Book Review | Raising Emotionally Strong Boys

When we adopted our son 8 years ago, I quickly realized that boys need different things from their parents than girls do. And my son is such an awesome kid…I want to do everything I can to point him to Jesus and the perfect purpose and plan that God has for his life. Raising Emotionally Strong Boys by David Thomas is a great resource for parents as well as anyone who has the privilege of investing in boys through education, coaching, etc.

I highlighted several thing while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • As important as it is to recognize what’s happening, boys need instruction in how to regulate in these moments. If they struggle to do one or both of those vital tasks, they may have a “Hulk moment” and then need to do some repair. Location: 167
  • Recognize—notice how your body signals an emotional response Regulate—employ calming strategies when the nervous system goes into higher states of arousal Repair—take ownership and do any needed relational work Location 261
  • The longer I study the person of Jesus, the character of Christ, the more I come back to how his strength was founded in tenderness, compassion, mercy, and love. They were the pillars of his humanity. Location: 206
  • Emotionally strong males are Resourceful—having the ability to name and navigate emotions Aware—having a rich interior world, including strengths and weaknesses Resilient—having the capacity to cope and feel competent Empathetic—having an ability to understand and share the feelings of another Location: 261
  • The first is the milestone of vocabulary. This milestone is all about developing emotional literacy, or the ability to identify, understand, and respond to emotions in oneself and others in a healthy way. Location: 307
  • The second emotional milestone is perspective. This milestone is learning to accurately categorize the events of life. Location: 324
  • The third emotional milestone is empathy. Empathy is a well-researched, foundational ingredient in all healthy interpersonal relationships—spouse to spouse, parent to child, friend to friend, coworker to coworker. It’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Location: 339
  • The fourth emotional milestone is resourcefulness. It’s the ability to take the emotion to something constructive. It’s the wisdom expressed in Ephesians 4:26: “In your anger do not sin.” You’re going to feel anger. Just don’t hurt yourself or others when you do. Location: 345
  • Avoid the trap of becoming his resources so he can develop resourcefulness. Location: 403
  • As God’s image bearers, part of laying a healthy foundation is accurately defining masculinity by looking through the lens of Jesus as a man. His strength was defined by sacrifice, humility, compassion, and love. He had close relationships with a small group of men. He was a champion of women. Scripture tells us Jesus wept in an encounter of loss, felt anger at injustice, and experienced fear in his last hours. Scripture is full of examples of Jesus feeling different things in his humanity. Despite being tempted, challenged, betrayed, mocked, abandoned, abused, and then crucified—the worst of human conditions imaginable—he navigated each of those emotions and experiences with honesty, humility, civility, and strength. His life serves as the ultimate roadmap for how to be a man in this world. Location: 446
  • We have an experience, and within that we have feelings about what’s happening. We take in those feelings (inward movement) and have an emotional response (outward movement). Remember, feelings are just feelings. They aren’t good or bad, right or wrong. They are simply signaling us in some way. What we do with those feelings could be good or bad, right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy. Location: 1,628
  • I believe males are at their very best when they are intersecting with purpose. Boys tap into who they were made to be and a healthy sense of power and strength when they encounter purpose. Location: 1,731
  • Frederick Buechner wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”Boys need support in discerning that place. Our emotions can help signpost us to this place. Location: 1,741
  • Often we’re waiting on boys to get somewhere they can’t get on their own. Keep going back to prioritizing his character over his happiness. It’s the very reason we offer him the structure he can’t know he needs. Location: 1,817
  • We have to move to the emotion before we can help our kids move through the emotion. When we move toward our kids in moments of struggle, we are modeling empathy, helping them regulate their nervous system, and expanding their capacity for emotional flexibility. Location: 2,057
  • There’s a famous saying that “there comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”4 This book is all about heading upstream to find out where boys are falling in. I hope to interrupt a boy’s current way of being in the world in a way that creates a ripple effect on his peers, his future spouse, and someday his own children. Location: 2,122
  • Let’s stop asking boys, “What do you want to do?” Let’s start asking them, “Who do you want to be?” Location: 2,182

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