New review: Raising boys? Help yourself to some gender stereotypes

Steve Biddulph’s bestseller on bringing up boys takes us on a trip back to 19th century, says Clare Gould

raisingboyscover.jpgIt was as I stood waiting in a queue in the local department store that the book caught my eye. Jiggling my baby son in his sling and pushing my daughter’s pushchair along, a row of blue and pink books swam into view. Their pastel covers beamed up at me next to the checkout, their covers stamped with photogenic children gazing open eyed – middle-class and white; dimpled skin and Boden t-shirts. Raising Girls and Raising Boys loudly proclaimed the titles. Obviously there was a knack to this – one I needed to learn.

I wish I had been forewarned. Parenting is hard job but it is also tribal. Mother pitted against mother in a struggle to raise their children the correct and legitimate way. Black and white; four legged vs. two legged; routine vs. attachment; Penelope Leach vs. Gina Ford – I knew I would have to pick a side. What I didn’t initially expect was how my feminist principles would also be under attack. This was an examination not just of my children but me – my class; morality; worldview; politics. So like any good middle-class girl preparing for a test, I read the books.

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