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THE GOOD FATHER FORMING THE SEXUALITY OF HIS SON AS HE GROWS FROM INFANCY TO YOUNG MANHOOD: REBUILDING OUR NATION ONE SON AT A TIME©2019

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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.  However, today fathers do not have culture helping them (and that has always been the main way sexuality was taught), but instead, an anti-culture is their enemy in this task.  Now, for the first time in history, fathers have to do it all themselves. The alternative is to leave their sons as prey for a predatory culture and agenda.

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, in his heart:

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.

To put this into practice, men must take sex-ed out of the schools and bring it back into the home, where it belongs. In the beginning it will be one father at a time but eventually 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 raising their boys to be great husbands and great fathers.

THE MANY PHASES OF A BOY’S DEVELOPMENT- AND HIS FATHER’S PRIME ROLE IN EACH PHASE.

There are phases to this formation by the father of his son’s sexuality. 

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 six:

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.

And the sixth is the young man’s arrival at his own stage of total responsibility and freedom.

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-affection-based.

Though most of the focus will be on the dynamic between father and son, the strongest and deepest dynamic that will form the boy’s sexuality is the relationship 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.

Therefore, through all the delving into the phases of forming the sexuality of his sons, it is to be taken for granted that the father’s first task is to take great care of his sexual partner, his wife, the boy’s mother.  Nothing he does 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, with his sexuality and the greater the “dis-ease” between mother and father, sexually, the greater the dis-ease of their children with matters sexual.[1]

All children need a good marriage between their parents 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.  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 issues in our national crisis has brought us to the sexual formation of the boy by his father. And even here, marriage is foundational.

PHASE ONE: EARLY CHILDHOOD

Well begun is half done.

The foundation of a boy’s sexuality is his earliest relationship with his father. If this is warm, affectionate and enjoyable their journey together 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 in playing with his father.

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 age. 

With such a friendship in place the later phases will be handled with much great ease.  Without it a boy is much less likely to listen or want to listen to his father about matters sexual.  The sexual is all about intimacy.  So too is the affection of a father for his son.  On this intimacy, or ease of relationship, rests the later capacity of the father to broach the topic of sexuality in a framework the boy trusts — his father’s closeness to him.  A distant father will not have authority with his son on matters sexual.

PHASE TWO (YEARS THREE TO NINE): CONSOLIDATION OF AFFECTION AND SOLIDARITY

From age three onwards the infant gradually becomes a boy.  The difference 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.  If a son knows that his father revels in his presence and in playing with him, the father has given him a great gift… “I am lovable” and “I believe in myself because he believes so much in me.”

The observant father now will begin to spot the different temperament and inclinations of his children (and draw upon his wife’s observations as well). These inclinations and strengths need his father’s affirmation (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. It lasts a life time and shapes his relationships and his professional (work) life for years and years to come.

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 people and life). What he loves about his life: His wife– their mother, 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. All this is goes deep into them by his own reveling in their gifts. This way he nurtures a deep self confidence in his children, which is the foundation of a great sexual relationship with his spouse later on—twenty years or more after 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  “A Mother’s List of Books[2] which contains hundreds of 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 you are ever in doubt, classic fairytales are another 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 (and mother): 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. 

Modesty in dress within the home is another “mindset” to be cultivated: no bare-chested boys for instance.  Modesty in your sisters dress is ensured by mother with a firm nod from father where needed.  (Adolescent girls seem to be clueless about the effect their bare flesh on boy’s imaginations.  When adult women do it, it is really a form of sexual harassment of men and their imagination). 

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 his son will know when a picture is not right, and  that he should 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.

During this phase wise fathers and mothers keep the coming adolescent years in mind and prepare for them by making friends with other families they 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 adolescence – 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 might have as friends teenagers the parents are not happy with.  But by then it is too late to do what could have been done with ease six or seven 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.

As one head master put it when describing the school, he was building: “We want the families you would like your children to marry into.” This same criterion is the one for parents to use in cultivating friendships between children.  It will make adolescence much, much easier — especially on matters sexual.

All of this preparation is background to the beginning of direct talk by the father with his son – somewhere around age 9 or 10. “The talk” has to be early enough so that his son gets the information from his father not from some boy at school.

In this talk the father initiates his boy into matters sexual, telling him about the sexual differences between men and women; about how babies are conceived (if the boy has not already asked about this).  And answering any question his boy asks.

All fathers and sons find it easier to talk about this without looking each other in the eye.  Many find it helpful to do it on a walk or on a drive in the car when eyes are aimed straight forward.  It is an anxiety provoking talk, especially in the beginning for father and for his son. Eyes forward helps.

PHASE 3: EARLY ADOLESCENCE

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. 

