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Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys

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Playing off the themes in the Caldecott Medal-winning children's book Where the Wild Things Are, this informative, practical, and encouraging guide will help parents guide boys down the path to healthy and authentic manhood. Wild Things addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of a boy, written by two therapists who are currently engaged in clinical work wit Playing off the themes in the Caldecott Medal-winning children's book Where the Wild Things Are, this informative, practical, and encouraging guide will help parents guide boys down the path to healthy and authentic manhood. Wild Things addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of a boy, written by two therapists who are currently engaged in clinical work with boys and their parents and who are also fathers raising five sons. Contains chapters such as "Sit Still! Pay Attention!" "Deficits and Disappointments," and "Rituals, Ceremonies, and Rites of Passage."


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Playing off the themes in the Caldecott Medal-winning children's book Where the Wild Things Are, this informative, practical, and encouraging guide will help parents guide boys down the path to healthy and authentic manhood. Wild Things addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of a boy, written by two therapists who are currently engaged in clinical work wit Playing off the themes in the Caldecott Medal-winning children's book Where the Wild Things Are, this informative, practical, and encouraging guide will help parents guide boys down the path to healthy and authentic manhood. Wild Things addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of a boy, written by two therapists who are currently engaged in clinical work with boys and their parents and who are also fathers raising five sons. Contains chapters such as "Sit Still! Pay Attention!" "Deficits and Disappointments," and "Rituals, Ceremonies, and Rites of Passage."

30 review for Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys

  1. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    This book scared me a bit. Okay, a lot. According to the authors, I (and my boys) have so far survived the Explorer phase and they're currently in the Lover stage...but I still have the Individual, Wanderer, and Warrior to get through. Having worked with adolescent boys, I know how...um...interesting those years can be. Luckily, this book does give a lot of good ideas for making those years tolerable. I wasn't crazy about the religious bent of the book, but I was able to skim through most of the This book scared me a bit. Okay, a lot. According to the authors, I (and my boys) have so far survived the Explorer phase and they're currently in the Lover stage...but I still have the Individual, Wanderer, and Warrior to get through. Having worked with adolescent boys, I know how...um...interesting those years can be. Luckily, this book does give a lot of good ideas for making those years tolerable. I wasn't crazy about the religious bent of the book, but I was able to skim through most of the blah-blah-blah. The authors make some valid points about raising happy, mature men, but some of their language was a little overly dramatic for my taste. What I take away from this book: I need to keep loving my boys even when they seem unlovable, force them to spend time with me (and my husband), especially time in nature (which is a big thing for our family already), and maintain my slightly crazy sense of humor both as a way of interacting with them and as a method for coping with their hormone-induced insanity.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janna Ryan

    I have been reading "Wild Things" and being the mother of 3 boys myself I am very impressed by what I have read so far. The book is broken down into different age groups of boys and I have Stephen in The Lovers group (5-8 years) and Philip in The Individual group (9-12). They nailed Stephen to a tee and Philip is pretty close (he is also not your typical boy). Each age group is then broken into: 1) The Way of a Boy 2) The Mind of a Boy 3) The Heart of a Boy And then there is a Hot Topics section tow I have been reading "Wild Things" and being the mother of 3 boys myself I am very impressed by what I have read so far. The book is broken down into different age groups of boys and I have Stephen in The Lovers group (5-8 years) and Philip in The Individual group (9-12). They nailed Stephen to a tee and Philip is pretty close (he is also not your typical boy). Each age group is then broken into: 1) The Way of a Boy 2) The Mind of a Boy 3) The Heart of a Boy And then there is a Hot Topics section toward the back and I don't agree with everything in the Hot Topics section, but that would be why they are Hot Topics, right? The only thing I have personally disagreed with so far is that "Love and Logic" is recommended by the authors and I don't agree with Love and Logic methods. So like most parenting stuff out there, you have to take some of it with a grain of salt. But overall these guys got it right, especially when it comes to helping you understand your sons by breaking them down into age groups and heart, mind and behavior. I would recommend this book - I'm actually considering putting together a mom's book study on it because I think it is so beneficial.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jesscia

