Excerpt: Raising Boys Without Men

In "Raising Boys Without Men," research psychologist Dr. Peggy Drexler says that boys raised in households headed by just mothers can grow up emotionally stronger, more empathetic and independent than boys raised in traditional two-parent households.

Drexler's book is based on a research study she started in 1996, in which she tracked families headed by a mother and father, families headed by two mothers and single-mother families. She says that her research shows parenting is not anchored to gender; instead, it is either good or deficient.

You can read an excerpt from "Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men," by Peggy Drexler and Linden Gross below.

Chapter One: The Bad Rap Against Mothers

"I hope you have a father for that baby!" -- Male bus driver to a well-dressed, single-by-choice, professional mother in San Francisco struggling with moderate success to get her wailing 4-year-old son, his rather large truck, and her briefcase onto the bus after picking him up from a playdate

"Hi, my name is Peggy, and I'm a mother." I'm also a worrier. I always thought that was a Jewish thing, but then Catholic friends, Episcopalian friends, and Muslim friends, black, white, Asian, gay, straight -- you name it -- friends all swore it was their thing. Now I believe that with mothering, worry is an equal-opportunity opportunity. It comes with the job and is fanned by expert advice on child rearing that implies that a boy's healthy development is thoroughly dependent on his mother's parenting.

Like most new mothers, when my son was born, I relied on numerous child-rearing books, including one by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., that identified three different types of babies and their time lines. My son did not fit neatly into any of Dr. Brazelton's categories, and that drove me nuts. I obviously wasn't measuring up as a mother. So I kept reading more books by child experts, trying to follow their unending advice. And still my son never seemed to fit the mold. When he did meet the mark, I didn't bother to underline those more positive passages. Like most of us, I didn't dwell on the things that were going well. Whatever wasn't quite right stood out like a headline. And the biggest headline of them all read: YOUR SON STILL DOESN'T SPEAK.

That 13-month-old Alex wasn't walking yet also concerned me, even though 14 months (which is when he did start to walk) is average. But the fact that he still hadn't said his first word nearly drove me to distraction. I would listen and try to figure out if he was saying something, because he did make a lot of incoherent noises. Every time he opened his mouth, I'd think, "Is it this word? Is it that word?"

We lived in the pressure-cooker environment of Manhattan, where all the mothers I knew were highly educated, high-powered women like me, and just as concerned, eager, competitive, frightened, and anxious. That held true for the two other women in my mommy-baby group, both of whom had girls. Since girls tend to be developmentally quicker than boys, I had to contend with that as well.

"I have some concerns about Alex because he's not talking. And, like your daughter, he is not walking yet," I confided to one of them on our way to a Tumbling Tots class shortly before Alex started motoring around our apartment as if he'd been walking his whole life.

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