Back in June I posted about a talk that I went to at my children’s school on What To Expect When Expecting An Adolescent. I found the talk informative and an glimpse as to what I have coming in the next few years.
A good friend then recommended me the book titled He’ll Be Ok: Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men, by Celia Lashlie. I am so glad she did recommend it, as I have found it to be an amazing book in terms of giving me an insight into the world of boys (and men!)
The book is easy to read and is only 217 pages long. Lashlie has broken the book down into 11 small chapters and each has a succinct but powerful summary at the end.
The book however challenges some preconceived stereotypes and ideas that I have held. And I am sure that not all would agree with Lashlie, but I respect her willingness to say what may be unpopular or unconventional based on her experiences through The Good Man project.
If you have a gorgeous boy in your house, even if he is a few years away from adolescence, I urge you to take some time and read this book. For me, I am so glad to have read the book now, while I have some years before my son and I reach the “bridge of adolescence”. I have time to digest what I have learnt and think about how I can manage my own behaviour through this stage.
Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to post the key learnings for me from the book. Now I have finished it, I will be handing it over to Mr I to read. He has a critical role coming ahead, that I am not sure he is aware of.
Introduction and What Was The Good Man Project
A striking quality of the book is Lashlie’s positive attitude towards boys and men. She values the different qualities that they possess, compared to women and she has hope and respect for the boys that she deals with.
The book is based on the findings from The Good Man Project which she led in New Zealand from Sept 2002 until Mar 2004. During this time Lashlie spent time with 180 classes of boys from 25 schools. The boys spanned the spectrum of secondary school from year 7 to year 12.
From personal experience, Lashlie raised two children, a daughter and son on her own through the times of adolescence.
The Wonderful World Of Boy’s Schools
Whilst the author acknowledges that their is room for improvement, from the time spent in boys schools, she learns the value that they have for boys.
Lashlie concludes from her experience that boys’ schools allow boys the time that they need.
“They need time to think, time to process new-found emotions and time to make decisions about their future. They need time to just be, to move freely between boyhood and manhood, returning several times, in the initial flush of adolescence, to a state of boyhood where they’ll spend time playing while reflecting at a deeper (and often completely invisible) level on the fact that they’re in the process of leaving that boyhood behind.”
In this chapter Lashlie also makes the following observation:
“When we talk about the boys at co-educational schools being more socially adept, more ‘mature’, are we in fact saying that they’ve learnt earlier than boys educated in single-sex schools just what expectations women have of them?”
About A Boy: Inside Their Head
As mentioned earlier, Lashlie made the journey of adolescence with her own son as a single parent. In the book she openly acknowledges that if she had known what she knows now, that she would have done many things differently with her own son, that would have made adolescence easier for her son and for herself.
Knowledge of what goes on inside the head of an adolescent can help parents understand their behaviour better and how they should react to it.
Two key points for me were the following:
Recognise their desire to live in the moment, their inability and/or unwillingness to plan their lives.
Have we made education a series of relatively small steps because we think that’s what works, when what boys actually want and need are fewer, much bigger steps?
Even though my eldest son in 9.5 years old, I can easily see the relevance of these points in his behaviour now. The question for me now is what do I do with this knowledge?
There is a lot for me to think about and all of it relatively minor compared to the issues that will raise their heads in adolescence. But in terms of now, do I let him leave his homework to the last minute? Do I allow the last minute scurry in and out of the door before football training as he remembers to grab his mouth guard, then water bottle? I have tried without much success to get him to prepare and plan these things, but should I let this go? I am thinking yes and handing the responsibility for being organised back to him, which ever way he does this.
What do you think?
You can find further discussion on the book here: