How to Raise a Boy Into a Man – Notes

Notes from a must watch speech by Fr. Ripperger – How to Raise a Man. This talk is filled with beauty and actionable advice on how to raise a real man, not an effeminate man. Video below.

What is it to be a man?
You have to do what’s hard, not pleasurable, to become a masculine man. Boys grow up into men by doing things that require suffering and responsibility.

For a man to find his ultimate fulfillment as a man, not in the sense of a human being and seeing God face to face, but as a man, he has to master himself to the point where when he does things that are hard and he takes responsibility and does the right kind of a job. There is the delight that comes from virtue, not pleasure. St. Thomas said, we get a form of delight from performing acts of virtue.

You have to embrace what is painful to achieve what is good.

How do you get there?
Self sacrifice, especially with regards to a man’s wife and children. Your job is to sacrifice yourself for her.
Must master chastity, whether in or outside of marriage.
A true man never counts the cost in terms of pain but in terms of means to the end. I need to achieve the good for my family, my wife etc.

The Virtues
Temperance. He must be able to put aside the pleasures of food and drink and women. If not he is selfish and only thinking of himself. A real man doesn’t sleep with lots of women. A man who does is effeminate – he doesn’t put aside his pleasure to help the women protect themselves from him.

A woman, because of the nature of childbearing, has to have the husband support her so she can take proper care of the children. That means that she has to look for a guy that’s going to take care of her not for her sake but for the sake of the children.

Fortitude – a true man finds doing difficult things fulfilling. He likes doing them. He likes the feeling of being physically exhausted from a hard days work. Because it is what he was designed to do.

Men excelling in chastity is less for them and more for the women. He has to look at chastity from the point of view of guarding the integrity and the spiritual and psychological and physical well being of women. That’s how he has to view it.

Religion. Praying is hard. Religion is hard. That’s why it is masculine.

Prudence – the application of moral principles in the concrete.

Universal principle – thou shalt not steal. This is a case of stealing, prudence says OK don’t take it. Men should excel at this.

Meekness – the guy who is angry is the most effeminate. Anger is a complex passion where there is a perception of injury with a desire for vindication. Vindication is when you harm another person or thing so that it stops harming you. And when you do that you get a pleasure out of it. There’s your effeminacy part. There is another feminacy part – the perception of injury. A real man can take blows, he can take the blows and still keep standing. The guy who, regardless of what happens in the family or his wife or in work or driving down the road. If he can’t take the needling, and he just goes to seek the vindication that is a sign of effeminacy whereas a real man can just stand there and take the needling. It’s painful? Yea, but I can deal with that I’m just concerned about what’s best for my wife’s spiritual well being or this particular child I’m not interested on whether I get to mete out this and get this satisfaction from it.

Humility – a truly masculine virtue. A willingness to lead a life in accordance with the truth, and not judging yourself greater than you are. “Pride is effeminate because in pride we get a pleasure out of thinking about our own excellence.” St. Thomas.

It is effeminate because a person takes pride in his own greatness. The truly humble man embraces his defects, embraces what his problems are and looks at it and says, “This is what I am.” That’s painful, difficult and hard and requires interior self discipline and self control. In fact, it is the hardest virtue I think, especially for men.

A man should have all of the virtues. The guy who not just physically but morally and spiritually can remain steadfast, has that interior self discipline, self control and remains steadfast in what is right regardless of the pain or pleasure involved.

So what is the means?
So if you are going to raise a man the first thing you have to do is you have to be willing to let your boys suffer a bit. And here I am not talking about disordered suffering, I’m talking about ordered suffering. Today, boys have no responsibility either. There are no consequences for when they do something wrong. They have no suffering. Boys today are constantly feeding that pleasure, their appetites and their fathers as well.

So what is the difference between suffering and pain? Animals have pain but they do not suffer. Human beings have both suffering and pain. Pain is when you feel something bad that is affecting you whether it is physical or emotional etc. Suffering is when it goes on for a while.

This means that boys must work at things which are physically, emotionally, mentally and volitionally difficult. They must be required to encounter things that are physically difficult to do, emotionally – where they have to put their emotions aside, mentally and volitionally. They must be put in situations where they are consistently engaged in what is hard to do to build self denial at every level. It has to be a consistent thing that they have to come up against. Consistent, not constant. Once a boy goes through puberty he has to do hard physical work and he has to do it consistently. An hour or two every day or every other day. If it is inconsistent he will not learn to work hard but he will figure out how to avoid hard work. He must be shown the value of that hard work and what they achieve through that. Pay him, so he gets a reward for the hard work, and he understands that the hard work is for a good end. Then encourage him – so he recognizes that affirmation of this is a good thing.

Don’t give him what he wants all the time. He won’t learn what it is to be a man by doing things that are hard and difficult. He must be taught by example. If the father is absent or effeminate it will be hard to become a man. Either he will become effeminate like his father or he will go to the opposite extreme and pursue effeminacy in another form like getting the joy by beating other boys up.

He must also see his father practice the theological virtues especially prayer so that he learns that being a real man includes rendering to God His due, and not just indulging himself.

He must learn meekness when things do not go his way he must learn to moderate his anger.

He must learn humility in all matters.

Technology must be kept to a minimum – it is to be used only when it is necessary.

He must see technology as a tool not a toy. Learning to use technology properly will help him to moderate himself. He will have to learn to moderate it himself as he gets older.

Recreation must be seen as a means and not an end.

Women’s rights movement is about self hatred. You should feel good about being a woman. Women who are real effeminate take real delight in seeing a real man, they love true masculinity. Whereas women who are feminists are miserable.

The real problem with feminism is that it ultimately wants to destroy what is feminine. And that’s sad, because what is feminine is beautiful. Not just physical but psychologically and morally. They have to emasculate men so they don’t feel so bad about themselves.

Women have to let their boys be men.

Responsibility. He must see his father exercise his authority responsibly. The boy must be given a responsibility. If he doesn’t do it well then you must figure out a proportionate punishment, so that he learns this is life.

Parents owe their children one thing – to get their children to adulthood in physical and spiritual intactness.

He must be taught to take care of those things under his charge. To want to take care of them. He takes a joy in seeing those things flourish. Because when he gets married he will take joy in seeing his family flourish.

A true boy submits to his mother because it is hard and it will help him to become a true man through the virtue of piety, in which we give honor to those who are above us. He gets delight from pleasing his parents.

You have to have that interior self-discipline and self-control, that is where your freedom is going to lie because you are going to be freed from the compulsion of doing things that you know are wrong.

So how do you develop a boy into a man? You develop virtue. He has to be taught what the virtues are, and how to obtain them, and how to take delight in them. Not pleasure, delight. He thinks, “I’m doing the right thing, and I’m going to remain steadfast in that.”

The goal is to get him to the age of 18 in which he has all the moral and proper mental habits of seeing things properly. Making sure his judgment is not affected by his emotion. And that his intellect judges matter illumined by faith rather than emotion. That’s the goal. And you’re not going to attain that unless he has some degree of responsibility and suffering. It’s just part of it.

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