A Navy SEAL I most certainly am not. What I am is a hand-quilting, hey let’s read a book, want to dig in the garden kind of woman who thinks running is a good idea only if there’s something chasing me. But I’m totally enamored with Eric Davis’s book Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons.
Raising Men isn’t so much about doing things to change your child’s behavior (though there’s some of that) as it is about changing your own. And while the words “Men” and “Sons” appear in the title, the message here is equally important for mothers and daughters (and 3/4 of Davis’s children are girls). Because Davis’s oldest children are now in their twenties, it’s also a book that talks about parenting children at different ages.
Simply put, anyone interested in being a better parent can settle in for a wonderful read. Davis might be a former SEAL and sniper instructor, but the guy’s a gifted storyteller. He’s funny, engaging, self-deprecating, honest, and enlightening; he’s taken take a book about parenting and transformed it into a page-turner!
Here are some of my favorite take-aways:
- Boys are active — get used to it.
I loved Davis’s talk about The Curse of being a very active person and his story about how bored SEALS can be dangerous. (Dont’ worry — no spoilers here).His story reminded me of one of the primary reasons we decided to homeschool our son. When our kiddo is bored….He. Finds. Things. To. Do. He’s busy and very inquisitive.
The summer he was four and a half, Wyatt came upstairs to the studio where I was working. I asked him, “Whatcha doin’?” and he replied, “Oh, I just went outside for a little while to let my bee collection go.”
Trying not to flip out, I asked him “what bee collection?” and he told me he had collected about a dozen bees in a jar, watched them fly around the jar for a while, and then turned them loose (outside…thank God!). I asked him to show me, so he took me outside, scooped up a few honeybees from the clover in the yard and put them back in his jar. Voila! A bee collection!!
Talk to boy moms and you’ll hear the same refrain again and again…”he’s just so active.” They’re boys…they’re active…and it’s okay. They’re normal. They don’t need to be medicated.
- The only easy day was yesterday.
That phrase might be an integral part of SEAL training, but it’s applies equally well to parenting. The only easy day as a parent is yesterday, and today is a whole new hairball.The kid you had yesterday is different than the kid you have today. You’re different, too.
When my son was little I naively thought parenting would be easier when he slept through the night…or once he was potty trained….or once he could talk…or after he developed more situational awareness about traffic….or….or….or… I’m still waiting. The reality is there are unique challenges to every single phase of parenting, and it’s all hard (and rewarding and gratifying), just in different ways.
- Just make up your mind already.
I’m reading Hamlet this summer in preparation for teaching it again this fall to my homeschool co-op kids. I love Shakespeare because I always recognize so much of myself in the characters, but when it comes to Hamlet I seee myself in Hamlet’s second guessing. Should I kill Claudius now or not…hmmm…better wait…No, tired of waiting…doing it NOW! OOOOPS! Killed Polonius by mistake!!!
Davis is right when talks about the pitfalls of hesitating. Don’t say “maybe” to the pet tarantula question when you know the answer is really “NO! NO PET SPIDERS!!!” Do you really want to spend the next two weeks listing to someone try to turn that “maybe” into a “yes”?
By hesitating, just like my guy Hamlet, I end up stabbing the wrong person (that would be me…running a blade straight through my foot).
- Say “yes” whenever possible.
Much of parenting is the necessary “no.” No, you can’t stay up late.” “No, you can’t have a pet tarantula.” “No, you can’t wear your mud encrusted clothes to town.”
But there are times it would be easy to say “Yes” — so go ahead and SAY YES!
Just the other day, Wyatt asked, “Hey mom, want to take a walk.” I was tired, had pressing work to do for a client, but I thought to myself “Say Yes whenever possible” — so that’s what I did. I said “Yes!” And in doing so I also got the benefit of seeing his eyebrows shoot up his forehead in surprise and a smile bust out across his face as he said, “Really! Great!”
Note: I’ve also said yes to frozen custard a couple of times since reading that part of the book, but I most likely had ulterior motives.
I could go on and on about the wonderfulness of Raising Men, but instead, I’ll just give it the highest compliment I can think of: “I will read this book again.”
Title: Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons
Authors: Eric Davis & Dina Santorelli
Publisher / Publication Date: St. Martin’s Press / May 3, 2016
Note: I am not an Amazon Affiliate and receive no proceeds from the sale of this book.