What's Happening to our Boys? by Maggie Hamilton.
This is the companion volume to What's Happening to our Girls? which I reviewed here.
Similarly to Girls, Boys looks at how different the world is for today's boys and what parents can do to build strong, positive relationships with their boys to help guide and support them to become strong, wonderful men. Again, it was both terrifying and reassuring.
The thing that has struck me most about both of these books is how all the tweens and teens she interviewed stated they did a lot of stuff not because they wanted to, but in order to fit in. They don't really want to drink, take drugs, have sex, but it's perceived as what you must do in order to fit in. Now if only they would tell each other that, a lot of problems and pressures could be solved! However, as they are unlikely to be that open with each other, as parents, we need to provide them with the tools and the safety net to do what they want to do and survive the cut throat world of being a kid.
As with girls, Maggie Hamilton stresses the importance of open and honest relationships with our sons. Start talking to them early, and about real, important stuff. Discuss how they are targeted by marketing. Talk about the long term effects of alcohol and drug abuse. Acknowledge they are intelligent beings and saying "just don't do it because I said so" won't cut it. Use the video games and movies they watch to talk about the effect of violence on our society and how it's not an effective way to deal with problems and issues in our lives. Studies found that children who came from families like this were less likely to drink, take drugs or be influenced by peer pressure. We cannot under estimate our importance in our children's lives.
What's happening to our Boys and What's happening to our Girls are two books I recommend all parents read.