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It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men

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Children have plenty of buddies. In an age when kids all around us are growing up without strong, positive guidance from their parents (who are busy, distracted, gone, or choose to be buddies instead of parents), children need someone they can look to with respect to help them build their lives. When he was thirteen years old, Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, had such Children have plenty of buddies. In an age when kids all around us are growing up without strong, positive guidance from their parents (who are busy, distracted, gone, or choose to be buddies instead of parents), children need someone they can look to with respect to help them build their lives. When he was thirteen years old, Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, had such a man step into his life: a Sunday school teacher who modeled love, respect, hard work, and discipline. Cathy decided to follow that model, and today he has some 130 foster grandchildren, many of whom have broken their family's generational cycle of neglect through the encouragement of Cathy and other adults who reached out to them. In It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men, Truett Cathy lays out a simple model for adults desiring to reach out to youth and challenges readers to allow God to work through them to change the life of a child. His book is filled with stories illustrating the principles of discipline, trust, reputation, generosity, common sense, peer pressure, and family stability. Readers who follow their hearts into children's lives will find that their own lives are enriched as well.


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Children have plenty of buddies. In an age when kids all around us are growing up without strong, positive guidance from their parents (who are busy, distracted, gone, or choose to be buddies instead of parents), children need someone they can look to with respect to help them build their lives. When he was thirteen years old, Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, had such Children have plenty of buddies. In an age when kids all around us are growing up without strong, positive guidance from their parents (who are busy, distracted, gone, or choose to be buddies instead of parents), children need someone they can look to with respect to help them build their lives. When he was thirteen years old, Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, had such a man step into his life: a Sunday school teacher who modeled love, respect, hard work, and discipline. Cathy decided to follow that model, and today he has some 130 foster grandchildren, many of whom have broken their family's generational cycle of neglect through the encouragement of Cathy and other adults who reached out to them. In It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men, Truett Cathy lays out a simple model for adults desiring to reach out to youth and challenges readers to allow God to work through them to change the life of a child. His book is filled with stories illustrating the principles of discipline, trust, reputation, generosity, common sense, peer pressure, and family stability. Readers who follow their hearts into children's lives will find that their own lives are enriched as well.

30 review for It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    pat morgan

    I didn't give this book a five rating for it's suggestions about raising young people, they were all things we've heard before -- good to be reminded but nothing new. I did so because the book reveals an extraordinary man absolutely devoted to his mission of raising up these kids to be responsible Christian adults, at great expense to himself, and with an extraordinarily huge amount of his precious time. I read this in a group where we "netout" the books we read. Here's mine: I liked this book mo I didn't give this book a five rating for it's suggestions about raising young people, they were all things we've heard before -- good to be reminded but nothing new. I did so because the book reveals an extraordinary man absolutely devoted to his mission of raising up these kids to be responsible Christian adults, at great expense to himself, and with an extraordinarily huge amount of his precious time. I read this in a group where we "netout" the books we read. Here's mine: I liked this book more than I thought I might. I thought it might be a book full of grandfatherly opinions (not necessarily new and unique ideas) about child rearing, and it was that. There are many examples of what we should be doing to raise up our children in a Godly way that will serve them well for their entire lives. But what got me about the book is who Truett Cathy is. He has chosen to teach Sunday School to 13-year-old boys for over 50 years. That’s hard for me to imagine. I might prefer a root canal every Sunday. And apparently he was doing it for years before he got in the chicken biz. If you’re going to teach Sunday School, as many of you know, you need to be in church every Sunday. “Every,” as in all of them. No cutting out to play tennis. No trips to Disneyland. Or Las Vegas. Or a month long Mediterranean cruise. It’s commitment. Total commitment to a special cause for half a century-- read, your whole life. He was so dedicated to shaping the lives of children. He taught them in Sunday School. He mentored them in his home. He entertained them at his country house. He created safe, loving, and permanent homes for foster children. And he trained them to succeed in his restaurants. Do you think he went into the restaurant biz in order to give teenagers a place to grow into responsible adults? Maybe. What an amazing example to us of what a committed man of God looks like, and how effective a life can be. It makes me think about how selfish my life has been, and to what end? Have I had more fun? Have I somehow been more important? Have I been the example for my children or set them up for success or a life of ease? Or have I set up myself for a retirement of relaxation and freedom from work or worries? The answer to all of these is “No”. Not one of them. It reminds me of a line from John McCain’s Faith of My Fathers that I didn’t read or heed until way too late in my life: “The most important lesson I learned there (at the Naval Academy) was that to sustain my self-respect for a lifetime it would be necessary for me to have the honor of serving something greater than my self-interest.” I thought the opposite was true and only now when it’s a little bit late have I seen the light. About 35 years ago after I closed my first commercial development deal, my lawyer who was my age explained to me that I was now a millionaire. He scribbled some numbers on a restaurant napkin while we were out celebrating, and I was convinced making a lot of money was going to be easy and quick. I actually did look forward to giving a lot of it away as Mr. Cathy has done, but my motivations were all wrong. I wanted to give away millions so I would look good. None of that ever happened. I did find the way to peace and fulfillment, and it was not via the bank. Thank God and Diane for that. But I just wish I had found that out earlier and acted accordingly -- as Cathy did. What an exemplary life of service as a disciple of Jesus! And he built a billion dollar business based on the same principals. He found the secret of a life with no regrets and lived a life that the fear of death could never enter his heart.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mike Ncube

