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Bonding With Sons

Authors, both mothers of teenage boys, will discuss parenting book Wednesday in Thousand Oaks.

August 12, 2000|ANN SHIELDS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There are four styles of parenting, according to authors Susan Morris Shaffer and Linda Perlman Gordon. In their book, "Why Boys Don't Talk and Why We Care--a Mother's Guide to Connection," a quiz will label you as a terminator, critic, permissive or emotional mentor.

The authors will be at Borders Books & Music in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday to discuss their book.

Shaffer has been heavily involved in education and gender-related issues, while Gordon is a clinical social worker who has directed court-mandated parenting seminars for divorcing parents.

Statistics in their book showcase some gender differences.

For example, boys are much more likely than girls to have discipline and behavior problems, are disproportionately placed in special education classes, and constitute 71% of school suspensions.

According to the authors, boys need to learn the differences among sadness, anger and frustration.

"Boys seem to lock their feeling under a large umbrella of anger," Gordon said. "Sometimes they can't understand that it is sadness that they feel. Anger is considered an appropriate feeling for them to have--it makes them feel like authentic men."

Shaffer pointed out that parents are more apt to teach the language of feelings to daughters. Through their focus groups, they learned that boys need the opportunity to learn about the nuances of their feelings, so that they can act more appropriately, she said.

"We are not coming off as these all-knowing experts," Shaffer said. "Anybody who has raised or worked with teenage boys knows that this journey is not an easy one."

Both authors are the mothers of teenage boys, in addition to having expertise in gender and adolescent issues.

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Their goal is to begin a dialogue about these issues. For example, the cultural standard suggests that mothers need to separate from their sons in order for the boys to achieve independence and discover their own psychological boundaries.

Gordon suggested that instead of separating, parents and boys should renegotiate their relationship.

"Societal factors of boys being labeled wusses and mama's boys give them the feeling they don't have their families to fall back on and they have to do it alone," Gordon said. "We need to teach them that they can certainly individuate and become separate people, but they don't have to separate from us to do that."

The authors found that teenage boys often have at least one friend--a confidante--who is a girl.

It isn't that they don't need relationships--it's that they don't know how to go about starting one, Shaffer said.

Shaffer and Gordon will be at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles next week, but they will be at Borders--125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Thousand Oaks--on Wednesday to discuss and sign their book.

Shaffer can also be reached by e-mail at equity@maec.org.

HAPPENINGS

* Today: 10:30 a.m. Storytime from the award-winning PBS Series "Reading Rainbow" for children in kindergarten through third grade. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Today: 2 p.m. Sarah Smith will discuss and sign "A Citizen of the Country" at Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Today: 7:30 p.m. Anita Lawson will discuss and sign "Let the Games Begin" at Borders Books & Music, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Today: 7:30 p.m. Ray Clark Dickson will read from his recent book "Parlando: Selected Poems," as the Arcade Poetry Series opens its 2000-2001 season. $3 for nonmembers. Call 672-1756 for information. Carnegie Art Museum, 424 South C St., Oxnard.

* Sunday: Noon. Griffin Hart will discuss and sign "Wyakin" at the Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Sunday: 2 p.m. David LaMont Lee will discuss and sign "Merchant Marine Days: My Life in World War II" at the Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

* Sunday: 6 p.m. Poetry discussion followed by a featured poet at 7 p.m. and open mike at 8 p.m. Borders Books & Music, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Monday: 12:30 p.m. The Monday Afternoon Club will discuss "While I Was Gone" by Sue Miller. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Tuesday: 3 p.m. Journaling with Amelia, for ages 8 and older. Games, journaling tips, Amelia giveaways and mini-journal notebooks. Space is limited, so call to reserve a place. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Tuesday: 7 p.m. The Partners in Crime Mystery Group welcomes Robert Crais, author of "Demolition Angel," who will discuss writing police procedural mysteries and the experience of writing about a female lead character. Book signing to follow. Borders Books & Music, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. Storytime about friendships. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

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