Book Review: Raising Boys by Design: What the Bible and brain science reveal about what your son needs to thrive, by Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D. and Michael Gurian, with Ann McMurray
As a parent, how can you raise your son to be a hero? How can you help him achieve great things? How can you help him grow to be the strong loving man God created him to be? The answer to those questions lies at the heart of Gregory Jantz and Michael Gurian’s book, Raising Boys by Design: What the Bible and brain science reveal about what your son needs to thrive.
The theme of the book is summed up by the authors,
Raising Boys by Design begins from the perspective that God has designed boys to value and strive toward the mantle of maleness and that our culture is very hard on that maleness. Often a boy’s natural energy is seen as disruptive. A boy’s inquisitiveness is seen as disrespect for authority. A boy’s competitiveness and his fits and starts at leadership are seen as presumptive or flawed. A boy’s resilience is seen as uncaring and even too harsh. A boy’s tenacity is seen as arrogance. Many of the strengths designed into a particular boy become suspect or devalued. Gradually, the boy either instinctively rebels against this harsh interpretation of his inner self or withdraws into a deep loneliness.
With that in mind, the authors set out to integrate the Bible with brain science in design-based parenting, and try to equip parents to integrate biblical truths with scientific outcomes in an intentional, thoughtful approach to helping our sons thrive in every area of life.
The book works from the theory that, although boys and girls reflect the image of God and share many characteristics, the inherent differences between male and female are vitally important. Michael’s research in brain science shows this (as you will see in chapter 2). I (Gregg) believe that Christians and readers of the Bible already intuit what science is showing. In Genesis 1:27 we read, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Girls and boys, like women and men, are equal in God’s eyes, but they are different. Those differences are inherent within the construct of creation, designed into us by the will of God.
In the various chapters, the authors explain what a boy learns from mom as well as from dad, how to protect and support a boy’s emotional life, developing healthy sexuality in boys and young men, helping sons do well in school, and the impact of technology on a boy.
A very helpful chapter describes how to use rites of passage to help your son become HEROIC:
- Honor – A man does what is right.
- Enterprise – A man works hard at useful work.
- Responsibility – A man takes responsibility.
- Originality – A man is an individual within a whole.
- Intimacy – A man learns how to love.
- Creativity – A man is committed to changing the world.
I found three sections of the book especially helpful. Each chapter ends with a section entitled, “Next Steps” where the authors give numerous practical and doable ideas for implementing the concepts in your son’s life. A second helpful section is found in the chapter on technology. The authors provide “A developmental design for technology use” where they describe what type and amount of technology is appropriate at each stage of a boy’s life, from birth through high school. That alone is worth the price of the book. The third helpful section is in the chapter on using rites of passage to help raise our sons. It reminded me of Raising a Modern-Day Knight, by Robert Lewis. The two books could be used alongside each other.
The book is easy to read and understand. It is very practical. Though my children are grown, I still thought of ways I could use it to help equip young families in my church. I would recommend the book to young parents.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.