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Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World Hardcover – Sep 10 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (Sept. 10 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307986659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307986658
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #57,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Rosalind Wiseman, who so insightfully explained the world of girls in Queen Bees and Wannabes, has done it again. This book is a powerful exploration of the inner life of boys, which is far more complex than many parents and educators may realize.  Wiseman reveals the unwritten rules boys must both abide by and try to overcome, and she helps parents understand boys’ reactions, as well as their own.  This is an essential guide – not just for parents but anyone who wants to better understand their own childhood and its impact.”
--Anderson Cooper
“This book is a gem. Rosalind Wiseman offers readers deep, nuanced, up-to-the-minute insight into today's boy. She explains how and why boys, in so many areas, make it easy for parents and educators to miss out on their suffering and their strength. Most important, she shows how to reach out and lift boys up without getting on their nerves.”
--Wendy Mogel, PhD, author of the New York Times bestseller The Blessing of a Skinned Knee
"Rosalind Wiseman, the well-known ‘girl expert,’ has a real feel for the inner life of boys, and for the way they interact with their parents. Her new book, Masterminds and Wingmen, contains some of the best advice for communicating with boys that I’ve ever read: wise, clear and tough. The brilliant chapter on why boys lies to their parents is alone worth the price of the book.”
--Michael Thompson, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys

 “Trying to communicate with boys – teenage boys especially -- can sometimes feel like cracking the world’s most complicated secret code. What makes Masterminds and Wingmen so remarkable is how thoroughly it decrypts boy-world language.  It allows us to really connect with boys.  If you want to understand what’s in your son’s head, read this book!
 --Michael Gurian, New York Times bestselling author of The Wonder of Boys
“Rosalind Wiseman is perhaps America's foremost guide through the complex social hierarchies and cruel logics that govern adolescents' lives.  And Masterminds and Wingmen maps the foreign territory of boys’ social and interior emotional lives as deftly and compassionately as Wiseman’s earlier book on girls.  With clear analysis and down-to-earth practical advice, this book will guide many many conversations between parents and their sons.”
 --Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men
"Rosalind Wiseman brings a distinctive perspective and voice to whatever issue she takes up. She did it in Queen Bees and Wannabes. Now she's done it again, revealing the inner workings of 'Boy World.' I found the book insightful and useful, as both a father to sons and as a professional working with violent youth who must deal with the most serious life issues facing other people's sons."
--James Garbarino, PhD, author of Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them
“Don't even try parenting, teaching or coaching a boy without reading Wiseman's book -- a field manual that you’ll absolutely need if you wish to enter the strange and wondrous world of guys.”
--Richard Whitmire, author of Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind
“The world bombards boys with confusing and destructive messages – the net result is the creation of characters instead of young men with character.  Masterminds and Wingmen will help parents, teachers, and coaches understand young boys and make a difference in their lives.  An intriguing read.”
--Dr. Kevin Leman, author of Have a New Kid by Friday

About the Author

ROSALIND WISEMAN is an internationally recognized expert on children, parenting, bullying, social justice, and ethical leadership, and the New York Times bestselling author of Queen Bees and Wannabes and Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book touches on the hot topics, taboo topics and the dialogue that parents, teachers, friends can use to re-direct kids onto the path of being successful, creating healthy boundaries, growing healthy self-esteem, celebrating individuality and most importantly making decisions when the pressure is almost too much. This is an EXCELLENT read for any teacher or parent.
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By mom123 on Nov. 14 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I've picked up other books on boys before, and put them down, overwhelmed with pedantic prose. This book is all meat. It is very readable, and is filled with gems to help you a.) understand what your boys are thinking and going through b.) let you speak to them in a way that reaches them instead of alienates them c.) helps you guide them into becoming the type of man you are proud to call your son, and d.) has you examine your role in shaping them and gives tips on how to become the type of parent they need. Although I feel like a pretty "in touch" mom, and have always been very concerned about the role I play in imparting good values and discipline, I still learned a lot from this book. I cannot stress enough how thoughtful and USEFUL this book is. PLEASE get this and read this, both for yourself and your sons, because it is going to make a difference in your connection to them, and in the type of man they become! I am now off to buy whatever else Rosalind Wiseman has ever written. She is that good.
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By janice elms on Oct. 15 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was not as thrilled by this book as expected. It is a little bit wishy-washy and not direct suggestions.
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By Momof2gr8kdz on July 24 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very informative book. Delivered very quickly.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 189 reviews
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
One of the most helpful books I've read Aug. 31 2013
By Ohio Mom - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
If you have sons, work with boys, or have any connection with boys in the 5th Grade and up...this book is a MUST read. Oh, and the great thing about it is you don't have to read the whole thing. Got a problem with a boy about:

Body Image
Communication (guess what - that shrug and clipped "fine" can actually mean something)
Helping boys handle anger
Social Networking
Video Games
Bullying/Teasing (not just about the victim - also what to do if you see it or are part of it)
Taking responsibility for actions
And more issues interwoven in the above topics

This book has a section devoted to each topic. You can read each section as you find time (or as you encounter an issue and want some quick insight). There's also a section on the effects of different parenting types.

