Raising Boys Without Men
How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men
Rodale, July 2005

About the Book

According to prevailing wisdom, a boy must be raised with a man in the house; otherwise, he's bound to be a failure. That same wisdom tells us that mothers left to their own devices will smother their sons and turn them into sissies, and that sons of unmarried mothers are destined to a life of crime.

I wasn't quite convinced that this "common" knowledge was accurate or true so I embarked on a groundbreaking study that compared boys from female-headed households with boys from traditional mom-and-dad families.

The results were published in a reputable peer-reviewed journal and they were so heartening that I expanded focus for the book to include other types of woman-headed households. Raising Boys Without Men is an examination of these boys and their amazing mothers.

Rebutting confidently spouted opinions to the contrary, my research shows that boys raised without fathers are socially savvy, generous, caring communicators, while still remaining extremely "boyish"—passionate about sports and adept at rough-housing with friends.

These boys' maverick moms are pioneering a new form of parenting that rejects social judgments about family structure and gender stereotype, and which stresses the importance of communication, community, and love. These brave women have much to teach us about a better way to raise tomorrow's men.

Praise for the Book

“This important work will serve as a beacon to the country's nearly 10 million single mothers.”
Publishers Weekly
“[Raising Boys without Men] is truly a cutting-edge book … Using a surprising breed of mother to challenge some of our preconceptions about what makes a family and what boys need, [Raising Boys without Men] will be an important book for everyone—from parents of all stripes, to teachers, social scientists, and politicians — who cares about the future of the American Family.”
Carol Gilligan, Ph.D., bestselling author of The Birth of Pleasure and In a Different Voice
“This is a wonderful book—a very necessary book. We live in an age of labels: you're normal, you're not. For the so-called non-traditional families that want only to make their way in the world, labels can do incredible damage. Raising Boys Without Men makes a convincing and empathetic case that very good things come from outside the bounds of our worn-out assumptions.”
Henry Louis Gates W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University
“As I read this book, I could almost hear the sound of the flying monkeys swooping in from out on the right. Books like this are attacked for the truths they tell. And there is no greater truth you can tell to the nation's single mothers than ‘Relax. If you love him, support him, listen to him-your boy will turn out just fine.’”
Bette Midler
“Peggy Drexler is such a perfect guide to parenting in the 21st century, of what makes the most basic institution of society click, I wondered: How did she get so smart about life? Decades of research, of course, but also an uncanny knack for seeing inside the human heart. Pull up a chair and read this book. You'll be a better parent for it.”
Margaret Carlson, first woman columnist, Time Magazine, political columnist, Bloomberg News, and Washington editor of The Week magazine.
“This is the answer to those who believe they can attach limits to the idea of family. It's part guide, part affirmation, part eye-opening proof that family is far less about composition, than it is about the power of its love and support.”
Jann Wenner, editor and publisher, Rolling Stone Magazine
“Once a decade, it seems, there is a book that suddenly makes it all clear that what we have been led to believe about ourselves, gender roles and expectations is nothing more than hooey. This is such a book. A well-researched and clearly written testament that people are people and families are not nuclear but functional.”
Rita Henley Jensen, founder and editor in chief, Women's eNews

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Read the introduction.

Read reviews.

Read a Q&A with the author from Health magazine

Finalist: Books for a Better Life Award in Parenting. Books for a Better Life awards recognize and pay tribute to outstanding and influential self-help, motivational, self-improvement or advice books.

Finalist: Lambda Literary Award in Nonfiction—The Lambda Literary Foundation celebrates achievements in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) literature.

Best-Seller: San Francisco Chronicle“Raising Boys Without Men, Peggy Drexler, a study by a Cornell psychology professor finds that single mothers and lesbian couples are just as effective at raising sons as more traditional families.”

Hot Summer Read: Harper’s Bazaar

Our Fathers, Ourselves Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family
Published by Rodale, 2011

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View more photos on Peggy’s Instagram.