Recently, Brianna and Ariel reviewed Raising Men by Eric Davis and Dina Santorelli. Being women and mothers of daughters, not sons, they wanted a little backup for this apparently testosterone-fueled book. Read on to find out what their Marine husbands made of a parenting book written by a former SEAL.
Here at Busy Nest News, we try to evaluate a variety of parenting books for our readers. Ariel and I take turns selecting the book that we’ll both read, and then we discuss it as our own, little, two-person book club. Our latest book, Raising Men by Eric Davis, points out that there can be no growth without getting outside of the comfort zone at least a little bit. Reading this book, that’s exactly where we initially found ourselves- about a yard outside of our comfort zone.
Ariel and I aren’t men, we aren’t fathers, we were never boys, and we aren’t even raising sons at this time. It seemed like this book was just not meant for us, and you know what? It isn’t, and that’s o.k.. Just because you aren’t a book’s intended audience, doesn’t mean it won’t hold any value for you at all. Raising Men is a parenting book, and we read parenting books.
Where does this situation leave us? We, two women without sons or brothers, want to evaluate a parenting book specifically targeted at fathers of boys. We started by reading the book, to see just how specific its advice is to men and boys. Surprisingly, much of the advice was quite general to parenting. For the rest of the book’s contents, we really wanted to get a man’s perspective. So we turned to our husbands, asking them to read Raising Men, too.
So what did the guys think? Well, to be blunt, they did not like the book. This is not to say that they did not think Raising Men held any value to anyone. It just wasn’t their cup of tea. Honestly, Ariel’s husband bailed on it pretty early. My husband (who wanted to quit around the same part of the book- chapter two) hung in there for the whole thing, but only because he wanted to be able to say he read it.
My husband’s main critique of Raising Men was the same as mine; is it a SEAL’s memoir, or a parenting book? It feels like you’re reading two books at once by reading a chapter from one, and then switching to the other for the next chapter. There are several high-profile examples of books written by SEALs after they retire, all about their training and missions, so if Davis’s book had been one of those, it would have been in good company. Likewise, other military leaders (or civilians who study the military) have written books about leadership, self-improvement or efficiency based on their knowledge of what does or doesn’t work within the military. So if Davis had written a book purely about parenting using principles he learned in the military, that wouldn’t have been so out of place, either. By trying to write both books in one, he did a disservice to his message, as was illustrated by our husbands bailing on the book (or wanting to) around chapter two. The one who made it through agreed with us that most of the actual parenting tips apply as much to daughters as to sons. In fact, he pointed out that Davis used his daughters as examples as much or more than his son. Given the title, he would have liked to have seen more contemplation of manhood, fatherhood, and how to address challenges unique to boys.
If you read our original review, you know that we (Brianna and Ariel) gave Raising Men four eggs. So what were the redeeming qualities in this book, according to the husbands? For one thing, the description of military training methods is quite accurate. The husband that finished the book agreed with Davis’s points about staying active, challenging kids in all spheres, and giving them responsibilities and consequences that they can depend on.
So who is this book for? It’s for men who want to be good fathers, but find typical parenting books boring, daunting, or unapproachable. It doesn’t feel like a typical self-help book, so if he rolls his eyes at the mention of a “parenting book,” he might still be open to Raising Men. If the father in your life is a type A, go-getter who loves stories of men achieving great things (such as all the other SEAL memoirs we mentioned above), he will get a lot out of Raising Men.
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Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
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