Walk into almost any church and you will find boys with names like Caleb, Noah, Daniel and John. I would assume many parents chose those names in hopes their sons would grow up to become strong in the Lord, just like the men for whom they were named.
Unfortunately, giving a child a name of a godly person does not guarantee your child will be faithful. If it were, every child in most churches would have a biblical name! Parents have to do something more to set their sons on the paths to becoming heroes of faith. But what?
Raising Boys by Design by Gregory Jantz and Michael Gurian gives parents a blueprint for helping develop the character traits your sons will need to become the men God designed them to be. The authors use a combination of recent brain research, counseling experience and their own personal journeys to explain what most boys need and very few are receiving to help them grow to be godly men.
Perhaps the most surprising and potentially controversial part of the book is the recent brain research the authors share. For those of us exposed to a constant dialogue of the similarity if not superiority of women to men in the media and from Hollywood and educators, you may find much of what we have been told since the 1970’s is wrong. Not only wrong, but this misinformation has actually created a female centric world which is turning out more weak and ungodly men than perhaps ever before.
One might assume this book becomes a rant against women, but it doesn’t. Instead, the authors point out brain research is showing both boys and girls have unique gifts from God which actually balance each other out in healthy ways. The feminists are right about women and men being able to handle many of the same tasks, what they didn’t tell us is that both would perhaps accomplish the same task differently. The authors also reinforce the benefits of men and women working together on raising children and other important tasks so their differing skills provide the delicate balance needed for solving intricate problems.
Much of the book is spent explaining in great detail what aspects of developing manhood our society is shunning instead of learning how to guide to a productive outcome. Through story telling and research, the authors explain how many traits like aggression actually have an important role in a boy’s development. Instead of stifling all aggression in our sons, the authors show how to channel it (and other aspects of becoming a man) in godly and productive ways.
Overall, the book does a great job in making a case for how to raise your sons to be heroes for God. I love the way they break the word hero down into specific areas to focus on with your sons:
“Honor: adhering to truth, values and principles beyond self”
“Enterprise: working at important things whether they seem small or large”
“Responsibility: carrying important things and people throughout life”
“Originality: being a dreamer, a thinker, an explorer in the world” (p. 72)
The book addresses so many topics so well and so thoroughly, this is a must have manual for anyone raising a boy. The authors cover every aspect of emerging manhood from building character to developing healthy sexuality to school, technology, and more.
Although not particularly meant to be a Bible study book, this book does address biblical principles, scriptures and many heroes of faith in practical ways. Each chapter ends with thought questions for parents to reflect on about their sons. Even though the authors take great pains to explain each child is actually on a spectrum (at least as far as brain science), I do feel the questions could be used for general discussion in a study for parents of boys.
My only criticism is about the discussion of rites of passage. I agree with the authors on the importance of children having rites of passage. Unfortunately, the authors do not believe in the necessity of baptism at the age of accountability. They admit the confirmation process does not provide the necessary rite of passage to Christian manhood for boys as the bar mitzvah does for Jewish boys. What they fail to realize is that God never intended for confirmation to be that passage. Baptism was always meant to be the choice of the child who is ready to begin a spiritual adulthood of sorts by committing his (her) life to Christ. I believe if you spoke with teens and adults who made their own baptism decision at the age of accountability, they would confirm their baptism as a major rite of passage.
In spite of this concern,if you have sons and have had a difficult time finding a book about raising sons to be godly men, this may be the book your were seeking. After you read it, I would love to hear from mothers of sons about any new insights you gained from this book. Anything that didn’t ring true – at least in your house? I would love for you to share your thoughts in a comment below.
This book was provided to me free of charge by the publisher in turn for my honest review. I have searched for some time now for good books to suggest for those raising sons. This is probably the best book I have been able to find on the subject so far. It has definitely earned a place in my reference library.