This book is written with the input of over 160 boys. It's not an instruction manual on how to raise boys. Rather, it gives you a glimpse on how boys think, what their perceptions are, what they are feeling and the problems they face in today's world.

The author offers advice on how to deal with these issues given the input from the boys. She also includes "LANDMINES" or what not to do because it will backfire. Along with the landmines, she acknowledges you will probably find yourself in a landmine situation, then come to the book looking for advice. Don't worry, parenting usually offers you the ability to experience a situation more than once (smile), so you can refer to the book and have a better idea of how to handle yourself the next time.

Here's an example of some of the insight provided. It's from the chapter on video games following an explanation from a boy on how video games helped to save his life.

"I know is seems impossible to believe that a violent video game based on society's total destruction would make a guy feel more connected to other people and better about himself. If you look at the game he's referring to, you may really have a hard time believing it. But what we think doesn't matter. If boys are telling us that their real lives are so hard and they feel so worthless that escaping into a virtual world makes them feel better about themselves, that's their truth and it needs to be respected."

After reading this particular chapter, I came away with a better understanding of what my son and his friends may like about their online lives. I also can relax a bit because I see that my son still loves to go hang out with friends and pursue other interests. I also understand (at least from a boy's perspective) why the guys will cut each other down and act differently online than they do face to face. I feel better prepared to guide my son when this becomes an issue.

The advice in Masterminds & Wingmen will be invaluable to me as I navigate the teenage years.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A Look Inside Boy's Heads Sept. 3 2013
By Becky Rose - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
As a mom of two boys, one who is entering jr. high, I was looking for something to help me navigate as he grows into a man. I read this book cover to cover, but you can pick specific chapters and focus on what you need to at the time. The chapters are listed in boy terms, so sometimes they're hard to decipher - such as Six-packing, no man's land, outward bound, and a section on things like Laxbros (boys who play Lacrosse) so you don't know what the chapters are about until you're reading them.

I learned a ton from this book. And being open minded, a lot of what I was doing wrong. Rosalind and her crew of boys reveal the do's and don't of boy world and how us as parents can help guide, or be shut out of their lives. She breaks it down for you listing Landmines - things parents say and do that should be avoided (or perhaps reworded). She asks parents to "Check Their Baggage" making you think about your past experiences and how those are creeping into your current parenting style. And there are many quotes directly from BOYS themselves which are insightful and honest. It's eye opening. For example, I didn't know that boys lie so much or more importantly WHY!!?! I thought it was only my son, and now I have a new insight to the boy mind.

Wiseman dives deep into how our society has shaped where our boys are now and how society has shaped our parenting. There are many ah-ha moments throughout the book on how negative we as a collective have made it for our boys. From unrealistic, unfeeling superheroes, emasculating coaches, fathers who expect son's to obey, and the constant ridicule from each other. It was depressing for me to really soak in just how difficult boy world is. But she does has a lot of useful and applicable tools to help you parent and to help your son through the thick of it. You will learn the who is who in each pack of boys, how they enter the pack, and how they're shunned from the pack.

This is a timely book - including our modern technology, sexting - yes, your son may either take naked photos or receive them - gasp! The world we live in has definitely changed and Rosalind does not shy away from any of it. Video games are tackled as well. It's left to you on how you view each subject, she provides the information and suggestions and allows the parent to take it from there. You don't get preached out on any "right" way to do things, although there are tools and dialog provided if you chose to use them.

There is a chapter on special needs kids which hit home for me, as my son has Aspergers. This is important because these kids are growing by the masses and they are being mainstreamed into schools and boy world - and they are often huge targets for bullying because they are different. She approaches bullying from a fresh perspective, acknowledging how the word itself is now overused and what actions have been proven to be ineffective.

She does not touch upon religion, and I believe this book would compliment any teenage religious book you're looking to for guidance, as your son will be in a society and school that does not 100 percent live by your beliefs. Together, the two books should give you more perspective on how to keep your faith with your son while he's living in society as a whole.

I went back and forth between giving the book 4 or 5 stars because there are some topics where the author breezes past and I was left wanting more in-depth discussion. But I went with 5 after going back and looking at the many dog eared pages I plan to use as a springboard to discuss topics with my son, and his father. There are many!

I look forward to discussing with my mom friends who read the book (most parenting types in this book won't as they think they're perfect and don't need help parenting) but real parents who are always looking to grow and evolve and help their sons the best they can. Highly recommend for teachers, administrators, coaches, social workers, and parents.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Lots of Wisdom Here - Especially the Input from the Boys Themselves Aug. 29 2013
By ChristineMM - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I have two sons aged 16 and 13 and have been a very hands on parent having homeschooled them from birth, but dealing with teen boy behavior that started two years ago has been a trial and a challenge to say the least. I had searched for wisdom about parenting teens and boys but the pickings were slim and not too helpful or were already outdated and irrelevant (from pre-Internet and pre-mobile phone times).

