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Book Review: Boy-sterous Living – Celebrating Your Loud and Rowdy Life with Sons by Jean Blackmer

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I must admit up front, that I’m not a mother of boys. Our family has been blessed with three beautiful little girls (who can be quite feisty themselves), but we are hoping that the Lord will choose to bless us with a boy someday. That’s where my interest in Jean Blackmer’s Boy-sterous Living comes from – the anticipation we feel when we contemplate the possibility of God blessing us with some little men.

As the mother of three boys herself (now grown into teenagers), Jean Blackmer has penned an inspirational, humourous, slice-of-life title which jumps from topic to topic with ease. One moment discussing sports, the next writing on the importance of mothers connecting with other women, Blackmer covers a little bit of everything in her fast-paced, lighthearted read. Primarily written to moms, there is a single chapter written for dads as well.

In each of the 18 topically focused chapters, Blackmer first shares personal anecdotes from her family’s life with boys, experiences from friends or, if at a loss for intimate first-hand stories, from books she has read. Some of the adventures she digs up are absolutely hilarious; the time her son accidentally blew up a toilet with firecrackers most notable among them. Others are frightening, moving, or thought-provoking.

She then draws upon the experiences shared to illustrate the universality of these episodes, and the significance the underlying principles hold in family life. She often writes about how to strengthen certain aspects of Christ-like character in the lives of boys, how to teach appropriate boundaries, foster communication skills, etc. as she makes practical applications.

Each chapter closes with “Digging Deeper,” a section in which Blackmer asks moms probing questions and asks them to commit to a plan of action — small things that will strengthen their relationships with their sons. The “Recommended Reading” section always includes a selection of relevant Bible verses, and at times includes books that Blackmer has found particularly helpful in further exploring the issue she just covered.

With each chapter ranging between four to ten pages, Blackmer doesn’t have time to dig deep into any of the topics she touches upon. Moms looking for an in-depth, thoughtful guide to raising Christian boys would be better served by another title. At times the treatment specific subjects receive seem somewhat superficial, only gliding over surface concerns. She does dig into some tender spots on occasion – such as letting go, and letting dad.

Those of us on the more conservative spectrum may find several chapters that don’t apply to our experiences. Unless your boys play sports, video games, and have girlfriends (or some day will), there will certainly be entire chunks of text that are largely inapplicable to your family situation.

Blackmer has clearly learned to delight in the differences between herself and the rest of the all-male home she lives in. Her sense of genuine delight and rejoicing in the God-given differences between male and female certainly shines through her words. Mothers of boys looking for a quick, inspirational round of humorous commiseration will be encouraged to count their blessings anew. Readers looking for something a bit meatier should continue their search.

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