    This book is packed full of practical advice for teachers, parents, guardians and anyone with responsibility of guiding children and youth in our age. Although applicable to all children, the author focuses mainly on boys and those aged between 11-13 years of age in particular, when peer pressure has started making a big impact.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emmy

    I had previously read S. Truett Cathy's book How Did You Do It, Truett?: A Recipe for Success and loved it. When I found out that he had written more, I picked up this one as well. What I liked the most about this book was that it showed how you are supposed to raise a child. You should provide a loving home with guidelines, provide for the child, and make sure they know you love them. However, you are not their buddy, and you can't try to be the cool parent. The child needs support, love,and dis I had previously read S. Truett Cathy's book How Did You Do It, Truett?: A Recipe for Success and loved it. When I found out that he had written more, I picked up this one as well. What I liked the most about this book was that it showed how you are supposed to raise a child. You should provide a loving home with guidelines, provide for the child, and make sure they know you love them. However, you are not their buddy, and you can't try to be the cool parent. The child needs support, love,and discipline, not another friend. For me, as a single woman in her twenties, children are just not on my horizon right now. But, I encounter children through my work as a librarian. What I liked so much about this book is that it's not just about being a parent, but about being anyone who works with children. It gave me some perspective of how to work with children, how to treat them, and when necessary, how to discipline without overstepping my boundaries or causing resentment. I think the best part of this book is that it focused on love and God. It was a very Christian perspective, but I feel that any parents and adults, of whatever faith background, could certainly learn something from it. A very good read :)

  4. 4 out of 5

    John Brackbill

    I only gave it two stars because it was enjoyable on one level and there was some sporadically helpful advise as well. But...it deserved one star on many levels. For a book written from a "Christian" perspective on raising boys I found it disheartening that the mere mention of the name of Jesus (just a mere reference to the person of Christ) didn't show up until page 54! The second time? Page 104! The death of Christ was mentioned once and even in that mention it referred to being a servant like I only gave it two stars because it was enjoyable on one level and there was some sporadically helpful advise as well. But...it deserved one star on many levels. For a book written from a "Christian" perspective on raising boys I found it disheartening that the mere mention of the name of Jesus (just a mere reference to the person of Christ) didn't show up until page 54! The second time? Page 104! The death of Christ was mentioned once and even in that mention it referred to being a servant like Him, but not to what the death on the cross actually signified. Clearly Mr. Cathy is concerned for the next generation, he seems like an all around great person to be around, and someone who takes morality very seriously. But when it comes to explaining how someone can live a life that is truly moral this book is bankrupt. If it inspires, it inspires to try harder at pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. And if you fail? Well, I am not sure there was any direction for such an unhappy circumstance other than try harder. If any book deserved the description "moralistic therapeutic deism" this one takes the cake.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    One of my favorite sections of this book is "The Power of a Rocking Chair." Cathy talks about "rocking the meanness" out of infants, young children, and even teenagers in his foster homes by showing them quiet, soothing love. As he says, "You may think children have outgrown the desire to be rocked to sleep at night. They haven't--particularly children who haven't had an abundance of love expressed to them. They're eager to be rocked or hugged and reminded that they are loved. So if you don't ha One of my favorite sections of this book is "The Power of a Rocking Chair." Cathy talks about "rocking the meanness" out of infants, young children, and even teenagers in his foster homes by showing them quiet, soothing love. As he says, "You may think children have outgrown the desire to be rocked to sleep at night. They haven't--particularly children who haven't had an abundance of love expressed to them. They're eager to be rocked or hugged and reminded that they are loved. So if you don't have a rocking chair, get one. And if you have one, use it." This is just one of the snippets that show Cathy's heart and insight into children. I think this is a book that is a great read for anyone. It's excellent, practical, loving wisdom about your effect on children, the value of role models, and the impact of our choices. His words echoed some of the things that I have always believed, while other parts gave me an interesting and different perspective that made sense. Truett Cathy's authenticity and honor shine through these pages.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Every parent should read this book. It is a simple read, but profound in its thinking. The bottom line is parents must raise children with the end results in mind. It is choosing to do the sometimes difficult and unpopular thing today to get great results down the road. I would highly, highly recommend this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Solid truths; not legalistic but standard setting, impact making and positive life building; everybody should read this and see where they line up. Recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Truett Cathy reminds me of my grandpa. He just offers good, practical advice on how to encourage boys. It was very inspirational.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Luke Braun

