—Reviewed by Alanzo H. Smith, DMin, EdD, family ministries director, Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Manhasset, New York, United States.

Navigating one’s developmental tasks, and especially being an adolescent, presents its own set of challenges, but being a boy compounds the struggle. What Your Son Isn’t Telling You seeks to acquaint its readers with real-life accounts of the ways boys think. The authors have done a good job in exposing the thoughts of boys through their own voices.

Ross and Shellenberger chronicle 15 challenges that raising boys present and conduct an open discussion on helpful ways to confront them. Among the intrigues that often seem puzzling is the notion that boys engage in bullying, yet many of them are being bullied. The authors suggest some of the warning signs a boy may demonstrate when being bullied, for example, loss of interest in friends, school, and relationships; and expressions of tiredness, depression, self-loathing, and negativity. When these behaviors are observed, parents and caregivers are encouraged to empower the boy to feel good, exit the threatening environment, and surround himself with supportive friends. If the boy is the bully, speak to him about the harm he is doing. Explain to him the hurt he inflicts on others. Help him to dream of a positive and bright future, and see himself as a possibility with limitless potential.

According to the authors, boys engage in high-risk behaviors such as (but not limited to) gambling, smoking, pornography, and drinking. Consequently, youth leaders, parents, pastors, and others must be intentional on establishing clear boundaries. Every effort must be made to underscore that moral values cannot be compromised. Encourage them to choose to avoid the temptation and/or the peer pressure. Explain the consequences and outline the effects of maladaptive and antisocial behavior.

I admire the courage and the character of the authors in addressing sensitive topics such as homosexuality and the clarity and honesty employed in the discussion, with biblical conclusions drawn throughout.

One limitation of the book is that the authors seem to link all boys together, not giving credence to the impact of culture and socialization. I believe, however, that What Your Son Isn’t Telling You makes for good reading and brings the voices of boys to the surface. I recommend this book to all youth leaders, pastors, family life directors, and parents.


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—Reviewed by Alanzo H. Smith, DMin, EdD, family ministries director, Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Manhasset, New York, United States.

November 2010

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