Phase 2 of the Father-Child Relationship (years three to nine or ten): Consolidation of Affection and Solidarity with an Eye to the Future
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” 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.
 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. It is a plug. But if there were a better one to plug I would do so. There is not!