With this sort of background already in place, the work of the father is made much easier as he gets ready 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 and his wife have already accomplished the deepest preparation of his son for good marriage later, by his mother bonding well with him as a newborn, and by him bonding well with his infant son. With these bindings, he and his wife have given him the foundation’s for intimacy, which is the sine qua non for true sexual capacity. This is their great accomplishment to date— giving him the capacity to belong to others by their belonging to him. This way they have already made him rich. With this ease and capacity, 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. Such a woman will be seeking someone like him while he is seeking someone like her. The complementary roles of his mother and father are what make such a search more likely to be successful. 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.[3]

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 will soon undergo 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).

The father will map out for him that 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 the way he wants to make his living by harnessing the gifts he has and treasures most.

During this period the father reminds his son that he will become increasingly aware of the two major dimensions of being a human being: That he is both spirit and body entwined and that one of his greatest challenges in life will be to bring harmony between these two dimensions; that he will find such harmony easy at times, while at other times difficult  and on occasion more like a raging storm; 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 these changes will bring joy to his father, even though 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.  There may be occasional butting of heads but only to clarify issues at stake. 

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 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 beckons 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 accordingly.  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 and to imitate them in his own way.

PHASE 4: What a father might say to his young ADOLESCENT son about THE BEAUTY OF YOUNG WOMEN.

When you were born, I held you in my arms and made these promises to you:

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.

Now, that you have become a young man your body can generate new life. Yes! You can now be a father. So, it is time for me to teach you all you want to know and all you need to know about this powerful new dimension of being alive.

Over the next few years we will talk about these issues at different times.  But the next lesson I want you to learn is that the world of women is both wonderful and dangerous and that you need to learn how to live in that world and assess these women. They — like men — can be angels or devils (most are somewhere in between). However, in our times, the number of dangerous women has grown (the fault of their parents), so you have to be wise or you will suffer much if you make wrong choices in this domain.

Most women are attractive, physically.  Furthermore, God also made it part of their nature that they devote time and attention to being so. Finding a physically attractive woman is easy and the woman you will marry will likely be quite beautiful. However, the much more important form of attractiveness takes real practice to spot and developing that ability does not come easily for most men.

Women, however, starting in their teens, seem to enjoy exchanging their assessment of males and, even though their criteria as teenagers are limited they become more serious about it as they mature, (while men become more silent) for they begin to realize that much depends on their ability to assess a man’s capacity to work and provide for them and their future children, and the level of respect he has not only for them, but for other women. Men don’t share comparisons of women this way.  They will about how a woman looks, but that takes no training, nor great intelligence.

Because you have to acquire this capacity, it is time for you to start, first by assessing the sisters of your friends and the friends of your sisters.  You can begin to spot and appreciate their virtues: who is kind; who is hard working; who is always cheerful; who takes care of her siblings; who honors her father; who is close to her mother;  who is prayerful (though that is hard to observe); who is modest in the way she dresses; who is even-tempered; who is punctual; who is prepared? 

As you assess them you will notice weaknesses. However, you have to simultaneously learn to see the good in every young woman. No matter what weaknesses you spot, you realize that every young woman is the apple of her parent’s eye (and especially of God’s eye: He has known each intimately even before they came into existence and continues to hold each one in the palm of His hand).  In other words, even as you develop the capacity to spot their virtues you also develop the capacity to see them as God’s beloved daughters.  This is a sure-fire way to learn to respect every woman.

The effect of developing this capacity to spot the virtues in a girl is that you will become more motivated to develop your own.  The woman you set your heart on will likely have been observing the brothers of her friends and the friends of her brothers.  It would be a pity if you were to lose the girl of your dreams because you failed to turn a significant weakness into a strength.

One such man I know was lucky.  In college he fell for a girl and asked her out on a date.  She – remarkably – told him to “Forget it. You arrive late to class, skip some of them, and, I am told, you lie in bed late, many mornings. If I were to fall for you and marry you, ten years from now I would be pulling you out of bed trying to get you to work. No way am I’m going out with you!”  He changed quickly and had enough time (they were sophomores) to convince her. Now they are happily married.  Most men never get such a chance —nor such a well-informed turn-down by such a savvy girl. But such turndowns happen all the time, silently.

Developing your capacity to assess the virtues of young women should motivate you to develop those capacities you need to replace the bad habits your brothers and sisters complain about.  If you are to become a man pleasant enough to be with for a lifetime, you will take care.

We will talk about this from time to time.

PS: A good father will bring up the issue of pornography often enough, will insist on certain times for use of the computer, refuse to give children access to computers with internet connections except in the “family space” designated; refuses to give him a smart phone (an internet connected computer in his pocket that is also a porn-shop in his pocket — too big a temptation for any teenager). 

A great father I know tells his boys they have his full permission to smash the smartphone of any kid who tries to show them pornographic pictures on his phone screen.  He tells them not to worry, that he will deal with the kid’s parents.

Wise parents also track (with software) their children’s computer use and let their children know they do this.  They tell them it is so powerful in its draw that we all need this sort of protection and that in their home it has absolutely no place and urge their children to develop the same attitude, reminding them that they want to protect their children’s ability to have great sexual relations with their spouse in the not too distant future!

