As a boy, I had a small TV in my room. My parents didn’t need to worry about its dangerous media influences on me. The most violent thing I could watch was Batman punching out the Riddler’s henchmen, often with some “crime doesn’t pay” remark, while the most prurient element was Julie Newmar’s Catwoman bodysuit. But that was a long time ago on almost another planet. In her invaluable guide to bringing up proper young men, Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons, pediatrician and parenting authority Meg Meeker warns against unfiltered media access for boys today. Increasingly violent video games and all-pervasive pornography are vile enough, but even mainstream entertainment has become sordid, and the small screen a peephole luring boys into darkness.
“When we grew up in the 60s, 70s, and 80s,” Meeker writes, “It was safe for a boy to slip on the TV, because the networks still upheld a general moral consensus; but now we grimace as our boys are inundated with nasty dialogue and graphic images that reflect cheap, nasty values and an impoverished imagination.… Today, what adults consider anti-social behavior — such as ridiculing, insulting, lying, or exhibiting aggression with or without weapons — is the norm for men in movies.”
Yet for the most part, Boys Should Be Boys is no diatribe but an inspirational guide for parents on how to raise their sons to become fine men. It achieves this goal through common sense, clinical philosophy, and illustrative anecdotes from Meeker’s more than 30 years’ practice with child patients. For instance, she doesn’t just encourage boys’ electronic device withdrawal, she offers parents the best alternatives: Give sons less internet and more outdoor time, persuade them that God exists, and bestow upon them your wisdom and experience rather than material goods. “Our boys don’t need things,” Meeker states. “They need us.”
The author has no patience for the liberal fantasy of gender interchangeability. She stresses the difference between boys and girls (she addressed raising the latter in her bestselling Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters). “Show me six girls who traipse into the woods Saturday after Saturday to fight battles and build tree forts,” she writes. “You won’t. But boys do, and should be allowed to. It’s what their dreams are made of.” Those dreams, about defeating villains and rescuing girls — and the war play that enables them — will spawn adult masculine confidence and chivalry, Meeker posits, despite all the leftist whimpering about toy guns and roughhousing.
Meeker makes her points in superlative non-clinical prose. A single line by her demolishes every pro-abortion screed ever made: “Beyond the ethereal joy a mother feels at the first sight of her son, lies a nugget-sized ache wrapped in fear. Her infant son needs her.”
She goes on to explain how the mother–son dynamic differs from that of mom and daughter. A son will one day belong to another, and his maternal connection will be reworked, if not severed (moms and daughters, on the other hand, share a genetic, hormonal, and psychological bond that continues into the offspring’s marriage). But until her sad yet inevitable replacement in his life, a mother will fight to protect her son. This is something progressive statists cannot comprehend, even when it cost them political control of Virginia for dismissing mothers’ objection to scholastic racism in the form of critical race theory.
The book will further inflame anti-male feminists by metaphorically hammering the cruciality of fathers in a boy’s life: “It takes a man to raise a man,” Meeker says. She explains that sons do more than obey and respect their fathers: “A son watches his father and subconsciously kneads each of the qualities in his father into his own character.” Though a natural process, it is by no means automatic, and it puts considerable weight on the father to earn his son’s esteem. “Boys who see their fathers come home drunk every night have a higher chance of doing the same when they are grown,” Meeker writes. “Masculinity begets masculinity, be it good or bad.”
But it is the book’s religious emphasis that serves as a cross to secular progressive vampires. “Boys need God — all boys,” Meeker asserts, then backs up her assertion with observations and data. Religious fathers have better relationships with their sons, who in turn have a healthier one with their mothers. Religious boys are less likely to become promiscuous teenagers and adults and are less likely to consume alcohol and drugs. And religious poor boys more easily overcome the communal pressures of maturity, such as gang influence. Belief in God teaches boys something they instinctively want to know — what is wrong and what is right. And their parents should encourage it by word and example.
Meeker has an engrossing professional story for each of her observations. Take, for example, the one about Ben, whose divorced mother wanted her to analyze his depression. Speaking alone to the boy, Meeker quickly deduces he missed spending time with his dad, then urges his mother to put Ben’s needs over her prejudices. Or another story about the mom who grabbed a bully menacing her two much younger sons and had them punch him in the stomach until he cried and left, never to bother them again.
The book concludes with 10 tips for parents to make sure they get boy-raising right:
Boys Should Be Boys is a wise guide on how to turn boys into good men. Reading it could be the best long-term investment of your time.