    This is my FAVORITE book about boys. It comes at the subject from several angles including light neuroscience, social issues and the practical how-to handle issues. Since I read Wild Things the first time I have used what I learned there every day with my own two boys. For example, I know that my * year old is deep in the Lover stage of his development and is very difficult to manage AND very delicate. This book has helped me be gentle with him and we're both better off for it. It's a must-read This is my FAVORITE book about boys. It comes at the subject from several angles including light neuroscience, social issues and the practical how-to handle issues. Since I read Wild Things the first time I have used what I learned there every day with my own two boys. For example, I know that my * year old is deep in the Lover stage of his development and is very difficult to manage AND very delicate. This book has helped me be gentle with him and we're both better off for it. It's a must-read for anyone working with kids. I'm reading this book for a 2nd time. I loved it the first time a few years ago and recommended it to my friend Emma. She couldn't get through the first 10 pages because she was annoyed by a Christian (DON"T STOP READING! THERE"S MORE!) theme I did not detect. I saw the authors addressing the physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of a boy as necessary to their message about how to create a whole boy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I don't know guys. I just did not like this book. I wanted to. I truly know there are differences between boys and girls because I have one (or more) of each. But something about this book came across as SO sexist to me. So I had a hard time really enjoying it. There are some interesting facts and truth in this book, but overall it didn't help me feel less stressed about raising boys. It actually left me feeling more anxious. I don't know guys. I just did not like this book. I wanted to. I truly know there are differences between boys and girls because I have one (or more) of each. But something about this book came across as SO sexist to me. So I had a hard time really enjoying it. There are some interesting facts and truth in this book, but overall it didn't help me feel less stressed about raising boys. It actually left me feeling more anxious.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    I think this book made some good observarions about boys, but I really don't feel comfortable relying on books that make sweeping generalizations about genders. Being female and reading this book was insulting. It is not good to raise our kids based on a 'normal', better to raise our kid based on the specific kid. I think this book made some good observarions about boys, but I really don't feel comfortable relying on books that make sweeping generalizations about genders. Being female and reading this book was insulting. It is not good to raise our kids based on a 'normal', better to raise our kid based on the specific kid.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    Sage counsel from two Christian dads (counselors and pastors) about the various stages of boyhood and how mothers and fathers can guide their boys well. By virtue of the subject, it seems hard to avoid stereotyping boys as a broad category, but I often found myself a little irritated by some of the authors’ broad generalizations about boys (being the mother of a very sensitive boy and the wife of a very emotionally literate man). They quote John Eldredge a little too much for my taste, in other Sage counsel from two Christian dads (counselors and pastors) about the various stages of boyhood and how mothers and fathers can guide their boys well. By virtue of the subject, it seems hard to avoid stereotyping boys as a broad category, but I often found myself a little irritated by some of the authors’ broad generalizations about boys (being the mother of a very sensitive boy and the wife of a very emotionally literate man). They quote John Eldredge a little too much for my taste, in other words. But still, there is a lot of wisdom here to ponder. I found myself particularly intrigued by the concept of designing a rite of passage/initiation for our boys around the age of 13, as we come from a tradition that no longer has such a ceremony. It seems valuable, in a culture that fails to teach boys much about becoming a man.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Brooks