PHASE 5: WHAT A FATHER MIGHT SAY ABOUT GROWING IN MANLY SEXUALITY.

You may remember my promises to you when you were a baby. Among them were:

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.

The most strategic battles on matters sexual take place in your mind, heart and imagination,  just as they do still for me, and did for your grandfathers and all men who have ever lived. This is a battleground littered with fallen soldiers. Many men get wounded and pay a heavy price before recovering. Some men never recover. Some men cease to be soldiers and become “sexual terrorists”.

The sexual energy within us is much like the energy of the atom: it can be harnessed for great good. From it came you, your sisters and your brothers and all your cousins and all the friends you love to be with. However, like the atomic energy, sexual energy can also be massively destructive, as when children are aborted, spouses are unfaithful and marriages break up, when sexual abuse or deep marital conflict distorts the sexuality of adults and their children, who, when they become adults, in turn often damage others.

The prefrontal cortex in the two lobes of your brain do two different types of tasks: one side is oriented to being creative in the discovery of new things and in exploring the world; while it is doing that, the other side spots and avoids dangers. As you drive a car, you need both sides working well: the side that gets you to your destination and the side that avoids the accidents you or others could cause along the way if you did not brake, or turn, or signal at the right moment. You could say one side is liberal and creative, moving on to new goals while the other side is conservative: preserving the good you already have by keeping it safe. Every issue in life needs both these capacities. 

In matters sexual there is the creative dimension (winning the heart of the attractive woman and then having and raising children) and a protective dimension: avoiding traps and dangers: the wrong sort of women, the wrong places, books, movies — and of course, pornography.

But, the dangers are not always on the outside. Many of them pop up from inside: the images that jump, unbidden, into your imagination, or when a beautiful woman passes do you “look” at her (as opposed to seeing her), i.e. assess her physical beauty and even begin to daydream about her. You cannot avoid developing habits in this domain; the issue is which habits you choose to develop. This is a big fork in the road in the life and you are free to choose for yourself (and for your future spouse and children): letting “sex go wild” in your imagination or controlling it for its true purpose. Bad habits can grow from seemingly small habits: looking at an attractive woman a second time or, on the other hand, deliberately looking away and entertaining other thoughts and images. You will be tempted in many other ways in the years to come: watching movies that arouse you sexually (the directors know what they are doing — as do the actors and actresses); going to places or bars you know will lead to similar temptations; going to parties that lean that way.  The list will grow as you grow older.  

That you feel these attractions and sexual desires is natural – you are a man and your hormones are sending you all sorts of mating messages. But you have to decide — and decide early — you are going to enjoy these sexual pleasures only with the one person who will be yours for life, after you both have pledged yourselves to each other in matrimony.  

To so decide, and to keep your promise, will take training. But the benefits are great — and will spill over into many other areas in your life:

  • You will become prudent as you develop a sixth sense of when events are likely to lead in the wrong direction.
  • You  will develop the virtue of temperance as you deliberately grow the habit of not enjoying an innocent pleasure (like a good ice cream) so that you will have at your disposal the capacity to resist forbidden pleasures when they present themselves temptingly. 
  • You will gain wisdom as you talk these things out with someone you trust – me your father, or a good teacher, or a priest— someone you admire and can trust so that you can learn from them how to do battle and win, or learn how to heal the wounds from battles lost. These are people who love you and also understand this war (they have to fight it too) and will teach you how to move forward. 
  • You will grow in courage and humility as you talk about battles lost.  Catholic Christians have the added benefit of Confession – for this and other wounds in the battle for virtues.
  • You will grow in piety: having regular quiet time with God as you talk it all through with Him also.  For Catholic Christians it makes sense to talk it through with the Mother of God, and with Christ in the Eucharist. Everyone who comes to God reports great help in this area. 
  • You will grow as a friend – as you help your friends avoid situations before they develop and as you call on your friends when you need support for a battle that looms. That, by the way, is a great way to help them!

The wonderful thing about this battle is the joy and happiness it brings; losing the battle always brings sadness and a big letdown.  Beforehand, the temptation promises a false happiness that looks fantastic but afterwards leaves a bad taste.  It is a fool’s gold.  Did you know that the data show that those who are virginal when they marry, and who worship God weekly, have the best and most frequent sexual pleasure— in marriage, of course!! This is one of life’s biggest secrets. Virtually no one knows this.

These battles will come your way in your teen years.  I am sure they have already started or will soon. Twenty and thirty years from now you will still have to fight them —when you travel alone or when you are in business situations that could cause you temptations.  To be faithful to your wife and your children decades into the future, you need to start now.  It is wise to learn to battle from the beginning, and it is much easier. 

One area of battle for every male is the temptation to masturbate. Many moderns believe it is all right, but they are fooling themselves and ignoring ancient wisdom and modern research.  Pornography addiction happens only through masturbation. 

