Rais­ing boys: why men are so im­por­tant

In a world where many boys are grow­ing up in fa­ther­less house­holds, the au­thors of a new par­ent­ing book em­pha­sise the im­por­tance of good male role mod­els. They talk to Ni­cola Rus­sell about their par­ent­ing phi­los­o­phy and why they wrote specif­i­cally about r

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

IF THERE IS ONE THING Kiwi men could have had more of as boys, it’s praise from their par­ents, says Richard As­ton, CEO of Big Buddy, which matches fa­ther­less boys with male men­tors. Dur­ing in-depth in­ter­views with po­ten­tial men­tors over his 13 years as CEO, he heard the same is­sues from child­hood aris­ing again and again – a raft of com­mon woes he be­lieved could eas­ily be avoided in the next gen­er­a­tion.

“The in­ter­views in­volve quite deep con­ver­sa­tions, and huge con­fes­sions were com­ing out that gave me a re­ally good in­sight,” says Richard. “The big one was the lack of praise that most men got as kids and how it af­fected them as adults – how they are al­ways look­ing for praise in all the wrong places, or fill­ing them­selves up with bull­shit just to feel good about them­selves.

“I saw so many men who could have had a bet­ter child­hood, had their par­ents had some knowl­edge.”

To help give par­ents that knowl­edge, Richard joined forces with his wife, Ruth Kerr – Big Buddy’s me­dia co-or­di­na­tor, a jour­nal­ist for more than 30 years, and co-par­ent of their blended fam­ily of four chil­dren, Sia, Djan, Lara and Tessa – to write Our Boys.

It’s a book on rais­ing boys in to­day’s world, and com­bines Richard’s ex­pe­ri­ence at Big Buddy (which has seen him match 630 boys with men­tors) with Ruth’s in­ves­tiga­tive skills, which she used to re­search the lat­est find­ings on boys and men. They have also called on their own ex­pe­ri­ence par­ent­ing Richard’s now adult son, Djan.

Ruth was mo­ti­vated by want­ing to help com­bat New Zealand’s high rate of men­tal ill­ness, sui­cide and ac­ci­dents for boys. “The stats for boys and men are not op­ti­mal, and I would like it if those sta­tis­tics were dif­fer­ent, that they sui­cided less, that they had more emo­tional in­tel­li­gence.”

The book stands out from other par­ent­ing books for its ac­ces­si­bil­ity – in­clud­ing warts-and-all ad­mis­sions by the cou­ple of their own par­ent­ing

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