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Raising Boys to Men in an Effeminate Culture

I’d like to extend a special welcome to the three hundred new subscribers who recently signed up for this newsletter after seeing the re-broadcasts of my EWTN series The Carpenter’s Shop.

The re-broadcast of this series brought to mind my interview with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, author of A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Dr. Nicolosi, an orthodox Catholic psychologist, is the world’s leading expert in treating youth experiencing gender identity confusion, or struggling with homosexuality. This interview also sparked my desire to reprint one of my favorite articles that I’ve written over the years: Lessons for Dads from Secondhand Lions.

Lots of Christian parents who had assumed homosexuality could never strike a loved one in their family now realize how wrong they were to be complacent about this terrible threat.

If you think homosexuality can’t possibly strike any of your children, take note of a survey of 34,706 12-year-olds from Minnesota. The survey found that 25.9 percent of these kids weren’t sure whether they were homosexual or heterosexual. That’s astounding. However at the age of 12 a child isn’t suffering from homosexuality but rather a gender identity confusion, which is a fixable problem.

Much better than trying to fix a problem is preventing it. Dr. Nicolosi is crystal clear that the best way to prevent homosexuality is for a father to be lovingly involved in his son’s life. A son’s attachment to his father as he matures throughout boyhood and adolescence is the key for his healthy masculine development. To put it simply – it takes a man to make a man out of a boy.

I strongly recommend the following four steps to learn how a father (grandfather, uncle, coach, scout leader, or a mentor) helps a boy become a man:
Step 1 – Read the article below, Lessons for Dads from Secondhand Lions
Step 2 – Watch the movie, Secondhand Lions
Step 3 – Read A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality
Step 4 – Watch Secondhand Lions a second time

The four-step plan outlined above is perfect for individual fathers and it is an ideal study plan for a men’s small group.

The most frequent parenting mistake I see is the failure to anticipate the needs of teenagers during early childhood. Another mistake is failing to anticipate the needs of young adults during the teenage years. Make no mistake: you have to be at least one or two steps ahead of your children. Take action now to prevent your children from getting caught up in the worldwide spread of homosexuality.

Lessons for Dads from Secondhand Lions
My movie recommendations are hopelessly obsolete since by the time I get around to seeing a movie it is usually about to leave theaters. So this article isn’t a preview, but a reflection on a fascinating film for fathers.

Secondhand Lions featuresWalter, a shy and awkward boy being raised by an irresponsible single mom with multiple boyfriends. Walter is abandoned for the summer when his mother drops him off at the rundown, rural Texas home of his great uncles.

At the difficult stage of life when a boy needs to mature into his manhood, Walter seems to have every conceivable strike against his healthy development. Yet Walter’s manhood miraculously matures as a result of his relationship with two cranky old men.

Garth and Hub (Michael Caine and Robert Duvall) are the gruff-talking, shotgun-toting, anti-social, rough-around-the-edges, great uncles. They sure don’t have Ph.D.’s in developmental psychology, and at first they don’t seem particularly interested in helping to make a man out of Walter. In fact, Garth and Hub seem like the worst possible father-substitutes for this semi-orphaned boy. Yet they do a marvelous job in helping Walter make the transition from boyhood to manhood.
Here are Garth and Hub’s secrets for turning this boy into a young man: Shoot, fish, eat, work, ride in the truck, and have lots of fun as guys – not really too complicated. They just did all this stuff together and, despite having every social strike against him, Walter grows into a well-adjusted man.

It takes a man to convey and confirm masculinity to a boy. It doesn’t come via auto-pilot. It doesn’t come from the most committed and talented mother, or female teacher. Dad, let me repeat this: It takes a man to help a boy develop his masculinity. I wrote this in The ABCs of Choosing a Good Husband:

“A young boy is naturally drawn into a close attachment to his mother. Being a ‘mama’s boy’ under seven years of age is fine and healthy. And yet for a boy to mature fully in his masculinity, he needs to ‘detach’ from Mom and form a closer attachment with his father throughout older boyhood and adolescence.

A boy matures into manhood through this close identification with his father. Once a young man has fully matured in this way, he’s ready for a close reattachment to a woman — his wife. But it’s extremely difficult for a boy to mature in his masculinity without the presence of a father.”

