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

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Melanie Young is one of the most personable, most warm, and most helpful women that I’ve met online. It’s no wonder that her workshop on homeschooling boys, “Ballistic Homeschooling,” has proven to be so popular. Having been blessed with six boys ranging from seven-years-old through to adults who’ve departed for college, the Youngs have compiled their practical experiences with biblical direction in Raising Real Men to help parents delight in the boys God has given them, equip them to be men in an age of increasing feminization, and to move beyond survival mode.

Carefully balancing the need to shelter young sons from ungodly influences with the encouragement towards godly and manly character traits and eventual independence, the Youngs present a vision for confident Christian manhood that is under girded with scripture and sketched out through suggestions for implementation. While this isn’t a step-by-step, checklist plan for raising boys, readers are guided through early childhood through to adult independence with suggestions for training boys through all of the major developmental periods.

It’s difficult to think of an important area of raising boys with the purpose of Christian manhood that the Youngs haven’t included. Good manners, respect towards women, competition, courtship, financial responsibility, chores, weapons, discipleship, dealing with sexual temptation, and much more: it’s all here in a cut-to-the-chase, honest presentation.

The Young’s are also dedicated homeschoolers, and while the majority of Raising Real Men isn’t dedicated specifically homeschooling, this husband-and-wife writing team has real-life educational experiences and recommendations to share with us. Tips for motivating boys to complete their lessons, stay focused, and even to excel are covered side by side along with the fear-inducing topics of hyperactivity and delayed development.

I must admit that I found some of the Youngs' suggestions surprising, but they are always careful to lay out their reasoning and rationale when presenting the courses of action they’ve chosen to follow with their sons. Non-resistant Christians in particular will likely flinch over some of the decisions and suggestions regarding sports, weapons, military involvement, and dealing with bullies – but they themselves acknowledge this and lay out potential alternatives alongside their arguments.

Raising Real Men is so full of practical, experienced wisdom about preparing children for responsibility that I’m sure I’ll be referring to it again frequently as my children mature. Although the Lord has only seen fit to bless us with daughters to date (the Youngs have two themselves), I have benefited greatly from reading the biblically based and common sense approaches these experienced parents have to share. With such a well-rounded and markedly positive approach to raising boys, I believe that we can look forward to seeing the Youngs work on the recommended resources lists of parents and churches alike for years to come.

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About Jennifer Bogart