I’ve heard praise for Michael Gurian’s books about boys, specifically The Wonder of Boys, but I’ve never taken the time to read them. When I had the opportunity to read The Purpose of Boys, I jumped on it. I love a good subtitle, and this one sums up the book’s content quite well: Helping Our Sons Find Meaning, Significance, and Direction in Their Lives.
Here are just a few notes that I jotted in my reader’s notebook, things that were new to me or helpful. Of course, to find out what they mean or how or why to use this information, you’ll have to read the book:
- Helping adolsecent boys channel and discipline their energy
- Stress and boys (boys fight or flight, girls tend and befriend)
- Value of legacy — name, namesake, family history
- Fostering healthy independence
- Why getting other trusted adults is so important in your son’s life
- Why work is so valuable to a boy’s development
- Training him to deal with his sexual purpose
- The role of electronic media in a boys’ life
Each chapter ends with “questions of purpose” that can be used to begin a real conversation with your son. These are helpful, but I also wish that there were some concrete bullet points at the end of each chapter as well. “To help your son handle stress healthily make sure you are doing these three things NOW.” But I suppose that raising up a child in the way he should go isn’t that simple, is it?
This book focuses on guiding your son through adolescence, but the mindset and motivations that it teaches are philosophies that should be adopted even with your younger son. So, as my son is entering a new phase in his life (starting Kindergarten in the fall — where does the time go?), I am glad to have read it now, as I’m first thinking about some of these topics that I never really brought gender roles into at all. This is even more relevant for me since the experience that I’m drawing on lies in parenting a girl. We all know that each child is different, but Gurian’s research points to the fact that inherently boys are different from girls and because of that, there are unique strategies that should be addressed.