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Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys Paperback – Apr 4 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (April 4 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345434854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345434852
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.7 x 20.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A genuine enthusiasm for their subject shines through the pages of this enormously compelling book, as the authors share insights on boys' emotional development from birth through the college yearsAan increasingly high-profile topic in the wake of disheartening statistics about adolescent suicide and violence. In much the same way that Reviving Ophelia offered new models for raising girls, therapists Kindlon and Thompson argue that boys desperately need a new standard of "emotional literacy," showing how our culture's dominant masculine stereotypes shortchange boys and lead them toward emotional isolation. The authors turn a spotlight on the inner lives of boys, debunking preconceptions about gender, explaining the importance of nurturing communication skills and empathy in boys as well as girls, and steering boys toward a manhood of emotional attachment, not stoicism and solitude. They also challenge the ways in which, in their view, traditional school environments put boys at a disadvantage (why not hold off on reading instruction a year or two? they ask; why not five short recesses a day?). Such issues as drinking, drugs and the "culture of cruelty" among adolescents, in which "anything a boy says or does can and will be used against him," also meet with sensitive treatment. Separate chapters examine the relationships between fathers and sons and mothers and sons, and show how these can be protected and redefined. This thoughtful book is recommended for parents, teachers or anyone with a vested interest in raising happy, healthy, emotionally whole young men. Agent, Gail Ross of Lichtman, Trister, Singer and Ross.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Raising Cain is a powerful and enlightening book co-authored by two prominent child psychologists who set out to comprehensively explore the way boys suffer and what causes them emotional pain. Not surprisingly, the book is written for parents of boys as well as teachers, but it also has overwhelming relevance for anyone who desires to understand why many boys act the way they do-and what we can do to help them with their emotional struggles.
The salient issue interlaced throughout the book is the need for boys to obtain an emotional vocabulary and emotional literacy that affords them the capability to read and understand their own emotions, as well as others. Thompson and Kindlon repeatedly point out that not only are many boys never encouraged to be emotional, but also, they are taught to suppress such feelings by a culture that expects them to be "manly". It is difficult to argue with that observation. The "emotional miseducation" of boys begins early, at home and in the classroom, and there is a need to provide the proper "emotional steering" for boys so that they understand that expressing emotion is indeed normal and okay to do.
Among the various solutions Thompson and Kindlon suggest to help boys develop strong, flexible, emotional lives is to give them permission to have an internal life, full of unbridled emotion. We need to help them to develop and to obtain an emotional vocabulary to better understand themselves and to communicate more effectively with others. Ultimately, we need to let boys know that there are numerous ways to "be a man".
Raising Cain is an extremely rich work, full of poignant case studies and examples of boys today that evoked memories-some sad and regretful-of my own adolescence.
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Format: Paperback
This book is valuable for everyone who has ever been or known a boy or man (okay, everyone). It addresses the needs and experiences of boys and men and how they relate to emotional literacy. It includes many real-life examples from the authors' practices. It discusses how societal stereotypes (and their enforcement in various social settings) hinder boys in their ability to be happy, humane members of society and their capacity for intimacy in all its forms. It also explains how this information relates to various topics, such as friends, mothers and sons, fathers and sons, drug and alcohol use, depression, violence, sexuality and relationships.
I bought it a few months after my son was born and I have read it 3 times now. I plan on reading it every year, just to remind myself of the important principles outlined in it. Not only is it helping me understand and better respond to my son, it has helped me understand my husband, father, brothers, in-laws, etc. I find I can accept and respect male differences and needs better now that I understand what it means to grow up male in American society.
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While I think men and the parents of daughters would also benefit from reading this book, I want to emphasize that as a woman and the parent of sons this book has become an invaluable resource for me. The authors made many important points about the male experience that were new to me, or vague, and also gave practical ideas and examples for achieving goals or avoiding conceptual traps.
Kindlon and Thompson begin with the story of Cain, which is immediately disorienting. In a good way. I've always been puzzled about why God was so mad? I believe the fruit Cain offered was beautiful, so why was it of lesser value? I never thought God was fair to Cain, though admittedly Cain did react badly. So immediately you're in the state of mind to question perceptions about males as well as male perception (and reaction).
I didn't find any intellectual oneupsmanship over which gender's got it worse. Instead, I saw: Boys are different, and here's what some of the differences are and why that's so, and how you can deal with that. I feel much better prepared for the many talks I hope I'll have with my children over the years. Important talks that I want to be transformative rather than reactionary or alienating.
This isn't just a book for the parents of adolescent boys, either. The authors make the point many times that giving boys an emotional education is imperative -- teaching them to recognize various emotions as physical cues and with emotional consequences. More importantly, the authors then cite cases from their clinical backgrounds and make down-to-earth suggestions about what to do to catch these problems and help our children.
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As a mom who had no brothers to help me understand my son, the thing I love about this book is that it helps me understand what's so great about boys (and men).
The authors have such a positive (and thoroughly realistic) view of the energy, vulnerability, risk-taking, and even mischief, of boys. They show how vast the impact of parents, teachers, and peers can be on boys who are wrestling with the contradictions of adolescence: Boys must not be "sissy," but they still need love and support. Boys must not be "obnoxious" in the classroom, but they still need to stretch their limbs more than school recesses allow. Boys must not be "disrespectful" to authority, but they are driven to achieve autonomy.
There are quite a few examples of teen boys who are getting in trouble of various kinds, and the authors offer poignant insight from the boys themselves about the feelings that drive the trouble-making. But the book also speaks to how we raise infant, preschool, and pre-teen boys.
The authors also point out that many boys often receive very little emotional education from their parents or other authorities. One anecdote they tell is of a scary situation in which Michael, one of the authors, was tempted to follow the cultural "script" and say to his son, "You weren't scared, were you, buddy?" Instead he chose to say, "That was a little scary, wasn't it?" To which his son replied, "No, Dad, that was very scary." Yes, boys have feelings - and that does not make them wimps. After all, courage is action in the face of fear!
In the companion chapters on the roles of fathers and mothers, this book gently explores what parenting can achieve at its best. These chapters are exceptionally approachable, and they offer specific suggestions for parents who want to better relate to their boys.
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