    MUST READ FOR ANYONE INVOLVED WITH BOYS. I will read and refer to this book again and again. Stephen James and David Thomas go into great detail about each stage of a boy's life. Looking back on my childhood and now having 2 boys of my own there were times I felt like they were describing me and my boys to a T. This isn't a "How To" book, which I appreciate. They explain the stages a boy goes through, offer insight, but leave the parenting and leadership up to the reader. So good!! This has beco MUST READ FOR ANYONE INVOLVED WITH BOYS. I will read and refer to this book again and again. Stephen James and David Thomas go into great detail about each stage of a boy's life. Looking back on my childhood and now having 2 boys of my own there were times I felt like they were describing me and my boys to a T. This isn't a "How To" book, which I appreciate. They explain the stages a boy goes through, offer insight, but leave the parenting and leadership up to the reader. So good!! This has become my favorite non-fiction book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Claire Johnson

    I loved this. Feeling completely clueless on how to love my boys most days, this gave me so much insight. Maybe I’ve just been living under a rock? But I’m so glad I own this book so I can come back to it to reference how to nurture my boys & not squash them. There are practical steps at the end of each chapter that we can take - which I really appreciated. I have to admit that I skipped the few chapters that didn’t relate to where my boys are yet. I’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susy C. *MotherLambReads*

    Basically a handbook for raising boys that covers all the things in a Christian and scientific perspective. Glad it was recommended to us. Need to read this every year!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deetz

    I felt the authors painted boys with a pretty broad brush, ie all boys are impulsive, active, loud, etc and I have taught long enough to know that isn't always the case. However since I am reading this because I do have a boy who is impulsive, active, wild, and loud the information was helpful for me. I felt the authors painted boys with a pretty broad brush, ie all boys are impulsive, active, loud, etc and I have taught long enough to know that isn't always the case. However since I am reading this because I do have a boy who is impulsive, active, wild, and loud the information was helpful for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee

    Religious and sexist. Any facts in the book are called into question.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Smith

    Excellent book and I highly recommend it. This also comes with some tough topics as well. Something that stood out to me was the creative discipline techniques. For instance keep trash bags and disposable gloves in your trunk and when you are driving and you find there needs to be immediate discipline for something you literally pull over and have him start picking up trash. A little community service to fit the crime. But also as other books constantly affirm the idea of being present with your Excellent book and I highly recommend it. This also comes with some tough topics as well. Something that stood out to me was the creative discipline techniques. For instance keep trash bags and disposable gloves in your trunk and when you are driving and you find there needs to be immediate discipline for something you literally pull over and have him start picking up trash. A little community service to fit the crime. But also as other books constantly affirm the idea of being present with your son is so important. A boy will also need a strong male presence in his life which typically includes his father and other male mentors. There is also a quick reference guide in the back that is really helpful.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Rogers

    “Don’t coddle him. Coddling hurts his masculine journey.” Dangerously dated in a way that contradicts the American Pediatric Association research in many areas. Would love to read again when it’s updated with current medical and biological research findings.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maya

