Thursday, May 5, 2016

"Raising Real Men" - A book review

The title of this book grabbed my attention instantly when I found Hal & Melanie Young's web site,  It was exactly what I have been seeking wisdom on- how to raise real men - and in the process survive our 4 boys, teach them, and appreciate them. And from what I hear from our friends, family, and our blog readers, this could be a very encouraging and insightful book for you as well.  I've already recommended it to just about every mom I have had a conversation with since beginning the book, not because I'm seeking the opportunity to do so but because this topic of boys seems to naturally arise in every conversation as soon as one of us asks, " are you doing?"  *chuckle*

by Hal & Melanie Young

We have an excellent list of books to recommend to you in our Recommended Books List on our blog home page, and this one I'm reviewing for you and encouraging you to pick up a copy.  

The authors, Hal and Melanie Young, are a Christian, homeschooling family firmly grounded on God's Word.  They have eight children, 6 of whom are boys, so they have great experience and insight on this subject.  "They frequently speak on parenting, education and family policy issues, and their articles have appeared in publications in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand including Homeschooling Today, Homeschool Digest, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, School Reform News, and Conservative Citizen. (from the back cover of their book)"

The Young's write that this is a common scenario for them:

        "'Six boys!' folks say in mock horror, 'Well, better you than  me.'
     We answer them cheerfully - we love our boys and they're a gift from God...a reward.     Privately, though we admit to ourselves it's not always rosy.  Teenaged boys put away a startling amount of groceries.  Young boys can be downright destructive.  They're noisy, unconcerned with personal hygiene, and the dog has a longer attention span - or so it seems, some days.     If this is God's chosen gift to us, then why does it seem so hard?  How can we prepare these boys to serve God  when we can barely make it through the day?  Isn't there a better way?     The answer is yes."
I feel that the Youngs have a very nice writing style in their book - thorough yet not full of "fluff" wasting my time, great examples and short stories yet still concise, funny, realistic, and understanding of parent's difficulties with boys.  Raising Real Men encouraged me, gave me vision and hope, shared creative ideas that we've tried with success with our boys, and affirmed me in some areas.

The book was very enjoyable to read.  Hal & Melanie Young are humble, but wise.  They do not claim that this is the only way to raise boys, but merely one way, backed up with scriptural examples and reasons behind their decisions.  And they speak for boys of all ages, toddler through young adult. 

When I was getting towards the end of the book and the Youngs were talking a lot about older boys and young adults, I started feeling a bit overwhelmed thinking of all of the things we should be doing with our oldest son!  Teaching about finances, learning another language, giving him lots of life experiences, thinking about what kind of work he should be prepared for in his life... But the Lord reminded me that our oldest son was only 9-years-old at the time, and that there is plenty of time.  *smile*  Not that we should put off good goals for him, but I don't have to have accomplished by now all that the Youngs have with their then 20-year-old.  And then I began to feel how grateful I am to have good direction with our little sons.  I have vision for them, which gives me a direction to point them in, and helps me to communicate to them the reasons they need to be working hard in school work now; why they need to learn perseverance, how to capture their strength and re-direct it to positive outlets, and how to evaluate the world around them and learn from it.

The book is laid out in easy-to-accomplish chapters, averaging about 10 pages each.  And, each chapter is full of subheadings on about every page making it easy to read just a few paragraphs and then have a stopping place to ponder more what they were saying.  The book is easy to pick up where I left off each time I read a portion, and easy to skim the most recent pages I read to review where I am if it's been a while since I've been able to read the book.  I appreciate that.  Yet the book still flows; it is not broken up or choppy.  The thoughts, concepts, and principles are fluid.

Here is one of my favorite parts of the book.
"It may be that mothers have a hard time discerning between when sons need comforting and when they need bucking up. Here's a rule of thumb: If he hasn't faced the trial yet, or he's in the midst of it - encourage him. If he's been to the wars and is limping home wounded - comfort him. Once the wounds are bound up, encourage him to rise and face the fight again." (pg. 54)

Here's a good goal for me right now.
"When it comes to household chores, we try to ask ourselves, 'Who is the youngest person who can do this job right now?' Sometimes that'll still mean the oldest. If we're in a hurry or we don't have time to see that it's done right, then the oldest who is home (we call that person, 'the senior brother') does it. Often though, we do have plenty of time to supervise and even teach the chore, but don't want to. Too bad. That's our opportunity to go ahead and choose the youngest who can do it, or can be helped to do it. This keeps us from leaning too hard on the older ones and making them overwhelmed; it frees these older children up to learn different skills as they mature, and it makes sure the house doesn't fall apart when they go to college or leave home for a few days." (pg. 59)
Here are a couple of great homeschooling strategies that I have loved for each of our sons!

* Allowing him to drown out the noise of the family around him, helping him to focus, with music played on headphones.  It has to be music without words, such as classical music or movie scores.  This would personally drive me crazy and drive me to distraction in about 3 seconds, so it never occurred to me to encourage our son to do this!  More noise?  Really?  Well oh my word, our Brandon got his work done in about 45 minutes instead of coming and going from it all morning long!  Ha!  I was amazed!  Now this strategy did not work for his 6-year-old sister at all - she was totally distracted and sat there way too much of the time staring off in to space.  *laugh*  But for our oldest boy doing school - amazing.  He did it every day for months.

