Book Review: Raising Boys Without Men

Book Review: Raising Boys Without Men
Raising Boys Without Men : How Maverick Moms are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men by Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., with Linden Gross

The research behind this book aims directly at the heart of the long-time myth that boys must be raised by men in order to be a “successful” man. Along with other fallacies such as “Too much time with women turns boys into sissies” and “No men in the house creates momma’s boys”, these myths are quickly dispelled as the reader meets the mothers and sons of this long-term research project.

There are two aspects of this book that make it unique in terms of published research studies. First, Dr. Drexler is careful to explain her personal interest in this study and the purpose behind the study. Second, rather than simply spout statistics and draw conclusions, Dr. Drexler allows the reader to meet the subjects of her study and uses her interactions with them to illustrate support for her findings.

While the study began as a look at boys raised by lesbian couples, it quickly evolved into a look at all women who are raising boys without men in the home – single mothers by choice, single mothers by divorce or death and lesbian couples. This focus on how women raise boys and how boys react to being raised by women only results in findings that should set typical parenting circles into a spin, crushing long held beliefs that these boys are somehow lacking in their upbringing.

In fact, it seems that these boys, raised by women, actually become better-rounded, more compassionate, and more thoughtful, while retaining all their “boy characteristics.” Drexler calls them “head and heart boys” because they have the best characteristics of an individual, regardless of gender. In fact, Drexler’s study shows that all the “boyishness” of a typical boy – the rough-housing, the curiosity, the typical boy interests – seems to be stored in the genes. In the argument of nature vs. nurture, this study shows that nurture cannot undo what nature intends. Instead, nurture adds to the already inherent qualities to produce a better (or worse, as the case may be) “finished product.”

Does this study state that boys (or girls) don’t need male influences in their lives? No. What it does state is that maverick moms are so dedicated to their children that they find the sources of influence needed for their children and incorporate them into their children’s lives, whether or not they exist in the home environment. Another interesting quality of maverick moms is that they are more willing to take the chance to break out of their own molds in order to make sure that their children have the support and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.

This book is full of examples of how maverick moms have gone the extra mile to make sure that their sons have the experiences and role models they need in order to be the best boys (and best future men!) they can possible be. I can honestly say that I hope that my daughters meet one of these boys after they become men, because they will make exceptional husbands and parents!

If you are a single parent, especially a single mom, you will want to read this book and celebrate in the triumphs of the other single mothers successfully raising their children. If you are the single mother of a son, you will be especially joyful to find that the old clichés need to be thrown out the window and that life raising your son can be embraced. After all, that is what maverick moms are all about.

Raising Boys Without Men is currently available in hardcover and will be available in paperback on October 3, 2006. For your copy, go to and enter ISBN 1-57954-881-4 in the Books section. This is an excellent and enlightening read!

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