Friday, April 18, 2008

Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson: A Quick Review

by Philip

Marianne got Bringing Up Boys for me about the time Allan was born. I find myself in disagreement with Dobson often enough that I’m not an eager beaver Dobson fan. However, I’m willing to listen, and being sick for the last two days provided me an opportunity to do that.

This is not a comprehensive review, nor is it particularly a critical review. I don’t feel like typing up the various things I disagreed with. Rather, this is a “what I benefited from” review. There were other things Dobson said that were valuable, but these stood out to me.

p. 92 “Dr. Catherine Snow, professor of education ar Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, followed sixty-five families over an eight-year period. She found that dinnertime was of more value to child development than playtime, school, and story time.”

My own growing up experience confirms this.

p. 99-111, Chapter 8, Chasing the Caterpillar
As a professor, it is very easy for me to fill my days and nights with study, grading, lecture preps, evaluations, departmental responsibilities, and so on. This chapter reinforced my commitment to gear down and provide time to be with my boys. Practically, that may mean quitting work at 4:30 so then when I arrive home for supper, I have emotional and mental reserves left to be able to make dinner time the valuable time it should be.

p. 135, “A child born out of wedlock is two-and-a-half times as likely to serve time in prison. … the economic status of a single mother is not the key factor. It is the absence of ‘Dad.’”
p. 136, “…males living in stepparent families were almost three times as likely to face incarceration as those from intact families.”

Highlights the importance of my job!

p. 142 “Men, how about taking the sons of single mothers with your own boys when you’re going fishing or out to a ball game?”

p. 148, “Robert E. Lee said, ‘It is a good thing war is so terrible; else we should grow too fond of it.’”

Key things to teach regarding masculine competitiveness
p. 149 teach him how to lose gracefully and win gracefully. I remember Mom had to work very hard on teaching me to lose gracefully. I still had problems with this well into HS.
“[Dad] must model good sportsmanship, self-control, and teamwork”
“Winning at this age is nothing; teaching your boy to deal properly with his anger, disappointment, and frustration is everything.”

p. 150, “Children are going to disappoint us. … But if we’re wise, we’ll remember that they’re just immature little human beings like we used to be. There are times to say with love and warmth, “That’s okay, Son. You’ll do better next time.”

pp. 152-158
The story about the boy who fantasizes about making the ball team but doesn’t strikes a chord with me because I had a similar experience as a third grader. I wanted to play little league baseball in the worst way. Dad gave permission with the understanding that I couldn’t play on Wednesday nights. I wasn’t the most coordinated kid at the time and the coach apparently hadn’t read any child psyche texts on building self-esteem. He certainly didn’t help mine. I was stuck on the bench most of the season. I wasn’t permanently damaged. I later played on a church softball league for 3 years and did well. But I’ve never forgotten the feeling of being “benched,” – essentially told you’re not good enough to help the team. We’ll put you in when you won’t hurt us.

p. 186 Dobson recommends a phonics program developed by Phyllis Schlafly.

Anybody ever used it? I'd like to hear your evaluation.

p. 188 “Still, if we had to do it over again, Shirley and I would probably homeschool our children.”

Interesting. That's our plan at present.

p. 194 Dobson gives space to Bill Bennet’s online education curriculum.

Anybody ever used it? I'd be interested in hearing any users' evaluations.

p. 250-51 Dobson’s story about how 11-year old Ryan reacted negatively to Dobson’s willingness to compromise his convictions about Sunday observance challenged me. Kids are always watching and consistency is at the top of the list of must-have values.

In his last chapter “The Ultimate Priority,” Dobson mentions praying and fasting for his kids. That jolted me. I’ve allowed our scheduled Friday prayer and fast time to slip past unkept much of this semester. Marianne and I resumed today, and by God’s grace, I’m going to make sure we persist in this most crucial of priorities.


Angie said...

Marianne and Philip,
This curriculium is what I am using for my boys this year. My boys Matthew 9 is in 4th grade, and Caleb 7 is in 2nd grade. For Caleb this program works well, but for Matthew I'm starting to think the Text book style is what he needs.
We've found that Homeschooling is the BEST option, esspecially if there is no Christain-day school around. (though I had to learn the hard way.)
Next year Emily will be starting Kindergarten. We haven't decided on what Curriculium to use.
All I know is a Child's education is a BIG responsiblity, and pray God helps me to teach to the best of my ability.

Tracy said...

Hi to the Brown family from sunny Florida. Just wanted to comment that as the mother of four boys I have read this book and then reread certain parts at different times just to remind me of a few things as we reach different stages of parenting. Right now the boys range in age from 13 to 3 and that covers alot of territory and different age appropriate approaches. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the book! You may soon have four boys of your own.........well you are off to a good start anyway! :)Tracy Bowen

The Gurnee's said...

Hi there!!This is Julia Gurnee (Marianne might remember me from AWC). We are homeschooling our oldest and next year both of our boys will be hs'ed. We are using the K12 program and love it. I have nothing but positive things to say about it.


a member of the castle said...

Thank you for taking the time to post this. I appreciated reading your views. ~Martha