THE TROUBLE WITH BOYS by Angela Phillips


A Wise and Sympathetic Guide to the Risky Business of Raising Sons
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 British journalist Phillips (Until They Are Five, not reviewed, etc.) takes an inconsistent and often confusing approach to the subject of raising sons. Phillips argues that while women in the past 25 years have made great strides in moving beyond the confines of home and adapting to the demands of the outside world, men have not taken commensurate steps toward becoming part of family life. Consequently, many boys are still raised with absent, inattentive, or violent fathers or without any sort of father figures at all. Indeed, most boys, despite their mothers' efforts, have few role models for communicative, expressive, well-adjusted manhood. Though, happily, this volume is largely free of the nauseating smugness implied by the subtitle, it does have other weaknesses. Many of Phillips's seemingly authoritative and provocative statements are illogical or unsupported; she writes, for instance, that ``these days, little girls have no real reason to envy boys.'' (Many obvious considerations, ranging from discriminatory sports education to high rates of sexual abuse among female children make this a dubious statement.) Worse still, she presents many of her statistics in a confusing, ambiguous way that makes them hard to interpret; for example, she refers to some studies done in the United Kingdom, but often she doesn't specify which country she's talking about, and many of her pronouncements are unsupported by reference to specific studies. Anecdotal evidence is similarly often vague and murky; in one instance she states that a child is East African, then later identifies the same boy as Asian without any explanation. Robert Coles offers a blandly laudatory foreword. Phillips raises some crucial questions for parents of sons, but, disappointingly, this book is too scattered to explore them adequately.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1994
ISBN: 0-465-08734-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1994