Raising Cain: Protecting The Emotional Life Of Boys

Raising Cain: Protecting The Emotional Life Of Boys

  • Publish Date: 1999-04-06
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Dan Kindlon Michael Thompson Teresa Barker
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Ballantine Books
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The stunning success of Reviving Ophelia, Mary Pipher's landmark book, showed a true and pressing need to address the emotional lives of girls. Now, finally, here is the book that answers our equally timely and critical need to understand our boys.

In Raising Cain, Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., and Michael Thompson, Ph.D., two of the country's leading child psychologists, share what they have learned in more than thirty-five years of combined experience working with boys and their families. They reveal a nation of boys who are hurting--sad, afraid, angry, and silent. Statistics point to an alarming number of young boys at high risk for suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, violence and loneliness. Kindlon and Thompson set out to answer this basic, crucial question: What do boys need that they're not getting? They illuminate the forces that threaten our boys, teaching them to believe that "cool" equals macho strength and stoicism. Cutting through outdated theories of "mother blame," "boy biology," and "testosterone," Kindlon and Thompson shed light on the destructive emotional training our boys receive--the emotional miseducation of boys.

Through moving case studies and cutting-edge research, Raising Cain paints a portrait of boys systematically steered away from their emotional lives by adults and the peer "culture of cruelty"--boys who receive little encouragement to develop qualities such as compassion, sensitivity, and warmth. The good news is that this doesn't have to happen. There is much we can do to prevent it.

Kindlon and Thompson make a compelling case that emotional literacy is the most valuable gift we can offer our sons, urging parents to recognize the price boys pay when we hold them to an impossible standard of manhood. They identify the social and emotional challenges that boys encounter in school and show how parents can help boys cultivate emotional awareness and empathy--giving them the vital connections and support they need to navigate the social pressures of youth.

Powerfully written and deeply felt, Raising Cain will forever change the way we see our sons and will transform the way we help them to become happy and fulfilled young men. Reviving Ophelia, Mary Pipher's groundbreaking book, exposed the toxic environment faced by adolescent girls in our society. Now, from the same publisher, comes Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, which does the same for adolescent boys. Boys suffer from a too-narrow definition of masculinity, the authors assert as they expose and discuss the relationship between vulnerability and developing sexuality, the "culture of cruelty" boys live in, the "tyranny of toughness," the disadvantages of being a boy in elementary school, how boys' emotional lives are squelched, and what we, as a society, can do about all this without turning "boys into girls." "Our premise is that boys will be better off if boys are better understood--and if they are encouraged to become more emotionally literate," the authors assert. As a tool for change, Kindlon and Thompsom present the well-developed "What Boys Need," seven points that reach far beyond the ordinary psychobabble checklist and slogan list. Kindlon (researcher and psychology professor at Harvard and practicing psychotherapist specializing in boys) and Thompson (child psychologist, workshop leader, and staff psychologist of an all-boys school) have created a chilling portrait of male adolescence in America. Through personal stories and theoretical discussion, this well-needed book plumbs the well of sadness, anger, and fear in America's teenage sons. --Ericka Lutz

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