    This is the best parenting book I have read to date (and I've read a lot). Obviously it's focused on those that have boys and how us as parents can bring them into manhood. It made me feel normal as a mother of boys and realize how the things I think are weird are part of them growing into men. What I love about the book is its focus on the boy's heart. It's not about discipline, to-do lists or methods, it's about how to reach our boys' hearts and guide them as they go through the stages to manh This is the best parenting book I have read to date (and I've read a lot). Obviously it's focused on those that have boys and how us as parents can bring them into manhood. It made me feel normal as a mother of boys and realize how the things I think are weird are part of them growing into men. What I love about the book is its focus on the boy's heart. It's not about discipline, to-do lists or methods, it's about how to reach our boys' hearts and guide them as they go through the stages to manhood. When they talk about the heart they mean "the core being of a boy - the feelings, needs, desires, longings, and hopes that are bound up inside each boy. A boy's heart is the essence of who he is created to be." The book goes into detail about each stage of development of a boy into manhood. The stages of the Explorer, the Lover, the Individual, the Wanderer, the Warrior are laid out in a fashion that is so easy to understand. First the authors describe each stage, go into the "lay of the land" for each and give specific details of what boys are like during the stages. They then talk about what boys need and how to put those principles into practice with tips for each stage. This layout makes it easy to go back and reference when you hit a new stage in your boys' life and want a refresher. The next section of the book covers how boys' brains function and develop, which is eye-opening when compared with girls and their development. The authors touch on education and how boys have such a difficulty of sitting still and how parents can help their boys in the area of learning with more hands-on, real life situations. The chapter on deficits and disappointments is brilliant in helping you understand how personally boys take things when their confidence is shattered and how allowing a boy to fail in his weaknesses, rather than covering up for him, teaches so much. It then goes on to talk about the specific relationships with the mother and then the father - how each is unique, brings about different character development in a boy and how he especially needs his father or another positive role model as he develops. Rites, ceremonies and rituals are discussed next and how in our Western culture we have not included this as part of coming into manhood. They give wonderful ideas on how to have this part of your boy growing and how meaningful it can be. The book ends with "hot topics" which include everything from sex, pornography, money and substance abuse. The short synopsis on each of these topics gives you a good base to start conversations with your boys. I feel as though I understand my sons more after reading this and it truly gave my husband and I great ideas on how to help them develop into honorable men. We will be referencing this book throughout their development. Some favorite parts (hard to narrow these down): - Boys need us first to recognize who they are. Then they need the help of wise and committed adults in navigating their way from boyhood to manhood. - ...whenever boys are in the equation, you may have to broaden your definition of normal. Once you have a boy in your life, things you never dreamed of become normal. - One of the most difficult - and yet beneficial - things we can do as parents is to sit with our boys while they are in pain and let their suffering soften our hearts as it softens theirs. - This is a journey of the heart, a journey that will either confirm him as a man or leave him trapped as a boy in man's body. - If they boys we love are going to keep their hearts, they will become targets of cynicism and sarcasm. They will be scorned for hoping, and daring to reach out, and being guided by the vision of who they are meant to be. And they will be ridiculed for having dreams that seem silly, unrealistic, idealistic, impractical, and unlikely.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    I loved the first two parts about boys from 2-4 and 5-8. You could tell the authors had boys in these age ranges. When they started addressing bx and issues in older kids, it stopped being personal and quickly became "studies show..." and "the majority of..." and even "the movie _____ shows the struggle of a boy going through..." YIKES! I had to keep reminding myself that all the horrible and terrifying things they reported my 12 year old son would say or do were taken from their experience with I loved the first two parts about boys from 2-4 and 5-8. You could tell the authors had boys in these age ranges. When they started addressing bx and issues in older kids, it stopped being personal and quickly became "studies show..." and "the majority of..." and even "the movie _____ shows the struggle of a boy going through..." YIKES! I had to keep reminding myself that all the horrible and terrifying things they reported my 12 year old son would say or do were taken from their experience with kids that come to their office for counseling. To me, that is not your typical sample pool. My husband quickly reassured me that I was right. I was also disappointed by the lack of Biblical basis, since I thought this was written from the Christian perspective. They mention guiding your son spiritually and morally, but in a very timid manner. More direction is taken from "Where the Wild Things Are", "Catcher in the Rye," and "A Christmas Story" than, say, the lives of Jesus, Samuel, Daniel, Timothy, David, etc.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dalaina May

    I have 4 boys, and this book has been a God-send. It's another to re-read as my kids get older. In Wild Things, counselors James and Thomas explore what exactly it is that makes boys who they are and how best to parent them. They break down boyhood into 5 stages and explore the distinguishing characteristics of each stage from many standpoints - a boy's neurology & physiology, a boy's emotions, cognitive development, and spiritual life (yes, this book is written by Christian authors from a Chris I have 4 boys, and this book has been a God-send. It's another to re-read as my kids get older. In Wild Things, counselors James and Thomas explore what exactly it is that makes boys who they are and how best to parent them. They break down boyhood into 5 stages and explore the distinguishing characteristics of each stage from many standpoints - a boy's neurology & physiology, a boy's emotions, cognitive development, and spiritual life (yes, this book is written by Christian authors from a Christian perspective). As parents of boys themselves, the authors sprinkled hilarious stories from their own families and practices to illustrate their points and to remind other parents that their "wild things" are, in fact, normal. Above all, the book is intensely practical and discusses everything from rites of passage to discipline to ADD to masturbation. As a mom of three boys, I cannot recommend this book enough

