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by Philip Van Munching
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2005
Review by Anthony R Dickinson, Ph.D. on Jul 4th 2006

Boys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)

Written with much passion and good humor, this work is a delight to share, and in its audiobook version (read by the author), deserves an audience well beyond its original target (his own daughters). Begun as a project designed to provide a frank, confessional "Dad's advice for daughters", writing down thoughts before speaking in the fear of simply embarrassing himself, there is much for everyone here -- mothers and sons, grandparents, and singletons alike.

I am not fully in agreement with all of the views expressed (and Yes, the 'how to deal with guy stuff' is rightly included), but there is much 'good, solid advice' that I could list here (and the reasons why I like them). Van Munching takes on issues with TV soap operas (their poorness as role-model provision and why few of us 'out here' cannot be saved by the commercial breaks as the actors so often are!), physical possessions (how and why to get rid of them), fate and romance (why 'soulmates' rarely turn out to be such), boyfriends (include how to identify the right one, and how & why to get rid of them if they are not!). However, the author also has a tendency on occasion to preach a little with regards certain do's and don'ts with respect to his own lifestyle choices and personal beliefs. For example, rather than listing the cautions associated with tattooing and body-piercing, I would have preferred to hear more about young ladies being encouraged to think about what their bodies are designed to DO, rather than how they look; or to be better schooled in how to explain about the exclusiveness and intimacy of sexual activity, rather than being told simply that it is so. However, many parents may forgive Van Munching for these omissions given his honesty and depth of genuine concern in offering to share his values with such personal humility and openness.

One surprising feature of this volume (at least for me) was its welcome scattering of occasional references to significant gender issues with regards the personal and social 'differences' between boys and girls, and especially so as they may relate to their post-pubertal adolescent years. Many teenagers would do well to consider the real-life experiences of the author, and his reflections upon them, in explaining the possible causal factors giving rise to the finding that boys and girls of the same age so often explain their behavior (both their own and that of others) very differently. Indeed, for those parents neither able nor willing to discuss some of the more sensitive issues raised here, I would certainly suggest their considering giving this book to their children to read (both boys and girls) – with the hope that they may thereafter at least have been exposed to its specific content, which will surely be of great interest to them all.

Certainly not an academic book based on research findings, but neither a volume to be consigned solely to the humor shelf, this is a welcome addition to the bookshelf of anyone wishing to provide serious, yet entertaining, discussion material designed to aid young ladies (and young gentlemen) through their journey from middle-school right through to their college and university days.


© 2006 Tony Dickinson


Dr. Tony Dickinson, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. USA., &  People Impact Consulting (Asia).