Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Tour with Wild Things! (the art of nurturing boys)

Looking for answers on how to raise boys?

Ever wonder…

Why can’t he sit still?

Is he hearing a word I say?

Why is he angry all the time?

Boys are born to be wild. Their strong spirit, endless imagination, and hunger for adventure are only matched by their deep desire to be affirmed, esteemed, and loved. In their new book Wild Things, therapists Stephen James and David Thomas help parents and educators understand what exactly makes boys tick.


As a mother of two boys – both now in their teens – I was eager to see what two men had to say about raising boys. After reading this book, I have to admit that while the book contains some useful information and good admonition, some of their opinions left me scratching my head. However, parenting styles vary markedly, and according to the basic ideas contained in this book, my boys are well on their way to becoming pretty solid men.

Wild Things begins by addressing basic developmental information from birth to manhood and uses descriptive titles like Explorer, Wanderer and Warrior to describe the age-appropriate developmental stages. The next few chapters deal with specific and unique areas in a boy’s life including the way their brain perceives different information, learning styles and their emotional development. Each chapter is broken into very detailed sections and then ends with “tips” that summarize the basic ideas found within. The book ends with a section entitled “Hot Topics” that include sometimes very uncomfortable topics related to sexuality and negative behaviors. All along the way, the authors use examples from their own parenting experiences as well as their counseling encounters to give the book less of a textbook feel.

My overall feeling about this book is neither strongly positive or negative. There were more references to movies and books as things to look at or discuss as models of behavior rather than Scriptural guidelines. Yet I think that is somewhat intentional because this really deals with understanding the boy’s developmental processes and how you can actively participate all along the way. And I think that is the key - being actively present in your child’s life in a way that allows them to be who God created them to be.

For me, I sort of took this book with a grain of salt, because I’ve either already passed the developmental stages mentioned or some of the more difficult issues brought up simply don’t exist in our family. I realize that others reading the book might find great ideas that I didn’t have a need for at this time. The bottom line though is one I heartily support….if the Lord blesses your home with children you better be involved with them every step of the way if they are going to have a fighting chance in this very weird world they are living in. This is NOT the age of hands-off parenting. Our children need us present and by their sides as they’ve never needed us before.

The Lord has blessed our family with unique circumstances that allow us to raise our boys in a much less complicated atmosphere than most children enjoy today. Thus we are able to utilize every teaching opportunity and actively address the “hard” issues like drug addiction by giving them real face-time volunteering for the local ministry that sponsors several residential rehab facilities in our area. Both boys made their profession of faith last year, and we are now nurturing babes in Christ. The importance of that is not lost to us.

I appreciate the efforts of Stephen James and David Thomas in their book Wild Things. Ironically, if you practice their ideas in your home, your boys will grow into mature men and not Wild Things at all!

You’ve gained some valuable advice, but there’s more! If you would like to learn more from these parenting experts about raising boys, you can order a copy of Wild Things through

Based on clinical research, Stephen James and David Thomas have filled Wild Things with practical tips and suggestions for parents. They guide readers through the five stages of a boy’s development, providing an overview and explanation of each stage, followed by a plan to put new principles into action. Pick up a copy today!

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