Review – Real Boys by William Pollock

When I found out that I was having a boy, I honestly panicked. I didn’t know a single thing about raising boys. If we were to have a girl, it would be a piece of cake – I knew exactly what I was going to do to encourage her to be the best girl/woman that she could be and  exactly what weapons that I would give her to fight the good fight. So I picked up Real Boys by William Pollock and had mixed reactions to the book.

As a general rule, I hate reading those pop psychology how-to type of books. They’re generally not very interesting, not very well done and can get all preachy on you. I found that this book was good in some parts and not so good in others.  Dr. Pollock writes about “the Boy Code” and attempts to dismantle the gender stereotypes surrounding boy-hood using research that he personally conducted while at Harvard Medical School and MacLean Hospital in Boston. His theory is that the gender stereotype that society forces onto boys stifles their creativity and sensitivity and leads to higher incidents of violence, suicide and drug use among boys who don’t conform to the stereotype.

I loved the way that he wrote; he made the research that he conducted very accessible to the average person.  Furthermore, the research that he conducted was obviously very thorough, careful, methodical and generally impressive.  Dr. Pollock had obviously done his homework and had the research to back it up. There were some drawbacks.  This book was written before the Columbine shootings and the recent spate of college shootings done by young men. I wonder if this would have changed his analysis of the social factors any and I would have like to see his take on those incidents.  An updated version of this book may be required in light of recent events.  In addition, there were sections of the book that were preachy – “do this in order to stop this from happening to your son.” Some of the ideas were helpful but the tone of those sections grated on my nerves something fierce.


One thought on “Review – Real Boys by William Pollock

  1. Thanks for this. And I am STILL panicking. I know not one single thing about raising a boy.
    I recently ordered a book called It’s a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons. I expect it will be more whimsical than a serious commentary, but I will let you know how it goes.

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