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Raising Boys by Design: What the Bible and Brain Science Reveal About What Your Son Needs to Thrive

“If you want to protect your sons from the corrosive effects of today’s world and empower them to become men after God’s own heart, then this book is for you.” —Timothy R. Jennings, MD, author of The God-Shaped Brain

Raising Boys by Design: What the Bible and Brain Science Reveal About What Your Son Needs to Thrive (Waterbrook, September 17, 2013), was co-written by Gregory Jantz and Michael Gurian to understand why so many boys are struggling and how faith-based parents can protect their sons. Jantz is a Christian psychologist with a Ph.D. and is known for his holistic “whole-person” approach to life issues. Gurian, the best-selling author of The Wonder of Boys, is a Jewish marriage and family counselor noted for his secular expertise in brain science and his bridge-building in faith communities. The result of their collaborative efforts is a must-read for parents who have sons of any age, from young boys to teens.

The theme of this book is introduced by the authors:

Raising Boys by Design begins from the perspective that God has designed boys to value and strive toward the mantle of maleness and that our culture is very hard on that maleness. Often a boy’s natural energy is seen as disruptive. A boy’s inquisitiveness is seen as disrespect for authority. A boy’s competitiveness and his fits and starts at leadership are seen as presumptive or flawed. A boy’s resilience is seen as uncaring and even too harsh. A boy’s tenacity is seen as arrogance. Many of the strengths designed into a particular boy become suspect or devalued. Gradually, the boy either instinctively rebels against this harsh interpretation of his inner self or withdraws into a deep loneliness.” Dr. Jantz also writes, “Boys as a group need us today as never before. They need to know that they are made in God’s image; they need to know they are not inherently flawed or inherently defective simply by being born male.”

Since the 1970s, we have been feed misinformation about the equality if not superiority of women to men, which has actually created a female centric world that is turning out more weak and ungodly men than ever before. With that in mind, Raising Boys by Design not only brilliantly exposes this destructive trend in society but also provides meaningful insights and applicable solutions. The authors point out brain research showing that although the feminists were right about women and men being able to handle many of the same tasks, what they didn’t tell us is that men and women would accomplish the same task differently. Boys and girls have different gifts, which actually complement each other to provide the delicate balance needed for solving intricate problems.

Raising Boys by Design is unique in that it combines the latest research in brain science with timeless truths from the Bible to reveal the deepest needs shared by every boy, while also leading you to discover fresh insights for honoring the unique personality and God-given talents of your son in particular. As you read this book, you will learn how to help your son:

  • Strengthen his character, resilience, and self-discipline
  • Nurture genuine compassion and empathy
  • Process words and emotions in ways that fit his brain chemistry
  • Succeed in school and hone crucial life skills
  • Develop a healthy perspective of sexuality
  • Avoid the pitfalls of media and technology
  • Embark on a lifelong adventure of faith

Covering all of the important topics in boys’ lives – including their emotional development, character building, school and home life, maternal and paternal nurturance, gender differences, and rites of passage – Raising Boys by Design equips parents to help their sons grow into successful men. One significant and timely item that the authors cover is the benefits of having a mother and father both working together on raising children, explaining that without the influence of someone of each gender, there may be gaps in the child’s development. The complete list of contents includes…

Introduction: Joining Together to Raise Strong, Loving Christian Sons

Part I: The Inside Story
Understanding the Divine Design at Work in Your Boy’s Life
1 Our Sons Need a New Approach to Boyhood
2 Boys Develop Differently Than Girls
3 What a Boy Learns from Mom
4 What a Boy Learns from Dad

Part II: Putting It to Work
Designing Your Son’s Journey to Manhood
5 Building a HERO
6 Building Character and Self-Discipline Effectively
7 Protecting and Supporting a Boy’s Emotional Life
8 Developing Healthy Sexuality in Boys and Young Men
9 Helping Our Sons Do Their Best in School
10 Measuring the Impact of Technology
11 Providing Our Sons with Healthy Rites of Passage into Manhood
12 The Journey of Faith and a New Vision of Christian Manhood

All the topics in Raising Boys by Design include biblical approaches tied in with a look at the biological make-up of boys. Each chapter includes thought questions for parents to reflect on about their sons, and ends with a section titled “Next Steps,” in which the authors give numerous practical and doable ideas for implementing the applicable concepts from the chapter.

Did you know that school can hinder a boy’s development? You will be glad that you homeschool your own son when you read about how most schools have a “systemic boy problem” — which means, basically, that they have trouble teaching boys. Dr. Jantz relates an eye-opening account from his own experience in Chapter 9. The authors warn about schools that try to get parents to put their sons on medication to help them focus and do better at school, instead of teaching boys in ways that they are designed to learn! As action steps, the authors state, among other things, that one or both parents should take an active role in directing their son’s education. They suggest getting a tutor as needed for one-on-one mentoring (or asking an older brother, uncle, aunt, grandma, or friend to help), and they even recommend homeschooling!

The authors also include an insightful chapter on the role of modern technology in a boy’s upbringing and how parents can manage, without completely restricting, its influence on their son’s life. In Chapter 10, the book lists several startling statistics from a study on media in the lives of 8- to 18-year-olds. Although technology itself isn’t bad, the authors say your sons “can get into some dangerous situations through their connections with technology.” Dr. Jantz once again shares what he learned from his own experience, “It wasn’t easy to admit I’d purchased my own competition for the hearts and minds of my sons.” In this chapter, the authors cleverly provide “a developmental design for technology use,” in which they describe what type and amount of technology is appropriate at each stage of a boy’s life, from birth through high school.

Overall, Raising Boys by Design provides a practical blueprint with thoughtful strategies to help you build a HERO — one who values Honor, Enterprise, Responsibility, and Originality. Dr. Jantz’s oldest son worked together with his dad on a rite-of-passage program, “Following Jesus: A Heroic Quest for Boys,” which was actually created by Michael Gurian and Rev. Tim Wright. Chapter 11 is a very helpful chapter that describes how to use rites of passage to help your son become HEROIC:

  • Honor – A man does what is right.
  • Enterprise – A man works hard at useful work.
  • Responsibility – A man takes responsibility.
  • Originality – A man is an individual within a whole.
  • Intimacy – A man learns how to love.
  • Creativity – A man is committed to changing the world.

Your son was created for great things, but he needs your help to grow into the strong, loving man God created him to be. You can help your son thrive today as the hero he is meant to be when you learn the secrets of Raising Boys by Design. This book would be a great benefit to any parent raising a son, no matter what age they are. It would also be a great book not only for parents of boys, but anyone who may be in a position of mentoring boys. Raising Boys by Design is available in paperback and Kindle.

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