Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Review: Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young

Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys
by Hal and Melanie Young

I really enjoyed this book.  I met the authors very briefly at a home school convention years ago.  They probably wouldn't remember me, as I was just one of many people who stopped by their booth that day, but I remember them.  I'd never heard of them before, but they seemed like such amiable and down-to-earth people that I liked them instantly. 

I read through this book twice, the first time pretty quickly and making marks of many things to look back at later, and the second time more slowly, scanning some parts and dwelling more on the previous things I'd marked.  It was a well-timed read for me, and is one I'll probably revisit again from time to time.   Some of its points have come to mind as I've watched and interacted with my sons since reading it.  I have one son who is 12 years old, getting ever closer to manhood, another who is 2 and a half, and I'm expecting the arrival of our third son sometime in August, Lord willing.  It's been interesting having a little guy around again since my younger son's birth.  It's definitely highlighted again to me the differences between the boys and my four girls.  It's helpful to read something to give a little insight on those differences.  I have a feeling I may especially appreciate those insights after having two boys close in age.  That will be a new experience for me.

Lately, there seems to be a felt need for teaching about manhood in the church, as well.  My husband has taught at multiple meetings held by congregations just for men in recent years about things related to manhood, has been asked to speak on subjects along these lines at other events, and has had feedback on these occasions indicating that people really thought it was needed.  The somewhat recent movie Courageous had as its theme calling out men to lead their families.  This is encouraging to me.  May good fruit come from it all, for God's kingdom and glory.

Here's what my older son said to me when he first saw me reading this book: " 'Surviving Boys'... yeah, they're pretty loud and rambunctious sometimes.  You have to survive all that noise."  Then he gave me one of his best grins. :) 

Hal and Melanie Young, the authors of Raising Real Men, have SIX sons!  They've definitely got some experience with boys!  You can tell in their writing that they haven't forgotten what it's like to be "in the trenches," as they still have younger ones (they also have two girls, so a total of eight children).  Yet, some of their boys are old enough that they have been able to see many fruits of their approach to child rearing.

As I mentioned, when I first read this I marked many things to refer back to.  It's hard to narrow them down for a review.  While I don't agree with everything in the book (rare is the book where that is the case), there is a lot to be gained from it.  It's thought-provoking, helpful, encouraging, and a worthwhile read.  There are a lot of important and even heavy things discussed, and a lot of good little tidbits as well.  It deals with fundamental topics that may even challenge your paradigms.  But it's written in a very down-to-earth manner -- the same way Hal and Melanie came across to me at the convention.  It's not a book that will weigh you down with erudite vocabulary or lengthy discourse.  There's a lot of focus on the practical.

This is a good book for parents of boys.  I will note a couple things that my readers might want to know before reading it:  1)  It has a very pro-Christian and pro-homeschool perspective.   2)  The Youngs also seem to be Calvinists, which I perhaps noticed mostly because I'm not.  There's not a lot of discussion relevant to that, and nothing specifically mentioning Calvinism by name that I noticed (unless you count mentioning that they have a son named John Calvin), yet some of the ideas come through in a few places, just casually.  I do appreciate knowing a person's religious perspectives even if I disagree with them. 

And I'm going to mention this in passing...  don't hate me.  The title of this book bothered me a tad at first, because I was taught in grade school -- with great emphasis, mind you -- that you RAISE crops, and you REAR children!  But I will quickly admit that Rearing Real Men doesn't have the same ring to it -- probably because that's one of those grammar rules people are generally content without.  There.  I've mentioned it.  If my grade-school teacher happens to read this, she'll at least know I haven't forgotten. :)

You can see a small preview of the book at the link above, including the Table of Contents.

There are many worthwhile quotes in this book.  I'll share some with you:

"As we've raised our sons, we've found that many of the troubles and concerns we had were clarified when we looked to what God intended them to be.  The situation looked different when we truly valued manly virtues and masculinity and when we understood that we had to rebuke sin but should not change our boys into something they were not" (p. 18).

"God has placed in our boys a desire to be in charge, because one day they will be in charge.  Today's boys will be the fathers, and bosses, and elders, and statesmen of tomorrow.  We've got to teach them how to submit to authority without destroying their leadership" (p. 24).

"God made that little boy energetic so one day he could go out and conquer the world.  At least, one day he'll have the gumption to support his family, minister in his church, be a pillar in his community.  Right now, he just needs to learn some self-control" (p. 24).

"Our focus must be on leading our sons into godly manhood, not just trying to manage them to make our lives convenient and more pleasant....  'Convenient' is not part of the job description of parenting, nor of boyhood" (p. 25).

"Too often, Christ is presented to boys as an unimpressive, feeble, almost effeminate character, unworthy of admiration as the Savior of mankind and the conqueror of death.... Jesus is no victim; He is a hero, a mighty king, who boldly embraces the Cross to redeem His people from sin and death and Satan himself.  Now that's a real man" (p. 34-35).

I recommend Raising Real Men as valuable reading for parents of boys.  If it's more convenient for you, there is also an audiobook version available, and there are digital options as well.  See this link if you're interested

Note:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  My opinions are, of course, my own.

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  1. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful review, Amber! I loved reading the quotes that stood out to you, especially. I'd like to invite you and your readers to join us on Facebook at

    Thanks again,

  2. Wow! I know I'm waaaay behind on my blog-reading-and-writing hobby when I finally notice a post was written by AMBER five days ago! :)

    Thank you for reviewing this--you're encouraging me to pull my copy off the shelf and read it. I purchased it last summer, but then never felt motivated to read it (so many books, so little time. . .). I think my reticence came from the fact that I have read SO MANY book about raising boys in the last 16 years. chuckle But it's been a good long while since I read one and a certain energetic, mischievous little three-year-old is reminding me of all my parenting shortcomings so I could use some encouragement in this subject. ;)