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Growing great boys


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Suzy Turner has lived in Portugal for 22 years and works as a freelance writer. As well as putting pen to paper for our Beauty and Parenting pages, she also writes many articles on diverse subjects.

abAFOLLOWING A spate of bad press concerning teenage boys, what with the murder of family man Gary Newlove who was kicked to death by a group of youths, and the shooting of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Liverpool, many parents, particularly in the UK, are beside themselves with worry about how best to bring up their sons.

A new book by New Zealander parenting expert Ian Grant, entitled Growing Great Boys, aims to highlight what mums and dads can do to bring up well behaved sons.

“There’s always a huge debate on whether it’s nature or nurture that makes people the way they are and I’d suggest they both work together. But parents are the key”, says Grant, who also runs a parenting organisation.

Aiming to give parents practical strategies in order to best deal with their sons, the book is packed with ideas and separate chapters on dealing with pre-schoolers, the middle years and the ‘dreaded’ teenage years.

It also handles the crucial role that mothers and fathers play in the raising of their kids, as well as some of the more difficult issues that may arise in family life.

Grant says parents have to talk to, and encourage, their children, telling them that they do have what it takes to make it through difficult times and to make it through life in general.

Guilty parents

What is also very important to stress is that they have got to live dealing with the consequences of their actions.

“You’ve got to allow his emotions to come out but give him ways of dealing with them. A lot of boys haven’t been allowed to do that, so they get into problems because they’ve never been able to express how they feel. You’ve got dysfunctional kids brought up by dysfunctional parents, who were themselves brought up by dysfunctional parents and it just goes on and on”, says Grant.

Often, when teenage boys get together they become somewhat akin to pack animals and, according to Grant, their parents tend to act in a similar way.

Therefore, it’s always good to keep in touch with the parents of your son’s friends and to phone them to check if he says, “their parents let me do it”, for instance. “I’ve found this to be an amazing success. I thought boys would fight it, but they actually feel very secure with it”, says Grant.

Grant says fathers need to remember that “the greatest thing a man can do is love the mother of his boys. When a boy sees that going on at home, and he’s told, ‘I’m so glad you’re part of our team’, that helps him through those teenage years.”

In writing this book, Grant says it was partly driven by his own ‘dad hunger’ – the drive to be what his father was not.