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adolescent sexuality

adolescent sexuality

Father and Son, Phase 3: Early Adolescence

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The good father will help his son to see that that adolescence is the great transition from childhood to adulthood.  It is like an iceberg: Though much can be seen on top, the bulk of what is going on lies deep below the surface — for everyone involved, the teenager as well as his parents, teachers and friends.

It as a period of growing self-knowledge about his mind, body and emotions; of learning about learning; of choosing which skills to develop and of where this all fits in his future life.

Even more important, it is a period of learning about how to live well with others: Figuring out what makes some people good and attractive, what makes them comfortable to be with, as friends, as work colleagues, and as members of different communities — family, sports teams, religious groups, schools and clubs. In other words, figuring out the nature of virtue in others. 

All this is the background that father will use as he readies himself for the more intense sexual formation of his son that is about to begin.

However, before he begins that direct formation, the good father will remind himself that he has already accomplished the deepest preparation of his son for good marriage later, by his mother bonding well with him as a newborn by him bonding well with his infant son. With these bindings his wife and he have him the firm foundation of the eventual fullness of his son’s sexuality. This is their great accomplishment to date— giving him the capacity to belong to others by belonging to him. They have already made him rich. With this his son will more naturally select as a partner for life someone who has the same capacity to belong — to give to him and to receive from him. She will be seeking someone like him while he is seeking someone like her. The complementary roles of his mother and father are what made this possible.  Other adolescents who have not experienced such complementarity between their parents will have greater struggles as they seek to find that other who will complement them. 

Having laid the foundation of a strong relationship, the son, as he undergoes the changes of puberty as he experiences a new strange unbeckoned pleasure – orgasm during sleep (wet dreams)– is now more likely to listen to his father as he introduces him to the nature and purpose of sexual pleasure. No one is better qualified to introduce him, because his father is the one who brought his son into existence through the enjoyment of that very pleasure.

Timing it as best he can, the father prepares his son for the changes he’s undergoing by pointing out to him that his interest in girls will also begin to increase. He will put that in the context of the massive amount of new learning his son will be acquiring over the next number of years, as he gets ready to be a competent adult. He will point out to him that during this period his brain will grow massively in size and in the interconnections that are both forming and reforming, growing and shedding, as new knowledge is acquired and old knowledge replaced and that, though this process will continue through the rest of his life, it will be particularly intense through the next 12 to 14 years, during which his son has the potential to become a great man by harnessing these changes, by being responsible to his future self, to his future wife (whoever she be), and to his future children (who are only thoughts in God’s mind at this stage).

During these 10 to 15 years he has the chance to develop strengths and to discover his weaknesses, to make friends, to form a few deep friendships, to explore the world, particularly those aspects of creation that he finds the most intriguing. Through this exploration he will discover his inclinations and gifts and gradually figure out a way whereby he can make a living—- how he can serve others in a way they would like to be served through a profession and in the process earn enough to live well enough.

During this period the father reminds his son that he will become increasingly aware of the two major dimensions of himself: That he is both spirit and body and that one of his greatest challenges in life will be to bring harmony between these two dimensions, that he will find such harmony is easy at times, while at other times difficult, and on a few occasions more like a raging storm, and that he has to learn to sail in all these types of seas — all the time remaining captain, so that if he gets lost he knows where to find his compass and recalibrate by true north.

He will let his son know that from here on, as his son becomes more and more his own man that will bring joy to his father, even as a certain distance must accompany that joy, the distance of independence, of responsibility, a responsibility that the son cannot share, the responsibility of being the self he needs to become.

Sometimes the father will tell his son these things face to face but sometimes in letters—for he knows that the value of a letter lasts a lifetime and can be revisited – even after his father has passed away.  For the son of a good father these letters will be a great treasure and may even serve his grandsons (human nature does not change).

So far, the father’s work is about the son’s development of his inner self as a competent man, capable of contributing significantly to those around him who will be sought out by others for the skills he has and the contributions he can make. However, he makes clear that everything in life points towards being ready to give, even as his desire to receive will stay dominant— to receive income, promotions, praise, admiration, honors, enjoyment, friendship and even love, especially love. His father will point out to him the great human paradox: First we all want all these good things (income through love) but that they cannot be had first but only after we give, and that if he ever becomes a wise man he will know that it makes most sense not to think about the receiving but concentrate instead on the giving— giving where life beckon most. His father will remind him (gently but often enough so that it gets through) that life will keep being a major pain until he learns this solution to this universal dilemma. It is a lesson many fail to learn, or learn too late, but that great men realize this early enough in life to shape themselves that way.  He will urge his son to look out for such men and when he finds them to get as close to them as life permits.

(As I wrote this, a piece appeared in the Daily Signal on the first “non-binary” person in the U.S. [neither male nor female]. It teaches the same lesson but in a very different way. If you read the story carefully you will see that this man [he has “returned” to his original sex] had a father who was the opposite of what he needed. It is no wonder his sexuality went all haywire. Given the level of breakdown in marriage in our day, more and more young people are at risk for similar distortions in their psycho-sexual development). 

