Do you have a son, brother, father, husband, or other male in your life? Do you work with children? If so, I highly recommend that you read Raising Cain – Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, by Drs. Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson. A New York Times bestseller, this book should be given to every new parent of a male baby before they leave the hospital. I would put it on the required reading list for every teacher. And I’m going to shout from the rooftops that if you only read one book this year, and you have a boy in your life, this one has to be it.
The authors of Raising Cain, who have spent their careers as psychologists working with boys, take us on a fascinating journey inside this male “fortress of solitude”. The premise of the book is that the emotional life of boys is just as rich as that of girls, but perhaps even more fragile. Our society has stereotypes that expect our boys to be brave, stoic, in control, and fearless. Therefore, too many of our boys do not learn how to express their emotions in healthy ways. The result of this stunted emotional growth plays out in every possible area of a boy’s life.
With chapters devoted to relationships with fathers, mothers, peers, girls, and “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”, Kindlon and Thompson take the reader on a journey into the inner life of today’s male. They also discuss the risk factors that lead to depression, drug and alcohol use, and suicide.
The Washington Post called this book, “Brilliant….required reading for anyone raising – or educating – a boy. PBS, or the Public Broadcasting Service, made a special out of it.
So although the book is not a new release, it was new enough to me to want to share it with you.
Although this book is written with an American perspective, my work with boys from various cultures around the world has convinced me that males are in trouble everywhere. This is not a uniquely American problem, and it is one that has me gravely concerned.
Healthy expression of emotion is vital to good mental and physical health. The male perspective and experience is different from that of girls but no less important. Therefore, the more we know about it, the better we can understand, guide, mentor, and love our beloved sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, and students.