THE MEN THEY WILL BECOME by M.D. Newberger

THE MEN THEY WILL BECOME

The Nature and Nurture of Male Character
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A discursive, anecdote-laden, and research-oriented exploration of the development of male character that never quite comes to grips with the practical problems of building character. Newberger (Pediatrics/Harvard Medical School), who defines character as “a constantly evolving balance between a boy’s inner desires and ideals and the forces of his environment,” finds the roots of character development in the relationship between boys and their adult caregivers. Parents, he says, operate on four levels of awareness: the lowest one, which he dubs “Me First,” sees the child through the adult’s needs; the second, “Follow the Rules,” applies to child care regulations the parents believe; the third, “We Are Individuals,” sees the child as having individual needs; and the fourth and highest, “Living and Growing Together,” recognizes that the adult and child are in a reciprocal and changing relationship. Reciprocity and giving back, says Newberger, block the urge to be exploitative, and the most important character issue for males is to learn to avoid exploiting others. The author examines the moral development of infants and toddlers, preschoolers, schoolboys, and early and late adolescents. Never straightforward, his chapters are filled with quotations from and references to the work of child development researchers, lengthy anecdotes about boys he has worked with, illustrative stories about well-known individuals (e.g. Louis Armstrong), and accounts by teachers and parents of dealing with specific problems, such as lying, cheating, and teenage drinking. Buried in these often rather rambling essays is some solid advice for parents on specific issues, but finding it isn—t easy. Interesting background reading but not for busy parents looking for answers to their child-raising problems. (For a hands-on guide to parenting boys, see Michael Gurian’s The Good Son, p. 1197.) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7382-0113-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Perseus
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999




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