It's never too early to start talking to boys about gender, consent, and empathy. In a world still steeped in gender inequality and sexual violence, it’s become more and more clear that we can’t just teach girls to protect themselves. We must also teach boys not to do harm.
As parents, we all want to raise kind and loving kids who will grow up to be conscientious adults. But when you look closely at our society—especially at the statistics surrounding rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault—it’s clear that something needs to change.
It’s time to teach our sons compassion and empathy. It’s time to show them that it’s okay to cry, to laugh, to be angry, to be silly. It’s time to teach them to respect girls, and not just the ones they think are pretty. It’s time to teach them that it’s not okay to pick on the queer kids, the little kids, and the fat kids. It’s time to teach boys that it’s not okay to treat kids of color like second-class citizens. It’s time to teach our boys how to be conscious citizens. But where do you begin?
Written by a clinical psychologist with expertise in modern families, Raising Feminist Boys is a parent’s guide to having age appropriate conversations with boys about sexual responsibility, consent, gender, empathy, and identity. You’ll find an accessible framework that includes developmental considerations, language, and clear tools for how to talk with your son about feminism without shame, fear, or judgment. We need to have honest and informative conversations with our sons about sex and consent. We must show them how to recognize and question gender norms and bias, both within the culture and, most importantly, within ourselves. Raising Feminist Boys will give you the tools you need to get started.
“A worthy and comprehensive primer for anyone interested in—but unsure how to pull off—raising sons to become fully human and actively upstanding citizens.”
—Darcy Lockman, author of All the Rage
— Darcy Lockman
“Raising Feminist Boys is an incredibly insightful mélange of history, essential literacy about psychology, parenting realities, and what our society truly needs. It is composed in a genuine voice of a mother, concerned citizen, and a true scholar which speaks to your heart as much as it stimulates your mind. It offers critical questions while offering practical solutions. Our world will be a better place if parents become fluent in the teachings of this book.”
—Sara Nasserzadeh, PhD, social psychologist; senior cultural advisor to the United Nations; cofounder of Relationship Panoramic, Inc.; and coauthor of Sexuality Education Wheel of Context
— Sara Nasserzadeh, PhD
“Grounded in scientific research while simultaneously a deeply personal reflection, Raising Feminist Boys offers the perfect road map for how we shift the culture of toxic masculinity in the wake of the #metoo movement—beginning with concrete steps we can take in our own homes. As both a clinical psychologist and mother of two young sons, I couldn’t be more grateful for this invaluable resource, and for Wegner’s insightful (and engaging!) guidance throughout.”
—Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, PhD, clinical psychologist, parenting coach, and author of The Tantrum Survival Guide
— Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, PhD
“Wegner’s book is essential for our modern times. Her straightforward approach engages the reader while providing useful strategies which allow boys and their role models to become advocates of equality for all genders. Wegner’s authenticity is strengthened by her ability to share her personal challenges with raising her own feminist children. Wegner’s sincerity, warmth, and humor give credence to an imperative call to action for change.”
—Katharine “Kim” Larsson, PhD, CNS-BC, cofounder of Boston Behavioral Medicine in Brookline, MA; with over thirty years of experience as a psychotherapist, psychopharmacologist, consultant, and educator
— Katharine “Kim” Larsson, PhD, CNS-BC
“Wegner’s practical advice guides parents through one of the most important conversations to have during childhood. Having ‘the talk’ isn’t enough if we are to change the toxic culture that persists in society today. The road map provided here starts when our children are young, and these powerful conversations continue throughout their development. This book pushes us to examine our own biases, and provides clear and age-appropriate language to create strong and caring ‘feminist boys.’”
—Elihu Selter, PsyD, clinical psychologist in private practice, faculty at the Milton Academy, and father of two sons
— Elihu Selter, PsyD
“Even the most confident, educated, and well-intentioned parents are struggling to raise their sons—many find ways to talk with their daughters about consent, sex, and equality, but miss out on opportunities to have these critical conversations with their boys. Now there’s a remedy: we finally have a book that equips parents and educators with the capacity and confidence to raise a generation of boys as champions of equality. Leaving judgment aside, Raising Feminist Boys delivers specific, accessible, and age-appropriate strategies parents can put to use tonight—right at the dinner table.”
—Justine Finn, EdM, founder and director of Relation-Shift, consultant to K–12 schools and parents on gender, and mom grappling with how to raise her own children as feminists
— Justine Finn, EdM
“Once in a while a parenting book comes along that is rooted in a strong understanding of the best research and thinking about parenting and child development; wise about the nuances of parenting and stocked with concrete, accessible advice and highly practical tips. This is one of those times. I strongly encourage you to read this terrific road map to raising boys who will do the vital work of challenging damaging gender stereotypes in themselves and others, and who will engage in relationships with deep respect and care.”
—Richard Weissbourd, senior lecturer and faculty director of the Making Caring Common project at Harvard Graduate School of Education
— Richard Weissbourd
“Raising Feminist Boys is the guide every parent of boys needs to raise healthy, empathetic sons who contribute in positive ways to society. With the perfect combination of personal stories, practical tips, guided reflection, and evidence, Wegner takes parents by the hand and shows them exactly how to raise feminist boys. Prepare to be comforted by her honesty and inspired by her thoughtful guidance.”
—Erin Erickson, DNP, MPH, MA, family nurse practitioner; maternal child health specialist; and cofounder and cohost of Mom Enough, an evidence-based parenting podcast
— Erin Erickson, DNP, MPH, MA
About the Author:
Bobbi Wegner, PsyD, is a lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education, supervising clinical psychologist at Boston Behavioral Medicine, writer, speaker, and cofounder of a virtual platform that provides real support for real parents from real experts. She has given three TEDx Talks on raising boys in modern culture, frequently writes on the topic, and gets much of her research from raising three children of her own (two of which are boys).
Jessica Joelle Alexander is coauthor of The Danish Way of Parenting.