Masturbation, when practiced frequently, changes the mind, the imagination and the heart: the object of pleasure becomes an internal image, not a real person.  When this becomes habitual — as happens with frequent use of pornography — it can lead to a serious sexual disability — erectile dysfunction (ED) — which means that a man cannot fully satisfy his wife because he has lost hiscapacity to be aroused except by pornographic images. ED used to be an old man’s debility.  Now, because pornography is so widespread, so too is ED.  Viagra and other pharmacological props now have a huge market among young men who suffer from this psychosexual disease. You hear the ads all over the place.  Behind it all is ED.

Pornography is so destructive that boys and men can lose their natural interest in women — in Japan, which has a long tradition of pornography, a significant portion of single 30-year-olds have lost interest in the opposite sex. Married men can lose interest in their wives — and instead become obsessed with print and digital pictures, or only be able to make love to her by having these images in his mind.  By this stage they are in deep trouble in all the areas related to their sexuality: their intimate family relations, their friendships and their readiness to relate with God. The good news is it is possible to overcome this addiction, but it is better by far to take the path to becoming a chaste young man. 

There is another practical reason to live purity: to gain that control of one’s sexuality that a married man needs so as to be able to do without sex for a while, for his wife’s sake: A wife, who for whatever reason does not want to get pregnant, has to be able to rely on her husband’s self-control during her peak fertility days. Many women do not have such husbands and as a result use contraceptives[1].  Thus, a husband who lacks self-control becomes a grave danger to his wife and his marriage. 

Purity of mind, heart and imagination results in a cheerful happiness that makes life worth living, a cheerfulness that is very attractive, and that good women spot quickly. Purity is a great ringer of wedding bells and a great aphrodisiac.

I hope you will come to me when you have questions in this area.  And I hope you begin to pray to your future wife’s guardian angel, too.  By the way, belief in guardian angels is universal.  It cuts across all levels of religious practice (including those who never worship), all cultures, and all religions. 

On every level there are very strong reasons for deciding to be pure and wholesome. Your happiness, your future wife’s happiness and your children’s happiness depend on it.


[1] Within the year we will have a series of synthesis papers on the psychological, sociological, demographic, biological and neurological effects of contraception. They are myriad.

Phase 6: Young Manhood.

My son, as a young man you are already master of your own ship and free to sail any sea and visit any port! But no matter what you do, the single biggest task ahead of you is choosing your wife, you companion for life.  She will have a huge effect on your life and what the sum total of it will be in the end.

Over the years we have talked a lot about matters sexual so that you prepare yourself to thrive sexually.  Once married you begin that wonderful sexual exchange.  Most moderns think they have to “try it out” first to see if they are compatible, but they have it all wrong.

In the chart below from a national federal government survey you see a pattern that has been replicated many times: sex before marriage is a threat to the marriage, and therefor to children and the future of society.  Because most moderns are totally unaware of this threat, and given its implications for the stability of marriage and family and its impact on the children of these men and women — and thus on all society — I think this is the most important chart in all of the social sciences. 

Add to this that those who enjoy the sexual the most are virgins at marriage who worship God weekly.  They have the most rewarding sexual relations,[4] and the most enduring marriages.  These insights have motivated me to raise you to be chaste.  Your future wife will be very grateful.

I assume you will select a chaste girl.  Anyone else is a big risk. But there are  other important criteria for selecting your future wife, and, though some think it too calculating to consider all the attributes you want in your wife, I don’t, because, done right, it gets you thinking the right way.  You can day dream about the physical attributes you desire but those attributes will likely fly out the door when you meet “her”. 

What do you want most in her?  I suspect the most important attribute is kindness.  A kind person loves in small details, and your life together will be made up of millions of small details with occasional big ones thrown in.  

The next attribute is ‘hard work’: Is she tough on herself when it comes to work?   Life is made up of loads of hard work.

Cheerfulness ranks very high.  To be with a cheerful person is always so much easier. And you will be with her for the rest of your life.  Better still: can she stay cheerful even when she suffers?

Kind, hardworking and cheerful!  That is a winning combination for a great partner — assuming you, too, are kind, hardworking and cheerful.  When you spot such a woman don’t waste any time: you will have lots of competition.  But make sure you see her in her family setting.  That is where her “ordinary self’ is most likely to be seen.  How she treats her family is how she will treat you, once the honeymoon phase has passed.

However, this first level of “filtering” is not enough.  You both will have to assess openly whether you are “in the same business”. What is it you both want to have achieved together by age 70?  And what do you want to be remembered for after you die?

The biggest issue for agreement is having children, for they will be your biggest, toughest project.  Bringing new persons into existence is the greatest thing you will do together, and it is the ultimate purpose of marriage. This used to be an easy decision for women in the past: culture shaped this expectation. Today women have professional choices and often have invested heavily in acquiring professional competence, and an anti-culture pushes in the opposite direction.  Women, today,  have more weighing up and deciding to do.  They can “have it all” if they live a normal length because early child birth gives both children and a long career later in life, whereas postponing child raising can lead to childlessness or a much smaller family than desired. Some women can manage both at the same time but normally with fewer children and more stress.  You need to discuss this before getting engaged.  Children are at the heart of marriage and you both need to agree.

