Seven Tips to Raising Healthy Boys

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You have the intuition, the heart, and, yes, the responsibility to change the life of your son for the better.

1. Know how to encourage your son. One fault is babying and spoiling him. But another is being so harsh that you lose communication with your son and destroy his sense of self-worth.

2. Understand what your boys need. Guess what? It’s not another computer game; it’s you.

3. Recognize that boys were made for the outdoors .Boys love being outside. A healthy boy needs that sense of adventure—and the reality check that the outdoors gives him.

4. Remember that boys need rules. Boys instinctively have a boy code. If you ­don’t set rules, however, they feel lost.

5. Acknowledge that virtue is not just for girls. Boys should, indeed, be boys—but boys who drink, take drugs, and have sex outside of marriage ­aren’t “normal” teenagers, they have been abnormally socialized by our unfortunately toxic culture. Today, my practice as a pediatrician has to deal with an epidemic of serious, even life-threatening, problems—physical and psychological—that were of comparatively minor concern only forty years ago. A healthy boy strives after virtues like integrity and self-control. In fact, it is virtues like these that make a boy’s transition to manhood possible. They are necessary virtues, and he needs your help to acquire them. 

6. Learn how to teach your son about the big questions in life. Many parents shy away from this, either because they are uncomfortable with these questions themselves, or want to dismiss them as unimportant or even pernicious, or because they ­don’t want to “impose” their views on their children. But whatever one’s personal view, your son wants to know—and needs to know—why he’s here, what his purpose in life is, why he is important. Boys who ­don’t have a well-grounded understanding on these big questions are the most vulnerable to being led astray into self-destructive behaviors.

7. Remember, always, that the most important person in your son’s life is you. Being a parent can often seem a daunting task. But I’m here to tell you that almost every parent has what it takes to raise healthy sons.  You have the intuition, the heart, and, yes, the responsibility to change the life of your son for the better. 

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