Feb 29, 2016

Book Review: "Why Gender Matters" by Dr. Leonard Sax

A few weeks ago I listened to "Your Friend, Your Kid" on the "Think with Krys Boyd" podcast. It was an interview with the family physician and Phd, Dr. Leonard Sax. I enjoyed it so much I asked Doug to get me the book they were discussing: "The Collapse of Parenting". Unfortunately, the library doesn't have it yet, so he brought home "Why Gender Matters".

As the mother of five boys, I found this book incredibly fascinating and have been discussing it with every person I've talked to all week.

Now, I already KNEW, that boys and girls were different. Here's how I knew: I have a bunch of boys, whereas I am a girl. Not only am I a girl, but I have sisters, a mother, lots of female friends, and lots of female friends with female daughters. And we hang out. A lot.  So I'm not clueless about girls.

Watching boys and girls interact makes it obvious incredibly quickly that they are DIFFERENT and they do things DIFFERENTLY.  The question, for many years has been, are they different by nature or through nurture?

When Max (my oldest) was a baby, I read a book making the case that boys were aggressive and violent because their parents and society make them that way. If we want sensitive, empathetic boys, it said, and courageous assertive girls, we must raise our kids in an androgynous environment. I decided to follow the advice in the book. I determined that in MY home, we would NOT give our son weapons of any kind EVER! (You are laughing really hard right now if you've been in my house and have tripped over our arsenal of lightsabers, swords, nun-chucks, and Nerf guns.)  I also followed the instructions in the book to be sure to give my son sympathy when he got hurt (instead of expecting him to "buck up")

In other words, I followed the directions and waited for Maxwell to manifest himself as a gentleman and a scholar, strong and courageous, but also empathetic and sweet and nurturing. Imagine my surprise when my toddler son started sword fighting with the vacuum wand and making toy guns with Duplos. Imagine my dismay when the baby doll I gave him (in preparation for his baby brother to be born) was held around the ankles and smacked in to any hard noisy surface Max could find. (Did I mention we didn't let him watch tv in our home until he was over 2.5 years? Did I mention the friends he played with were almost all girls?)

Eventually, I realized that it was not my fault he had no patience for art projects or crafts. Eventually I figured out that he was not going to act/play/or fight like his female friends. That he wanted to play with cars and trucks and swords and save the day and not color pretty pictures.

Luckily, I finally figured out that nature, and gender, matter.

In his book, Dr. Sax dispels myths about gender differences by citing study after study (after study) that confirm differences in female and male brains. He strongly emphasizes that--for example--while you can teach both genders complex math equations, a boy and a girl will learn better if taught using different approaches. Because they are different. And their brains are different.

Conclusion: I thought it was a great read, with some great food for thought and definitely recommend it. One caveat though; The chapter about sex has a very graphic example of teens engaging in o*** sex. I think he includes that particular story to shock parents into realizing teen sex habits are different than they believe. But if I had it to do over again, I would have skimmed that part. ;)

P.S. I have since read "The Collapse of Parenting" and give it two thumbs up, five stars, and an unequivocal recommendation!!! No caveat necessary!! READ IT!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a mom of 3 boys and 2 girls, I found Why Gender Matters to be spot-on. I recommend it to just about everyone. A few years before reading that book, I attended Royal Rangers training, and remember being astonished at some of the things they were teaching about boys' development/behavior/thinking patterns. I finally asked the other attendees (male friends), "Do guys honestly think this way?" They assured me that it was true. It was truly eye-opening, and changed the way I raise my sons -- and I think opened their eyes, too, that girls do not think the same way at all. I like the science included in this book, and am now off to find his other book you recommended.