Kat Kennedy's Reviews > Bringing Up Boys

Bringing Up Boys by James C. Dobson
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's review
Jun 04, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: books-that-deserve-painful-death, just-plain-bad, kat-s-book-reviews, kat-s-rants
Read from June 04 to 06, 2011

This book was loaned to me by a friend who had purchased it, but not read it. I only finished this book so that I could do a comparative review to Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different-And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men but after reading it, I realized that this book is far more comparable to I Am America than any serious or informative text on raising boys.

Despite the fact that Raising Boys is vague on details, out of date and amateurish in the more intimate areas of brain functioning and child development, it is still far more helpful, informative and useful than this book will ever be.

You can be forgiven for assuming, as I did, that Bringing Up Boys is a book concerned with providing information for parents in understanding their boys, a variety of tips and advice on their problem behaviors and an overall plan on how to smooth the journey.

Unfortunately, Dobson's only answer to all of the above is the same to any question asked in Sunday School (and here's a tip, it's ALWAYS a variation of the following three): Jesus, prayer, the Bible.

Okay, you expect a book by an evangelist to run in such a theme. However, I also expected a book by a person with a doctorate is psychiatry to provide informed, balanced, professional advice based on research, statistics, studies and personal experience.

No. Dobson unapologetically hates feminists, liberals and homosexuals and he makes absolutely no attempt at providing balanced information. This book is nothing more than fear-mongering propaganda. Though he uses many studies to try and validate his opinion, he out-right omits balanced data or studies that don't confirm his opinion. Some of the studies he uses are out-dated or invalidated by other studies. His statistics are used to validate his opinions in one area, then disregarded in another.

For example, at one point he claims that there's no evidence for a genetic inheritance of homosexuality because twin studies show that if one twin is homosexual, then the other is statistically "only" %50 likely to be homosexual as well. Yet, later in the book he claims that our genetics are a major influence on our life and uses another twin study to validate this by stating that if one twin gets divorced then then identical twin has a %45 chance of divorcing as well!


Now I'm not arguing about the nature vs nurture because the bulk of recent scientific studies show that we are largely products of our genetics - in that part, he's right but there's little else in this book that I can say that for.

Mostly, because this book's advice for raising boys can be summed up as:

2. Love them lots
3. Spend time with them
5. Homeschooling, yeah!

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This book was offensive to logic, reason and most of all, humanity. Dobson hates:

1. Homosexuals
2. Women's liberation
3. Liberals
4. Namby-pamby people who let their children play with gender-neutral toys and don't provide young boys with toy guns, don't smack and practice that hippy, attachment parenting philosophy.
5. The media

He is terrified of them all and this book, rather than being about Bringing Up Boys as the title suggests, is really about vilifying all of the above and scare-mongering his readers into hating and fearing them as much as he does.

Every chapter went something like this:

You need to spend time with your kids. I really FEEL for single mothers/homosexuals/poor people/women who don't fit my small and pathetic definition of what I think a woman should be. Unlike me, who is a disgustingly rich, upper middle class, white man, I understand that you don't have the benefits of choices about spending time with your children. Some of you have to work in order to survive. Gee, must be tough.

But it's still important so if you can't spend more time with them... eh, I really feel for you. Please enjoy my heart-touching tale of how I once met a single mother/homosexual/poor person/woman that didn't fit my small and pathetic definition of what I think a woman should be and changed their life in a positive way. I'm so awesome.


As a woman and a feminist, I want to be mostly offended at his narrow and pathetic views on what and who I should be. However, I'm far more offended on behalf of the homosexual community who he ALMOST outright incriminates of conspiring to rape your boys. Didn't you know? All homosexual men want is to have buttsecks with little boys. All lesbians want is to groom little girls into future lesbians and - perhaps worse, feminists. I especially love how he uses the example of the LBGT community in the UK pushing for the age of consent for homosexual boys to be lowered to 16 in order to try and prove his allegations about homosexuals. Yet he conveniently neglects to mention that this was in order to equalize the age of consent because the AOC for heterosexuals was already 16! At one point he even claims that the breakdown of marriage in the US is due to the rising acceptance of same-sex relationships.


Like I said, logic isn't his strong point!

Similarly, women's liberation is also at fault for all the ills of society and most of all, for troubled young lads. It's too exhausting to address his many inaccuracies and prejudices toward women and since this review is long enough already, I'll just leave you to assume the worst - you'll most likely be right. I wish, instead, that he'd look at his own research. He claims again and again that fathers are essential to the raising of strong, good young men. I absolutely agree. So maybe men are to blame for the current male crisis?

Just an idea?

Did it ever occur to Dobson though? Nope!
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Reading Progress

06/04/2011 page 58
22.0% "Oh the fail..." 8 comments
06/05/2011 page 113
42.0% "Dobson is about to explain the origins of homosexuality to me. I think I have a right to be afraid at this point." 1 comment
01/31/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by Limonessa (new)

Limonessa All homosexual men want is to have buttsecks with little boys.

I'd like to invite Mr. Dobson to read some of the major Italian papers in the last month so he can see how the phrase "homosexual men" in the above sentence can be substituted by the word PRIESTS.

