In which Ariel and Brianna discuss Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons by Eric Davis and Dina Santorelli. As parents can we learn something from the way the military shapes our men and women? Read on to find out. This post contains affiliate links. By using them you help keep Busy Nest News up and running. Thank you for your continued support.
Raising Men By Eric Davis & Dina Santorelli
Should we be tempering our sons in the crucible of extreme parenting before they set out on their own path? Eric Davis thinks so. Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons by Eric Davis and Dina Santorelli takes the Navy SEALs philosophy and training techniques and applies them to raising “real men.”
Part memoir, part self-help book, part parenting book - Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons by Eric Davis and Dina Santorelli manages to be all three. That is not to say that I loved the whole book the entire time I was reading it. The first half of the book (the memoir) was a love story about a man and his SEALs. For me, someone who has a fair amount of knowledge about the Special Operations community, the first half dragged. I have already swooned over how badass these individuals are. I am a bit jaded. For most readers though, the first half will leave you with a sense of awe. No, it isn’t just like in the movies, but sometimes it comes pretty darn close.
The second half of the book had less storytelling or “fluff” as my husband calls it and more actionable content. It kept rolling. Sometimes delivering life advice. Sometimes discussing how to attack parenting in general. Sometimes dispensing best practices that make most of us cringe. You may not agree with all of his methods. Davis himself admits that he can be an extreme parent because he has had extreme training as a SEAL. Rappelling down sheer rock faces with your children is not for everyone. It certainly isn’t for me. But “extreme” is relative. What pushes the envelope for you may be a daily occurrence for others. My favorite part of the book was an overarching credo that kept surfacing and resurfacing. Get better every day - as people and as parents. I think that is something that all of us at Busy Nest News can get behind.
Davis does make some controversial statements. But the whole book is not as controversial as the book jacket or amazon blurb would have you believe. Everyone who reads this book will find something. I would give Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons by Eric Davis and Dina Santorelli four eggs. However, we had our husbands read it as well. The reception was less than enthusiastic. Is it enough to take away one egg? Not in this case. But it’s a tentative four eggs. I may not take all of Davis’s parenting advice to heart, but I learned something about myself and about my parenting style while reading. This is a book I would recommend and reread.
Ariel: So the question in everyone’s mind is “how applicable is Raising men to those of us with daughters?” As a mother of daughters, what do you think?
Brianna: I think most of the book (at least the parenting parts) are applicable to parenting generally. But every now and then he’d go on an insightful rant about masculinity, what it means to be a man, and how to raise boys to be emotionally healthy men. I really appreciated these parts. My hope is that hearing how important emotional self-regulation is from a manly man may finally convince dads, on the fence, how important these "soft" skills are.
Ariel: I completely agree. I felt that the title of the book was somewhat misleading. As the mother to one feisty female firecracker whose stubborn streak rivals that of her father (in their battle of wills I don’t even make it on the field), I found myself underlining a lot in the second half of the book. I could see how the book would be more applicable to the parents of sons. He did go on some convincing rants concerning where masculinity went wrong and how we can correct this through our parenting choices. But I would feel comfortable recommending this as a parenting book to mothers and fathers of either sex. What did you think of his overarching parenting philosophy?
Brianna: I was surprised by how much I agreed with him! Definitely, the specifics of how he went about challenging or disciplining his children made me cringe, but the general concepts were something I could get behind. The idea of letting kids fail, encouraging them to try new things, and challenging yourself to get the family out of their collective comfort zone to facilitate profound moments really resonated with me. The last part- doing things that are relatively extreme for your family (emphasis on relatively)- is the only thing that I had not already come across in our previous parenting reads. This is not to say that Davis is unoriginal, but that his philosophies on parenting are actually very much in line with the best minds in the field today.
Ariel: Which is surprising since this book was marketed as an extreme - from the cover to the blurb on the back. I opened it up expecting something totally different! I am one-hundred percent with you when it comes to pushing limits. Davis wrote, “Too often, we stick to the ordinary, which can only produce ordinary experiences.” When faced with sentiments like this - and by that I mean quotes that would look perfect pasted across an epic mountain range - you suddenly find yourself reminiscing about those good ‘ole pre-baby days. As if! Why should we reserve these epic experiences for solo outings. We should be going on adventures with our kids. As Davis says over and over again it is when we have reached our limits that we grow as individuals and as a family unit. And by reaching our limit he might mean that moment when you question all of your life decisions because your toddler has decided to protest the hike by eating a ladybug. True story. I obviously need to work on being comfortable with being uncomfortable, another topic Davis speaks at length on. I also appreciated that Davis challenged us parents to grow. I have always been a nerd. I have always loved learning. But becoming a parent has brought a sense of urgency to this pursuit. I am no longer learning simply for vague personal growth (though to be fair I still do that too), I am learning so that I can be a better mother to Bean. What was your biggest takeaway from Raising Men? Do you think it will have an impact on your parenting?
Brianna: I have a couple of takeaways. First, I can’t get over the audiobook. As usual, I listened to the book, rather than read it with my eyeballs. It is, let’s say, intense. The reader sounds like he’s narrating the trailer for an action movie. For the entire book. Perhaps it’s supposed to be motivating, but I just found it weirdly amusing. As for the actual content, I was really surprised by Davis’s take on participation trophies. You’d think this SEAL would be all about making kids earn everything that’s given to them, and he is, but he has a more nuanced take on the prize for showing up than I expected. In the future, I’ll definitely think more about the goals I have for my child in the activities they do. Do I just want them to try something new, or am I encouraging them to improve an activity in which they already excel? This will help me better keep perspective while informing how and when to reward Monkey’s efforts.
So, in conclusion, these two ladies, neither of whom are parenting boys (though it could be argued we are “raising men” - if by men you mean self-assured individuals who can kick-ass) were amused not awed by Davis’s anecdotes and still mulling over Davis’s parenting advice. But to be fair my husband couldn’t finish it and Brianna’s just barely got through it.
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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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