How Can I Help My Effeminate Son?
I have been reading your page. I am a believer and practicing Catholic. I saw a question of a Father regarding his son's tendencies and attitudes.
Well, my son acts the same way as that Father described his son. My 7 year old son is very sensitive, walks so effeminate, has a limp wrist, and cries a lot, for nothing. He has two other brothers, and he is the middle child, but I can see the difference between them. His brothers are more masculine, have deeper voices, and walk more like boys.
An effeminate Renaissance youth
I am very concerned, please help me because I am a true Catholic, and I want to follow what the Catholic Church teaches. Regarding behavior and tendencies, I love the Church and my son. Like that Dad said, I don't want my son to see me correcting his limpy hand all the time then become very resentful towards me. I even practice walking with him, I told him walk like daddy, look like this or like that, and he tries, my boy, but then again he walks so effeminate.
I am in need of desperate help. I find this website and questions very helpful, but please give some advice. I want him to be more boyish for the glory of God.
Dr. Horvat & Miss Lozowski respond:
We commend your vigilance in forming your children well. It is rare to find an objective mother who can admit the faults of her child, and then resolve to help correct them. Many women agree in theory with the model of masculine boys and feminine girls, but then ignore any reformative measures when such tendencies appear in their own children.
In the past, there were fewer effeminate boys because of the better customs and more objective formations, but there were always some boys who tended to be effeminate, and some girls who tended to be masculine.
A general with his grandson
A whiny voice on a boy would be corrected by having him read aloud in a manly manner. Or by the demand for a crisp “Yes, sir!” “No, Ma’am” to questions or requests to do things. “Not so loud, my dear” to a girl with loud, boisterous tones.
St. Ambrose of Milan affirms these principles in Chapter 19 of Book II of On the Duties of the Clergy:
“The voice, too, should not be languid, nor feeble, nor womanish in its tone – such a tone of voice as many are in the habit of using under the idea of seeming important. It should preserve a certain quality and rhythm, and a manly vigor. For all to do what is best suited to their character and sex, that is to attain to beauty of life. This is the best order for movements, this the employment fitted for every action.
“But as I cannot approve of a soft or weak tone of voice, or an effeminate gesture of the body, so also I cannot approve of what is boorish and rustic. Let us follow nature. The imitation of her provides us with a principle of training, and gives us a pattern of virtue.”
The importance of example & good models
Children learn by imitating the people they see around them. If a child sees a parent yelling or bickering, he will be likely to do the same with his siblings or even with his parents. This is why it is so important for parents to be good examples for their children, acting as they would have their children act and not demanding a virtue from the children not seen in either mother or father.
Fathers should engage in manly sports like hunting & fishing with their sons
Ask your two other sons to help him in this purpose. Encourage them to play boyish games such as pretend knights, sword fighting with sticks, kicking balls, tug-of-war, and other active games. They can also play chess and war board games (such as Risk, Kingmaker, Axis and Allies) that will encourage them to develop war strategy skills and to adopt a masculine way of reasoning. Giving them old books about war maps and battle strategies can help them to participate in these games with more skill.
When three boys join together with the goal of being militant gentlemen, guided by a manly "captain," they will encourage one another towards that goal.
Competition is also good for boys. It helps to develop a healthy aggression and zeal. In this regard, you could encourage competition by asking your sons to do something and offering a prize to the son who performs the action the fastest or the best.
For your son to become more manly, he must not be entirely reliant upon you as to become a “mamma’s boy.” You should start fostering an independent spirit in him by sending him to do errands or other tasks with his father or brothers.
With a good book, a boy enters the world of the crusaders & noble deeds
In the modern world, it is not only persons who influence your child. What a child sees on electronic devices (e.g. the computer, smart phone, television) also affects his behavior. For this reason, you should carefully regulate what he watches. Movies in particular should be avoided, because today it is very rare to find a model man being portrayed on the screen.
The best alternative is reading militant stories of the saints and classic children’s literature for boys, such as Treasure Island, Robin Hood and King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. Good saints for your boys to know are St. John of Capistrano, St. Sebastian, St. George, St. Elias the Prophet, St. Louis IX, St. Stephen of Hungary and St. Michael the Archangel, to name but a few.
If you know how to sing, you may also teach your sons good war ballads, sea shanties, or other folk songs. Songs like “What Shall We Do With a Drunken Solider?”, “Bring Us in Good Ale”, “The Miller of Dee”, “The Minstrel Boy” and “The Hundred Pipers'' foster a spirit of manliness
Timidity & nervousness corrected
Catholics have traditionally taught their children to overcome nervousness and timidity. This has been true even for girls, who should not be overly sensitive. A common remedy for this has been making the child do something alone in the dark that would normally be frightening for him.
For example, St. Therese of Lisieux was wisely formed by her sisters to overcome her natural timidity. They would tell her to bring them something from a dark room at the other side of the house or to put away something in the garden shed at night. Even if she was afraid to do this, they would not accept excuses, but made her follow through with the errand. This helped Therese to counter her natural timidity.
Performing can give a boy courage & confidence
When he cries and runs to you because of small hurts and offenses, be certain not to baby him or comfort him. Rather admonish him for crying over nothing. He will continue to cry if you support him in his tears. Remind him to be a man, and to offer his sufferings to Our Lady.
Another remedy for timidity is asking your son to perform in front of others. This can include singing a song, playing an instrument, reciting a poem, telling a story, or any other skill that he may possess. The more he performs in front of others, the more confidence he will build in himself.
Hard work: a cure for effeminacy
Something we highly encourage is to make your son work outside, get dirty, and sweat. If you have a garden, have him pull weeds and hoe or move rocks. He may be too young to mow the lawn but he can surely gather sticks or rake leaves. When a boy has a task to do and feels that he is needed, he will have more incentive to take an initiative.
Hard work, a good cure for effeminate tendencies
With hard work comes the important skill of endurance. When the child is no longer interested in the task at hand, he should be made to continue the task until it is finished. Of course, if the work is hard, he can take breaks, but you must guard carefully against laziness. A boy who sits idly around all day will become soft and effeminate.
Teach sons to serve & protect women
Another remedy for effeminacy is to inspire your sons with the desire to protect women, especially you, their mother, and their sisters if they have any. Fr. Bernhard O’Reilly writes his excellent book The Mirror of True Womanhood: “Be such in your life, in your whole deportment, that your sons may believe that there does not exist on earth a mother or a woman like you. Let them be made to understand, as early as possible, that men are to treat women with a sovereign respect.” (p. 276)
Encourage young men to help the womenfolk in the family
Be patient with your son, never tiring of gently correcting him. If you give into frustration, he is more likely to resent you. Yet, continue to be consistent in your corrections so that your son can more easily conform to what you are asking him to be.
As long as you show your son affection and tenderness, while striving to be the model woman, there is little chance that your son will come to resent you. On the contrary, when he becomes a man, he will look back on his upbringing and bless you a thousand times for helping him to become the man whom God made him to be.
Marian Horvat & Elizabeth Lozowski
Taking risks helps form a boy
to be a man & not a mama's boy