Boys Need a Lighthouse (thanks Maggie Dent!)
So my partner has never been a book reader! Look he's probably read 8-10 books in the 25 years we've been together, but I don't consider that a reader! I have 4-8 books on the go at any one time (that's another story) so I consider myself a reader (see how I got my whole family to read just a little bit more here). So as we co-parent our tween and teen, I get rather frustrated when I find an amazing Earth-shattering book that is life-changing from a parenting perspective and I can't get him to read it. But, no more banging my head against a wall. I've crashed through it and found a solution!!
I started with baby steps. As a podcast fan, I'd listen to something that I thought he might enjoy and share it with him. I never harassed him to see if he followed through, I just kept sending stuff - all kinds of stuff that might tweak his interest. Well, he starting asking me for more and more as he listened with gusto. He listened when he went on walks to the beach, bike rides and in the car. He's done some deep dives into really amazing content and I've watched him shift to a growth mindset (thanks Carol Dweck!). (BTW - have you listened to 'How I Built This' with Guy Raz?)
Once he was hooked and getting used to the world of podcasts, I told him about Audible. I'd been signed up for over a year and was loving how efficient I could be at reading books I'd never found the time for previously as I could do now in the car, the supermarket and even while watching my kids' sport! I shared my account with him (you can share with family) and we started with a book called 'Mastering Fear' by Brandon Webb as it was a bit blokey and he loved reading about a US Navy Seal. By the way, the local library even has audio books now so you're not limited to Audible and get even get free access if you look around. My partner started diving into more of the books I had in my Audible library and I'd recommend ones that I knew would get him hooked that weren't too long (although he's much better with even longer books if they are engaging!).
Finally, the breakthrough. I borrowed Maggie Dent's 'From Boys to Men' and poured through the soft cover book with revelation after revelation. Finally a woman that understands men and how to translate for those that don't speak 'male'! I told my partner he had to read this book. He looked at me like I had 2 heads. Then without telling him I uploaded it to Audible.
Within days he found it and was away on a Maggie Dent binge! He'd come home and ask me what we were doing looking for 'lighthouses' (mentors) for our boys. He relayed the story of the 3 boys that went golfing with their dads' clubs ending up in the locker room and horsing around. They smashed a light bulb by mistake and just ended up losing it and breaking up the place - basically making some wrong decisions. The Golf Club President walked in on this scene and not happy called the boys' parents. Parent #1 arrived in his Porsche red with rage, got the boy in the car and slammed the door. Parent #2 was a variation of this same reaction. Parent #3 arrived and went up to his son whispering in his ear. They both left without any car door slamming. They went to the hardware store to buy tools and items to clean and fix up the locker room and took responsibility for the boys' actions. Together they found a solution and implemented it. My partner said, 'I want to be that dad.'
Wow. That was freaking magical and I want to help him be that dad. I love being by his side as he strives to be that dad. No one said parenting was easy, but when you have these little breakthroughs and see a way to do things differently, with LESS resistance, why don't we take that road? I can only speak for my parenting team and we're trying to learn, grow and think with empathy so that our boys are not shamed and punished when they really need love and attention. And I can now say that my partner is a new age reader!