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Archived Online Discussion
Topic: Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons
Date: 5-6 pm (ET)
on Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Meg Meeker, M.D.
Pediatrician and acclaimed author

Tonight we are pleased to welcome pediatrician and acclaimed author, Dr. Meg Meeker to discuss her book Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons.  At this time we'd like to begin the discussion and encourage you to submit your questions for Dr. Meeker if you haven't done so already. 

caroline jupp
glendale wi 53209
How do I get my boys motivated enough to start to go to mass with me?
Meg Meeker, M.D.:

Depending on the age of your boys, I have a few suggestions. First, I make the rule in our house that going to church is not optional. That's just what the family does on Sunday or Saturday night. You can let them choose which time, but going isn't optional. When boys are teens, they often want to pull back and figure out for themselves if God is real and if the Catholic faith is for them. Give them a bit of slack (they can go to Mass with friends or at another time than you, or they can even join a youth group if your church has one.) But remember, first we are accountable to God for making sure that our kids are taught the christian faith.
Motivating them is hard, but keep praying for them. That's the most powerful thing you can do.

Scott Read
Roswell, GA, USA
Dr Meeker, I don't have children (yet), but I have 3 great nephews who's father is, unfortunately, absent from their lives. Your book makes clear that as a parent you must be present in your son's life.
I've encouraged my sister to read your great book. But other than visiting with my nephews on holidays, phone calls and seeing them some during the summer months, what can I - an Uncle living nearly 400 miles away - do to help my nephews grow up to be well adjusted and avoid the pitfalls that you point out in your book?
Meg Meeker, M.D.:
Your nephews are lucky to have you in their lives! While having Dad is the best security for the boys, remember that you can have an enormous impact in their lives. A few suggestions: maintain regular contact preferably by phone if you can't be with them. Skype is great too. Make sure you stay dependable because when Dad is absent, they will expect you to take off as well. So stay put in their lives. Take them camping, try to have one on one time with each of them once per year and let them know that you want to hear from them, just to know what's going on in their lives. If you stay genuine and consistent, they will turn out to be great young men!

Chris Kennedy
Highlands Ranch, CO, USA Council 10937
Through out the entire book many stories of development are based around sports and the necessity of sports and competition in a boys life. How much does well-intentioned social engineering efforts such as Title IX negatively impact the development of boys?
Meg Meeker, M.D.:
Yes, sports and competition play a large part in a boy's development. Title IX can only have a negative impact  if it substantially cuts programs in a boy's school. One of the best ways around this for parents is to utilize programs which are not affiliated with the school and in most communities, there are many club programs. Also, to whatever degree increased focus on girls' programs causes them to compete with boys, there's always the risk that boys will feel threatened. But again, most healthy boys can deal with this quite well.

Jack DiLullo
Austin, Tx
Dr. Meeker, I have a 10 year old son, and after raising two daughters now 24 and 21, sons are very different. Now that my son is entering that tween age, and into adolescence, are there any suggestions you have geared toward boys, different than girls that will help? I do not want to chance messing it up, especially in the tough years ahead. Thanks Jack
Meg Meeker, M.D.:
First of all, the very fact that you are so interested in doing a good job let's me know that you are probably a great Dad. So - get over your fear of messing up!
Second, remember that teen boys need Dads in different ways than daughters. Your son needs to live life beside you as much as possible so that he can see you in action. Let him see you interact with the mechanic when you take your car to be fixed, talk to him about what you like and dislike about your work. In other words, he will learn integrity, honesty, hard work, etc, by seeing it in you. And doesn't every son want a great Dad to imitate?
Take your son on trips (even short ones) alone- preferably doing something out doors. He will love camping, hiking, fishing, just being with you alone. If he isn't an outdoor fellow, then find what he's interested in and spend some time alone with him doing things that he enjoys. Have fun with him.

Chris Kennedy
Highlands Ranch, CO, USA Council 10937
In Chapter 9 you talk about the transition from boyhood to manhood. The steps you lay out seem to be the antithesis of what society teaches when becoming an adult (Drugs, Alcohol, sex, material possessions). Can you contrast the two views of the movement to adulthood and impact of each on men and on society?

