Building Boys Manifesto

We Believe:

1. There’s no such thing as a “typical boy”.

All boys are different. So while boys, generally speaking, are prone to movement and risk-taking, we know that’s not true of all boys. We steer away from stereotypes.

2. All boys can succeed.

We define “success” as productive engagement with the world. All boys have something important to contribute to the world.

3. Asking a 5-year-old boy to sit still for most of the day is ridiculous.

Boys, especially young boys, learn best through play, movement and experimentation. Schools that push early academics hurt far more boys than they help.

4. Playing with sticks, swords, and toy guns is absolutely OK.

The research is clear: there is no link between “violent” play and true violence. Pretend weapons play is perfectly healthy and may help boys cope with their fears and feelings.

5. Boys cry too.

You’ll never hear us say, “man up!” in an effort to stifle emotion. For too long, boys and men have been encouraged to hide their feelings. We want to make it OK for boys to feel (and express) their emotions.

6. Understanding boys is the first step toward effectively parenting and educating boys.

Boys are different than girls, and so is their experience of the world. In order to best help our boys, we need to learn all we can about them and their experience.

7. Boys’ interests should be respected.

Too often, boys’ interests are belittled and considered “a waste of time.” But interest in anything can lead anywhere, and that’s as true for video games and sports as it is for Newtonian physics and engineering.

8. Boys deserve the facts about sex. And relationships.

It’s almost impossible to avoid porn in today’s digitally connected world. That’s why it’s more important than ever to provide our boys with accurate information regarding sex, health and contraception, and why it’s absolutely crucial to talk to our boys about love, respect and relationships as well.

9. Most adults are well-meaning.

The vast majority of teachers, coaches, and parents genuinely want to help the kids in their charge. But they don’t all understand boys, and some haven’t confronted or resolved their own issues. Sharing information and working together is more productive in effecting change than blaming and shaming.

10. Building boys will improve the world.

Healthy, confident boys grow into healthy, confident men. Together, we can expand our boys’ opportunities and make a difference for the next generation.

Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World that Misunderstands Males

By Jennifer L.W. Fink, Building Boys founder

Raising boys is important work.

We’ve all seen the horror a damaged boy can inflict upon society. So today’s parents are attempting to raise kind, compassionate, emotionally sensitive boys – in a society that misunderstands male development and proclaims The Future is Female.

Misconceptions about masculinity and male development hinder parents and harm boys.

Author Jennifer L.W. Fink, a mom of four sons, didn’t initially realize that parenting boys is very different than parenting girls or non-binary children. She thought you could parent a Child, irrespective of gender. She eventually realized that overlooking a child’s gender is as unhelpful as ignoring a child’s race because gender, like race, impacts an individual’s experience of the world.

Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World that Misunderstand Males shows parents how to raise confident, secure boys in an era of evolving gender norms.

Drawing on her two-plus decades of experience as a “boy mom,” Fink points out possible pitfalls (like academic expectations that are wildly out-of-sync with male development) and teaches parents how to help boys thrive despite lingering sexism and a lack of societal support.

