Offers parents tips and tools to help boys move beyond persistent gender stereotypes to full humanity.
We want to raise well-rounded human beings—we're just not quite sure how best to do it. Confounded by rapidly changing gender norms, today’s parents are attempting to raise kind, compassionate, emotionally sensitive boys in a society that simultaneously rewards stereotypical masculinity and is increasingly hostile to boys. Surrounded by messages of female empowerment, young boys ask their parents, “Why don’t they ever say that boys can be anything they want to be?” Teaching boys to respect others will help them in the future—but can make life awfully difficult in the here and now. Making the world a safer place for women and girls is not the only reason to rethink our boy raising practices. Current culture harms our boys too—and they need (and deserve) as much support as girls and women.
Building Boys is written by an in-the-trenches #boymom who intimately understands male development and the challenges currently facing boys and their families. Fink offers ten rules that parents can use to guide their parenting choices throughout their sons’ lives—guidelines that are as relevant to parenting toddlers as they are to parenting teenagers. These rules range from emphasizing emotional intelligence to letting your son struggle and ultimately accepting him as he is. Fink explains both the science and research behind each rule as well as stories and anecdotes from families, including her own. Parents are taught how to apply the rule to a variety of common parenting challenges. And because these rules are broad, they are as applicable to boys with ADHD, autism and learning challenges are they are to neurotypical boys.
Jennifer L.W. Fink has been parenting boys for two decades. An award-winning freelance journalist, she is the author of the book The First-Time Mom’s Guide to Raising Boys: Practical Advice for Your Son’s Formative Years. She’s also the founder and creator of BuildingBoys.net, a website and global community for parents of boys, and co-host of the podcast ON BOYS: Real Talk about Parenting, Teaching, & Reaching Tomorrow’s Men. She lives in Wisconsin with her family. https://buildingboys.net/
Chapter 1 Learn the Terrain
Chapter 2 Emphasize Emotional Intelligence
Chapter 3 Discuss and Demonstrate Healthy Relationships
Chapter 4 Let Him Struggle
Chapter 5 Help Him Find and Develop His Talents
Chapter 6 Give Him Time
Chapter 7 Challenge Him with Chores and Caregiving
Chapter 8 Keep Him Close
Chapter 9 Connect Him to the Real World
Chapter 10 Accept Him as He Is
About the Author
Fink (The First-Time Mom’s Guide to Raising Boys) believes the world often paints masculinity in a negative light. As a result, she wants society to help boys navigate evolving gender norms. Readers are guided through how to emphasize boys’ emotional intelligence, help them find unique talents, challenge them with chores, teach them how to be compassionate and empathetic, and more. The book examines why more boys are diagnosed with both autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. In addition, there’s mention of many stereotypes, including that girls are weaker in general and that boys are tougher emotionally. The book includes data and statistics that indicate that those who are taught to hide their feelings end up with a variety of struggles during the teen years and beyond. The book also addresses the specific challenges faced by teens who just want to be accepted, regardless of gender identity and expression. A title filled with ideas that are sure to be helpful for parents of sons.
Jennifer Fink is a tireless advocate for boys, with four boys of her own. In Building Boys she distills the research into 10 simple rules any parent can use to guide their sons' development. Not only do her guidelines and analysis fit the newest research on boys, they also fit common sense--which is something that parents today find immensely important. I highly recommend this book to anyone raising boys.
It is routine to identify and discuss how gender norms can be harmful for girls. But we don't often elaborate on how gender norms can be harmful for boys, too. And we definitely don't often discuss how to counter those harmful gender norms to raise wonderful, decent, loving boys. This is why Building Boys is such an important book, where Fink outlines such important topics as alternative perceptions of masculinity and emotional intelligence - and here's the best part - with real, applicable ideas on how to integrate these into your son's life. Parents of boys - you won't be disappointed!
Building Boys starts with a critical acknowledgement - that boys confront a world of stereotypes - and offers a roadmap for parents wanting to help them hold onto their true selves. At a time when masculinity itself is weaponized, it is refreshing to hear from a savvy mother who simply wants all our sons to flourish.
With humor and vulnerability, Jen shares real life in-the-trenches boy-mom stories while highlighting the latest research and how it applies to your family. Most importantly, she shares the practical advice you need to understand, love, and raise your son…to be a great guy!
I love this book! As a woman who grew up in a house full of females, I so often was (and still am!) unsure of how to raise a son. As Fink points out, us moms know we want to raise “good guys,” but we don’t really know how. Building Boys provides so many answers. Evidence-based, entertaining, and easy to read, this book will help parents, educators, coaches, and others invested in the well-being of boys to not only raise good guys, but guys who are emotionally intelligent, capable of forming salubrious relationships, and mentally and physically healthy.
