After thirty years of educators trying to feminize boys, somebody is finally saying, enough of this foolishness. “The Dangerous Book for Boys,” written by brothers (and fathers) Conn and Hal Iggulden, is directed specifically at the traits that make boys what they are: inquisitive, rambunctious, adventuresome, and risk-prone. First published in the UK, the book has been revised for an American edition, released this week.
Amazon.com interviewed one of the authors, who gave a terrific defense of why boys need this kind of literature.
We’ve become aware that the whole “health and safety” overprotective culture isn’t doing our sons any favors. Boys need to learn about risk. They need to fall off things occasionally, or–and this is the important bit–they’ll take worse risks on their own. If we do away with challenging playgrounds and cancel school trips for fear of being sued, we don’t end up with safer boys–we end up with them walking on train tracks. In the long run, it’s not safe at all to keep our boys in the house with a Playstation. It’s not good for their health or their safety.
You only have to push a boy on a swing to see how much enjoys the thrill of danger. It’s hard-wired. Remove any opportunity to test his courage and they’ll find ways to test themselves that will be seriously dangerous for everyone around them. I think of it like playing the lottery–someone has to say “Look, you won’t win–and your children won’t be hurt. Relax. It won’t be you.”
I think that’s the core of the book’s success. It isn’t just a collection of things to do. The heroic stories alone are something we haven’t had for too long. It isn’t about climbing Everest, but it is an attitude, a philosophy for fathers and sons. Our institutions are too wrapped up in terror over being sued–so we have to do things with them ourselves. This book isn’t a bad place to start.
I wish I had this book when my two boys were small.