Building Boys Bulletin 4-27-20

Look for people who GET boys

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I don’t know about you, but I get so frustrated when I read “parenting boys” advice by

  1. People who don’t have children. The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens, for instance, is by “an award-winning middle school teachers, author and parenting and education expert,” according to the promo materials sent out with the book. The author is a middle school teacher who I’m sure has lots of valuable insights into tweens and teens, but he doesn’t have any children. How can you be a “parenting expert” if you’ve never parented?!?

  2. People who don’t have boys. A lot of the parenting boys books written to date have been written by male academics who don’t have sons. Many of them contain important and useful info, but some of it is, um, a bit out of touch with the real-world. Warren Farrell’s book, The Boy Crisis, does a great job of underscoring the fact that our boys need help — but his fixating on father absence as the cause of most of boys’ problems (and blaming divorce and women’s increased economic independence for father absence) doesn’t exactly help me figure out what to do about my son what hates school.

Similarly, it’s blatantly apparent that Peggy Orenstein, author of Boys & Sex, has never raised boys. As on reviewer wrote, “There is a failure of empathy in this narrative. But it’s not on the part of boys.” Orenstein is a great journalist but she doesn’t have a deep understanding of male development, boy culture and the challenges facing boys & their families — and it shows.

I’ve always been drawn to friends who have boys because they get it. They don’t freak out when my boys climb on top of the swing set at the park, rather than using the swings as intended. They’re OK with carrying on a conversation amidst the chaos of a Nerf war.

That kind of acceptance and respect and understanding — well, I think we boy parents deserve it in articles, books and parenting seminars as well. A one-size-fits-all “how to teach consent” article isn’t really helpful if it doesn’t grapple with the fact that our boys live in a society that still grants status based on sexual conquest.

This past week, my article, “How to Teach Boys Consent — Without Shaming” won the 2020 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Article award in the How-To category, and I believe my article rose to the top because it’s infused with a deep understanding of boys and their experiences. I get it, because I’ve been raising boys for 20+ years.

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That’s not to say I have all the answers. I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t. (Well, actually, my kids will probably be the first to tell you that!) But when you’re looking for advice and insight, look to people who get boys.

And on that note…. My colleague, friend and podcast co-host Janet Allison, a teacher and student of boys, is hosting a special live Q & A on May 3. I’ll let her tell you about it:

Parenting can be challenging -  especially now. 

You may be experiencing the full range: stress, overwhelm, frustration, sadness, and guilt - while still trying to make dinner and “do” online school.

We've never experienced anything like this before.

Are you wondering how to parent with confidence amidst your own fears while also navigating changing schedules and all the other uncertainties? 

Take heart - there is HOPE!

Join my ON BOYS co-host Janet Allison - Founder of Boys Alive! and recently featured on NPR’s Think Out Loud, - for an interactive LIVE Q & A call about how to THRIVE as a parent during these challenging times.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Better respond to your children’s BIG feelings (no matter how frustrated or disappointed they are) for more sanity and connection

  • REGAIN your center as a parent - even as you balance teaching, parenting, and working from home

  • Get your most-pressing parenting questions answered in a warm, supportive, virtual environment.

When you sign up, you’ll also get the BONUS:  “Parenting Through Corona Chaos GUIDE” which includes 20+ more strategies for coping during these challenging times.

Learn More and Sign Up Here

Janet is offering the Building Boys community 50% off of registration!

Use coupon code: buildingboys and you’ll be all set!

Here’s to building boys!

P.S. Don’t forget to switch over a paid subscription if you want to get Building Boys Bulletin next week


Helping Teens Make Room for Uncomfortable Emotions


  • “Many people have to come to assume wrongly that psychological health — like physical health — means feeling good.”

  • “We should...make sure our adolescents understand that feeling troubled during troubling times is not, on its own, grounds for concern — — if anything, it’s likely to be evidence of their robust mental health.”

  • “If a teenager regularly turns to ways of coping that bring short-term relief and long-term problems, such as psychological withdrawal, substance misuse or self-harm, reach out to a health care provider.”

  • “If your teenager is treating you like a punching bag, consider saying something along the lines of, ‘I get it that you are angry that your spring plans got canceled — and you have every right to be upset. But you don’t have a right to make us all feel as miserable as you do.’”

How to Salvage a Disastrous Day in Your COVID-19 House Arrest


  • “Crisis adaptation is not a linear, upward trajectory toward productivity and happiness. In fact, measuring your adaptation success by those metrics can leave you discouraged and stuck.” 

  • “When more than half the day has evaporated, it can feel impossible to get back on track. But...your feelings should not dictate your life. Rather, now is the time to take small, concrete actions.” 

  • “Today you are in the ‘remedial’ life class, where the learning objectives are basic physical care, responsible communication, and simple organizational tasks. Today you get an A-plus if you eat two or three proper meals, do any light form of exercise, are compassionate to your loved ones, and complete at least one basic work task."

21 and Me: How the DNA of Parenting Changes Over Time


  • “I would have thought that by 21, he'd no longer need me. But it doesn't feel like I'm done.”

  • “He still needs guidance, but now, instead of me lecturing, I ask, ‘Do you want my advice?’ I listen more and talk less.”

ON BOYS Podcast

Parenting Your Adult Children

On Building Boys

Re-Booting, or How to Save a Day Gone Bad (an oldie but a goodie!)

This morning I was in a funk…My hard drive crashed yesterday and the crash was the straw that broke this mama’s back. I was done, overwhelmed, exhausted and seriously contemplating finding a corner to sit and cry.

But mamas can’t do that, I thought — the thought adding insult to injury. I can’t just sit and cry because I have boys and house and work. So I carried on. Threw in a load of laundry, dressed children, oversaw math, listened to reading and set up phonics. Inside, though, I was a mess. Inside, I was this close to falling apart. Stuff was getting done, but it wasn’t pretty. I was crabby and anxious and irritable, and so were my boys…