Next week I will continue with Phase V of the Father-Son relationship.

For the good of the child,

The future of the nation,

Pat Fagan

Phase 2 of the Father-Child Relationship (years three to nine or ten): Consolidation of Affection and Solidarity with an Eye to the Future

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From age three onwards the infant gradually becomes a boy.  And this is most noticeable in his play.  

All children love to play. Most boys like ball games: Kicking and throwing. They love horseplay (as long as it does not get too overpowering… a judgement call by the father, child by child). The goal is confidence in Dad as source of fun and protection. The horseplay is for the enjoyment of the child– not the father. It really helps consolidate the boy’s sexual identity as male when done with common sense.

The observant father now will begin to spot the different inclinations of his children (and draw on his wife’s observations as well). Their inclinations and strengths become occasions for father to affirm his son in these (be they quarterback-football or tiddlywinks or drawing).  To be affirmed in his strengths by his father is one of life’s great experiences for a boy. And it lasts a life time.

Gradually, over the next years the father tells his children about his own inclinations and gifts: What he enjoys doing, what he is good at, what he likes in his hobbies, his friends, his fellow workers (learning about persons and life). What he loves about his life: His wife– their mother, about his children, and his friends. He does this not to boast but to illustrate to them that it is good to revel in the gifts life has granted him so that they too will revel in the gifts life has granted them. He follows this with his own reveling in their gifts. Thus, he grows confidence deep inside his children. This capacity for confidence and appreciation is the foundation of a great sexual relationship with his spouse later on—twenty years or more from this phase.

Children love to be read to, and the books the father chooses will have quite an impact on them.  If he knows books, he can direct their reading. His wife also plays a big part here. If they don’t know books they can use my wife’s “A Mother’s List of Books”[1] which contains decades of experience in choosing books that are interesting (they have to be enjoyable for the child) yet model good character (or at least not undermine it as most modern children’s books do, especially on the role of the father).  If you do not believe me: Go and check out the books in the children’s section of your local public library.  The tentacles of NOW reach deep into all crannies of child formation including this one… and have for a long time.

If ever in doubt classic fairytales are a good bet. Young children love them— that is why they have survived.

Though they love having stories read to them they are absolutely taken with stories their father creates for them— no matter how corny, no matter what his level of skill in creating or telling them. What they love is the love he is showing them. They will ask for more and more. And father can compose the outlines as he travels and works.

During this phase another great theme and attitude is laid down by the wise father: Modesty. 

Father will lightly form their attitude towards the bodies of others: Privacy of all in the bathroom, especially those of opposite sex. Boys do not enter their sisters’ bedroom, nor girls their brothers’. None enter their parent’s bedroom. Even with parents present, they knock and wait to be invited. 

A boy learns from his father that nobody else ever touches the private parts of his body… except Mother or Father when ill or the doctor in his office. No one else! And he is trained that he should tell his parents if anybody tries . Anywhere! Anyone! Father or Mother or both will deal with that person. And if an adult is the one who touched them his parents will ensure that person goes to  jail. And they will make sure their child knows that they are never at fault or guilty in such a situation. It is always the adult, never the child.  It is a pity, but in this day of sexual license and sexual abuse parents have to both protect children more and teach their children how best to protect themselves.

The boy is taught by his father to treat his own body well: Not touch his penis except at toilet and washing. He learns to keep it private: Hence these parts of the body are called “private parts.”  (This is laying the groundwork for teaching him about masturbation when he is comes into puberty.  Self-control during puberty, in turn, is remote preparation for the male being a great lover of his spouse later on. This is not neurotic anxiety but quite the opposite: It is preparing his son to be great in bed — without talking about it at this too early stage).

It is a pity but during this phase fathers now have to begin preparing their sons to handle pornography — by shunning it the first time they see it and coming to him with any question the experience provokes (and there will be all sorts of questions).  Father gets across that the body is sacred —-  always sacred, but that some wicked people exploit this.  He lets his son know his confidence in him that he will know when a picture is not right, and to always feel free to come to  him – or his mother – for they are the experts on the body. Again, with the breakdown in sexual mores and taboos this initial education in pornography is now needed as early as eight years of age… maybe even sooner!  It is a judgement call best arrived at by discussion between both parents.

Somewhere along the way… listening to his questions about babies and where they come from— father or mother give enough information to satisfy the questions asked, but do not go overboard. A light touch builds confidence in the son— confidence in approaching his parents on these issues— that father (or mother) will be his guide on this and he can always come to his father with any questions.

With an eye to the coming teenage adolescent years:  Making friends with other families you really like. 

