At last, a book about boys that doesn’t rely on the testosterone theory of sex differences. Instead, psychologist Mary Polce-Lynch offers gender glasses to view the different ways that boys and girls learn to understand and express their feelings. Boy Talkis a powerful manifesto that urges readers to stop governing boy’s inner lives by social norms. The heart of this resistance involves families and communities in breaking the “pack rules”–the cultural imperatives that restrict boys’ access to and expression of their emotions.
Polce-Lynch is equally adept at detailing the big picture of our culture’s discomfort with boys’ emotions and a frame of strategy that supports their emotional development. Well-written chapters explore the cost of unexpressed emotion, the link between emotions and temperament, the development of empathy, alternatives to aggression, and a curriculum for critiquing media. The book counsels parents to become “emotional detectives” and describes high-impact techniques, including mirroring, blending, naming, and modeling. Engaging in its scope and detail, Boy Talk will change your conversations with young men. –Barbara Mackoff