Book Review: Manhood by Steve Biddulph




As the revitalised England cricket team slog it out with Australia for the Ashes again, I’m reviewing a book I bought when I visited Australia nearly twenty years ago. Steve Biddulph has the reputation as Australia’s best known family therapist and parenting author. In his book Manhood he examines two crucial issues: Creating a healthy masculinity and how men can free themselves from crippling and outdated roles. I read the book when I came back to England and have continued to dip into it ever since.

He hits the mark for many of us in relation to who has taught us about our masculinity by stating: “It takes the help of many men to turn a boy into a man. School doesn’t do it; watching TV doesn’t do it; Mum, however hard she tries, can’t do it on her own. Boys need exposure to healthy men and this need continues into adult life”.

And he sites the enemies or prisons from which men need to escape as loneliness, compulsive competition and lifelong emotional timidity. There’s a whole chapter devoted to ‘You and your father’ and another discusses ‘Being a real father’.

I met with a group of blokes this week and as we shared honestly both the joys and challenges of the things we are involved in, one said “I come alive when I do that!” It reminded me of something Steve Biddulph says about finding a job with heart.

As I reflect back on the various chapter headings I realise that, since I first read it, I have (surprisingly) made some progress. I understand more about where I am coming from and I feel more engaged with my kids despite them having grown up and left home. I am rediscovering more of my adventurous spirit, and I am less passive. I try to initiate rather than wait for an invitation that never comes. I have found a sacredness and depth in my primary relationship, and I am pursuing authentic male friendship via small groups and vulnerable friendships. Whatever point you are on your masculine journey, this is a really helpful book and I heartily recommend it.

Manhood by Steve Biddulph is available here and there’s further information about Steve here

Main photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via Unsplash

Bob Fraser

Bob Fraser is a singer-songwriter, men’s group leader and Regional Director for CVM aiming to open up conversations about life and faith.

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