When children are young they make friends with ease. Put them together and they play easily. Wise parents avail of this phase so that their children have good friends BEFORE they reach their teenage years.  Then when puberty hits, they have the friends of early childhood as their peer group in adolescents – all from good families, families who help each other through their children’s adolescent years. These early friendships will transfer easily to the teenage years and from these will grow many of the deeper friendships that emerge in adolescence, and among whom mixed groups will be natural  among the brothers and sisters of those they played with in single sex groups during this phase two.

Parents who neglect to do this will realize their mistake when it is too late to do much about it and their children have made friends the parents are not happy with, but at time when it is too late to do what could have been done with ease five years earlier: Shepherding them towards good friendships with children whose parents know how to cultivate character.  This has nothing to do with family income or status, but with the character of parents who know what character is and how to form it in their children.

The next phase covered will be early adolescence.


[1] I know it is a plug, but her  booklet is a classic — owned and used for decades by thousands of mothers across the country.  Email her at tafagan@juno.com for more details.  It is a plug.  But if there were a better one to plug I would do so.  There is not!

The Many Phases of a Boy’s Development- and His Father’s Prime Role in Each Phase.

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In December I introduced the notion of the phases of a boy’s development, with an eye to the father’s role in the sexual formation of his son. There are many ways of looking at these phases and many ways of adjusting them but for the purposes of the father taking care of his boy I will use these five:

The first is infancy to toddlerhood – up through age three.

The second is the young boy – up to age 7.

The third is the boy coming into his own up to age 11/12.

The fourth is the young adolescent boy undergoing the changes of puberty, up to age 15.

The fifth is the boy’s transition into young manhood up to age 19.

The age ranges are flexible and will change, boy by boy, given the multiple factors in play: physical growth, neurological growth, hormone differences, and basic temperament, sibling order and relationships, the home environment of peace vs. stress, and the level and depth of religious practice and whether it is rule-based, or person-based.

Though much of the focus of these blogs on father and son look at the dynamic between them, the strongest and deepest dynamic is that between the father and the boy’s mother. That relationship is the sexual relationship in the family. Though his parent’s physical sexual relationship is beyond the boy’s direct knowledge and happens behind the closed door of the bedroom, the relational and spiritual dimension of their sexual relationship is on full display in family life and conveys powerful messages that continually shape the hearts of their children who “absorb” the parental relationship in its peace and joy or stress and conflict. The father’s greatest “tool” in forming his son’s sexual relationship is, first, to do all he can to make his wife very happy (no matter what external stresses life visits on them). 

Likewise, his mother has a powerful impact on her son’s long-term sexual development.  If she conveys the message that she is blessed to have his father as her spouse and if she does everything in her power to make their marriage a very happy one for her husband, then the boy will have inbuilt criteria (likely unconscious) for selecting his wife.  Having experienced marital happiness in his family’s home he will seek the same for himself.

Through all the phases of forming the sexuality of his sons, the father’s first task is to take great care of his sexual partner, his wife, the boy’s mother.  Nothing is more powerful in his son’s sexual formation. The state of their marriage, the fullness of their sexual relationship, is the state of the soil in which the young plant (their son) thrives or wilts. The greater their ease with each other the greater his potential ease with matters of the heart.

All children need such marriages and have the universal human right to such. Though they have a right to this love, it cannot be enforced because it is a gift, from each parent to the other, and then — only then — to their children. One could say that marriage is “well directed sexual fulfillment over a life time,” the benefits of which flow over to the children.

Times of crisis demand getting back to basics. Our search for the most basic has brought us to the sexual formation of the boy by his father. Even here, marriage is foundational.

The Father-Son Project, Universal Human Rights and a New Resource at CUA

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In my estimation the strategic project of the next century (100 years)  is the movement of  fathers  taking unto themselves alone[1], the sexual formation of their sons, resulting in sons capable of being great husbands and fathers. However, I predict that those interested in a totalitarian state (the socialist state) as well as radical-core feminists (and there is a significant overlap) will oppose this movement with merciless pursuit, for, if it spreads, it takes away from them their most powerful tool — “sex gone wild”.

In the forthcoming square-off fathers, who do have the inherent right to direct the education of their children, we will need the back-stop of law. Luckily this right is recognized in the United Nations Human Rights Treaties and Declarations of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The world’s reflection on what had gone wrong during and leading up to World War I and World War II led to the founding of the United Nations and with its hope that such horrors would not happen again, and to that end issued the Human Rights documents.

But with rampant individualism coupled with ignorance of the nature of good government, “Human Rights” discourse, today, is a double-edged sword even among — especially among —  educated Westerners, most of whom cannot articulate the nature of human rights and as a result are increasing easy prey for “false rights.”

When properly formulated, “human rights” give expression to the universal instinct for justice and fairness that resides in the heart of every person, let he or she be rich or poor, white, yellow, bronze or black, educated or not, religious or not, of every religion. The defining characteristic of every true human right is that it is universal: It never deprives another of the same right. Universal human rights do not contradict each other, neither between individuals or within the individual himself.

