Sunday, December 27, 2009

wild things - reading list

here is a list of books that the authors of "Wild Things: The Art of Nuturing Boys" suggest for further reading:

Frank Pittman “Fathers and Sons” Psychology Today Sept/oct 1993

The Best Old Movies for Families: A guide to Watching Together by: Ty Burr

“The Way of the Wild Heart” And “Wild at Heart” by Eldredge

By Gurian: “Boys and girls learn differently!”, “The good son”, “The wonder of boys”, “The minds of boys”

“Raising Cain” By: Kindlon and Thompson

“Raising a modern-day knight: a father’s role in guiding his son to authentic manhood” By: Lewis

“Last child in the woods” By: Louv

“Real boys: rescuing our sons from the myths of boyhood” By: Pollack

“Adam’s return: 5 promises of male initiation” By: Rohr

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a few quotes from francis bacon

"They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea."

"A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds."

"He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other."

"Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New."

"Small amounts of philosophy lead to atheism, but larger amounts bring us back to God."

- Francis Bacon

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wright's OT vs. it's environment

G.E. Wright wrote a comparitive religions book for the period of time in which the Old Testament was written. He answers the question, "What was so unique about the OT during that time?"
I've boiled the book down into an easy-to-read quick reference chart for anyone interested in a cliff notes version of the book.
Transcendent God
Moral and fair God
God made and controls nature
One God
God acts in linear history
The Godhead is essentially sexless, no word in Hebrew for goddess
Prohibition of images of God
God and humans have a special personal relationship
Social justice
God dislikes and disagrees with evil
“Heros” of OT faith are described as being flawed, while these men may be God’s messengers- they are in no way like God
Free will, faith is the ultimate religious achievement
Sin, repentance, forgiveness
No oaths in God’s name
Festivals are for remembrance of historical events
Sacrifices are for our sake
Separate offices for king and priest
Prophecy and fulfillment Wise sayings
Salvation by faith

Contemporary Religions
gods limited to shrine, mountain, etc.
gods unfair, immoral, capricious.
gods are nature, storm-god, etc.
Thousands of gods
Cyclical experiences
Always male and complimentary female goddesses.
Idols, shrines
Everything in nature relates together in a natural way
emphasized Survival of the fittest
If someone is suffering, the gods are punishing them
Heros are unflawed, powerful, full of glory, able even to trick gods – full of renown, often considered as good as gods
Sympathetic magic rituals, manipulating the gods is the greatest religious achievement
Oracles, dreams, omens
Oaths were a huge part of daily life
festivals are for preserving harmony between people and gods
Sacrifices are for the sake of the gods, to appease or even “feed” them
King was the religious leader
Uncertainty about the next life, works.

true spirituality - schaeffer

“When God turns inward to Himself, he is a Trinity, but when when we turn inward, there is no one there to answer…This not only causes psychological problems, but it also destroys my relationship with others. “People without God… hang too much on their personal relationships, and they crush and break.
No love affair between a man and a woman has ever been great enough to hang everything on. It will crumble away under your feet…”“If I acknowledge that I am really not God, and that since the fall we are all sinful, then I can have true human relationships without battering myself to pieces because they are not sufficient in themselves, or because they are not perfect.” Shaeffer, TS 344, 345

Friday, December 18, 2009

Challenge Group - Isaiah 7-12

Chapters 7-12 of Isaiah are set in a time of war, when the people and even the king were terrified. King Ahaz failed to trust God, and is spoken of poorly in the Bible. In this section, Isaiah tells the people that they do not need to fear this current threat, but he brings up a time when things will be much worse for them because of their lack of repentance. He also sprinkles in the message of hope in the future that God will bring about, mentioning the birth of Immanuel and the peace that the remnant will enjoy someday.

