||The Good Son
Shaping the Moral Development of Our Boys and Young Men
by Michael Gurian
The Good Son is meant to be a 'blueprint through which you can guide your son from birth to adulthood' to help you 'raise a moral, well-disciplined, and well-adjusted boy.'
Do you really need a separate book on how to raise a son?
Are boys so different than girls?
In general, it does usually seem that boys are more impulsive, active and aggressive than girls and they can be more difficult to discipline. The Good Son gives insight into some of the special needs of boys, what makes them different, and the skills you need to raise a 'good' son.
One of the things I like the best about this book is how well it is organized, making it easy for you to just read the chapters that apply to your child. These chapters are divided up based on the different ages and stages that your child will go through, including infancy, the toddlers years, early school age, the between years, pre-adolescence, pre-puberty, puberty, the middle teens and pre-adulthood.
Each chapter is further divided to teach you all about the different needs and challenges your child will face during each of these stages of his development. These sections include a discussion of developmental milestones, discipline techniques and providing a healthy moral and emotional environment. Each chapter ends with a personal 'success story' of parents raising boys.
Other nice features of this book include:
- The Range of Normal - what is normal for your child to be doing. Knowing what is normal behavior makes it much easier to not make mistakes because you have unrealistic expectations for your child's behavior, for example:
- It's normal for the boy to scream and yell, have flailing rages and throw tantrums (infancy).
- It's normal for the boy to take five to ten seconds to respond to us (toddlers).
- It's normal for the boy to get in little yelling and pulling fights with other kids and, once in a while, with his caregivers (toddlers).
- It's normal for the boy to experiment with backtalk and other verbalizations of independence (between years).
- It's normal for the boy at nine or ten to start channeling primary feelings - like fear, pain, shame, and guilt - through anger, thus letting us know he's hurting or scared by these feelings (pre-adolescence).
- It's normal for the boy to go through a phase of laziness (pre-puberty).
- It's normal for the boy to want to argue a lot about anything that comes to mind (puberty).
- It's normal for the boy to appear selfish and unable to admit his own flaws (middle teen years).
- It's normal for the boy to isolate himself for certain periods of time (pre-adulthood).
- Rules to Live By - things that you should expect from your son at different stages of his development, for example:
- A toddler boy should learn that there is a difference between aggressive play and angry aggression.
- A toddler boy should expect to play independently for a significant period nearly every day.
- A between boy will do his chores every day, with some reminders by parents, but not many.
- It is appropriate for a parent of a pubescent boy to ask the boy why he has done something and to receive, within an appropriate time (this may mean waiting a few hours), an explanation.
- Discipline Techniques - age appropriate ways to discipline your child.
Other important topics that are discussed are how to teach your child good manners, how to channel his aggression, handling sibling rivalry, stopping rudeness, handling peer pressure, etc.
Some of the topics are commonly covered in other parenting books, such as using time-outs and natural consequences, but I did find some new information that I hadn't tried before and which I have added to my own parenting skills. These include using the 'power of permission.' Instead of asking your child to do something, you instead phrase it as a command, such as 'You may now put your shoes away' or 'You may now sit down for dinner.' It is just a little 'trick' of language, but it seems to work well.
The book concludes with an appendix of 'Fifty books nad Movies That Stimulate Moral Growth in Boys' and a bibliographical list of books that you should find useful.
Although I liked this book very much, I must confess that I almost stopped reading it during the first two chapters. I found these chapters a little hard to read and I would recommend that parents skip to chapter 3 on Infancy and read up to and perhaps just past the chapter that applies to the age of their child. So if your son is 5 years old, start with chapter 3 (infancy) and read through chapter 6 (the between years). That way you will understand the behaviors that helped shape who your son has become, how to understand and discipline him today and what to expect over the next few years.
Overall, I think this is a great resource for parents trying raise a 'good' son. I am sure most parents will come away from reading this book with new insight and new techniques to help guide their children through boyhood .
Rating: 4 stars
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