog tails"? It was said tongue-in-cheek, but people of all ages thought it was based on fact. "Boys will be boys," they said knowingly. They were right. Boys are usually (but not always) tougher to raise than their sisters are. Girls can be difficult to handle too, but there is something especially challenging about boys. Although individual temperaments vary, boys are designed to be more assertive, audacious, and excitable than girls are. Psychologist John Rosemond calls them "little aggressive machines." One father referred to his son as "all afterburner and no rudder." These are some of the reasons why Maurice Chevalier never sang, "Thank Heaven for Little Boys." They just don't inspire great sentimentality.

In an article entitled, "What Are Boys Made Of?" reporter Paula Gray Hunker quoted a mother named Meg MacKenzie who said raising her two sons is like living with a tornado. "From the moment that they come home from school, they'll be running around the house, climbing trees outside and making a commotion inside that sounds as if a herd of elephants has moved in upstairs. I'll try to calm them down, but my husband will say, 'This is what boys do. Get used to it.'" Hunker continued, "Mrs. MacKenzie, the lone female in a household of males, says this tendency [of boys] to leap-and then listen-drives her crazy. 'I can't just tell my boys, "Clean up." If I do, they'll put one or two toys away and assume that the task is done. I've learned that I have to be very, very specific.' She has found that boys do not respond to subtle hints but need requests clearly outlined. 'I'll put a basket of clean laundry on the stairs, and the boys will pass it by twenty times and not once will it occur to them to stop and carry it upstairs,' she says."

Does that sound familiar? If you host a birthday party for five-year-olds, the boys will probably behave very differently from the girls. One or more of them is likely to throw cake, put his hands in the punch bowl, or mess up the games for the girls. Why are they like this? Some would say their mischievous nature has been learned from the culture. Really? Then why are boys more aggressive in every society around the globe? And why did the Greek philosopher Plato write more than 2,300 years ago, "Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable"?

One of my favorite little books is entitled Up to No Good: The Rascally Things Boys Do, edited by Kitty Harmon. It is a compilation of stories told "by perfectly decent grown men" recalling their childhood years. Here are several examples that made me smile:

In seventh grade, the biology teacher had us dissect fetal pigs. My friends and I pocketed the snout of the pig and stuck it on the water fountain so that the water shot straight up out of the pig's nostrils. No one really noticed it until they were bent over just about to drink. The problem is that we wanted to stick around and see the results, but then we started laughing so hard that we got caught. We all got the paddle for that.

Mark, Ohio, b. 1960

A friend and I found a coffee can of gasoline in the garage and decided to pour some down a manhole, light it, and see what would happen. We popped the manhole open, poured some gas in, and replaced the cover so that it was ajar. We kept throwing matches down but nothing happened, so we poured all the gas in. Finally, there was a noise like a jet engine starting up, and then a big BOOM! The manhole cover flew up and a flame shot up about fifteen feet in the air. The ground was rumbling like an earthquake, and the manhole cover crashed about twelve feet away in the neighbor's driveway. What happened was the gas ran down the sewer lines for a block or so and vaporized with all the methane in there, and blew up all our neighbors' toilets. I'm a plumber now; that's how I know exactly what happened.

Dave, Washington, b. 1952

I am blind, and as a kid sometimes I played with other blind kids. And we always found just as many, or more, ways to get into trouble as sighted boys. Like the time I was over at a blind friend's house, and he took me into the garage to show me his older brother's motorcycle. We decided to take it out for a spin. Why not? We rode down the street feeling for the curb, and at each intersection we'd stop, turn off the engine and listen, and then cross. We rode all the way to the high school track, where we could really let loose. First we piled up some dirt at the turns of the track so we'd feel the bump and know we were still on the track. Then we took off, going faster and faster and having a blast. What we didn't know was that people showed up to run on the track and were trying to wave us off. We couldn't hear them over the roar of the motocycle engine and nearly ran them over. They called the police, who showed up and tried to wave us over too, but we kept going. Finally they got their sirens and bullhorns going and we stopped. They were furious and wouldn't believe us when we explained that we hadn't seen them. We proved we were blind by showing them our braille watches, and they escorted us home.