Jennifer does a brilliant--and more importantly, empathetic--job of integrating her own experience raising sons with data from the world's best scholars. A must read for every parent and educator.
In Building Boys, Jennifer Fink combines research, insight and her own considerable experience in raising four sons to create a clear, helpful guide on how to raise boys to become good men. This book is more important than ever as society continues to challenge our sons with new and constantly evolving expectations.
Jennifer Fink’s book is an exceptionally valuable contribution to the growing field of literature about raising boys to become the excellent friends, partners, brothers, sons, husbands and fathers they can be when their upbringing isn’t compromised by misleading cultural narratives about gender that set the behavioral and emotional bar lower for males than necessary. Parents will appreciate the practical guidance applicable to the different developmental periods of boys’ lives, as well as to the shaping of enduring and emotionally rich relationships between parents and their sons.
With Building Boys, Jennifer shares her unique perspective as both a longtime journalist on boys’ development, and a mom of four nearly-grown boys who has seen it all firsthand. The result is an extensive compilation of research grounded unwaveringly in the stories of boys and their parents—a touchstone for building boys’ best selves.
In Building Boys, Jennifer L.W. Fink provides wisdom, science and reassurance for parents as we navigate the rewarding (and at times messy) process of raising our sons. Fink, who has four boys, takes on the stereotypes, distills the research and offers practical guidance. Reading this book is like having an experienced friend on speed-dial!
As a school counselor, therapist and mother of two sons, I kept saying “YES” out loud as I read Building Boys. Author Jennifer L.W. Fink has devoted her entire adult life to raising, writing, and podcasting about boys, and it shows. Her trademark humor and vulnerability come through on every page of this entertaining, practical, exhaustively researched guide to turning out confident, kind boys in a world that often misunderstands them. Whether you're a caregiver, therapist, or educator who works with boys, this book is an absolutely indispensable guide.
This is not a culture wars book about which gender has it hardest, or whether there are genders at all. It's a practical, hopeful, bracing guidebook to raising boys who are kind and strong and good men in the making. Amen to that!
In an era where boys are seen as both dangerous and endangered, this book offers empathetic and thoughtful strategies for raising boys with joy, connection and empathy.
In a world that misunderstands the needs of boys and young men, Jennifer L.W. Fink brilliantly advocates and champions for them in her new book, Building Boys. Fink uses her two decades as a boy-mom, blended with the newest research, to identify the problems facing boys and shares simple, common-sense solutions to help boys flourish. Included are multiple relatable stories from other parents who are trying to raise compassionate and emotionally intelligent boys in a world that increasingly squashes their spirit and opportunity to thrive. For those who think there is no instruction manual for raising boys, think again. This book is destined to become the go-to instruction manual for raising decent and emotionally intelligent boys.
3/15/23,The Washington Post: The book is featured in this article about letting kids be foul-mouthed and roast each other as part of growing up. Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2023/03/09/boys-insults-empathy-bonding/
3/30/2023, Meghan Leahy Instagram Live: Washington Post parenting columnist Meghan Leahy interviews Jennifer Fink about the book and calls it “mandatory reading.”
4/6/23, WTMJ 4 TV (Milwaukee, WI): Jennifer Fink appeared on The Morning Blend show to discuss the book.
4/6/23, Parenting Teenage Boys: A Q&A with Jennifer Fink is featured along with a review of the book.
4/3/23, Psychology Today: Jennifer Fink is interviewed for an article about adolescent boys and body image concerns.
4/24/23, CNN Online: An article about helping kids overcome friendship hurdles features the author and the book.
5/18/23, Wisconsin Public Radio: Jennifer Fink joined the Larry Meiller Show to discuss the book.
5/31/23, The Washington Post: Columnist Meghan Leahy answers parenting questions and recommends the book, saying “As for reading, I like Building Boys by Jennifer Fink and Decoding Boys by Cara Natterson. Both books will break down development and help you understand how young men process their emotional needs in our culture.”Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2023/05/31/unfriendly-tween-teen-boy-parents/
5/30/23, Boise State Public Radio: Jennifer Fink joinedGemma Gaudette on the Idaho Matters Show to discuss the book.
5/22/23, Ann Douglas blog: Popular parenting author Ann Douglas ran a Q&A with Jennifer Fink about the book.
6/1/23, Mother of Reinvention podcast: Jennifer Fink talks about building boys and raising men with Meagan Francis
6/1/23, Off the Charts, blog of the American Journal of Nursing: Jennifer Fink wrote a piece about the mental health struggles of teen boys.
11/7/23, Library Journal: This is featured in a list of the 20 Bestselling Parenting Books.