Human rights are the same for all, else they are not basic human rights, no matter how good they may seem to be. Abortion is the clearest example of this. Totalitarian imposition (government forcing one to act in a bad way) almost happened when the Obama Administration attempted to impose  “a right to contraception” on the Little Sisters of the Poor. Even graver false rights have already won “government privilege”:  Abortion, embryo research, no-fault divorce.

The debasement of human rights language leads to a “wish list of personal desires” that some think deserving enough to gain the title of “a human right.” In the name of these false rights basic human rights are denied to others.

Other instances of the violation of human rights are frequently found in the realm of labor law which emerged — with much help from Catholic Social Teaching — to protect the powerless (workers) from the powerful (owners of big companies).  Such violations continue today in some practices of multinational corporations, and now even by major labor unions.

Other  violations occur in the education of children: In Germany homeschooling is outlawed. Totalitarianism is not totally dead in Germany by any means. United Nations basic documents on human rights articulate the rights of parents to direct the moral and religious education of their children. Germany very deliberately and openly violates them — with impunity in the international community.

“Sex ed” in this country, is another major area of violation of the rights of parents to direct the education of their children. Education boards and teachers unions claim “false rights” when they enforce such curricula.  It is in this area the clash with fathers will occur.

A false rights debasement of human rights leads to cynicism, and to a loss of faith in government.  Should a populace learn to accept them, the ground is prepared for acceptance of increasing government control. The honoring of universal human rights is at the core of human political freedom.  The Founding Fathers articulated this.  Though they succeeded in so much and gave the world the wonder that is the Bill of Rights and The American Constitution, they failed in one glaring area: African Americans were not treated with equal dignity.  And the nation paid a heavy price for this failure.

Thus, the dignity and equality before the law of every single individual on earth is the principle measure of human rights. If it is not universal, it is not a human right. This simple criterion applies to every issue, in every dimension, from genocide to bioethics. 

There are many professions and organizations that need clarity of thought on human rights so that sound decisions can be made: Virtually every job in the United States Congress, in state legislatures and even at county government level. Many civil service jobs need this training to a high degree: In the Department of Health and Human Services for such things as human trafficking, the abuse of children, care of the poor, the homeless, the dying, in the treatment and care of addicts. Civil servants in the State Department particularly need this, but also in the Department of Labor, the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and in the Department of Homeland Security. All need clear thinking on this issue.

Further afield: Those who work for international agencies, such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the World Health Organization, as well as for international NGOs, all need the same clear intellectual formation.

Doctors and nurses and hospital administrators need this. The need in healthcare is growing rapidly as advances are made in medicine but at costs so high some are tempted to think of euthanasia (murder).

Every high school teacher ought to be familiar with the distinction between false and true rights. Every high school principal needs to be expert on it and ought to ensure all pupils become competent in making the difference clear, because every voter needs to never let false rights trump human rights.

Over and above all those mentioned above there  are many who should consider getting this training: Those finishing their bachelor degree but not yet decided on a career path; mothers returning in midcareer to the workplace as their children become less dependent on them; retiring baby boomers who have the leisure of good health, many remaining years and the financial flexibility to become involved in NGOs where they can make a difference.

Given the vast need for tens of thousands of people trained in this way of thinking many ought to think of conquering the subject matter. 

The Catholic Church, being universal (catholic) organization, is well-placed and has much experience and the longest historical track record  in the issues of human rights claims: Ethnic people versus their conquerors, business owners versus workers, and workers versus business owners, parents versus schools, and schools versus parents. The Church’s history in articulating the principles involved are well-known and the Catholic viewpoint did much to shape the founding human rights treaties of the United Nations. The Church’s latest contribution in this field is led the coauthor of the article on the fundamental right (human right) of every child to the marriage of his parentsWilliam Saunders J.D. (Harvard Law) is director of a new MA program in Human Rights at The Catholic University of America. He and Professor Robbie George of Princeton University conduct a wonderful exploration of the issues here: beginning at minute 2.30.

For particulars of The Master of Arts in Human Rights program click here.

Do have a look at it and pass on the information to those – young and old — who might be interested. Their contribution to society could be greatly enhanced with this degree.

For the good of the child,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.


[1] That does not mean they will draw on the help of others — but it will be at their request.

“The American Family’s View of Itself”

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Someone’s else’s blog was so informative it replaces mine this week: Karlyn Bowman of The American Enterprise Institute, a veteran scholar of public opinion, condenses BYU’s annual survey 52-page report on the American Family to one page, though I do recommend scanning the report itself for great charts on many key measures. Bottom line: Though marriage is still very important to three quarters of the nation — for conservatives and for liberals — there is still a lot of work to be done.

Radical Assault — Radical Insight

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The study of how to rebuild society leads initially to the study of how it was dismantled. That leads to many pathways but the central is the Marxist highway, which, though beginning with the commune in the French Revolution really got its start with Das Kapital by Marx and Engels. There they pinpointed family and religion as the two major obstacles. It took a hundred years of study for their intellectual offspring to figure out how to cause a collapse from with both those institutions.  They found one solution for both problems: Sex gone wild, as most graphically illustrated in Mallory Millet’s famous reportage on the pre-founding of the National Organization of Women. Men are suckers for it, and women too – in a very different way.

