Helpful books on raising boys

Last week I touched on the work of Celia Lashlie and her approach to ''growing our gorgeous boys into good men'', which is spelt out in her book, He'll Be OK.

There are another couple of books I'd like to recommend.

The first is Steve Biddulph's Raising Boys.

It's an easy read that looks at some of the important issues in boys' development and offers advice on the sort of parenting boys need and respond best to.

The second is a book for single mums, John Marsden's The Boy You Brought Home.

It's a practical guide made up of 101 tips that take a mother through phases, issues and problems from babyhood to late adolescence.

The aim is not only to help understand what it means to be a boy but also to assist in fostering and developing his masculinity.

In fact, this book would be a good read for all mothers trying to understand the workings of their son's mind, particularly if they did not grow up with brothers.

Marsden starts by advising to buy him a teddy and to encourage him to keep it all his life.

A teddy helps in developing an ability to bond, love and nurture.

He says he was heartened to see the number of teenage boys he saw in boarding schools who brought their teddies with them.

If you can manage a dog when he's a bit older, that would be great for him, too.

Marsden's approach to raising boys is similar in many respects to Lashlie's.

Forget being politically correct about ''guy things''.

He is a guy.

Teach him how to kick a ball, colour in and build model toys.

Let him play in the mud and climb trees.

Get someone to teach him chess, encourage him to start a collection and buy him a Swiss Army knife.

Read to him every night. Bone up on cricket, rugby or whatever, or make sure there's someone else around who can talk about these things.

Marsden advises encouraging him to keep in touch with his father's family, as they are his grandparents, and strongly recommends ensuring that there is an older male or two in his life that he relates to.

Lashlie also felt strongly that there needs to be a supportive male standing alongside.

Although he isn't the man around the house and shouldn't be treated as such, do give him some appropriate responsibilities.

And if you're struggling with bringing up your son, Marsden reminds us all that children are infinitely forgiving.

As long as they know that we love them unconditionally and eternally, they will generally forgive us ''all the mistakes, unfortunate comments, all the unfair decisions'' we make along the way.

- Ian Munro 

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