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Should Boys with Feminine Tendencies
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Dear Sir or Madam,
May God bless you and may His Church be strengthened during these days.
I have noticed in the past several months that my about-to-turn seven year old son has been displaying traits that are commonly associated with feminine boys/men. While my son plays sports, plays regular “boy games” with boys his age, and likes typical boy toys/games, I noticed that he often has a “limp wrist”. He will eat with a fork in his right hand, prop his left elbow on the table, and his left hand either hangs forward or hangs backward so that his palm is almost facing the ceiling. Occasionally he sits with his legs crossed over at the knees, as women often do.
As of late, he has become a big fan of a children’s cartoon, “Sophia the First”, which is about a little girl princess. I have corrected him a few times with the limp wrist by telling him to straighten his hand out, but he seems to go back to it almost as if by habit when nobody is watching. I even notice that his hand is limp like that at times when he is asleep. My son has always been extremely emotional and sensitive, and cries very easily and dramatically over very small things.
I haven’t said anything about crossing his legs. I have told him to stop watching the princess show because it’s for girls. I don’t believe in the “born that way” nonsense that most of the world shoves down everyone’s throat, in which children are born either gay or straight.
I love my son dearly and am trying to do my best with this. The few people I have spoken to about this have advised me to let things be and that it’s nothing to be concerned about. Even my wife seems to think I am overdoing it by worrying so much. I don’t want to let things slide if it’s better off that I take active steps now to correct this. At the same time, I don’t want to do things the wrong way and make my son feel that I’m “rejecting” him if I am correcting him so much. One person told me that, if in fact my son is naturally letting his hand hang down, he will take it as rejection if I am constantly reminding him to carry himself a different way.
Thank you in advance for any advice you may be able to give. God bless you and your mission.
Dr. Horvat responds:
Thank you for your e-mail.
From the information you have provided, I believe that your action toward your son is not only justified but entirely correct and necessary. Not all boys are the same in temperament and spirit and, in fact, some tend toward softer and more feminine traits and behavior. But it used to be understood in homes and Catholic schools run by priests or religious men and women that the boys with these tendencies should be trained to be more masculine in their way of being.
Good Catholic training must always reinforce masculine behavior in boys, and consequently must correct feminine or overly sentimental tendencies that some boys may have.
The opposite is true for girls who tend to be more masculine: the Catholic instruction and training they receive must reinforce feminine qualities and ways of being.
For example, in the Catholic Manual of Civility, which I translated to English and completed in several parts, there is a chapter on conversation. The original of this work was an old manual of the Marist Brothers – renowned educators of boys in the past. There they advise boys with soft or nasal voices to practice speaking to make their tones stronger and more masculine. Parents, especially fathers, should assist their sons in this exercise.
Today I hear many young men speaking with nasal, whiny voices – this defect should have been corrected when they were younger, because such flaws cause others to understandably have a lesser opinion of them.
Now, if this is the case for the voice, it is also true for the stance and hand positions of a boy. Just as a soft languid voice suggests a lazy man, a limp hand indicates a spirit without energy or a character lacking sound principles. Today the limp hand is frequently associated with homosexuals. Therefore, it makes good sense for a father and mother to correct a son for having this hand position.
Again, the Catholic Manual of Civility advises boys that it is important for them to realize how the movements of their hands and feet reflect their feelings and thoughts. Therefore, very early a boy should be aware that he must master his hands and feet. Fathers and teachers should curb the bad habits and tendencies that boys have that display a softness, feminine spirit or oversensitivity.
I know a gentleman whose son - also an extremely sensitive boy - had this bad habit of holding his hand limply. His father was quite strict with the boy, correcting him whenever he held his hand in that flaccid, effeminate way. Fortunately, the boy’s mother reaffirmed the father’s instruction: “Joseph, don’t hold your hand that way. Your father doesn’t like it.”
Martial arts classes can help build manly confidence in a timid boy
The father also began to take Joseph on his hunting and fishing trips, even when he was very young, and made sure he was part of the dressings of the rabbits and cleaning of the fish they caught. He did this to make his son less squeamish and sensitive to blood and death, preparing him to be a man who can face the dangers and fights he is called to pass through in this life. At the same time, the father showed a manly affection and love to his son, who became a very well-balanced and decided young man.
Let me offer another example. A friend had a son who was light of build, insecure, given to whining and running to his wife in the small confrontations children have. He decided to put his son in a judo class, and encouraged him to stand up for his rights on the playground. The boy became much more confident and masculine in appearance and spirit. In short, he is on his way to becoming a man instead of a ‘sissy’ or ‘mama’s boy.’
It is important to give models for your son to admire as well. The Church and History provide a rich, full treasure chest of virile Saints, Crusader knights and heroic boys who even gave their lives for the Faith (see Jose Sànchez del Rio, Martyr for Christ the King). Be sure your son is acquainted with these stories and learns to admire what is true, good and virile. In another place, I addressed the question of boys playing with dolls.
Hunting is a good sport to develop manly qualities in boys
I believe there is an over-concern today about hurting the “feelings” of children, an emphasis that does not allow corrections to be made for fear the child will feel rejected or develop nervous or mental problems. This is a Freudian approach that pretends man does not need correction. The Catholic Church always taught the opposite.
By helping your son overcome his bad tendencies and habits, he will learn how to master his sentiments, conquer himself, and become a strong, self-confident and capable man. In the long run he will be grateful to you for the corrections you made, even though he may rebel at the moment you administer them.
As you can see, these are not trifling matters, but extremely important ones, and flaws and defects should be addressed and corrected while a boy is still young.
I hope this advice is of assistance to you, and you will continue with confidence to help your son become the man he is called to be and play the role in the fight for the Church that he was born for.
Marian Horvat, Ph.D.
Posted June 6, 2013
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