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Posted by blogpmm on November 10, 2009




What parents can do to motivate teen boys to strive for their personal best at home, at school and beyond

Review by



Jabatan Perdagangan, Politeknik Merlimau

Author : Jamilah Samian

Publisher : Truewealth Publishing,

First Edition, May 2009

ISBN : 978-983-3364-79-4

Pages : 204 pages

Price : RM 39.90

Cool Boys Super Sons Author



Puan Jamilah Samian came out with her first parenting book, “Cool Mum Super Dad” in 2006 after working on it for two years researching and writing the material. The book with its Asian slant on how to be a better parents did rather well in the local market. A Bahasa Malaysia version is also available.

Recently, the mother of six and former IT executive has come out with a second parenting book, this time looking into escaping the pitfalls of parenting teenage boys, “Cool Boys Super Sons”, took her one-and-a-half years to write and is targeted at parents with sons aged between 10 to 19. Progressively, she is now in process to complete her third book on marriage issues. (Actually I’ve made a personal phone call to her on 12 August 2009 asking permission to do this book review and she’s glad to permit me to do so and congratulate our polytechnic/organization for encouraging book review activity …syukur ).

This book covers what parents can do specially when it comes to raising boys. It is full of anecdotes and real-life examples. Most of all the author offers a lot of food for thought. As a mother of five boys aged between 11 and 23, Puan Jamilah has first-hand experience about raising boys. The moment people find out that she has five boys, they make all sort of comments such as how she manages to raise them. There is a lot of concern out there about boys in two major areas – behaviour and academics. Boys whose academic performance decline come under two categories, i.e boys who used to excel in school but whose performance has slipped over the years; and boys who have never done particularly well in school but are now trailing further and further behind. You can have a son who is doing well in school and behaving positively. You don’t have to choose between the two. Boys have a tendency to overestimate their academic abilities. It’s important for you to focus more on effort, less on ability. Throughout his life, a boy needs compelling challenges to be motivated.

Boys love to be challenged and this will sometimes be reflected in the strength of their ambition. That would be a good gauge for his success in life when he grows up. While it is great for parents to challenge their teenage sons, they should be wary of presenting challenges that are too easy or too difficult for their children.

Part of the research for this book includes interviewing many families and young men who had troubled childhoods to get their stories on paper. The book highlights the right way of raising boys and factors which made a young man turn out the way he did. Adolescence is a major turning point for boys. Adolescence provides a valuable window of opportunity to change for the better. This is why parents need to pay special attention to teen boys.

Puan Jamilah advises parent to be kind but firm. Lots of kindness balanced with firmness at the right time will go a long way towards raising self-disciplined, confident children.

I found the chapter on trust thoroughly interesting. Puan Jamilah highlights that if we want our son to listen to us and give his personal best, we need to develop a relationship based on trust because teen boys only listen to people they trust. Trust tends to bring out the best in boys. A teenage son is not going to excel if we as parents don’t trust him enough to let him go and let him learn. Sometimes all he needs is to know that you have faith in him and his abilities. Boys are motivated to prove themselves and act responsibly when they feel trusted. Helping your son earn your trust involves assisting him to establish a pattern of consistent, trustworthy behaviour. Trust works wonders because it’s such a good feeling to have. Trust makes everything else easier!

She also advises parents to give their children another chance if the trust was broken before and to always stay calm in tense situations. The common mistakes that parents make here are jumping to conclusions and becoming intrusive or accusatory because then the child will withdraw even further and it will close down communication

Discipline is a big issue when it comes to boys. Research has shown that what works with one child may not work with another. No two children are the same. The best form of discipline is when you raise enough discomfort in the child to make him to change. It is always about change, from bad behaviour to something that is acceptable. There is just no excuse for bad behaviour and parents should emphasise that.

Actually I found that the advices in this book can be applied to teenage girls as well. There is also a chapter in the book that’s all about communication. Puan Jamilah stresses that parents should be on the same wavelength when it comes to raising a child. The point is, when the father doesn’t back up the mother or vice versa, they are sending out conflicting messages. It is important for parents to be on the same page. Throughly, you can successfully connect with your son if you equip yourself with BASK:

Belief – You believe it can be done.

Attitude – You have a positive attitude.

Skills – You are willing to improve your communication skills over time.

Knowledge – You have sufficient knowledge about yourself and your son.

The Rule of Reciprocity says the more you listen to your son, the more he listens to you. So, listen well. Puan Jamilah adds that it is crucial for parents to lead by example as well. A chain smoker can’t really tell his son not to smoke and expect the boy to listen. She says that parenting is a skill that we have to learn and fine-tune to suit our particular situation.

In the chapter on personal accountability, Puan Jamilah gives examples of how parents can offer encouragement and not lay the guilt trip on their teenage sons. There are also some tips on hot to get your son to be more organized. Concerning school achievement, studies reveal that teens tend to get better grades in school when parents stress independences over obedience, involve them in the decision-making and react encouragingly towards their academic performance and habits. Puan Jamilah feels that parents should not push their sons beyond their own limits when it comes to their education. The passion for learning should be above grades, because what we want are well-adjusted, all-rounded boys. Also, parents must stay obstinately optimistic in raising boys. Our state of mind must be that way because if we give up, that would not put us on the right footing. Constantly telling ourselves that boys will be boys is not the right way to go either.

Sometimes we tend to do things the way our parents did. But the children today aren’t anything like the children of the past so we do need to get better and more up-to-date ideas on parenting especially when it comes to teens. Hence, never compare your struggling son to his better performing siblings. Recognize your son’s efforts more than his abilities. Help your son to develop a vision of who he wants to be. Also, redefine success as achieving small breakthroughs rather than winning trophies and medals.

If you are a single parent, you are the rock of the family. Give priority to your needs. If you are a single mother, respect your son’s masculinity and allow him to have male role models. If you are a single father, take care that communication is always open between you and your son. If you are a stepparent, understand and accept that the dynamics of a stepfamily are different from a biological family. It is worth your time to seek guidance about the tools and skills you need to navigate the intricacies of the stepfamily.

There are many parenting books available but we have to adjust their advice accordingly to suit our family’s situation. Boys in their teens are experiencing many changes in their brain and body, hence, are more prone to emotional outbursts. Parents should not to take things too personally when their son is sunny one minute and moody the next. Teenage boys are too old to be babied and too young to be considered adults.

Sharing is caring. Overall, I’d say that this is a good book for parents – not just for those who have sons. It offers examples, interesting information and lots of food for thought. There are even chapters on sex education and the home environment. The chapters are peppered with at-a-glance information – think about it, action points and in a nutshell – which make it easy for us to read if we want to quickly skim through that chapter or want to remember what we read. “Cool Boys Super Sons” is a simple English read. This book is illustrated by her only daughter who also did the illustrations for “Cool Mum Super Dad”. To conclude, parenting teens takes ingenuity, skill and intelligence – we need to be two steps ahead of them and this book gives us lots of ideas on how to do it. Wallahu’alam.

Mother of four boys in a row,


Friday 14 / 08 / 09


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