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matt Willden

    Where has this book been all my parenting life? Fantastic insights into boyhood and what it means to love and treasure boys' uniqueness in a world that has ceased having patience with them. It demonstrates how so much of the environment we require boys to succeed in (particularly academic) can unwittingly predispose them to fail. Indeed it illustrates in countless ways how (spoiler alert!) boys differ from girls, and should not be forced into the girl mold. Many times in reading I found myself w Where has this book been all my parenting life? Fantastic insights into boyhood and what it means to love and treasure boys' uniqueness in a world that has ceased having patience with them. It demonstrates how so much of the environment we require boys to succeed in (particularly academic) can unwittingly predispose them to fail. Indeed it illustrates in countless ways how (spoiler alert!) boys differ from girls, and should not be forced into the girl mold. Many times in reading I found myself with these two reactions: 1) How do they know my sons so well!? And 2) [sigh] my sons aren't in need of dozens of medications--they're just boys! I find myself much more patient and understanding with behaviors that used to do nothing but raise my blood pressure. I apply their ideas constantly. Highly recommended!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Skimmed several books on raising boys in today's world and this was the one I settled on reading through. Authors are Christians (or so it was advertised on Amazon) and children psychologists and, most importantly fathers to boys, but their sensitive, practical, easy-to-understand science, not heavy-handed with the religiosity and not unrealistically Christian fundamentalist (like Dobson's Raising Boys which I did NOT care for) approach was ideal. Will be the book I recommend to other moms searc Skimmed several books on raising boys in today's world and this was the one I settled on reading through. Authors are Christians (or so it was advertised on Amazon) and children psychologists and, most importantly fathers to boys, but their sensitive, practical, easy-to-understand science, not heavy-handed with the religiosity and not unrealistically Christian fundamentalist (like Dobson's Raising Boys which I did NOT care for) approach was ideal. Will be the book I recommend to other moms searching for something in this genre.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kw

    I only wish this could be "required reading" for all parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, friends - - - well, you get the picture. It is excellent. My other wish is that we'd had it four decades or so ago! ;-)) I only wish this could be "required reading" for all parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, friends - - - well, you get the picture. It is excellent. My other wish is that we'd had it four decades or so ago! ;-))

  20. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Insightful analysis of boys with a strong Christian lens 3.5 stars. I am a mom of four boys. I grew up with three sisters and no brothers, so parenting only boys has been a steep learning curve for me. My oldest is nine years old and has been demonstrating significant behavioral changes, so I felt I would benefit from reading this book. I really enjoyed most of this book; the discussion of boyhood’s different stages rang true to me. I felt the authors’ advice was mostly helpful and sound. They d Insightful analysis of boys with a strong Christian lens 3.5 stars. I am a mom of four boys. I grew up with three sisters and no brothers, so parenting only boys has been a steep learning curve for me. My oldest is nine years old and has been demonstrating significant behavioral changes, so I felt I would benefit from reading this book. I really enjoyed most of this book; the discussion of boyhood’s different stages rang true to me. I felt the authors’ advice was mostly helpful and sound. They definitely come at the subject from a Christian perspective and frequently mention God. If that bothers you, you will not enjoy this book. I think some people may feel this book relies too heavily on gender stereotypes. I think for me, this is a very helpful baseline on what’s different about boys biologically and temperamentally. It does cite scientific and psychological research. Not every one of my boys matches up exactly with the authors’ description, nor would I expect them to. I did not agree with some of the authors’ brief descriptions at the end of the book (particularly homosexuality- I felt they gave too much credit to the idea that it may be a choice and not enough emphasis on its biological nature). I would recommend this book to parents / mentors of boys who identify as Christian.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Seale