It is noteworthy that when a marriage or partnership disintegrates the children normally stay with their mother. This springs from the fundamental nature of female sexuality: Her sexual biology is overwhelming in its impact on her boding with her children. Once conceived, her child changes all her biological systems as they regroup to grow the baby in her womb. She gets to know that baby as it grows and takes over so much of her life during those nine months.

Then comes the trip down the birth canal and the eruption of pain and trauma of childbirth, an experience men cannot conceive of nor write about. It ends in the joy of holding her newborn and the instant conclusion it was all worth it. This experience alone would bond both so deeply. But it is followed by an even more intimate form with months of breastfeeding that makes the breast forever central to sexuality for both male and female.

For men, biology does not do anything comparable. A man bonding with his children is essentially an act of his will: A decision carried out repeatedly as he deliberately gets closer to his child. 

In the architecture of family and of society and even of civilization and culture the woman’s irreplaceable contribution is biology; man’s is decision, or will – or good habits.  

If the family is an arch the woman is the blocks while the man is the keystone. 

Pull out the keystone and the arch (the family, society, even civilization) collapses. 

The US feminists of the 1960’s, building on the 40 years work of the Frankfurt School and its Marxist allies, had finally figured out how to cause the collapse that Lenin envisaged: remove the father from the family. (For them the traditional intact married family is the “patriarchal” family).  The “litany chant” at the opening of the study group that led to NOW illustrates the method of removal: Let sex go wild. 

The Supreme Court was a key target and delivered the goods: The right to sex outside of marriage in 1972, to abortion in 1973, to contraceptives down to age 16 without parental consent, to homosexual acts in 2003, to homosexual marriage in 2015.

With each decision the place of the male in the family was notched down and down and down, with increases in all the “toxic masculinities” the APA is seemingly concerned about.

The Marxists figured out that if you remove the father from the family society will gradually collapse into the waiting arms of the all-controlling socialist state envisaged by Marx. 

In the mid and late 1960’s some of America’s brightest (but not best) decided to take down the most powerful nation on earth. They have achieved much.

How to restore and rebuild? 

By replacing the keystone in the arch: Good fathers raising boys to be great husbands and fathers. The man is key. He is civilization. He is the keystone. 

(Women have nothing to fear in this order: It is the work of both. Equally. Just very different roles, stemming from very, very different biologies. But totally complementary biologies — if only we can get the “act of the will” right in both male and female, mother and father, husband and wife).

Rebuilding Our Nation One Son at A Time

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The way to rebuild our nation is to do what all good men have always done: raise their sons to be great husbands and fathers.

As his newborn son is placed in his father’s arms for the first time, the young father (even if he cannot formulate the words) says to his son:

I give you my heart always and give you my time early in your life—  to bind you to me with affection (when it is easy to do).  On this foundation we will build the rest. Nothing else compares to this, not a successful business, nor great honors —-nothing else — except loving your mother.

My greatest task is to make a great husband and great father of you.

I will teach you what paths to walk so that you will desire to be good.

In your growing years I will be your guardian and protector.

I will protect you from sexual abuse.

I will teach you how to protect yourself from sexual abuse.

I will protect you from pornography within our home.

I will teach you how to protect yourself from pornography anywhere you come across it.

I will teach you how to treat your own body.

I will teach you how to regard the bodies of women.

I will teach you how to listen carefully to women and hear what they mean .

I will teach you how  to treat all women, so they will know you are a man of good intentions.

I will teach you how to spot and win the sexual battles that will take place inside your head and your heart.

I will teach you why you should not masturbate. (Your wife will thank me — without ever telling me).

I will teach you how to have the sexual control you will need for your marriage bed.

I will teach you how to date well, and how to select and court a great wife from among all the beautiful women you will meet.

My little one, because of all of this you are going to make a great man of me.

As men put this into practice, by taking sex-ed out of the schools and back into the home where it belongs, all of society will adapt around this strategic shift.  By exercising this basic natural right, every father will cause society to rearrange itself around his actions — in ways that restore social order.

The solution is simple though taxing: Fathers raise their boys to be great husbands and great fathers.

Rebuilding America One Father and Son at a Time

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To do a good job in raising their sons, modern fathers have to dig deeper into the nature of fatherhood, deeper than fathers ever had to in all of human history because of the Marxist feminist assault on “patriarchy”,amplified by technological shocks (the pill, internet pornography, etc.). Because the enemy dug deep so as to understand how to deconstruct society and family(see Shulamith Firestone’s seminal influence on 1970’s feminism: The Dialectic of Sex), men today have to dig deeper still. This may well turn out to be a great blessing because here after, men can pass this deeper knowledge on to their sons and in the process become better men themselves while forming their boys to be even better.  While the father will make the boy, the boy will also make the father. As Seneca said: “While we teach, we learn.” Understanding fatherhood better, men will live it better.

What ironic justice if “man, fully alive” develops as an unintended consequence of feminism. 

During the different stages of his son’s growth into manhood, the father will touch on fives themes repeatedly, going deeper each time, as he judges what his son needs to know and what he is ready to absorb:

  • About the physical and biological facts of sexuality (male and female) that his son will need to know during the next phase he is entering. It is best the son get this information from his father first — not on the playground from other boys nor on the screen from strangers.
  • About the differences between men and women. This is remote preparation for understanding and accepting the very different modes of seeing and experiencing things that are the ways of his mother, sisters, and future wife.
  • About how to choose a good wife.  Prudently prepared and lightly delivered, these nuggets of wisdom will affect his choice of a good wife.
  • About the inner moral struggle that all boys and men have to engage in, deep in their own hearts, on their way to manhood. This is a key point of identity between a father and son: That unique male way of battling to live well. This aspect is the core of a father’s formation of his son.
  • Sadly, about the dangers of abuse and pornography, which will have to be introduced early in a boy’s formation because of their pervasiveness. 

First Phase: Early Childhood

Well begun is half done.

The relational foundation of a boy’s sexuality is his earliest relationship with his father. If this is warm, affectionate and enjoyable the journey is off to a great start.   The demand on the father is one of time and possibly of temperament. Giving his time to his son is his greatest gift, always.  The more and the earlier the better.  As the child reacts with joy and laughter the father is naturally encouraged and rewarded.  The embrace and horseplay that father and child engage in develops his son’s trust and confidence. 

The task is friendship, the method is play: Anything and all that the son enjoys with his father. It can be tiddlywinks or football, drawing or singing, reading or baseball, fishing or hiking. Whatever brings joy to the child.

Also, this early stage is the time that deep friendship is most easily formed.  It will yield fruit in mid-childhood and adolescence when that friendship will be tested by the strains of that phase. 

With such a friendship in place the later phases will be handled with much great ease.

To be continued next week….

Sex, Fathers, and the Future

adolescent sexuality, Catholic, child well-being, children, clergy, cohabitation, commitment, culture, family, fathers, MARRI, marriage, men, Pat Fagan, sexual revolution, society, Uncategorized, young adults, youth No comments

The total population of North, Central, and South America is less than a billion.  Europe’s population is much less.  Africa’s population is about one billion.

In the last 100 years the world has eliminated one billion children through abortion. In other words, whole continents. World War II was a walk in the park compared to this. The US alone has aborted 58 million infants (the total  population of the US as it came into the twentieth century,  and almost the same as the total populations killed in World War II, the bloodiest war in human history.  The “body-count” in the Holocaust pales in comparison to this, US-only “body count”. Clearly, we “do sex” wrong.  Humankind has never, ever,  “done it” so wrong. 

In the US, for children who survive pregnancy and make it to birth, most of their parents cannot stand each other enough to live their lives together and raise their children to adulthood.  Slavery has returned to the US—in the form of sex trafficking.  Pornography addiction (to some degree or other) is almost universal among young men. Cohabitation is the majority’s choice despite the widespread knowledge of its bad effects. STDs are “through the roof and are now mega epidemics — having been epidemic for decades.  Motherhood is frowned upon in the academic world and most business put up with mothers only because they are forced to if they want female workers.  The list could go on and on— and that is without going near what is being taught and not taught in churches— of all denominations! 

As a society we have really lost our way.  Leaders in all institutions have lost their way or their courage. There are some who know how to “do it” but most don’t, or are afraid, and public schools and academia are not only totally lost, they lead down the wrong and debilitating path — even in the face of overwhelming data. Proof?  Just look around you.

Where do we start to rebuild? 

This rebuilding starts with men — with fathers in particular. 

The fundamental correction involves all fathers taking back from everyone else the sexual education of their sons. Mothers need to do the same for their daughters. However,  the sine qua non is that fathers become the sexual tutors of their sons, because, given the nature of males, men have much greater and difficult task to achiever bringing  their sexual impulses under total control.

The program is simple: Every father worthy of the title, wants his son to end up happily married to the girl of his dreams and wants to show him the way to pull that off.  This is what fathers do: make men out of their boys.

Now that presents a difficulty because most fathers, today, have not achieved that status or have lost it: they are single or married to some other woman.  Thus, they are quite handicapped in giving what they do not have.  However, let us leave that major difficulty to the side for the time being and focus instead on what has to be achieved: Lifelong marriage of a boy to the girl of his dreams.

As a nation— as a culture— we either go for this or we break apart into factions, because sex — at every level of social organization, from the couple to the polis— either powerfully binds us together or powerfully splits us apart. Those who do not go for the gold of lifelong marriage,  ultimately, are prepared that our nation be split into pieces.  Too strong a claim?  What happens to families after divorce?  Multiply that by millions and then by two or three generations and then you have a nation and culture falling apart.  The choice is not just and individual choice it is a political one (in the pure sense of the polis). 

How men handle their sexuality is at the bedrock level of society.  This is something the Marxist Feminists understood very well, though for nefarious applications.  

Feminists and lots of other women are clear on what they don’t want men to do sexually, and they are right!  But they are NOT clear on what they want men to DO. And without a clear destination anyone is lost. So, feminists, though correct in their attacks on predation, are totally wrong on the nature of sex. There is only one destination that makes sense of sex: Sex is meant for marriage and procreation— procreation within marriage— both entwined.  There are lots of secondary derivative purposes and benefits but these two, procreation within marriage,  are non-negotiables if we are to avoid social chaos, and if justice is to be done to every child, and if we are to be a people who want justice for every child.

Maybe the biggest natural barrier to achieving this justice is a universal fact about being male: for every man a huge portion of females are physically attractive to him— and will remain so throughout his life, no matter his marital status. Men see, and immediately register, the beauty and attractiveness of every female before they know anything else about her. And if a man permits himself to pursue that attraction to its logical end (intercourse) he can be in big trouble for the rest of his life, and worse still, he will have caused chaos in the lives of the woman, her extended family, his own extended family, and in particular, and most disastrously, will have severely damaged the children that result from that intercourse (either eliminating them in abortion or leaving them with split parents for the rest of their lives – and  the grandchildren’s  lives.

The only way that sexual attraction can be properly handled is by channeling it towards one person only — the future bride.  Finding her is a long and delicate process for which a good father is the best guide, by far.

The journey to the bride starts in childhood.  It used to start in adolescence for most of human history but now, with pornography being universally and aggressively obtrusive, it starts for boys around age seven or eight, because with his first exposure to it he is beginning to go down the right path or the wrong path.

(By the way – I am all for the death penalty for pornographers. The human suffering unleashed by pornography is so large it is beyond comprehension.)

Back to the task:  fathers now have to begin tutoring early if they are not to be too late.  By age 7 or 8 it is already urgent and assumes a good level of affection between father and son for this next phase to be successful.

The good father lets his boy know (despite his son not yet being interested in girls) that he wants him to end up as a great young man with a beautiful young wife who will be his companion and best friend for life.  Even the father who has failed to achieve this for himself can lay this out for his son. 

Gradually – and differently for each son – he leads him to understand the fundamental complementarity between male and female; that this complementarity between his mother and father brought him into existence and an even greater complementarity and unity between them is needed to raise him to be a great young man.  The father reminds his son that he exists because he, his father, used his sexuality to bring him into existence!  (This is a most powerful lesson each modern boy needs to hear from the lips of his father.  Without this exchange a father is neglecting the growth of his son).  He lets his son know that his father, and he alone, is the one to guide his son in teaching about sexuality and that his son should take it from no one else unless his father says it is OK.  He even goes so far as to teach his son how to demand this as his (the son’s) right in the classroom and any other place.  He teaches his boy how to be a modern warrior — and gentleman — in these sexually hostile times.

The father paints, repeatedly, the goal of the great woman to be won over – by his son being a great man. He teaches him that in this domain “like attracts like!”  He cannot have a great woman without being a great man. It is impossible.  (At the same time the boy’s mother is teaching the same lesson to his sister).

 The father teaches his son that along the way there are many traps and snares for every man; that there always has been and always will be.  The first snare that modern boys confront is pornography — new, modern and powerful  in its intrusiveness and alluringness (that is what makes it a snare).  The father tells his son (at the appropriate time) how he combats his own temptations to look at pornography.  He does it in a way that invites the son to lean on his father for help whenever that struggle is present – and it will be.  The father promises to protect him within the home and at school but tells him he has to learn how to protect himself when his father is not around.  And he reminds him constantly that all this is for the sake of that wonderful girl he is going to win some day.  The purer his heart the stronger it will be and the more easily she will sense it and be attracted by it. And he in turn will be able to recognize a woman with a similarly pure heart – ready to give it to the right man but only to the right man and only to one man!

Anybody with an ounce of sense will agree with the above. Anyone who  does not is an enemy of children.  Harsh? Yes — but true and fundamental to a just and peaceful society.

In all my years working with couples and families, with data and research,  with evaluating programs and trying to figure out how best to help couples and families, I have concluded that nothing is more fundamental in the cycle of life and of  nations than that the father be the one to induct a boy into sexuality.  No one else.  All else is fraud — dressed up no doubt, but fraud.

Given this, I think it is time for another Revolutionary War.  This war is not fought with guns (though, if it is not won there will be a war with guns).  It is the revolution by which fathers take back from everyone else, no matter who they are (teachers or clergy),  the sexual education and formation of their boys.  

We all love appropriate battle cries, such as New Hampshire’s “Liver Free or Die”.  The one every father needs close to his heart (and on his lips when need be) is “Keep your hands off my son’s sex!”

