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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.

A Deliberate Rejection of “Traditional” Men

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The last blog before the Christmas/New Year break was “Rebuilding our nation, one son at a time” which laid out the work a father implicitly takes on with the birth of his child.  Since then the American Psychological Association (APA) issued Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Men and Boys, causing an uproar among “traditional value” folk who felt (reasonably so, as a quick read of the preamble and the titles of the guidelines will indicate). Two practicing psychologists have severe critiques that give substance to concerns of the layfolk: Dr. Sean Smith of Denver and Dr. Leonard Sax (psychologist and physician) of Maryland. That many of the members of APA likely agree with them is beside the point. The leadership of APA is determined to push the nation in a direction abhorrent to most of its citizens.

In reaction to the backlash APA issued a statement that some see as backpedaling but is in reality a digging in their heels: the president of APA and the two most recent past presidents weigh in on the side of the guidelines.

The three APA presidents state:

“We honor and respect the overwhelmingly majority of boys and men who aim to live fully human lives while valuing the dignity of all others. In short, Division 51 [author of the Guidelines] of the American Psychological Association believes the following:

Division 51 seeks to recognize and promote pathways for boys and men to live healthy and positive lives, [emphasis added] and also to identify and redress the effects of restrictive masculinities[1]. We do this through psychological science, education, advocacy, and clinical practice. In doing so, we aim to promote equality for people of all genders.”

This is not true. 

Let me give preliminary background before presenting the evidence to support my harsh retort: The guidelines are part of a set.  The other part is the almost-identical-twin guidelines for Psychological Practice with Women and Girls, issued in 2007. Two large working groups put in over 30 years of study, meetings, conferences and publications, all aimed at producing these two documents.  This is serious, deliberate project by a lot of highly intelligent, highly educated people, all of whom claim to be scientists, and members of a world-ranking organization that weighs in often as a scientific organization, e.g. in its Supreme Court amici briefs.

What is the evidence that the statement of the three presidents is not true?  In neither set of Guidelines nor in any of the years of research, conferences nor publications leading up to them, is there even the slightest attempt to “recognize and promote pathways for boys and men to live healthy and positive lives” in the traditional way of marriage and the regular practice of the worship of God (manifested in all cultures, over all of history).  Nowhere in any of the text of the two Guidelines, nor in any of the science cited, is there any indication that they acknowledge this widest of pathways, which is as visible as a 12-lane highway.  The data is staring them in the face, and is overwhelming in every federal survey,  but they treat these uncomfortable facts with that sort of contempt which makes itself clear when one turns one’s back on another. This is deliberate, not an oversight.   Also, it shows a total lack of interest in real social science, which will let the data fall where it will.

I like Dr. Sean Smith’s advice: If you need a psychologist (and there are many great psychologists, doing great and needed work), make sure to ask him (or her) about his stance on these guidelines. If he does not give a firm “NO — I do not support or agree with them” walk away from him and find a trust-worthy psychologist, one who will honor you and the traditions from which you come.

In sum these guidelines are an abuse of both therapists and clients: Placing ideology above the needs of vulnerable people in trouble seeking help.


[1] “Masculinities” is a neologism to be rejected and challenged whenever thrust upon you. It embodies the radical agenda within its meaning.

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.