How many children you have will be determined (all other things being equal) by the size of your heart and her heart.  However, all things are never equal, so each child is a new decision. And this gets us to the heart of sexual relations and the huge mistake most modern couples make: They choose to contracept as their way to decide the size of their family. But, given the evidence we now have on the effects of contraception, that is not only a stupid move, it is an anti-human move. And, given its effects on communications within marriage, it is bad for the children too.[5]  Also deciding to contracept is deciding not to talk about having children!  For many it is hard to break that silence…and they get into the habit of avoiding “tricky areas”, a real danger in marriage. (By the way both the pill and NFP have similar rates of success in spacing children). 

The best way to go is to enjoy sexual relations the way God made them: natural intercourse, fully experienced.  It is much more enjoyable, as long as you both are ready.  But it will get tricky for your wife if you, her husband, are not very attuned to her pregnancy desires.  Some couples want and are capable of having as many children as they can.  They don’t count the cost, are prepared to pay the bill and they just “go for it”.  But many couples are much more cautious or fearful.  As a good husband you will always be aware of your wife’s stance on having a new child and will conduct yourself accordingly. You both will talk about this a few times each month. At times (at her request) you will restrain yourself. Your wife will know she has a gift of a man who is concerned to never force sexual relations on her when she is afraid (for whatever reason) of conceiving another child.  And when you resume it is like a new honeymoon.  It really helps keep marriage alive.

The whole world knows that Catholics are supposed to practice sexual intercourse this natural family planning way, but what the world  does not know is that the biggest reason many Catholic women turn to the pill is they don’t trust their husbands’ ability to be self-controlled and not to “use” them!

The couples who control their fertility through bio-tracking and communicating about it are — rather naturally, over time, great communicators.  The acquired ability to communicate in this delicate area develops the ability in other critical areas.

Though sex is one tough area for young couples to talk about clearly, it has a rival: money.  It is will be very enlightening for you and your fiancée to make a joint budget, before engagement, on how you are going to use your combined monies, not just for the first year — that is easy when you are both working — but for the years you will have your first and second child.  Budgets are sobering and bring you right into the “non-romantic” part of life where unity is more difficult but also much more important.[6]  If you both agree in advance on your budget are off to a great start.  If you agree on both children and money have it made!  I hope you do this hard   work before you get engaged. You both will then have an enormous sense of “the freedom of togetherness” when you have it done.

Such togetherness and unity will determine the strength of your children.  No matter what else you achieve, nothing compares to bringing children into the world and raising them as strong adults.  Bill Gates’s three children are a much bigger contribution to the human race than is his Microsoft.  They are priceless, Microsoft is not. The market puts a price tag on it every day. It will disappear; they will exist forever, and their children and so on for generations to come.  You might achieve much more than Bill and Melinda Gates if you want to….with the right woman.  

Pat Fagan Ph.D.

 


[1] From Nat Survey of Family Growth in early 200’s: the rate of female homosexuality in adulthood was 2.5% for women from always intact families vs 7.5% for those in father absent families.

[2] This booklet is widely acclaimed.  It is authored by my wife, Theresa Fagan.   I know it is a plug, but it is a classic — owned and used for decades by thousands of mothers across the country.  Email her at tafagan@juno.com for more details.  If there were a better book out there, I would plug it, but there is not!

[3] 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 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.

[4] Laumann, Gagnon, Michael and Michaels; “The Social Organization of Sexuality”  (1994) and Michael and Gagnon “Sex in America, a Definitive Study” (1994)

[5] And there is increasing evidence of biological harm to children — sometimes.

[6] In days of arranged marriages budgets were a key part of the negotiations.  The parents did the math.  Today young couples have to do that unromantic work.  Like of old, it is best done before the deal is struck. It is a key part of marital dependence on each other.

Phase 6 of The Father- Son Relationship: Young Manhood

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My son, as a young man you are already master of your own ship and free to sail any sea and visit any port! But no matter what you do, the single biggest task ahead of you is choosing your wife, you companion for life. She will have a huge effect on your life and what the sum total of it will be in the end.

Over the years we have talked a lot about matters sexual so that you prepare yourself to thrive sexually. Once married you begin that wonderful sexual exchange. Most moderns think they have to “try it out” first to see if they are compatible, but they have it all wrong.

In the chart below from a national federal government survey you see a pattern that has been replicated many times: Sex before marriage is a threat to the marriage, and therefor to children and the future of society.  Because most moderns are totally unaware of this threat, and given its implications for the stability of marriage and family and its impact on the children of these men and women — and thus on all society— I think this is the most important chart in all of the social sciences. 

Add to this that those who enjoy the sexual the most are virgins at marriage who worship God weekly. They have the most rewarding sexual relations,[1] and the most enduring marriages. These insights have motivated me to raise you to be chaste. Your future wife will be very grateful.