    2.75 / 5 stars I had high hopes for this book, but in the end it fell short for me. The author develops sections of the book on the stages of a boy's life into the stages of his physical and emotional development. Breaking down the stages of life into sections was helpful, but then some of the approaches to these stages felt much a like a John Eldredge book on raising boys (in fact, many of the suggested readings within the book suggest some of Eldredge's books). It should be noted that I am not 2.75 / 5 stars I had high hopes for this book, but in the end it fell short for me. The author develops sections of the book on the stages of a boy's life into the stages of his physical and emotional development. Breaking down the stages of life into sections was helpful, but then some of the approaches to these stages felt much a like a John Eldredge book on raising boys (in fact, many of the suggested readings within the book suggest some of Eldredge's books). It should be noted that I am not a huge fan of Eldredge, thus this was not a positive development - but more about this book. The personal stories were helpful as were some of the strategies and ideas, but for a book writing from a Christian perspective, there was little actual guidance from Scripture. Also, the support for some of their claims was dubious, at best. One particular example, in talking about the principle of drawing out the heart of a child, made me groan, "In Hebrew, the word that means 'to draw' is hiphil. Curiously, the same word can also be translated 'to be saved,' which highlights an interesting truth: The work of drawing a boy out is the work of saving him" (pg 207). First of all, what does the Hebrew word here have to do with anything? Is it because the Old Testament was written in Hebrew that this is relevant? Second, while "drawing something out" can contextually be understood as "saving" something/someone, why would this principle be applied to drawing out the heart of a boy? While drawing out the heart of a child may be important, this Hebrew word (יצא by the way) is an erroneous way to make the point. Such examples of uncritical reasoning as this largely turned me away from some of their arguments.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Humble

    I really enjoyed this book and felt like it had helpful information about the development of boys. I liked that the first 2/3rds of the book was a quick read, not too many example stories, quick bites of info. The last 1/3rd got kind of long and tedious for me- although the info was good! I’d highly recommend this book for anyone who has boys- especially if you had a girl first- this could help with getting use to all the changes 🤣

  23. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    This is my second time reading this book up to the ages of my now three boys. It is interesting to see them all at different stages. There is so much information that it's more of a resource book to be examined rather than read all the way through. This is my second time reading this book up to the ages of my now three boys. It is interesting to see them all at different stages. There is so much information that it's more of a resource book to be examined rather than read all the way through.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sydneyann Chase

    Anyone raising boys should read this! I found so much helpful information in this book. I especially liked the practical applications/lists/tips the authors' supplied at the end of each chapter. Anyone raising boys should read this! I found so much helpful information in this book. I especially liked the practical applications/lists/tips the authors' supplied at the end of each chapter.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Turnbull

    This is in my top three of parenting boys books. Broken up by stages so you can flip to age group you currently parent.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cait Farrow

    This is pretty heavily written with the cisgender straight male in mind; however, I loved the data that backs up the parenting advice, and that it includes things to put into practice immediately. It also covers sexuality and encourages parents to love and support and encourage their child regardless of their personal feelings about homosexuality, which is saying a lot for most Christian-based parenting books.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emily Short

    As a mom of two boys, I feel like this book was so insightful and helpful to me. I know I’ll be referring to it often as my boys grow. I definitely recommend it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Breanne Hodges Breanne Howard

    I have two young boys and this book was very eye openings and freeing for me! I will be referencing this book for years to come.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Daniel and Rebekah Eikum

    Did not finish but appreciated first half- lots of affirmation that God created boys with strong urges for exploration and active learning.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Megan Bevers

    I about highlighted this whole book. A fantastic read and a book I will definitely be gifting to boy moms.

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