Wiseman delivers a fairly thorough book that has helped me see things in a new light or reaffirmed what I already do, with quotes from boys underscoring and giving credibility to her opinions and advice. Wiseman included the input of boys throughout the writing process and I love that she used their quotes.

Wiseman covers a wide range of topics, everything from social circles in boys with labels for different types to different parenting profiles and the pitfalls of each to how to deal with breaking down the wall they put up yet giving them space to become independent young men. She discusses issues with anger, reasonable limits on video games, girls, homosexuality, and sports. The chapter on lying is brilliant and should be read by every parent.

I love the book and rate it 5 stars. I really appreciate this book and am recommending it to every parent of boys that I know.

My only criticism, which is not big enough to downgrade the book's star rating or to take away from my loving it is that she is light on empathy or sympathy for parents. She seems to have a heart for the boys more than for the parents. I know we are the adults but please give us some kudos for doing the right thing most of the time! Her discussion of gray areas is light (moral dilemmas) as is her advice on drug and alcohol use. When discussing really difficult topics she moves on so quickly sometimes that I was left wanting and needing more. Wiseman and I disagree on some things like when she says it's okay to punch a hole in the wall when angry, that the boy can learn to patch it up, yet she comes down on her kids more harshly with rules on video gaming than I think are reasonable, such as limiting weekend play time to 90 minutes a day. I have a hard time believing if her house was getting wrecked by teens throwing a tantrum that she'd just hand them the plaster and tell them to fix it, since she's a parent with a video game use contract!
53 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Bleak, Fatalistic Perspective on Parenting Boys Sept. 21 2013
By Kevin Joseph - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
As a father of two young boys (11 and 8), I was interested to see how Wiseman applied parenting theories she made famous in Girl World to the very different landscape of Boy World. While the book contains some good observations on what makes boys tick, I found the organization of the material to be distractingly loose and repetitive. The author also has a tendency to rely too heavily on stereotyping, as if grasping for the male equivalent to the "mean girls" label that put her on the map.

But the most disappointing aspect, for me, was the bleak, fatalistic outlook. Wiseman's basic thesis is that no matter how hard you try to be a thoughtful, engaged parent, your boys are eventually going to withdraw from you and behave in reprehensible ways. I enjoy every minute I get to spend with my boys and have to believe my efforts to establish a strong bond with them will survive through their adolescent years and into adulthood.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Valid points that parents of both genders can learn from when dealing with their male children Sept. 8 2013
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
As a male that still vividly remembers my years in K-12 and being picked on, sometimes fighting back and interacting with the other males my age, I found this description of how females can teach their teen sons to cope at times naïve and other times insightful. Academics and other serious writers seem destined to always create categories to describe the main players and Wiseman is no exception. It starts with the almost obligatory acronym; in this case it is "The Act-Like-A-Man Box" (ALMB).
Wiseman then splits males up into the categories:
*) The mastermind, the group member that decides what is cool, funny and all other key interpretations the group makes.
*) The associate, this is the lower-level group member that the mastermind respects the most and counts on for advice less filtered by the need to belong.
*) The bouncer, this boy is the enforcer within and the defender of the group.
*) The entertainer, the boy that makes the jokes, often at his own expense, that entertains the group.
*) The conscience, this is the boy that is always raising the concerns about getting caught or doing something wrong.
*) The punching bag, the boy that all group members pick on, mercilessly derided within the group yet often ferociously defended against outsiders.
*) The fly, this is the group wannabe that hovers on the edge of the group, clearly begging for the opportunity to join.
*) The champion, this is the boy with the strongest level of self-esteem, he will intervene in response to another being picked on and is respected by all others.
Of course, in many cases this categories are not exclusionary, for example the entertainer and the punching bag are frequently the same person, becoming funny in order to deflect/defuse the criticism.
One of the most significant differences between males and females is in how they verbally interact. I can remember boys insulting each other on the school bus and laughing about it while the girls seemed shocked at what they said to each other. Yet, despite the insults, all the boys clearly understood where the proper limits were. Much lighter insults from one girl to another would have led to tears being shed.
Wiseman does a good job in trying to penetrate this world and explain it, primarily to female parents. So much of what takes place between boys is seen as bullying by people that do not understand it, yet it is nothing more than boys solidifying their friendship. All boys have either seen or experienced situations where one boy will seem to be picking on another, yet when a third boy joins in he is warned off with threats made by the boy that appeared to be the bully. It is conceivable that the modern push against bullying in schools may be depriving boys of some critical social interaction, the insult based on friendship.
Wiseman also expresses an understanding of the role the modern electronic mediums play in the lives of boys. The great social lubricant/equalizer in the modern world is your performance in video games, the ones that you are good at as well as those that you will let others play when they don't own them. When the blame for boys going violent is so often simplistically passed on to video games, it was refreshing to read the contrary and more realistic position.
All of the landmines that boys must navigate in the modern world, from the ease of viewing soft and hard porn, to posting on the internet to setting limits on games and other videos are covered. While Wiseman sometimes demonstrates the difficulties of being the opposite gender from the one being discussed, in general she makes valid points that parents of both sexes can learn from.