* Another great section of the book is called, "Never send an S.O.S."  The Youngs talk about how when boys find things difficult they (like their fathers) are often resistant to asking for help.  I can be aware of this and try to work with it.  One solution has been to have our son note on the top of his work page any problem that he needs help with.  Then when I check his work I can help him with that problem.  That way it didn't get skipped, and coming up against an obstacle didn't cause Little Son to abandon ship, feeling stuck and unable to go on.  He simply moves past the difficult problem now, I help him when I can, and he didn't have to ask for help!  *Huh!*  Who knew!  Never occurred to me before!  But it's helped a ton.

My copy of Raising Real Men is full of highlighting - great points I desire to remember, and ideas I plan to try.  I can tell you that I will be re-reading this book probably annually as there is so much to capture from the Young's, and our sons change so much every year.  Reading the table of contents in a book personally really helps me get a thorough over view.  So, here is the table of contents for your own review. 

Table of Contents

Introduction:  The challenge of Boys
Part One:  Virtues In the Rough
  • A Marred Image
  • Resisting Feminization
  • Manly Virtues
1. Someone To Look Up To
  • Boys Need Heroes
  • What is A Hero?
  • What Does The Bible Say About Heroes?
  • The First And The Ultimate
  • Heroes Between "First" And "Ultimate"
  • Visual Media
  • Dealing With Mixed Content In Film And TV
  • Heroes From History
  • Fictional Characters
2. Is There Not A Cause?
  • A Biblical View Of Adventure And Recklessness
  • Bringing On The Boldness
  • Adventure In The Cause Of Christ
  • When To Comfort, When To Encourage
  • An Age For Risk
3. Standing Alone
  • The Way It Used To Be
  • Getting It All Backwards
  • Responsibility, Then Freedom
  • Avoiding Disaster
  • Learning To Stand
4. Taking Up Arms
  • Violence And Scripture
  • Principles Of Play
  • A Time For Real Weapons
5. Who's In Charge Here?
  • What The Bible Says About Leadership
  • Learn To Obey Before You Learn To Lead
  • A Matter Of Discipline
  • Developing The Next Generation's Leaders
  • Starting Small
  • Servant Leaders
6. Racing To Win
  • Future Leaders
  • The Biblical View Of Competition
  • The Puritan View Of Games And Competition
  • Making Competition A Good Part Of Our Sons' Lives
  • Academic Incentive, Too
  • Lessons To Teach And Learn In Competition
  • Families Should Be Cautions About Too Much, Too
  • What If Your Son Is "Gifted"?
7. Doing Real Things

Part Two:  Civilization For the Tough

8. First Things
  • In Your Heart
  • Teach Them Diligently
  • As You Walk In The Way
9. A Faithful Steward
  • Cash, Check, Or Credit?
  • Where Should It Go?  Where Did It?
  • Entering The Work World
  • Looking Ahead
10. Your Own School For Boys
  • Developmental Differences
  • Developmental "Delays"
  • Gender Differences In Learning
  • Louder, Mom
  • "I Think He Must Be Hyperactive..."
  • "Why Do I Have To Learn This, Anyway?"
  • What's Your Goal, Son?
  • The Benefit Of Stress
  • Never Send An S.O.S.
11.  Chivalry Is Not Dead
  • What The Bible Says About Manners
  • Some Practical Examples
  • Deportment
  • Social Interaction
  • Out Of The Greenhouse
12. KP Isn't Women's Work
  • A Biblical Look At Work Roles
  • Even In Our Culture
  • Mission Critical Tasks
13. Love And War
  • Time To Talk, And Not To The Kids
  • Talk Is Not Cheap, It's Essential
  • The Battlefield Of The Mind
  • Avoiding A Big Trap
  • A First To Knock Away Temptation
  • Finding A Wife
  • Our Courtship Story
14. Firing The Arrow
  • Becoming A Man
  • Stepping Forward
  • Preparing To Provide
  • The Next Step
  • When College May Be The Answer
  • Christian Or Secular College?
  • Approaching College With Discernment And Stratagem
  • Becoming Counselors
Appendix:  But My Son Isn't
  • A Man's A Man
  • Challenging Him
  • Giving Permission

I have so appreciated Hal & Melanie Young's book - I just wish we lived close to them so that we could spend quality time with their family!  They have a great writing style which is enjoyable and easy to read, it is laid out very clearly and logically, and is full of fresh ideas and strategies for pursuing life.  I encourage you go get a copy if you have boys.  *smile*  Or you could check your library for a copy.

The Youngs have also thought of everything when making their book available for people in any format people could desire it in.  There are a whole variety of ways to purchase the book ranging from $5 to $35.  You can purchase the printed copy, the audio book, or the eBook, Kindle, or Notebook editions (iTouch, iPhone, and iPad can all read this).  Additional copies are sold at a discounted price, and all of these purchases come with a FREE study guide, and a FREE audio book gift to you.

Blessings on your family,

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