Of all the parenting books I’ve read, only one has had as much of an impact on me as a father as ‘Boys Should Be Boys’ by Dr. Meg Meeker and it was her other book – ‘Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.’
Dr. Meeker challenges fathers to examine their own media consumption, how they spend time with and communicate with their son. She answered questions I hadn’t realized I had until that point and clued me in on what I knew I didn’t quite understand. Admittedly, though, I argued with the book one night while reading on the couch. My wife thought I was losing it, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around how someone so smart could be so dumb when it came to video games.
Okay, so maybe I have a soft spot for the gaming industry. What can I say? I’m a product of the Nintendo Generation. I played whatever I wanted regardless of ESRB rating (at least when my mom wasn’t home) and turned out just fine. (Yes, I realize how moronic my logic is, thanks for asking.) Meeker insists that playing violent games make boys more aggressive. Maybe it’s just me, but I actually want my son to be aggressive. I’m not talking about biting every kid in Sunday school who won’t share the Legos kind of aggressive. But he being assertive, bold, and energetic could be the very thing that keeps him from being bullied down the road or enabling him to come to the aid of others.
She did, however, make very salient points when it comes to video games and movies regarding what our kids are able to handle at different ages and stages. Meeker goes on to say that “when boys repeatedly see men they admire ridiculing others, lying, and acting [violently], they attach these qualities to the actor’s manliness, and they will think that adopting such behaviors will make them manlier.” I know from experience just how true that statement is and it got me to thinking.
Even if I tell my son that these guys are the good guys and these are the bad guys in the movie, sometimes the lines are blurred and young boys (and a lot of young men too) will get a mixed message if they sit and watch the story unfold on the silver screen. This inevitably causes problems and unnecessary headaches for both parent and child alike. Had my own parents done a better job monitoring my media consumption growing up, I wouldn’t suffer from as many character flaws as I currently do nor would I have been in so many fights.
Back to the rest of the book…
Mothers and fathers each get their own dedicated chapter, which is quite helpful for understanding specifically what is needed and expected of both moms and dads. I didn’t realize how unique my wife’s relationship with our son is until I read this book. I hope to encourage my little guy to keep the relationship strong so he can have what I never did.
The real reason I’m writing the review of ‘Boys Should Be Boys’ is that I hope each of you at the very least pick up a copy from your local library. (For the uninitiated, it’s the big building filled with paper bound books, many of which are fantastical.) After having finished all 247 pages, I feel so much better equipped to serve in my role as father to my son. The last few chapters do an excellent job in making clear the uneasiness about raising a teenage boy and how to navigate the waters – whether he’s a popular kid with good grades or troubled soul who you can’t seem to understand. I don’t want to give away any of the secrets, but let it suffice to say, “Masculinity begets masculinity – whether good or bad.”
I fail on a daily basis to be the dad my kids deserve, that I aspire to be. But with the knowledge and tips I’ve acquired in Dr. Meeker’s book, I’m more confident than ever I’ll hit a home run before the game is over.
Pick up your copy here.