Grown-Up Reads

Raising Responsible Boys:
6 Books to Help Along the Way

by Denise Schipani

Photo credit: Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz, Getty Images

Time was, parents of boys got something of a free pass in the responsibility stakes. Moms and dads of boys (I’ve got two sons) were allowed to coast a bit on the “boys will be boys” excuse. If our kids did something untoward, messy, noisy, icky, uncomfortable, well, you know. Boys. They pee on the toilet rim (or the floor); they play hockey on the hardwood floors using backscratchers for sticks and crumbled paper for pucks (what, just mine?); they are the reason the third-grade class has to stay in for recess (because they were unable to sit primly through a reading lesson or walk quietly in the halls). They disturb the peace. Eventually they’ll grow up and get civilized, but for the time being they’re just so … not girls.

It seemed as though boys could carry that free pass even as far as the frat house and the boardroom. Not anymore, or not as much, anyway. Now, we’re looking for ways to do the civilizing as they grow. We aim to honor and encourage our sons’ essential male-ness, their forms of play as well as their paths of learning, while also teaching responsibility and respect for themselves and others. It’s no small task. Says Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four boys and founder of the Building Boys blog, “It’s important to understand boys’ development and the challenges they face, but boys, just like girls, need to learn to respect others and to treat people with compassion.”

If you’re looking for a few good books to help you raise a few good men, look no further.