Mike, California, b. 1953

As these stories illustrate, one of the scariest aspects of raising boys is their tendency to risk life and limb for no good reason. It begins very early. If a toddler can climb on it, he will jump off it. He careens out of control toward tables, tubs, pools, steps, trees, and streets. He will eat anything but food and loves to play in the toilet. He makes "guns" out of cucumbers or toothbrushes and likes digging around in drawers, pill bottles, and Mom's purse. And just hope he doesn't get his grubby little hands on a tube of lipstick. A boy harasses grumpy dogs and picks up kitties by their ears. His mom has to watch him every minute to keep him from killing himself. He loves to throw rocks, play with fire, and shatter glass. He also gets great pleasure out of irritating his brothers and sisters, his mother, his teachers, and other children. As he gets older, he is drawn to everything dangerous-skateboards, rock climbing, hang gliding, motorcycles, and mountain bikes. At about sixteen, he and his buddies begin driving around town like kamikaze pilots on sake. It's a wonder any of them survive. Not every boy is like this, of course, but the majority of them are.

Canadian psychologist Barbara Morrongiello studied the different ways boys and girls think about risky behavior. Females, she said, tend to think hard about whether or not they could get hurt, and they are less likely to plunge ahead if there is any potential for injury. Boys, however, will take a chance if they think the danger is worth the risk. Impressing their friends (and eventually girls) is usually considered worth the risk. Morrongiello shared a story about a mother whose son climbed on the garage roof to retrieve a ball. When she asked him if he realized he could fall, he said, "Well, I might not."

A related study by Licette Peterson confirmed that girls are more fearful than boys are. For example, they brake sooner when riding their bikes. They react more negatively to pain and try not to make the same mistake twice. Boys, on the other hand, are slower to learn from calamities. They tend to think that their injuries were caused by "bad luck." Maybe their luck will be better next time. Besides, scars are cool.

Our son, Ryan, encountered one dangerous situation after another as a boy. By the time he was six, he was personally acquainted with many of the local emergency room attendants and doctors. And why not? He had been their patient repeatedly. One day when he was about four, he was running through the backyard with his eyes closed and fell into a decorative metal "plant." One of the steel rods stuck him in the right eyebrow and exposed the bone underneath. He came staggering through the back door bathed in blood, a memory that still gives Shirley nightmares. Off they went to the trauma center-again. It could have been much worse, of course. If the trajectory of Ryan's fall had been different by as much as a half inch, the rod would have hit him in the eye and gone straight to his brain. We have thanked God many times for the near misses.

I was also one of those kids who lived on the edge of disaster. When I was about ten, I was very impressed by the way Tarzan could swing through the trees from vine to vine. No one ever told me, "Don't try this at home." I climbed high into a pear tree one day and tied a rope to a small limb. Then I positioned myself for a journey to the next tree. Unfortunately, I made a small but highly significant miscalculation. The rope was longer than the distance from the limb to the ground. I kept thinking all the way down that something didn't seem right. I was still gripping the rope when I landed flat on my back twelve feet below and knocked all the air out of the state of Oklahoma. I couldn't breathe for what seemed like an hour (it must have been about ten seconds) and was sure I was dying. Two teeth were broken and a loud gonging sound echoed in my head. But later that afternoon, I was up and running again. No big deal.

The next year, I was given a chemistry set for Christmas. It contained no explosives or toxic materials, but in my hands, anything could be hazardous. I mixed some bright blue chemicals in a test tube and corked it tightly. Then I began heating the substance with a Bunsen burner. Very soon, the entire thing exploded. My parents had just finished painting the ceiling of my room a stark white. It was soon decorated with the most beautiful blue stuff, which remained splattered there for years. Such was life in the Dobson household.

It must be a genetic thing. I'm told my father was also a terror in his time. When he was a small boy, a friend dared him to crawl through a block-long drainpipe. He could only see a pinpoint of light at the other end, but he began inching his way into the darkness. Inevitably, I suppose, he became stuck somewhere in the middle. Claustrophobia swept over him as he struggled vainly to move. There he was, utterly alone and stranded in the pitch black pipe. Even if adults had known about his predicament, they couldn't have reached him. Rescue workers would have had to dig up the entire pipe to locate and get him out. The boy who was to become my dad finally made it to the other end of the drain and survived, thankfully, to live another day.

Two more illustrations: My father and all of his four brothers were high-risk kids. The two eldest were twins. When they were only three years old, my grandmother was shelling beans for the night meal. As my grandfather left for work, he said within hearing distance of the children, "Don't let the kids put those beans up their noses." Bad advice! As soon as their mom's back was turned, they stuffed their nasal passages with beans. It was impossible for my grandmother to get them out, so she just left them there. A few days later, the beans began to sprout. Little green shoots were actually growing out their nostrils. A family doctor worked diligently to dig out the tiny plants one piece at a time.