1. Historical Backdrop
a. This section is set during the Syro-Ephraimite War (735-732b.c.e.)
b. Rather than trusting God, Ahaz looked to the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser the 3rd for help. 2 Kings 16:2-9
c. Tiglath-Pileser the 3rd conquered Damascus and dispersed the Aramaens in 732 b.c.e.
d. 10 years later, the northern tribes rebelled again, and were also dispersed into Assyria (722 b.c.e.) Samaria was destroyed in 721 b.c.e.
e. In 701b.c.e., when Hezekiah was king, Sennacherib of Assyria laid siege to Jerusalem. Hezekiah initially trusted in Egypt, but eventually repented and trusted God for their deliverance. When this happened, the Assyrian army was destroyed.
f. Isaiah lived past the date of Sennacherib’s death in 681 b.c.e.. Then, it is believed that he was put in a hollow log and sawed in half for his belief.
2. Summary of the Section
a. In chapters 7 and 8, God comforts the faltering and terrified people by telling them that Ephraim and the Aramaens are not going to succeed. He also makes reference to “Immanuel”, a child born of a virgin.
b. In the first part of chapter 9, God assures the people that the other strong nations of the day are not going to last – but Israel will be restored to glory at the end of the age. Here he brings up “Immanuel” again, saying that a child will be born who is called “Mighty God”.
c. 9:12-10:15 warns the people of Judea about a siege that will come about because the people are unrepentant in their failure to trust God. In 9:20 he predicts that the siege will be so bad that people will eat the flesh off their own arms and hands and still feel hungry.
d. 10:20-11 discuss the faithful remnant who do the exact opposite of what the unrepentant people in 9 do. He encourages them that the mighty nations of this day will be cut down, and a branch of Jesse (Christ) will spring up and make things better in the future. This section descibes the Millenial Kingdom in cool detail (i.e. a child playing by a viper's den, lions eating hay, etc..)
e. Chapter 12 focuses on how God is our salvation. We should trust Him and not be afraid.
3. A Closer Look at the themes
“Immanuel” will be born
Other strong nations will not last, but Israel will
Most are Unrepentant, but a Remnant will Trust God and His Wisdom
Do Not Be Afraid
More about Fear-- Prov. 3:25-26, Ps. 112:7-8a
-- Fear comes from an inappropriate view of God.(Rm. 8:15, Heb. 13:5-6, 1 Jn. 3:21-22.) Fear and faith are often brought up together as opposing attitudes.
-- We are used to relying on ourselves or other people. We need to be re-trained.
-- It is only as we abandon ourselves to the care of God that we will no longer be self-reliant and autonomous. It is only as we rid ourselves of alternate safety nets (plan bs) that we will no longer be double-minded. We need to learn from the mistakes of Ahaz and the people who "feared what everyone fears rather than fearing God" and who depended on self and others instead of God.
-- If we want a dynamic life, we need to stop worrying about our safety.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

wild things part 3

The Heart of a Boy
This final section of the book is divided up into 4 chapters: Nurturing a Boy’s Heart, A Boy and his Mother, A Boy and his Father, and Rituals, Ceremonies, and Rites of Passage. The book then ends with a few pages on hot-button topics such as: sex, drugs, porno, ADD, etc..
Near the beginning of this section, they say,
“No guy makes it past seventeen or eighteen without receiving his fair share of dings to his manhood – and that’s if he’s lucky. By the time most guys get their driver’s license, they have already experienced enough emotional and spiritual fender benders that their hearts are dented for years to come…When a guy’s heart has been wounded, the results are significant: Self-protection, distrust of others, suspicion of God, and fervent reliance on the four horsemen of self-sufficiency: training, talent, intellect, and willpower.”
But, they also paint a picture of how hard it can be to relate to a boy – esp. at certain stages. For example, boys can go through a stage of being inarticulate, hardheaded, annoyed, defensive. But, we as parents need to try to break the emotional code and show unconditional love. They suggest different ways to see him for who he is, “name” him (or use positive/loving nicknames to reinforce to him the positive aspects of his identity), and patiently draw him out – being willing to pick your battles when it comes to making a big emotional push. Something big and overwhelming can’t happen all the time, otherwise it will become commonplace and ignorable.
Tips for this section include:
1. Read about him
2. Meet him on his turf.
3. Practice curiosity. Have a jar of questions that you read and ask at the dinner table or at a special brunch.
4. Tell tales about yourself sometimes, esp. to show an example of emotions.
5. Catch him off-guard. Surprise him with a visit to his room and an encouragement.
6. Require him to use his words. Don’t let him off the hook with the whole, “boys will be boys” line of thinking.
7. Show physical affection.
8. Teach him to manage his emotions. Have him think through different options (for example, I could go shoot some hoops if I’m feeling mad, then when I’m not as angry I could talk to my parents or friends or write in a journal)

A Boy and his Mother
“Remember what we said earlier about a mom being the safest place on earth for a boy? Unfortunately, this safety has a downside. It’s called the ‘rubber band phenomenon’. Because a boy feels so safe with mom, he instinctively believes she will never abandon him – no matter what he says or does. Therefore, he starts to believe he can push against his mom emotionally and stretch her out as far as he wants, because she’ll always bounce right back to being that same place of safety. He will be his most tender and his most punishing with her. (As we said before, a mom gets her son’s best and worst).”
James and Thomas outline the 3 biggest mistakes for a mother to make as the following:
1. Being a man-hater. Displaying negative views of masculinity either in how she treats her spouse, comments, or how she reacts to her son. They suggest doing some deep work of counseling and prayer if this deep heart issue is to be resolved for the sake of a son.
2. Being a mother hen. While this is appropriate at a young age, carrying on this over-protective and controlling style into the older ages is really not appropriate.
3. Being too bonded. The extreme of this mistake would be emotional incest. But even the more innocent actions like not respecting privacy, role-reversal (going to a son with personal problems and asking for advice), not approving of any girlfriends, etc. are also damaging. Sons need to become independent in order for individuation to occur.
Tips for moms:
1. Soak it up while he’s young – take a lot of pictures and videos.
2. Don’t panic. Wear a rubber band on your wrist if you need reminding that this is just the rubber band phase.
3. Keep your son’s confidence and honor his privacy.
4. Kidnap him.
5. Be unpredictable.
6. Remember, it’s not about you.
7. Check your heart for negative masculine stereotypes/ bitterness.
8. Stay available to him.
9. Set aside a weekend a year for a mother/son getaway.
10. Respect him.

