Sunday, October 16, 2011

Raising Real Men, a Timberdoodle Review

Timberdoodle sent me a copy of Raising Real Men, Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys, by Hal and Melanie Young. As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of Raising Real Men in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Raising Real Men was on my longish list of "to buy" books and I was pleased to have been chosen to review it. My book list is longer than my book budget is funded, unfortunately.

The book arrived at a good time for me, personally, as I parent my son through the ups and downs of adolescence and the challenges of settling in, making friends, and dealing with all of the changes (many of them negative) of a cross-country move. I need encouragement right now.

Of course I read the chapters out of order. (I usually read magazines from the back to the front, too.)

Hal and Melanie Young write from a Christian perspective. Sometimes Christians can be, well, preachy, and I feel worse after hearing them or reading their books. I was hoping this would not be a preachy book. I feel guilty enough about parenting mistakes without a preachy book reminding me where I mess up. AND they homeschool all of their kids (I homeschool one of mine). Would they look down on folks who don't homeschool?

And I got the book I wanted, needed. Hal and Melanie Young guide me through how to think about parenting this boy of mine, how to guide him, and they give me practical ideas on how to go about smoothing bumps and handling challenges. Yes, the book is helpful to homeschoolers and non-homechoolers alike.

I'll give you an example. The Youngs describe the challenge son John had with completing schoolwork. (The Youngs are homeschoolers. My son is in a school-building school.) My son is struggling with completing homework and preparing for projects and quizzes. This section jumped out at me as I read chapters out of order: "Melanie realized...that boys really need a goal, some purpose for the day. She learned that giving them a list can help them see what has to be done and allow them to take charge of doing it. It also gives them hope that there really is an end to the school day, if they don't prolong it themselves." p 152

A list? That's ironic. That's what we do for kids w/ special needs, too. Why didn't I think of that? He has a school planner. With some insight and encouragement from the Youngs, I get an opportunity to guide him to use his planner in ways that are effective for him, to include homework and instrument practice.

Here's another example: Page 182 addresses an issue we have dealt with in a huge way since our move, and not just with the kids. I was raised in the South; my kids were not. I did not program my children to generously pepper conversations with adults with "yes m'am" and "yes sir" like kids do here. Since we returned to the South in April, I, quite frankly, find all the "yes m'am"-ing and "yes, sir"-ing from children to be annoying, silly, and insincere. (I cannot believe how much I have changed in the 20+ years away from the South. I surprise myself.) The kids sound like robots to me and all of the m'amming and sirring get in the way of a conversation. HOWEVER, I have kept my mouth shut about my feelings and have encouraged my children to "yes m'am" and "yes sir" alongside their peers. It is expected here in this culture. (I think they'd have been ridiculed in the Midwest.) Hal and Melanie tell me, "Teach your sons to study carefully what the prevailing standard appears to be, and to adjust their address to keep in step with the best expectations of the present culture."

BIG PICTURE: The examples I shared (above) are little picture. We need work on big picture, and I welcome insight on how to do this as we settle into our new home and community. (When does the new normal set in, anyway?) With my son feeling so down about our move and all of the changes involved in the move, his attitude often reflects how he is feeling inside. His self-esteem is low as starts from scratch making friends in our new town. Joining established groups of friends is not easy at the middle school level. I needed to be reminded the insight and how-to suggestions about how to make the main thing the main thing and how to reach his heart, and not by preaching. And Raising Real Men delivers.
I wish I'd had this book several years ago. From allowances and money management to team sports and competition to boasting to chores and "doing real things" to manners to sex to dealing with adventure - the Youngs address these issues and more, issues that we parents of boys meet day in and day out and give us insight on how to guide in a loving, gentle, practical way. Raising Real Men is very relationship focused as the Youngs guide parents from their own experience. It is a must read for parents of boys.

Raising Real Men is list priced at $15; Timberdoodle offers it for $12.75.

Timberdoodle is on facebook here. Be sure to contact Timberdoodle for a free catalog here.

Raising Real Men has a web site and facebook page.

1 comment:

Hal & Melanie Young said...

Well, Penny, I thoroughly enjoyed your review! It's a huge blessing to us to see how different things in our book touch folks' lives.

We'd love for you (and your readers) to join the conversation on Facebook at and check out our blog at

Thank you so much for such a thoughtful review!

Melanie Young

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