    “Train a child in the way he should, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The author, Truett Cathy, quotes Proverbs 22:6 when describing how to discipline a child. This book is full of quotes from both the Bible and Cathy, but this quote is by far my favorite. It is my favorite because I wholeheartedly agree with this verse. The plot of this book shifts somewhat from chapter to chapter. The main idea stays the same for the most part throughout the book. The main idea focuses on raising “Train a child in the way he should, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The author, Truett Cathy, quotes Proverbs 22:6 when describing how to discipline a child. This book is full of quotes from both the Bible and Cathy, but this quote is by far my favorite. It is my favorite because I wholeheartedly agree with this verse. The plot of this book shifts somewhat from chapter to chapter. The main idea stays the same for the most part throughout the book. The main idea focuses on raising children to give their lives to philanthropy and religion from the beginning. Cathy uses some of his Sunday School kids as examples for his teaching. Many of these kids grew up fatherless, motherless, or without guidance entirely. My favorite part or chapter of the book is the common sense portion. I always enjoy talking about common sense. I have always liked the quote, “Common sense isn’t.” Cathy believes common sense cannot be taught, but the right values can be if they are taught early enough. This all goes back to the quote. Discipline is everything when it comes to successful parenting. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Truett Cathy’s word choice and vocabulary used is consistent with other authors that do not make a living out of writing, but in a way, I like the book even more because of it. The easy-to-read language is extremely relatable to the average person. Sometimes the simplicity of the writing could be slightly distracting, but it can be refreshing at the same time. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that believes in God and philanthropy. This would also be a great resource for future parents. It might be fairly controversial if the reader is not religious. The book is also a very interesting read if the reader is interested in Chick-fil-A and its history.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    As a single woman raising a 9 year old boy, I am always looking for ways to help navigate the road of being a boy mom. My father is dead; my brother lives in Hawaii, and COVID has limited our interactions with others since his adoption was finalized. I came across this book in our church library and really felt drawn to it. I know my son’s backstory, and I truly believed that reading how Mr. Cathy poured his soul into boys just like my son would help me be a better mother to him. As I read, I re As a single woman raising a 9 year old boy, I am always looking for ways to help navigate the road of being a boy mom. My father is dead; my brother lives in Hawaii, and COVID has limited our interactions with others since his adoption was finalized. I came across this book in our church library and really felt drawn to it. I know my son’s backstory, and I truly believed that reading how Mr. Cathy poured his soul into boys just like my son would help me be a better mother to him. As I read, I realized that there are many things I can do to raise my son to be a good person, but I cannot show him how to be a good man. He needs positive male role models in his life. Just like Mr. Cathy poured into other people’s children, I can do the same. There are children who need caring adults in their lives. My son has me, but I can use help showing him how to be a godly man, future husband, and future father.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan Newman

    This is a must read for anyone who is open to God’s call! It is not just for parents of boys! It’s not just for parents and/or grandparents (although I would suggest it to all of the above)! This is a concise primer on how to raise “whole”children before they become broken adults! Anyone can play!!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Middlebrooks

    If you are looking to guidance in becoming a better, more godly parent this book is a great guide.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Area

    A good quick read. Great reminder of how each of us as adults can impact the life of a child for either good or bad. It's our choice. A good quick read. Great reminder of how each of us as adults can impact the life of a child for either good or bad. It's our choice.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wes Hill

    Great book, gave me a new perspective to look at situations.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Iain Hamill

    The title says it all really! Some good stories, but a fairly light read and tending towards moralism.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christian Mueller

    Nothing super thought provoking and really nothing new that I haven’t heard before. A quick easy read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michel Sabbagh

    Subject Appeal: 4/5. Research Depth: 4/5. Research Breadth: 4/5 Narrative Flow: 3/5. Verdict: 4/5. A touching look at wealth of character that makes a sound case for (inter)personal stewardship.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Kuhn