And years later, the five boys stood looking at an impressive steeple on a church. One of them dared the others to climb the outer side and see if they could touch the very highest point. All four of them headed up the structure like monkeys. My father told me that it was nothing but the grace of God that prevented them from tumbling from the heights. It was just a normal day in the life of five rambunctious little boys.

What makes young males act like that? What inner force compels them to teeter on the edge of disaster? What is it about the masculine temperament that drives boys to tempt the laws of gravity and ignore the gentle voice of common sense-the one that says, "Don't do it, Son"? Boys are like this because of the way they are wired neurologically and because of the influence of hormones that stimulate certain aggressive behavior. We will explore those complex and powerful masculine characteristics in the next chapter. You can't understand males of any age, including yourself or the one to whom you might be married, without knowing something about the forces that operate within.

We want to help parents raise "good" boys in this postmodern age. The culture is at war with the family, especially its youngest and most vulnerable members. Harmful and enticing messages are shouted at them from movies and television, from the rock-music industry, from the advocates of so-called safe-sex ideology, from homosexual activists, and from the readily available obscenity on the Internet. The question confronting parents is, "How can we steer our boys and girls past the many negative influences that confront them on every side?" It is an issue with eternal implications.


Excerpted from Bringing Up Boys by James C. Dobson Copyright © 2001 by James Dobson Inc.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Bringing up Boys 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My wife and I found this book to be very informative especially for parents that are weary of the negative influences of our society. We are in a cultural war that started in the 60's with flawed theories about our roles in society. Some reviews here may claim that this book is full of anti feminism, but honestly, it only illustrates how men and women were made differently thus causing us to behave differently. He clearly points out how experimental education models are not working today in our society and we should be wary of the attacks on those of us that just want to raise children with high moral values. If you want to raise boys that have respect for women and will contribute greatly to society, this book is for you. If you are liberal leaning and do not want to admit the problems caused by our societies attacks on moral values and social responsibility, this book may not be for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is so refreshing to read good sound advice on raising boys to be men. Dr. Dobson hit it right on the head. A must read for everyone not just parents.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As A mother of 4 active boys (ages 2,4,6,8) I needed moral and valuable insights into the upbringing of these wonderfully masculine creatures. I feel more confident about the character and faith formation of my wonderful boys. After reading Dr. Dobson's book, I can honestly say that I feel blessed now to have the opportunity (with the help and influence of my husband, a more involved father as a result of this book!) to raise up 4 much needed Godly men!
capriccio More than 1 year ago
All of the reviews about this book seem to be either 5 star or 1 star and I would like to give a middle of the road review. This book was a gift from a conservative cousin and I am quite a bit more liberal. Despite my trepidation about reading this book, which was based only on my knowledge of Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family, I found there were some very good concepts in this book along with the things I did not agree with. Despite my personal feelings about Dr. Dobson's views on homosexuality (which I knew upon receiving the book I would not agree with) he makes some very good points about safe-guarding the emotional well-being of our boys and the importance of male role models. Overall I preferred Michael Gurian's "The Wonder of Boys", but frankly he makes similar arguments to Dr. Dobson simply from a less conservative/religious point of view. I think people with conservative leanings are more likely to enjoy this book, there are concepts in it that can be a difficult read for those of us that are more liberal.
mom2jess More than 1 year ago
Dr. Dobson was on the right track. In the beginning I felt wonderful having a boy and excited for the adventure. But then I got to the part where he mentioned things such as 2 parent families, working, etc. I felt down. Not what I chose, but making a way for my family. I am a single parent, working a full time job. I am proud of that. I should not be discouraged that my son will be different because of that. I just felt that if you weren't the 2 family stay at home parent, you already had the problem. Dr. Dobson, be more encouraging for those that choose other paths.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It does my heart and soul a great service to know that there is a man like Dr. Dobson out there that wants to make sure that boys are being raised as they should be and has generously taken his time to educate society on the proper way to raise boys in this messed up and confused society. I have four grandsons and am very pleased and blessed to know that my daughters will raise there sons the way God meant for them to be raised. Thank you again Dr. Dobson, I greatly admire and respect your views! It is my prayer that the narrow minded views that some of these readers have expressed will have their hearts and minds opened to the truth. I feel deeply sad for the sons and grandsons of these people that feel the way they do about your book. I pray that they too do not grow up to believe that they are 'gay' or should be treated disrespectfully by some television shows that portray men to appear like brainless and heartless idiots. God help them for they do not know what they do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had big expectations from this book, tips on how to raise boys to be precise. Unfortunately the whole 300 + pages will mostly be useful to those who are interested in statistics and sophisticated language. It is just rambling about social issues. The author is defending conservative views throughout the book. There is no need to defend them, I already agree with them. There is nothing new, no details on bringing up boys. Waste of money, waste of time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very helpful with my own son. I would recommend it whole-heartedly to any parent!