A Boy and his Father
The authors quote a pretty sad and harsh article from Psychology Today: “For a couple hundred years now, each generation of fathers has passed on less and less to his sons – not just less power, but less wisdom. And less love. We finally reached a point where many fathers were largely irrelevant in the lives of their sons.” After giving a brief history of fatherhood, they continue with some suggestions on how to pass something on as a father. They start with suggesting that a father spend time thinking about the answer to the question: “Where did I learn what it means to be a man?” They believe that thinking through the cultural ideas of “manhood” and their probable own father’s neglect of them, as well as which positive role models they’ve had will be helpful in their journey toward being a powerful father.
They also give some of the following suggestions and tips:
1. Don’t just talk. Do things together.
2. Because all boys struggle with the question, “Do I have what it takes?” – Become a champion and a fan of your son in genuine ways.
3. Impart wisdom like Yoda – especially spiritual wisdom. Boys cannot see Christianity as just a feminine thing.
4. Pass on a legacy.
5. Don’t go it alone – find a community of men to chill with you and your son.
6. Reach out often. This may feel uncomfortable, but it is what a son needs.
7. Have a ritual – especially if it involves something a mother wouldn’t love i.e. pocketknife, shooting range, rock-climbing, camping, surprise taking him out of school, etc..
8. Have some of your son’s friends over for a grill out. Boys like to learn about masculinity in a pack.

Rituals, Ceremonies, and Rites of Passage
In this section, the authors discuss doing a few special events with sons to teach them a deep lesson. I can’t really divulge any information about this – it’s supposed to be creative and mysterious…

Saturday, December 12, 2009

wild things part 2

The Mind of a Boy
The first part of this section reviews what a boy's mind is like physiologically, and the theoretical implications of that. It basically puts forth that boys are typically spatial, problem-solving, and may struggle in the schoolroom environment for various reasons. It was interesting, but that subject is explored in much better detail in other books, such as "How to Organize for Your Child's Brain Type".
The next part describes some common mistakes that parents make with sons. They are:
1. Confinement (vs. redirection and open space)
2. Verbal or Emotional Flooding
3. Sparring
4. Rescuing (i.e. telling a teacher not to punish him, etc.)
5. Squelching (i.e. telling your son not to do a creative project, etc.)
6. Shaming
7. Guilt-Tripping
8. Sabotage (unrealistic expectations)

They continue to give some tips on helping to develop a boy's mind:
- Cut out the energy drinks
- Create ways for him to excercise
- Limit TV and video games
- Make sure he gets enough sleep
- Teach him about his emotions
- Read. Read. Read.
- Give yourself a report card - be realistic about yourself as a parent. Ask your friends and/or a spouse for input in this area so that you're not too hard on yourself or to soft.
- Create opportunities for him to use his gifts = games or toys that require problem-solving or spatial skills, imagination, etc..
- Pick his brain
- Plan family movie nights and take turns picking the movie and then talk about it after.
- Volunteer at his school and model service in the community

In the next part, they talk about different learning styles. Then they discuss some of the principles from the popular new book "Parenting with Love and Logic" by Cline and Fay. Cline and Fay use military analogies to speak to parenting extremes - "helicopter parents" (parents who hover) and "drill sergeants" (parents who are overly strict).
They close with a section describing the unconvetional things that may teach boys big life lessons - namely: struggle, regret, duty, incompetence, and community.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wild Things - the Art of Nuturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas

I've read a bunch of parenting books - but, I must say that this one is one of my faves. When I read it, I don't feel like I'm wasting my time with a bunch of fluff. There are great sections on practical areas such as developmental stages, learning, relationships, discipline and more. The book is big - 340 pages - but it is well worth reading all the way through.
The book is divided into 3 sections: The Way of a Boy, The Mind of Boy, and The Heart of a Boy. I'll review each section seperately over the next few days.

Section One: The Way of a Boy
In this section, James and Thomas describe the different developmental stages that a boy goes through. And they give helpful tips for parents at the end of each description.