Spider the Doof Warrior That guy drives me up a tree. Also he talked about his mother wapping him with a corset and his dad playing a kicking game with him when he was six.
This was rather warped... Plus just because your son tries on your shoes does not mean he will be GAY.
He might just like those shoes for some reason I can't figure out when he grows up, but, yeah. Dude's a pseudo-Freudian anyway. *walks off swearing*

message 3: by John (new)

John Egbert How I hate self-proclaimed Freuds. Freud worked because he was, well, Freud. Not everybody can be Freud, because being Freud only works when you ARE Freud!

Especially when your fake Freudness manages to offend three rather large groups of people. (Feminists, LGBT people, and the GCSG*)

(*General Common Sense Group)

One of the many reason why I ignore said person, all titles authored by him, and all books in said genre.

Spider the Doof Warrior Smart idea. You'll have more hair and less stomach aches as a result.

message 5: by John (new)

John Egbert Synesthesia wrote: "Smart idea. You'll have more hair and less stomach aches as a result."

These books can give you stomach pain?! Wow...that sounds scary...

Kat Kennedy Severus, Freud is by no means a God. Unfortunately you'll never convince psychoanalysts of that! Though his blatant dismissal of girls and women as inferior beings and his focus on young boys should say enough!

And as for this book giving you stomach pain? Yes. Maybe even ulcers. It's painful to read so much fear, hate and lies.

message 7: by John (new)

John Egbert Okay, Kat, now I'm scared. Ulcers would totally NOT be cool. If I ever get an ulcer if by a whim I decide to drag myself through this torturous nightmare (unlikely) I am so suing this guy for hospital expenses and emotional distress!

Personally, Freud just seemed really weird to me. Keep in mind, my top ten favorite people are probably also on the top 50 WOTW (weirdos of the world) list, but that's okay. If it wasn't for weirdos, society wouldn't be what it is today. Weirdos break the norm, and without people who break the norm humanity is nothing. So, I'm not dissing Freud or anything, but he was hardly a God, considering that I'm sure someone can trace back his concepts dating years before his time. But that's with any idea, I suppose.

message 8: by John (new)

John Egbert PS : Forgot to mention how much I enjoyed your "Being an Asshole is Part of My Manly Essence" pic. That was rich.

Spider the Doof Warrior I hate Freud,
I have IBS which no one wants to know about, so if I get too stressed out, STOMACH PAIN AND AGONY.

But, i seem to like annoying myself... I've got to avoid that sort of thing and read Sears. *sigh* Sears.
He understands that babies are babies and they are not trying to manipulate you. He understands that kindness is not unChristian. *sigh*

Kat Kennedy Thanks for the Rec, Synesthesia. I hadn't heard of Sears but I've just put his book on attachment parenting on hold from my library!

Spider the Doof Warrior YAY! SEARS IS SO NICE! He doesn't act like babies are evil demons plotting against you and he doesn't think they pee in your face because they are EVIL little tools of Satan that have to be taught to stop doing that.
He's so nice.

message 12: by Monica (new)

Monica Kat, I am so glad I read this review! I thought about reading this book and I'm pretty sure I would have popped a blood vessel in my head if I'd subjected myself to this crap.
I love that you have a bookshelf for books that deserve a painful death! That is excellent! Now I must go see what you have on that shelf :)

message 13: by Gwen (new)

Gwen Another great review, Kat. Please don't read any more books like that before you have your baby - we worry about your blood pressure!

Jonathan S. Harbour Read this book 14 years ago when our first child was a baby. I thought the writing was pretentious and arrogant and the points didn't add up. But Dobson doesn't need to write a balanced book since his target audience is in the millions and he gets plenty of sales from conservatives. To expect balanced from Dobson is unrealistic and unfair--yes, unfair--because this is his worldview talking. Granted, your review is intelligent and on the mark, imo, but it's unfair to take jabs at Dobson for writing to his market. A better question is: Why would you read Dobson in the first place? It's not like you expected any other reaction. Or was that that point, a very juicy review? (Take that with a grain of salt, just saying).

Kat Kennedy At the time of reading and writing this review I was:

A) still a Christian
B) only recently turned liberal/feminist after years if being a conservative - this why I still had friends who would purchase this book.
C) the mother of two boy-like children.

Three every good reasons to read a book entitled Bringing Up Boys by a Christian man I knew nothing about.

I also don't think it's unfair to criticize him for his cruelty towards LGBTIA people and youths in particular. After all, that is only consistent with his own internal logic - Christian logic - in which you are responsible for what you do and say regardless of the circumstances.

LGBTIA you have a far higher rate of suicide and self harm thanks to, in large part, the culture and attitudes Dobson is promoting. He should be held accountable for that damage.

Katherine Tirado-Ryen I'm right there with you, Kat! I am raising three boys and was given this as a gift. This book (specifically the chapter on how to raise a homophobe, or (worse) a deeply confused and possibly suicidal individual) both appalled and nauseated me. I couldn't stomach donating it and potentially ruining people's lives. Into the trash it went: a first for me as both a writer and avid book lover. You're certainly not alone in your response to this stinker!!

message 17: by Alan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alan Hale I didn't get any impression of "hate" or "fear" from the author. As a boy who grew up without a father, he makes some logic valid points.

You don't have to agree with him. But a lot of the opinion in your review is, honestly, speculation based on your own personal views.

Courtney Willis Thank you! Thank you! You articulated in your review every single thought I had when reading this awful book. I only made it through chapter six and just had to stop. All it did was make me angry.

message 20: by Mike (new)

Mike Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful review. This cretin shouldn't be influencing parents with his hate and bigotry.

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