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Raising Boys, by Steve Biddulph

I have been known to say that each stage of life has its unique challenges – even grandparenthood! So, while scanning my bookshelves for someone else, my eyes rested on a book that jumped off the shelf and said “read me!”

It is an oldie but a goodie called Raising Boys, by Steve Biddulph (ISBN 0 646314181). It was published in 1997 and I suspect that I first read it soon after that. This book is much better than many others on my shelf about parenting for two reasons, it is written from an Australian context and it admits that raising boys is different to raising girls!

I have two sons, two sons-in-law and three grandsons and this book made it very clear that I have an ongoing responsibility for their development. But where do I start? Steve uses lots of stories and cartoons to make his point about why boys are different and clearly defines the role that we men have in helping them to develop into happy, well balanced men.

In contrast to the classical Aussie approach of leaving child rearing to mothers he puts a strong case for us to get more involved. His observations and helpful down to earth helpful hints on topics such as sexuality, schools and sports are insightful and right on the money.

In a society and culture that has witnessed an unprecedented number of family breakdowns and emergence of more and more single parent (female) households our boys are all too often the casualties. Steve Biddulph supplies a range of suggestions to address this and stresses the importance of grandparents, uncles, sports coaches, male teachers, pastors and other members of community to reverse the negative trends and behavioural issues arising from “under-fathering”.

I could not help but wonder how many of the relationship issues that I get confronted with are a direct result of a lack of an effective father, of not growing up with healthy role models of how men and women, fathers and sons should relate. None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, the key is to be man enough to admit it and adjust our behaviour accordingly.

For those lessons maybe we also need God’s help – our Heavenly Father to forgive us and enable us to keep growing, following his example of what it means to be a father who cares, understands, disciplines and encourages, knowing when to be tender and when to be tough.

I’m still learning!

Chaplain Ian Whitley

10 comments to Raising Boys, by Steve Biddulph

  • Craig

    As a fan an avid reader of your weekly mailout at RAAF Wagga, it was great to find Padre’s Ponderings on the www!

  • Chaplain Ian Whitley

    Thanks for those words of encouragement – the base that I’m at may have changed but you will find the content has remained fairly constant! Feel free to recommend my site to others who might know me and appreciate my ponderings.


  • Dear Ian,

    I just came across your blog Padre’s Ponderings. Thanks for the kind words about my book Raising Boys.
    I know you guys do important work in ADF and hope its going well. Its quite a struggle for servicemen
    to be good parents and husbands. I often talk to the psychologist at ADFA who also uses my books with the
    young guys. Have you seen The New Manhood ? Its 80% new material, and has a stronger faith component,
    though I try to write so that secular readers can grasp an idea of faith, rather than from “within” a
    Christian framework. Not sure if I am expressing that, but you know what I mean. Anyhow, warmest greetings,
    Steve B.

  • Ian

    Challenges in the military are significant. I look forward to reading your new book, I’m sure it will be as good and as helpful as the last one.

  • I am a new father and had a lot of issues with my dad when growing up. My fears are just that afraid i would not be good enough or not particulate enough. Even though I didn’t have a boy so the so called chain of father and son are broken but i still feel the overwhelming responsibility to be the best parent i can be no matter what the time or efforts. I suspect that this book will have some really amazing suggestions so thank you for the post and reminding us all that parent hood is the most important job. And we are all still learning.

  • Ian

    There is no end of resources available to help you be a good parent, but the key is being able to learn from our own experiences, whether they be good or bad. You already have that self awareness, so you need to keep learning, recognising that every child is different. I am sure you have what it takes to be a great parent.

  • Uhuh! This really makes sense. The world really have to wake up from its notion that rearing is exclusively for mothers. The mere fact that a man is needed for fertilization to occur is i think already indicative of the man’s major role in rearing, especially of boys!

    Thanks for the post!

  • Ian

    Yes, two parents were part of God’s design , not just for the creation of life but for the parenting role as well. Fathers have a very important and unique opportunity to make a positve difference in our children’s lives, especially our sons. This is even more critical after marriage breakdown!

  • I’m a new father too and I do have daddy issues, growing up with a strict disciplinarian of a father. But now that I have a son, I finally understand what parents go through in order to raise a well-rounded child. I hope I’ll do a fine job at it just like my dad.

  • Ian

    Yes, it is challenging, and you are heading in the right direction already. The key is to continue to be teachable and get the right resources, and keep doing the best you can.

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