 If we get enough fathers taking “sex ed” (it really is sexual malformation)  back out of the schools (public and private, denominational or secular) we can change America. If we don’t we lose it.  

Too simple? No, no matter the difficulty of doing it.   I see nothing more foundational than this in the cycle of human existence, handed on from one generation to the next.

(By the way, this is the ultimate reform the Catholic Church needs to rectify its own house on sexual ethics for all vocations—for marriage, priesthood, religious celibacy or single lay life.  It was the “program” proposed in plenty of time by Pope Pius XII back in the 1950’s.  It is a pity of historical proportions that Catholic bishops and religious teaching orders did not take that to heart.)

May fathers take back the formation of their sons’ sexuality from everyone else!  It belongs to no one else.  If anyone wants to do any “sex ed” let them help fathers and mothers do it  — and most of them will need help to do this well.  But any other forms of sex ed is only adding to the problem.  Proof? Just look around you. 

It is already very late.  It is time to start this New Revolution. 

Three Short Periods That Shape an Individual’s Journey Through Life

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Three phases are foundational to a sense of well-being throughout life: The child’s early experience of his mother, the teenager’s decision about sex and God, and the newly wedded couples agreement on suffering. The first and last involve the two most important persons in his life. The middle- the teenager’s decision -is personal, private and alone, or alone before God. All three phases shape life way into the future by shaping the individual’s capacity for the wellbeing of spouse, children, friends, family, and colleagues at work.

The child who experiences the constant attention and affection of a self-giving mother during the earliest phase of life, is blessed beyond measure. That mother is giving him a great introduction to “reality as a pleasant place to be.” Life is good, life is warm, life is full. Well taken care of, that baby is ready to take life on! Depending on the mother’s capacity, both from within herself and from the environment around her (her own early experience of her own mother, her husband, her home, her support from family and friends), she fills her child’s emotional heart- his relational “cup”- full, half-full or quarter full. Less than full means the child will have a corresponding limp in human relationships for the rest of its life– without realizing it.

In a recent conversation with friends who live in Spain we mulled the mother-child dilemma in that country where almost all married women are expected to return to work four months after the birth of the child. Many fear that moment because of the pain of leaving their child so soon. By any research calculus, four months with mother is way too little as a norm. Spain is undermining the relational capacity of its children and guaranteeing fragile marriages and difficult parenting twenty-five to thirty years from now.

It cannot but be that most Spanish children will limp relationally to some extent, but it will be hard to spot because most other Spaniards will have been similarly affected. For almost all Spanish couples — even the middle class and higher — a culture of shame exists for husbands if their wives do not work. (The poor and the working class can’t afford the luxury of such shame.) Caring full-time for children at home has become rather socially unacceptable. In Spain, the marketplace is more honored than the child. The market now significantly shapes Spanish children’s relational capacities.

The next period to shape life takes place in the inner sanctum of each teenager’s heart. Between the age of fourteen to sixteen most teenagers decide very privately which path they will walk on matters sexual – ‘adventurous’ exploration of sexual relationships, or chaste abstinence until marriage. The other decision, rather interlaced with the first, is whether they will walk with God or without Him. Should they take the both paths the wrong way, they set themselves up for much unhappiness, broken relationships, even broken marriages, thus visiting suffering on their future children and grandchildren. Some learn their mistake before they go too far down the road. Others find chaste abstinence is possible, especially with friends who walk the same path and who go to God frequently in worship. Oh this “it takes a village” helps a lot. Though chastity leads to significant prosperity and happiness in marriage and family for decades to come, most teenagers are not aware of this, nor that, though they are free to choose, they are not free to choose the consequences, that the consequences are hardwired within them.

The third period bridges the year before and after marriage. The most basic wisdom young couples need concerns suffering. Their orientation to it shapes their future. Those who expect life together to involve some suffering and are prepared to back each other up (“for better or for worse”) will survive and thrive. Those who premise marriage only on “happy ever after” (our modernist norm) are in for a quick disillusionment, one that ends many marriages. The best definition I have come across of a great marriage is “a couple with the capacity to solve an emotionally dividing problem”. Stated differently: a couple who can confront the suffering that life throws at them and figure out how to move towards a solution they agree on.

Though all the social science dots are not yet fully connected across the three periods, enough of them are to link the first period to this last. A husband and wife whose mothers “filled their cup” in infancy are much better formed to be great problem solvers together.

Which brings me back to poor Spain! It takes the national wisdom of a child-friendly culture to deal well with family, love, suffering and children. St John of the Cross, who helped reform religious and institutional life in Spain in the late 1500’s and whose writings are explored by believers of all faiths, is one of the great teachers of the connection between love and suffering. Spanish life could do with a re-infusion of his insights. Then the rest of the world would learn from Spain, for many Western nations, and many good couples, struggle, during the first phase of the child’s existence, to solve the dilemma of mother, child and marketplace.