Related, young men can become Knights at 18, does getting invited into a group of men assist in the transition?
Meg Meeker, M.D.:

Christian men live in constant tension between what "the world" seduces them to believe about themselves and what God wants them to believe. As men raise young boys and teach them to become men, it is important to pull them toward the ways of God and then, as they mature, let them know that there will always be a tension, but that with God's help, they can grow in the right direction.

Specifically, Christian men aspire to grow closer to God, become more sensitive as they mature, and win battles over sexual, material and other temptations. They are expected to gain more control over themselves, rather than less. In contrast, the world teaches men that they don't need self control and there is nothing wrong with indulging all senses - sex, buying a lot of stuff, drinking too much, etc. All men struggle with temptation, and that's why each needs help - from men like the Knights. Certainly, becoming a Knight at a young age could be of great benefit to boys because they can gain the support they need to keep growing in the right direction.

Los Angeles, CA, USA
Showing affection is a natural part of being human. In today's environment showing heartfelt affection to boys can be negatively misconstrued. How can one show affection to boys without it being taken the wrong way?
Meg Meeker, M.D.:

This is a terrific question. Personally, I have seen that teen boys are extremely needy of affection, but they would NEVER articulate that. So, I wholeheartedly applaud your desire to express affection.

In order to keep from being misunderstood, stay contextually relevant. If you are a coach, grab a boys shoulders firmly and say, "Great job." If you are an uncle, give your nephew a hug, even a peck on the cheek when you see him. If you are a Dad, don't show affection in public because this may embarrass your son, but be sure to hug him as often as you can. If your teen son refuses, then touch his head, his shoulder and say something nice. But take heart, all men need more genuine affection and if you have a boy in your life who knows that you are willing to dispense it in a healthy way, he'll come after it - at least, when he is grown.

John Graf
San Diego, CA, USA
Dr. Meeker,
I am half way through your book. You mentioned that bullies need to be confronted. How would this work in a school environment? It seems like all the schools are putting in "anti-bullying" programs but they don't have any effect.
Meg Meeker, M.D.:

Yes, I have a bit of a different view regarding bullies. Most of the "anti-bullying" programs attempt to get kids not to do it. They talk to kids, etc, but the problem is, for the real bullies, this doesn't necessarily work. They will be mean no matter what. And we know that bullies are kids with emotional turmoil and trouble in their lives.

Here's what I recommend to parents. If you find out your son is being bullied (he won't tell you because he's afraid you will make things worse, so look for other clues - i.e. not wanting to go to school, etc.), first, coach your son on how to stand up for himself. Help him confront the bully and tell him to knock it off - often this alone is enough. But only do this if the bully won't get violent. Remember, bullies prey on kids they think will let them get away with it. Then, if you need to, go to the teacher in confidence. Ask him/her to settle the problem. If that doesn't work, go to the principal and insist that the problem be stopped. If that doesn't work, go to the bully's parents, but often that doesn't work because parents won't believe you or they're not around. Finally, if nothing works and your son is still being bullied, switch schools. I only recommend this if the bullying is severe.


The Knights of Columbus would like to thank all of the participants for your great questions.  We hope you've enjoyed Dr. Meeker's insightful perspectives.  In addition to writing Boys Should Be Boys, Dr. Meeker has authored 4 other books, including the best-selling Strong Fathers/Strong Daughters: Ten Secrets Every Father Should Know, Your Kids at Risk, and, her most recent book 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose and Sanity, which will be released in the Spring of 2011.  She is also a popular speaker on pediatric health issues and child-parent relationships.  We would like to extend a special thanks Dr. Meeker for joining us this evening and for sharing her wisdom on these topics. 

We encourage you to join us for next month's discussion on Thursday, July 29th, when we'll be discussing Quiet Hero: Secrets From My Father's Past by veteran news correspondent Rita Cosby. 

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