    Short book made even shorter by very brief examples. A lot of broad statements that some I agree with, but the content lacked any real depth. I enjoyed the “Possible Solution” at the end.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jay Zartman

    Great material and really good stories to show the importance of his point. Nothing new but very timeless information.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    While the idea behind this book is very sound, I didn't really enjoy reading it. The idea is that building strong males from the get-go, is better than having to try to "fix" men who had messed up childhoods and made poor choices for them selves as adults. By saying "building strong males", I mean boys who are supported and encouraged, given stable family lives where they are not afraid that every argument will lead to abuse or divorce/abandonment; boys who are free to be kids instead of having While the idea behind this book is very sound, I didn't really enjoy reading it. The idea is that building strong males from the get-go, is better than having to try to "fix" men who had messed up childhoods and made poor choices for them selves as adults. By saying "building strong males", I mean boys who are supported and encouraged, given stable family lives where they are not afraid that every argument will lead to abuse or divorce/abandonment; boys who are free to be kids instead of having to raise their own siblings because their caregivers aren't doing their jobs; boys who are taught strong moral values and work ethics. All very good ideas, naturally. It's hard to undo past hurts and habits. However, while I'm sure Mr. Cathy was very well meaning and he has done amazingly good things for kids in his lifetime (I applaud HIM, just not the book if that makes sense.), I felt like this book was just one snippet after another of things he's done. Maybe it was just to give examples of how treating kids right can help them to grow up to be well-adjusted adults (even when they had a very rough start)but it came off as a running account of the good things he did and it started to get on my nerves. It's highly possible that he didn't mean it this way, and I just took it that way. I just wish it would have gone much deeper into the concept rather than dozens of surfacey accounts of "here's what I did for so and so, and look how he turned out." Some of the stories were only a couple sentences long, which may have added to my impression of "look what I did." However, Mr. Cathy HAS done wonderful things for boys, teaching them strong values, opening several foster houses where boys are given forever homes so that they can stop bouncing from one place to another, giving them jobs in his company etc. He does seem to be a good man.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brandy

    This is a great little book from a Christian perspective, written by the founder/owner of Chick-fil-A. It covers how important fathers are in the life of children, but also discusses the need for respect, trust, stability, and good role models in the lif of any child. Very moving, with lots of real-life illustrations of the affects, both positive and negative, of the presence or lack thereof, of some of these important factors in a child's life. After reading this, I have a lot more respect for This is a great little book from a Christian perspective, written by the founder/owner of Chick-fil-A. It covers how important fathers are in the life of children, but also discusses the need for respect, trust, stability, and good role models in the lif of any child. Very moving, with lots of real-life illustrations of the affects, both positive and negative, of the presence or lack thereof, of some of these important factors in a child's life. After reading this, I have a lot more respect for the man who started Chick-fil-A!! They're definately an organization that's worth supporting (and they're yummy!).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    I love the title of this book. It is sooo true. Truett Cathy presents a number of values that are important to teach our children verbally, and, more importantly, through our actions. These values are: 1) Respect including respect for God and His laws; 2)Trust and Generosity including generosity with our time, our affection, our encouragement, and our hospitality; 3) Common Sense and respect for the law of we reap what we sow; 4) Chastity and Sexual Purity; and finally 5) the value of a good nam I love the title of this book. It is sooo true. Truett Cathy presents a number of values that are important to teach our children verbally, and, more importantly, through our actions. These values are: 1) Respect including respect for God and His laws; 2)Trust and Generosity including generosity with our time, our affection, our encouragement, and our hospitality; 3) Common Sense and respect for the law of we reap what we sow; 4) Chastity and Sexual Purity; and finally 5) the value of a good name. Mr. Cathy encourages all of us to reach out to young people, to spend time with them and to teach them these important values.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Valarie

    This is a really good quick read that offers practical advice on how to mentor/minister to our children and not just boys only. And when I say minister I mean in the practical sense of walking it out, living it and practicing it in daily life. I don't mean in just the go to church and listen to the preacher ministering. Mr Cathy gives solid advice and examples of how he and the people surrounding have helped to impact the lives of others. True to life not every story is a success, but I think th This is a really good quick read that offers practical advice on how to mentor/minister to our children and not just boys only. And when I say minister I mean in the practical sense of walking it out, living it and practicing it in daily life. I don't mean in just the go to church and listen to the preacher ministering. Mr Cathy gives solid advice and examples of how he and the people surrounding have helped to impact the lives of others. True to life not every story is a success, but I think the point is that there is not one big blanket solution to all life's problems just do what you can as an individual and leave the rest to God and that individual.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mere