Endorsements for Building Boys

"Jennifer Fink is a tireless advocate for boys, with four boys of her own. In Building Boys she distills the research into 10 simple rules any parent can use to guide their sons' development. Not only do her guidelines and analysis fit the newest research on boys, they also fit common sense--which is something that parents today find immensely important. I highly recommend this book to anyone raising boys."
Michael Gurian
New York Times Bestselling Author of "The Wonder of Boys" and "Saving Our Sons"
“With humor and vulnerability, Jen shares real life in-the-trenches boy-mom stories while highlighting the latest research and how it applies to your family. Most importantly, she shares the practical advice you need to understand, love, and raise your son…to be a great guy!"
Janet Allison
Founder of Boys Alive! and Co-Host of ON BOYS Parenting Podcast
"It is routine to identify and discuss how gender norms can be harmful for girls. But we don't often elaborate on how gender norms can be harmful for boys, too. And we definitely don't often discuss how to counter those harmful gender norms to raise wonderful, decent, loving boys. This is why Building Boys is such an important book..."
Kate Mangino
author of "Equal Partners: Improving Gender Equality at Home"
"In Building Boys, Jennifer L.W. Fink provides wisdom, science and reassurance for parents as we navigate the rewarding (and at times messy) process of raising our sons. Fink, who has four boys, takes on the stereotypes, distills the research, and offers practical guidance. Reading this book is like having an experienced friend on speed dial."
Lisa L. Lewis
MS, author of "The Sleep-Deprived Teen: Why Our Teenagers Are So Tired, And How Parents And Schools Can Help Them Thrive"
"Building Boys starts with a critical acknowledgment - that boys confront a world of stereotypes - and offers a roadmap for parents wanting to help them hold onto their true selves. At a time when masculinity itself is weaponized, it is refreshing to hear from a savvy mother who simply wants all our sons to flourish."
Michael C. Reichert
Ph.D., author of "How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men", & Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Boys' and Girls' Lives at the University of Pennsylvania
"This is not a culture wars book about which gender has it hardest, or whether there are genders at all. It's a practical, hopeful, bracing guidebook to raising boys who are kind and strong and good men in the making. Amen to that!"
Lenore Skenazy
President of Let Grow, author of "Free-Range Kids"
“Jennifer does a brilliant--and more important, empathetic – job of integrating her own experience raising sons with data from the world’s best scholars. A must read for every parent and educator.
Warren Farrell, Ph.D.
Author, The Boy Crisis
“I love this book! As a woman who grew up in a house full of females, I so often was (and still am!) unsure of how to raise a son. As Fink points out, us moms know we want to raise “good guys,” but we don’t really know how. Building Boys provides so many answers. Evidence-based, entertaining, and easy to read, this book will help parents, educators, coaches, and others invested in the well-being of boys to not only raise good guys, but guys who are emotionally intelligent, capable of forming salubrious relationships, and mentally and physically healthy.”
Dr. Charlotte Markey
prof of psychology at Rutgers Univ & author of "Being You: The Body Image Book for Boys and The Body Image Book for Girls"
“In BUILDING BOYS, Jennifer Fink combines research, insight and her own considerable experience in raising four sons to create a clear, helpful guide on how to raise boys to become good men. This book is more important than ever as society continues to challenge our sons with new and constantly evolving expectations.”
Kate Stone Lombardi
Author - “The MAMA’S BOY MYTH: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger"
“With Building Boys, Jennifer shares her unique perspective as both a longtime journalist on boys’ development, and a mom of four nearly-grown boys who has seen it all firsthand. The result is an extensive compilation of research grounded unwaveringly in the stories of boys and their parents—a touchstone for building boys’ best selves.”
Jonathon Reed
“Jennifer Fink’s book is an exceptionally valuable contribution to the growing field of literature about raising boys to become the excellent friends, partners, brothers, sons, husbands and fathers they can be when their upbringing isn’t compromised by misleading cultural narratives about gender that set the behavioral and emotional bar lower for males than necessary. Parents will appreciate the practical guidance applicable to the different developmental periods of boys’ lives, as well as to the shaping of enduring and emotionally rich relationships between parents and their sons.”
Janet Sasson Edgette
Psy.D., Child & Adolescent Psychologist and author of "The Last Boys Picked: Helping Boys Who Don’t Play Sports Survive Bullies and Boyhood"
“As a school counselor, therapist, and mother of two sons, I kept saying “YES” out loud as I read “Building Boys.” Author Jennifer Fink has devoted her entire adult life to raising, writing, and podcasting about boys, and it shows. Her trademark humor and vulnerability come through on every page of this entertaining, practical, exhaustively researched guide to turning out confident, kind boys in a world that often misunderstands them. Whether you're a caregiver, therapist, or educator who works with boys, this book is an absolutely indispensable guide."
Phyllis Fagell
school counselor, licensed therapist, and author of "MIDDLE SCHOOL MATTERS and MIDDLE SCHOOL SUPERPOWERS"
Building Boys

You can purchase the newest book from Building Boys at the following websites: