Monday, January 14, 2008

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Lives of Boys

This is another one of those parenting books that I wish I could distill and just put a few drops of it into everyone's bedtime glass of water.

It is thoughtful and thought-provoking. It says some things that need to be heard. But ultimately, I think a lot of people might either ignore it, forget it, or have trouble getting through it, because the authors had so much to say before they offered their advice.

Here are some of the things I think everyone should know about the book:

It discusses boys' life experiences in a way that is enlightening to women, and that may really help us understand more of what our boys have to face in our society today.

It discusses how American culture encourages boys' emotional isolation and anger responses, and even points out how we may be unknowingly contributing to this painful and harmful restriction of feeling.

It also shows how boys often miss out on lessons of empathy, and how they often don't even understand and can't give name to their own feelings. This can have drastic consequences, and the authors do a great job of explaining the implications for the average American boy.

It contains quite a few real-boy stories, which, in my opinion, often helps illustrate the points they are making. It's no secret that I'm a fan of real-life examples in this kind of book.

It gives guidelines about how to help your children grow into emotionally healthy men...but you have to wait until almost the end of the book to hear them. I think this is because it makes more sense after you've read the other important points the authors have made, but I also think this might make certain readers, especially males, lose interest. I hope not.

Overall, Raising Cain was a good read for me. There are so many things about males that I don't know or understand, and now that I'm raising one, I want to learn about how to protect my son, or help him protect himself, from some of the painful ways that our society treats and raises boys. This book really helped. I wish my husband would read it...but I doubt it would keep his interest. Maybe he'll just read the advice chapter. And that's probably enough. But this book does have a deeper meaning than just a few tips, and I'm sad that I feel like it might not keep your interest.

Luckily, there appears to be a PBS special for the TV-inclined.

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