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Growing Boy Stoeis

"Growing Boy Stories" podcast creator Steven Dunham, pictured here with his family, gets to the heart of being a kid and the art of positive parenting. Photo courtesy Steven Dunham

Podcaster Profile: Growing Boy Stories

Seattle podcaster offers kids and parents emotional coaching dressed up as stories

West Seattle dad Steven Dunham has a soothing voice, a clear understanding of kids and a strong desire to help elementary-age youngsters like his daughter Emery (8) navigate the emotions they feel and meet the challenges of growing up. 

Growing Boy Stories

Photo by Timon Studler / Uplash

All three of these are evident in Dunham’s bi-monthly storytelling podcast “Growing Boys Stories,” which launched in 2021. 

The podcast, says Dunham, intends the sensibilities of author Beverly Cleary’s “Henry Huggins” book series, uses the emotional coaching techniques espoused by John and Julie Gottman at Seattle’s The Gottman Institute, and hits the ears with the gentleness of Fred Rogers putting on his shoes. The show, which currently boasts 13 episodes, is aimed at kids ages 5-9. 

“I think Mister Rogers has had more impact on me as an adult than as a child,” says Dunham. “What I’ve learned from him is to be myself. Early on, someone told me I was reading the stories too slowly on the podcast. But honestly, that’s just me. I read slowly to children. I use a higher-pitched voice with them. Mister Rogers gave that to me. I still watch him.”

What sort of issues do the characters in Growing Boys Stories grapple with? Dunham creates situations that require thought, conversation, and, eventually, understanding or solutions. One episode deals with getting lost. Another takes a look at feelings of frustration. In an upcoming issue, young protagonists Adam and David ask a big question:

“Why do we have to go see women’s soccer? Why can’t we see a men’s soccer game?” 

Dunham says the grownups in his stories pull from their well of thoughtfulness and equity to help the boys answer those questions. What they won’t do is lecture. Perhaps the mark of this podcast is that, learning without lectures.

Growing Boy Stories is a sweet 10- to 20-minute ride back into the wondrous, silly, sometimes scary days of childhood. You can see the cogs moving in character heads, the dawning of understanding in both kids and adults. It is written in the voice and language of children – simple, direct, clear. Kids will enjoy following the characters and parents – if they listen deeply – will find parenting wisdom here. Dunham actually vets many of his stories on adults before they make it to the podcast, including a group of other writers. 

I caught recently up with Dunham, who teaches English At Bellvue Community College (?) to talk about his stories, the podcast and his hopes for listeners.

Cheryl Murfin: Tell us about Growing Boy Stories

Steven Dunham: I started writing Growing Boy Stories a couple of years ago. It’s about Adam and David who love each other because they are brothers. They get into arguments and fight with each other sometimes, but they love to do everything together. Their parents, Aaron and Sarah, help them learn how to play, get hurt, comfort each other, and play together again. I infuse these stories with the emotional coaching principles that come from John and Julie Gottman

Murfin: Why did you start writing the stories?

Dunham: Originally, I wanted to read stories aloud for children, not write them. I emailed a children’s Youtube personality and asked about copyright issues. How did she get permission to read them online? She told me that she was paid by the publisher to read the books. At that point, I thought to myself, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to write them myself.”  

Murfin: Why growing boys and not growing girls or just growing kids?

Dunham: I want to be very clear that I’m very much about gender self-identification and embrace all sorts of gender expression. However, I wanted to create stories about tender, loving, elementary boys and a father who could go on little adventures, get a little scrapy at times, and sad at other times. Adam and David sometimes cry, but they also throw oranges at each other and head-butt each other. I want listeners, of all genders and ages, to hear dads and boys that are tough and vulnerable, all mixed up together. Nevertheless, the stories are for all genders.

murfin: What has it been like creating these characters?

Dunham: As I continue to write “Growing Boy Stories” about Adam and David, I’m building a world of characters that I have grown to know and love. I hope that listeners know and love them more too. I think children and grownups love consistency and predictability. My ulterior motive is for grownups to listen to these stories too. 

Murfin: Tell me more about that. What do you hope parents gain?

Dunham: A utopian vision of the world has to be modeled. Grownups can’t emotionally coach their kids unless it’s modeled to them. Most of us didn’t grow up with the sort of comforting and coaching that Adam and David get from their grownups, especially their dad. When a boy gets hurt, it’s okay to hold them. It’s okay to let them cry. It’s okay to facilitate their problem-solving instead of giving all sorts of advice. My deepest joy for this podcast would be grown-up listeners.

Murfin: Where can kids (and parents) find Growing Boys Stories?

Dunham: The podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Right now there are thirteen episodes and I’m working on my fourteenth, which is about attending a trapeze class with neighbors! By the way, the setting for this trapeze episode is the circus school in Georgetown. Sometimes, if listeners pay close enough attention, they might be able to guess at some of the Growing Boy Story locations. 

Murfin: Do you test out stories on your family, Emery?

Dunham: I certainly test them out on Emery. I asked her recently what she thought about “Growing Boy Stories,” and she said, “I like them a lot!” I’m thankful she likes listening to my stories about two boys.

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About the Author

Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin is managing editor at Seattle's Child. She is also a certified doula, lactation educator for and a certified AWA writing workshop facilitator at