I assume you will select a chaste girl. Anyone else is a big risk. But there are other important criteria for selecting your future wife, and, though some think it too calculating to consider all the attributes you want in your wife, I don’t, because, done right, it gets you thinking the right way. You can daydream about the physical attributes you desire but those attributes will likely fly out the door when you meet “her.” 

What do you want most in her?  I suspect the most important attribute is kindness. A kind person loves in small details, and your life together will be made up of millions of small details with occasional big ones thrown in.  

The next attribute is ‘hard work’: Is she tough on herself when it comes to work? Life is made up of loads of hard work.

Cheerfulness ranks very high. To be with a cheerful person is always so much easier. And you will be with her for the rest of your life. Better still: Can she stay cheerful even when she suffers?

Kind, hardworking and cheerful! That is a winning combination for a great partner — assuming you, too, are kind, hardworking and cheerful. When you spot such a woman do not waste any time: You will have lots of competition.  But make sure you see her in her family setting. That is where her “ordinary self’ is most likely to be seen. How she treats her family is how she will treat you, once the honeymoon phase has passed.

However, this first level of “filtering” is not enough. You both will have to assess openly whether you are “in the same business.” What is it you both want to have achieved together by age 70? And what do you want to be remembered for after you die?

The biggest issue for agreement is having children, for they will be your biggest, toughest project. Bringing new persons into existence is the greatest thing you will do together, and it is the ultimate purpose of marriage. This used to be an easy decision for women in the past: Culture shaped this expectation. Today women have professional choices and often have invested heavily in acquiring professional competence, and an anti-culture pushes in the opposite direction. Women today have more weighing up and deciding to do. They can “have it all” if they live a normal length because early childbirth gives both children and a long career later in life, whereas postponing child raising can lead to childlessness or a much smaller family than desired. Some women can manage both at the same time but normally with fewer children and more stress. You need to discuss this before getting engaged. Children are at the heart of marriage and you both need to agree.

How many children you have will be determined (all other things being equal) by the size of your heart and her heart. However, all things are never equal, so each child is a new decision. And this gets us to the heart of sexual relations and the huge mistake most modern couples make: They choose to contracept as their way to decide the size of their family. But, given the evidence we now have on the effects of contraception, we know that it is not only a stupid move, it is also an anti-human move. And, given its effects on communications within marriage, it is bad for the children too.[2]  Also deciding to contracept is deciding not to talk about having children! For many it is hard to break that silence… and they get into the habit of avoiding “tricky areas,” a real danger in marriage. (By the way both the pill and NFP have similar rates of success in spacing children). 

The best way to go is to enjoy sexual relations the way God made them: Natural intercourse, fully experienced. It is much more enjoyable, as long as you both are ready. But it will get tricky for your wife if you, her husband, are not very attuned to her pregnancy desires. Some couples want and are capable of having as many children as they can.  They don’t count the cost, are prepared to pay the bill and they just “go for it.”  But many couples are much more cautious or fearful. As a good husband you will always be aware of your wife’s stance on having a new child and will conduct yourself accordingly. You both will talk about this a few times each month. At times (at her request) you will restrain yourself. Your wife will know she has a gift of a man who is concerned to never force sexual relations on her when she is afraid (for whatever reason) of conceiving another child. And when you resume it is like a new honeymoon. It really helps keep marriage alive.

The whole world knows that Catholics are supposed to practice sexual intercourse this natural family planning way, but what the world does not know is that the biggest reason many Catholic women turn to the pill is they don’t trust their husbands’ ability to be self-controlled and not to “use” them!

The couples who control their fertility through bio-tracking and communicating about it are — rather naturally, over time, great communicators. The acquired ability to communicate in this delicate area develops the ability in other critical areas.

Though sex is one tough area for young couples to talk about clearly, it has a rival: Money. It is will be very enlightening for you and your fiancée to make a joint budget, before engagement, on how you are going to use your combined monies, not just for the first year — that is easy when you are both working — but for the years you will have your first and second child. Budgets are sobering and bring you right into the “non-romantic” part of life where unity is more difficult but also much more important.[3]  If you both agree in advance on your budget are off to a great start. If you agree on both children and money have it made! I hope you do this hard work before you get engaged. You both will then have an enormous sense of “the freedom of togetherness” when you have it done.

Such togetherness and unity will determine the strength of your children. No matter what else you achieve, nothing compares to bringing children into the world and raising them as strong adults. Bill Gates’s three children are a much bigger contribution to the human race than is his Microsoft. They are priceless, Microsoft is not. The market puts a price tag on it every day. It will disappear; they will exist forever, and their children and so on for generations to come. You might achieve much more than Bill and Melinda Gates if you want to… with the right woman.  


[1] Laumann, Gagnon, Michael and Michaels; “The Social Organization of Sexuality”  (1994) and Michael and Gagnon “Sex in America, a Definitive Study” (1994).

[2] And there is increasing evidence of biological harm to children — sometimes.