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I believe the book to be an informative read and commend Dr. Dobson on writing a great book. When children are killing other children in schools, we have a problem. This book teaches you to be the childs parent, not his friend. Some people might have a problem with that notion, I do not.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Christian based, honest outlook on raising boys in today's society was just outstanding. I felt that I really connected with this book. My husband and I are raising two young boys and can relate to alot of issues presented in these chapters and alot of issues we yet to deal with. But with the help of this book, we can feel more at ease with how God would want us to handle each situation. Society today has been drawn away from good morals and the teaching of Christ. I recommend this book to everyone whether you have boys or not. It has so much information about males in general and would be informative for understanding husbands, fathers and boys. Wish they had 10 stars for this one!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a married mother of three, 2 of which are boys 8 & 4. I struggle daily to understand my role as a mother with them and have questioned my parenting thus far, whether too strict or wanting them to 'behave'. I have always wondered why the boys behave the way they do. This book has helped me understand where they are coming from emotionally, physically, hormonally etc. and has helped me realized they are 'being boys'. I have been amazed at the statistics that are provided. Especially those regarding the prison system, learning disabilities and children born out of wedlock and the role that the presence or non-presence of a father plays in these areas. After reading this I have also learned alot about my husband as well and the needs he has from me as a wife, for support and confidence. Dr. Dobson gives a easy, open read that is Biblically based. This book has helped me raise my children not just as Christians but raising them to be confident and secure in who they are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the book Bring up Boys, has helped me to see that boys WILL be boys.untill I read this book I was real worried that my son was so rowdy and bad.(he is only two) The book uses real people and stories from other mothers with boys, how to give them what they need without spoiling, how to repremand your child to see what they have done is wrong and many other helpful tips for mothers or aunts,grandmathers, and even fathers. There is a chapter or two just for the fathers. I think that this book is an excellent adition to anyones collection who has a son or is expecting a son. I was from a family of all girls on both sides, so when my son came along I was shocked, but now I see that he is not a monster, just a normal little 2 year old.
aross2055 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is very helpful for understanding rising boys. It is an informational tool Parents of boys should have.
InsatiableB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm going to make a big claim. If you have a son (or more) you must read this book. You must.It is encouraging and challenging; enlightening and reassuring. Dobson has wonderful insight into the minds and spirits of little boys and practical advice on how to help cultivate wonderful human beings.A pivotal book for any parent of boys. And I hear he is coming out with a counterpart, Bringing Up Girls this year.
b3anspr0ut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book for a parent raising a son. The book gives information and advice for all age ranges and also has advice specifically for single moms. It teaches you how to equip your son to be a man and lead a Godly life.
Gracie123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazing. I love this book. A must read for anyone with sons.
gamoses on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was unimpressed. His attitudes are totally outdated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is NOT what the description suggests. It is sexist and homophobic, and preachy, preachy, preachy! There is no actual advice on raising children; the entire thing is the rantings of a religious nut. It implies not only that being gay is a preventable disease and the worst thing that could possibly happen to your child, but that single mothers are incapable of raising children. Dobson is under the illusion that without a fther figure in his life, your son WILL be gay, and if he is, you should try to get him to change. This is so, so wrong! Being gay is innate, and it cannot be "cured". Dobson doesn't understand that by making someone feel asamed and guilty of their attractions, you are not "curing homosexuality"; rather, you're setting them up for a life of misery by having them hide their feelings. Please, parents, do not listen to this advice, no matter what your religious beliefs are! Rather, practice the unconditional love so highly spoken of in the Bible - and I do mean unconditional. If your child is gay, reassure him or her that NOTHING will change your feelings for them. If your love for your child would diminish if you found out they were gay, you are no parent in my eyes. Practice loving, not shaming!
ribbe More than 1 year ago
I think Dr. James Dobson has a very good insight on raising our boys to become productive in society! I believe Dr. James Dobson will honestly tell it like he see it and what God expect from parents now-a-days! We need all the help we can get because otherwise our society will suffer also our boys that will become men will be cheated out of some healty choices! People take a look at our world, our nation, our society, our schools, our chruches! We need to wake up and have an open minds to those that are connected to wisdom!!!
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