    Quick, easy read about how it's important to be good role models for children in many ways. I felt like it applied more to foster parents or teachers, not just specifically parents. A few favorite points: -teach children that all good gifts are from God, and that distinction will help them to use their common sense and be more generous in sharing with others. -teach your children important life skills & responsibilities. -children are always putting us to the test...we must be aware of the messag Quick, easy read about how it's important to be good role models for children in many ways. I felt like it applied more to foster parents or teachers, not just specifically parents. A few favorite points: -teach children that all good gifts are from God, and that distinction will help them to use their common sense and be more generous in sharing with others. -teach your children important life skills & responsibilities. -children are always putting us to the test...we must be aware of the messages we send. -when our children see us serving others, they begin to understand that they also should serve.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    i was given this for the holidays so i read it on a lark. there's great advice in here although i find things a bit more conservative/legalistic than my tastes run. you would think from reading this that the slope from moral person to hardened criminal was right there, on the edge, huge as life. however, Cathy's an admirable guy and a success (in the truer sense of the word, not because he's the founder of a very successful business) and done a lot more good for people than most so for what that i was given this for the holidays so i read it on a lark. there's great advice in here although i find things a bit more conservative/legalistic than my tastes run. you would think from reading this that the slope from moral person to hardened criminal was right there, on the edge, huge as life. however, Cathy's an admirable guy and a success (in the truer sense of the word, not because he's the founder of a very successful business) and done a lot more good for people than most so for what that's worth, a person like that probably has some keepers for anybody.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Domenico

    Simple homespun wisdom from a devout Christian man who has raised not only his own kids, but has founded numerous foster homes and personally involved himself in the welfare of still more boys. S. Truett Cathy also happens to be the founder of Chik-fil-a restaurants. So he's been around young people a long time and he imparts his tried and true axioms for helping young boys grow into stable, dependable, and moral men. For all its folksiness, the wisdom is also hard-won because it's based as much Simple homespun wisdom from a devout Christian man who has raised not only his own kids, but has founded numerous foster homes and personally involved himself in the welfare of still more boys. S. Truett Cathy also happens to be the founder of Chik-fil-a restaurants. So he's been around young people a long time and he imparts his tried and true axioms for helping young boys grow into stable, dependable, and moral men. For all its folksiness, the wisdom is also hard-won because it's based as much on the boys and men who have lost their way as on those who have succeeded.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura Robinson

    This was a great easy book. I was encouraged by my pastor to read it, since I serve in student/children's ministry. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be. It was really just a lot of stories, showing the outcome of a lot of bad/good parenting. Maybe this book is geared towards parents? I'm not sure. But I picked up some great advice and different way to look at things. There were a couple of things I didn't agree with in the book. But that goes with every book. This was a great easy book. I was encouraged by my pastor to read it, since I serve in student/children's ministry. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be. It was really just a lot of stories, showing the outcome of a lot of bad/good parenting. Maybe this book is geared towards parents? I'm not sure. But I picked up some great advice and different way to look at things. There were a couple of things I didn't agree with in the book. But that goes with every book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    I enjoyed Truett Cathy's autobiography Eat More Chikn, Inspire More People so I decided to read this as well. I was horrified by this book. The author says some awful things like single mothers with boyfriends shouldn't be allowed to raise kids and he bemoans that foster parents aren't allowed to spank their foster kids! I enjoyed Truett Cathy's autobiography Eat More Chikn, Inspire More People so I decided to read this as well. I was horrified by this book. The author says some awful things like single mothers with boyfriends shouldn't be allowed to raise kids and he bemoans that foster parents aren't allowed to spank their foster kids!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    A good reminder about things that are really important. There's not much elaboration on the points, but sometimes you don't want too much elaboration. It was a quick read, so it's easy to read again and again and remind myself what some of the more important things I need to do as a parent. A good reminder about things that are really important. There's not much elaboration on the points, but sometimes you don't want too much elaboration. It was a quick read, so it's easy to read again and again and remind myself what some of the more important things I need to do as a parent.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katy Foster

    Mr. Cathy's passion for building up boys is so evident, and his belief in a strong family is depicted throughout the book as the core building block. I appreciate his shared wisdom, and am inspired by Cathy's giving spirit. Mr. Cathy's passion for building up boys is so evident, and his belief in a strong family is depicted throughout the book as the core building block. I appreciate his shared wisdom, and am inspired by Cathy's giving spirit.

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