[3] In days of arranged marriages budgets were a key part of the negotiations.  The parents did the math.  Today young couples have to do that unromantic work.  Like of old, it is best done before the deal is struck. It is a key part of marital dependence on each other.

Phase 5 of the Father Son Relationship: Growing in manly sexuality from the beginning.

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You may remember my promises to you when you were a baby. Among them were:

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.

The most strategic battles on matters sexual take place in your mind, heart and imagination,  just as they do still for me, and did for your grandfathers and all men who have ever lived. This is a battleground littered with fallen soldiers. Many men get wounded and pay a heavy price before recovering. Some men never recover. Some men cease to be soldiers and become “sexual terrorists”.

The sexual energy within us is much like the energy of the atom: it can be harnessed for great good. From it came you, your sisters and your brothers and all your cousins and all the friends you love to be with. However, like the atomic bomb, sexual energy can be massively destructive, when children are aborted, spouses are unfaithful and marriages break up, when sexual abuse or deep marital conflict distorts the sexuality of children, who, when they become adults, in turn often damage others.

The prefrontal cortex in the two lobes of your brain do two different types of tasks: one side is oriented to being creative in the discovery of new things and in exploring the world; while it is doing that, the other side spots and avoids dangers. As you drive a car, you need both sides working well: the side that gets you to your destination and the side that avoids the accidents you or others could cause along the way if you did not brake, or turn, or signal at the right moment. You could say one side is liberal and creative, moving on to new goals while the other side is conservative: preserving the good you already have by keeping it safe. Every issue in life needs both these capacities. 

In matters sexual there is the creative dimension (union with an attractive spouse and the generation of children) and a protective dimension: avoiding traps and dangers. The dangers are not always on the outside. Many of them pop up from inside: the images that jump, unbidden, into your imagination, or when a beautiful woman passes do you “look” at her (as opposed to seeing her), i.e. assess her physical beauty and even begin to daydream about her. You cannot avoid developing habits in this domain; the issue is which habits you choose to develop. This is a big fork in the road in the life you will choose for yourself (and for your future spouse and children): letting “sex go wild” in your imagination or controlling it for its true purpose. Bad habits can grow from seemingly small habits: looking at an attractive woman a second time or, on the other hand, deliberately looking away and entertaining other thoughts and images. You will be tempted in many other ways in the years to come: watching movies that arouse you sexually (the directors know what they are doing — as do the actors and actresses); going to places or bars you know will lead to similar temptations; going to parties that lean that way.  The list will grow as you grow older.  

That you feel these attractions and sexual desires is natural – you are a man and your hormones are sending you all sorts of mating messages. But you have to decide — and decide early — you are going to enjoy these sexual pleasures only with the one person who will be yours for life, after you both have pledged yourselves to each other in matrimony.  

To so decide, and to keep your promise, will take training. But the benefits are great — and will spill over into many other areas in your life:

  • You will become prudent as you develop a sixth sense of when events are likely to lead in the wrong direction.
  • You  will develop the virtue of temperance as you deliberately grow the habit of not enjoying an innocent pleasure (like a good ice cream) so that you will have at your disposal the capacity to resist forbidden pleasures when you need to. 
  • You will gain wisdom as you talk these things out with someone you trust – me your father, or a good teacher, or a priest— someone you admire and can trust as you learn how to battle and learn how to heal the wounds from battles lost. These are people who love you and also understand this war (they have to fight it too) and will teach you how to move forward. 
  • You will grow in courage and humility as you talk about battles lost.  Catholic Christians have the added benefit of Confession – for this and other wounds in the battle for virtue.
  • You will grow in piety: having regular quiet time with God as you talk it all through with Him also.  For Catholic Christians it makes sense to talk it through with the Mother of God. Everyone who does reports great help in this area. 
  • You will grow as a friend – as you help your friends avoid situations before they develop and as you call on your friends when you need support for a battle that looms.

The wonderful thing about this battle is the joy and happiness it brings; losing the battle always brings sadness and a big letdown.  Beforehand, the temptation promises a false happiness that looks fantastic but afterwards leaves a bad taste.  It is a fool’s gold.  Did you know that the data show that those who are virginal when they marry, and who worship God weekly, have the best and most frequent sexual pleasure!! This is one of life’s biggest secrets. Virtually no one knows this.

These battles will come your way in your teen years, starting with puberty. Twenty and thirty years from now you will still have to fight them —when you travel alone or when you are in business situations that could cause you temptations.  To be faithful to your wife and your children decades into the future, you need to start now.  It is wise to learn to battle from the beginning, and it is much easier. 

One area of battle for every male is the temptation to masturbate. Many moderns believe it is all right, but they are fooling themselves and ignoring ancient wisdom and modern research.  Pornography addiction happens only through masturbation. 

Masturbation, when practiced frequently, changes the mind, the imagination and the heart: the object of pleasure becomes an internal image, not a real person.  When this becomes habitual — as happens with frequent use of pornography — it can lead to a sexual disability — erectile dysfunction (ED) — which means that a man cannot fully satisfy his wife because he has lost his capacity to be aroused except by pornographic images. ED used to be an old man’s debility.  Now, because pornography is so widespread Viagra and other pharmacological props have a huge market among young men who suffer from this psychosexual disease. 