Age 2-4 The Explorer-They are very active
-They are aggressive and show love through things like wrestling. Tantrums can happen during this stage - which is often a way to communicate a desire like, "I'm hungry" or "I'm tired".
-They are curious and like to learn by doing+touching (kinesthetically).
-They are self-determined, and need some space to do things independantly.
-They need boundaries and re-direction rather than blanket statements. For example, instead of saying, "Stop hitting." - say, "It's not ok to hit your sister, but if you have some extra energy why don't you see how many times you can climb up and down the stairs in 2 minutes."
-They crave and do well in open space.
-They have a short attention span and tend to be internally unstructured - so they thrive in an externally consistent environment. A routined, ritualed schedule is a good thing at this age.
-They need understanding and unconditional love - just like all people need.
1. Don't confuse him. Set realistic boundaries.
2. Limit his choices.
3. Anticipate changes and announce transisitions in the daily routine.
4. Set a few straightforward rules that everyone can follow consistently.
5. Demonstrate how you would like hime to behave.
6. Have your discipline make sense.
7. Give him space to roam.
8. Model self-control in your words and actions.
9. Keep it short and simple.
10. Praise him like crazy when he does something right.

Age 5-8 The Lover- They are Tender and kind-hearted in this stage. There is a heightened emotional sensitivity; but it can come out in strange ways. There is often a know-it-all or fearful element to the emotional output that is streaming out during this phase.
- They tend to be much more obedient during this time.
- They have a big attachment to dad at this stage.
- They are very competitive.
- They need reprieve, relationship, routine, and regulation
1. Give him lots of love and affection.
2. Reward his good behavior.
3. Get him involved.
4. Focus him outward.
5. Help him with hygiene.
6. Take him to the movies.
7. Encourage his imagination.
8. Take him camping.
9. Plan family game nights.
10. Read "Parenting with Love and Logic"

Age 9-12 The Individual
- They are beginning to look deeply at growing up.
- They are experiencing big shifts in brain and body.
- They like to branch out some and break some rules to gain a feeling of power.
- They tend to do a lot of criticizing.
- They need supervision.
- They respond well to information and straight-shooting.
- They need involvment and positive outlets (i.e. frisbee, paintball, camping, rock climbing, etc..)
1. Be intentional with summers.
2. Keep the dialogue going.
3. Engage with him.
4. Enlist his doctor's help.
5. Get ready for an uncomfortable talk.
6. Make him read a book before he sees the movie.
7. Don't follow the crowd.
8. Keep him active.
9. Watch and discuss "A Christmas Story" together.
10. Fasten your seatbelt - there are some changes that can knock you down.

Age 13-17 The Wanderer- There is physiological chaos at this stage.
- They can tend toward arrogance.
- They will hopefully complete the process of individuation (forming his own distinct sense of self). They may go through several phases - goth, jock, pot-smoker, etc..
- They tend to be very argumentative.
- During this stage, he needs other good voices in his life (Not just you!)
- They need outlets still, and understanding.
- They need boundaries, and need you to survive the testing they will do your relationship.
1. Call your parents and apologize for what you put them through.
2. Enter his world.
3. Commiserate with him.
4. Don't panic.
5. Partner with another family.
6. Affirm your son as much as you can.
7. Feed him.
8. Suggest that he get a job.
9. Make regular dates with him.
10. Talk with him about dating and romance.

Age 18-22 The Warrior
- They figure out the life-responsibility things like college, job, living situation, friends, etc..
- They are reflective and searching for purpose.
- They can expereince ambivalent attitudes toward different areas of life.
- They need guidance and support from their parents still; but mostly they need freedom.
- They need their parents to be patient with them and give them our blessings.
- They need mentors.
1. Don't squash his dreams, even if they are impractical in your opinion.
2. Let him make mistakes and overload.
3. Recover the basics.
4. Welcome his girlfriends with open arms.
5. Do your homework. Know about movies and books he appreciates so you can talk about them.
6. Initiate him.
7. Get him off the sofa.
8. Remember, he's not 12 anymore.
9. Keep your door open.
10. Remember who is king of the castle. It's ok to keep some boundaries about what happens "under your roof".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I just read an interesting article forwarded to me by my dad called, "The Inverse Power of Praise". It was interesting to think about whether our innocent and nurturing comments, such as: "you're so smart!" might actually have a negative effect in children down the road.
The article suggested praising attributes that children have control over (i.e. "You work so hard") as an alternative to "you're so smart". In several case studies in a NewYork school system this sort of praise/nuture developed better things in the children than the children who were told they just had an innate gift. Dr. Carol Dweck says, " 'I am smart', the kids’ reasoning goes; 'I don’t need to put out effort'. Expending effort becomes stigmatized—it’s public proof that you can’t cut it on your natural gifts. "