When boys don’t have men to help them mature, they turn out haywire – hoods and homosexuals are just two extreme types of boys who don’t make the transition to manhood.

The hoods in Secondhand Lions who pull switchblades and try (quite unsuccessfully) to rough up Robert Duvall were asserting their pseudo-masculinity. After the fight, Duvall befriends the hoods and takes them home. He recognizes that these young toughs have a deficiency of real manhood. So he gives them his “man talk” to help them become real men. After observing this, Walter wisely senses his own need for the “man talk” and desperately pleads for one.

Although frequently unacknowledged, homosexuality and gender-confusion also stem from the failure to make the successful transition from boyhood to manhood. Homosexuality is now a common phenomenon among Catholic teens and twenties.

What should Catholic parents of a homosexual or gender-confused child do? The last thing I would advise is heeding the document, “Always Our Children.” I also advise keeping your children far from anyone or anything associated with the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries . Homosexuality and gender confusion are serious problems requiring solid psychological advice.

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi is on my short-list of reliable Catholic psychologists. Every Catholic dad should read his book, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.

Dr. Nicolosi, who has spoken with hundreds of homosexual men over the past fifteen years, says, “I have never met a single homosexual man who said he had a close, loving, and respectful relationship with his father. I have never known a single case of a homosexual man who was not wounded in his relationships within the male world.”

Dr. Nicolosi asserts, “Fathers make men.” He describes how boys have a critical developmental task that girls don’t. A boy needs “to disidentify from his mother and identify with his father” if he is to grow into a normal heterosexual man. “Every boy has a deep longing to be held, to be loved by a father figure, to be mentored into the world of men, and to have his masculine nature affirmed and declared good enough by his male peers, his male elders, and mentors.”

On a recent live radio show with Dr. Nicolosi as my guest, we received a call from a concerned mother about her son’s masculine development. Dr. Nicolosi asked her, “How is your son’s relationship with his father?” She said, “Oh it’s great. They’re buddies, they play sports together all the time, and they hunt and fish together.” Dr. Nicolosi said, “Everything’s okay, there will be no problems.” The mother, not entirely convinced, went on to voice additional concerns when Dr. Nicolosi interrupted her and confidently predicted that this boy will turn out just fine thanks to his relationship with his father.

Secondhand Lions is an encouraging film for dads raising sons in our gender-confused and lack-of-genuine-manhood culture. If Garth and Hub, a pair of cranky and slightly crazy great-uncles, can lead Walter into his manhood, you can too. Garth and Hub weren’t perfect by a long shot, but they did share their lives and their manhood with Walter. It was a priceless gift.

Don’t let yourself be absorbed by your career and your personal sports and hobbies apart from your sons. You’ve got to be with your sons in order to share your manhood with them. Your wife can’t do this job for you. Expensive toys will not fill this void in your son. It takes you to lead your son into his manhood.

So, sweat with your sons while doing physical work together. Fish and go boating this summer. Shoot some skeet next fall. Maybe fix up an old truck and go places (boys really like going through dirt and mud). Finally, engage in some slightly risk-taking fun with them – deeply religious dads sometimes forget this vital “risky-fun” component of fathering sons. (My attorney advises me against giving specific recommendations, but I’m sure you can come up with something!)

Family Life Team
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This month we are offering one of our most popular CDs on the early chapters of Genesis, including a handout with astonishing quotations about Noah’s Ark by church fathers. Is Noah’s Ark just a religious myth, or something historical? The church fathers had no doubts about the answer.

To request this month’s special letter, you have three ways to make your request: (1) send an email to:, (2) call 1-800-705-6131, M-F, or (3) click here.

Faith & Family Radio
Live/Call-in, Thursdays, 2:00 PM (ET), Encore broadcast, Mondays, 9:00 PM
Listen online at

August 14, 2010
Men Under Construction, Rio Rancho, NM

October 10, 2010
St. Francis Church, Hilton Head, SC
More information:

November 6, 2010
2010 Men's Conference, Rockville, MD
St. Patrick's Catholic Church
Call 301-924-2284 for registration information.

Karen and I are pleased to announce the birth of our third grandchild, Mark Ignatius Weinert, son of Peter and Stephanie. Fr. Francis Peffley, a longtime friend and supporter of St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers, baptized Mark in Virginia.

Yours in His Majesty’s Service,

Steve Wood


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