Pornography is so destructive that boys and men can lose their natural interest in women — in Japan, which has a long tradition of pornography, a significant portion of single 30-year-olds have lost interest in the opposite sex. Married men can lose interest in their wives — and instead become obsessed with print and digital pictures, or only be able to make love to her by having these images in his mind.  By this stage they are in deep trouble in all the areas related to their sexuality: their intimate family relations, their friendships and their readiness to relate with God. The good news is it is possible to overcome this addiction, but it is better by far to take the path to becoming a chaste young man. 

There is another practical reason to live purity: to gain that control of one’s sexuality that a married man needs so as to be able to do without sex for a while, for his wife’s sake: A wife, who for whatever reason shouldn’t get pregnant, has to be able to rely on her husband’s self-control during her peak fertility days. Many women do not have such husbands and as a result use contraceptives[1].  Thus, a husband who lacks self-control becomes a grave danger to his wife and his marriage. 

Purity of mind, heart and imagination results in a cheerful happiness that makes life worth living, a cheerfulness that is very attractive, and that good women spot quickly. Purity is a great ringer of wedding bells and a great aphrodisiac.

I hope you will come to me when you have questions.  And I hope you begin to pray to your future wife’s guardian angel, too.  By the way, belief in guardian angels is universal.  It cuts across all levels of religious practice (including those who never worship), all cultures, and all religions. 

On every level there are very strong reasons for deciding to be pure and wholesome. Your happiness, your future wife’s happiness and your children’s happiness depend on it.


[1] Within the year we will have a series of synthesis papers on the psychological, sociological, demographic, biological and neurologica effects of contraception. They are myriad.

Phase 4 of The Father-Son Relationship: Early Adolescence (Assessing the Beauty of Young Women).

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When you were born, I held you in my arms and made these promises to you:

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.

Now, that you are becoming a young man your body can generate new life. Yes! You can now be a father. So, it is time for me to teach you all you want to know and all you need to know about this powerful new dimension of being alive.

Over the next few years we will talk about these issues at different times.  But the next lesson I want you to learn is that the world of women is both wonderful and dangerous and that you need to learn how to live in that world and assess these women. They — like men — can be angels or devils (most are somewhere in between). However, in our times, the number of dangerous women has grown, so you have to be wise or you will suffer much if you make the wrong choice.

Most women are attractive, physically.  Furthermore, God also made it part of their nature that they devote time and attention to being so. Finding a physically attractive woman is easy and the woman you will marry will likely be quite beautiful. The much more important form of attractiveness takes real practice to spot, and getting there is not easy for most men.

By contrast, women, starting in their teens, seem to enjoy exchanging their assessment of males and, even though their criteria as teenagers are limited they become more serious as they mature, for they begin to realize that much depends on their ability to assess a man’s capacity to work and provide for them and their future children, and the level of respect he has not only for them, but for other women. Men don’t share comparisons of women this way.  They more easily judge women by their looks.  That takes no training, nor great intelligence.

Because you have to acquire this capacity it is time for you to start, first by assessing the sisters of your friends and the friends of your sisters.  You can begin to spot and appreciate their virtues: who is kind; who is hard working; who is always cheerful; who takes care of her siblings; who honors her father; who is close to her mother;  who is prayerful (though that is hard to observe); who is modest in the way she dresses; who is even-tempered; who is punctual; who is prepared.  As you assess them you will notice weaknesses. However, you have to simultaneously learn to see the good in every young woman. No matter what weaknesses you spot, you realize that every young woman is the apple of her parent’s eye and especially of God’s eye: He has known each intimately even before they came into existence, and continues to hold each one in the palm of His hand.  In other words, even as you develop the capacity to spot their virtues you also develop the capacity to see them as God’s beloved daughters.  This is a sure-fire way to learn to respect every woman.

The effect of developing this capacity to spot the virtues in a girl is that you will become more motivated about developing your own.  The woman you set your heart on will likely have been observing the brothers of her friends and the friends of her brothers.  It would be a pity if you were to lose the girl of your dreams because you failed to turn a significant weakness into a strength.

One man I know was lucky.  In college he fell for a girl and asked her out on a date.  She – remarkably – told him to “Forget it. You arrive late to class, skip some of them, and, I am told, you lie in many mornings. If I were to fall for you and marry you, ten years from now I would be pulling you out of bed to get you to work. No way I’m going out with you.”  He changed quickly and had enough time (he was a sophomore) to convince her. Now they are happily married.  Most men never get such a chance —nor such an informed turn-down. But such turndowns happen all the time, silently.

Developing your capacity to assess the virtues of young women should motivate you to develop those capacities you need to replace the bad habits your brothers and sisters complain about, if you are to become a man pleasant enough to be with —-  for a lifetime.

We will talk about this from time to time.

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.

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….