Book Review, Part I: Wild Things, the Art of Nurturing Boys

Aug 16, 2010

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys – by Stephen James and David Thomas

Book review by Kim Heathcott

The authors of Wild Things give incredible insights into the hearts and minds of boys, as well as practical helps to those who are caregivers to boys.  As Stephen and David proclaim in the beginning of the book, how boys are nurtured directly affects who they will grow into as men.  As the caregivers of these boys, we are given detailed information about the stages of development of boys as well as practical tips for each developmental stage.  The stages are broken down in the following ages/descriptions:

  • The Explorer      (ages 2-4)
  • The Lover             (ages 5-8)
  • The Individual    (ages 9-12)
  • The Wanderer   (ages 13-17)
  • The Warrior         (ages 18-22)

 The authors address the mind of a boy in part 2 of the book.  As psychologists, Stephen and David delve into some common mistakes that caregivers make with boys. In this section, the authors go into a truly significant discussion in this section of the book that deals with deficits and disappointments.  The issue is that boys may not learn effective ways of dealing with their emotional lives and how, if not properly tended to, these boys will become men who struggle with all different forms of addiction.  In particular, around age 10 and beyond, boys have difficulty handling failure.  Additionally, parents also go to great lengths to help their children avoid experiencing pain or having to struggle.  The discussion of military parents, parents who rescue children by controlling them, and helicopter parents, those who become excessively involved in their children’s lives to try and protect them, are both fascinating and sobering. 

 The authors address the heart of a boy in part 3 of the book, the feelings, needs, desires, longings and hopes bound up inside each boy at his core.  Specific discussions include how we can truly get to know our boys, how to handle the mother-son and father-son relationships, and how rituals and ceremonies are significant benchmarks in your boy’s journey toward manhood.

 The end of the book focuses on 16 hot topics that give specific advice and insight to readers, ranging from spanking and discipline, pornography and ADD/ADHD and other topics.

 After you finish this book, not only will you understand your boys better, but you will understand your role in nurturing their growth, and be given detailed, practical helps every step of the way.  This book is vital in your parenting, and the authors are gifted in their wisdom and approach.