Is My Son Too Effeminate?

May 02, 2024

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Today's question says, "How should you handle an effeminate son? I want him to have a clear understanding and confidence in his masculinity and for him to understand his masculinity comes from God for God's purpose. He's seven, and I know it may sound like I'm overreacting to be concerned about it at his age, but he exhibits behaviors that make me worried for him socially."


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to the Foundation Worldview Podcast, where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm so grateful that you've joined me for another episode today. Today's question says, how should you handle an effeminate son? I want him to have a clear understanding and confidence in his masculinity and for him to understand his masculinity comes from God for God's purpose. He's seven, and I know it may sound like I'm overreacting to be concerned about it at his age, but he exhibits behaviors that make me worried for him socially. Among other concerns, this is a really important question for us to think through because there is so much confusion in our culture about what it means to be male or female and what it means to be distinctly masculine or distinctly feminine.

So, we're going to examine what we should do when we find ourselves in a situation where a child is exhibiting characteristics that are not traditionally associated with his or her gender.

Before we do that, I would ask that you invest the few seconds that it takes to rate this content. Currently, less than 20% of our faithful listeners have rated our content, and when you invest the few seconds that it takes to do that, what it does is it helps to get this content in front of more people so that we can equip even more Christian adults with the skills that they need to get their kids thinking carefully. Also, if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you can submit that by going to

Now, my first advice to this listener, or sorry to this question asker, would be to make sure that you are not freaking out because, especially in this current time and culture, it can be really easy to get really scared if we think we see any signs in our children whatsoever, that they may be leaning towards behaviors that are more closely aligned with the opposite gender. And so it's really important that we think through these things calmly, rationally, and biblically, and that's really hard to do when our emotions are highly charged. So I would really just encourage whoever wrote in this question and anybody else who might be in a certain situation to take a step back to take a deep breath and to think through, okay, we're going to think through this biblically, what tools has God given us to address this situation? Now, my first question to someone asking a question like this would be, what do you mean by the word effeminate?

It's really important when answering a question that we make sure that we are answering the right question. As I've said before in this podcast, the right answer to the wrong question is still the wrong answer, so we want to make sure we're addressing the correct issue. So my guess would be that the person, this question means one of two things by the word effeminate. My first guess would be that this person means that his or her son exhibits traits that are more closely associated with females, such as maybe this person's son is more sensitive, maybe he's more prone to cry about things, maybe he enjoys things like the arts. Maybe he's more naturally drawn to female friendships, and that would be my primary guess as to what this person is experiencing with their son. The second prediction would be that this person could mean by effeminate that their son actually longs to present himself as a female doing things like wearing dresses or makeup or nail polish.

He might even verbalize saying that he wishes he were a girl or that he wants to be a girl. Now, these two situations are very different, and my guess is that the person who wrote this question is, is experiencing the first one, but just to cover our bases, I'm going to address both of these different situations. Now, the first thing that I would say, no matter the situation you're facing, whether it's the first one or the second one, the first thing we always need to do is lay out a positive biblical theology. What is God's good design? In fact, as I am recording this podcast, we are about to release our next upcoming curriculum at Foundation Worldview, which is called God's Good Design, and it's a curriculum for children on up, talking about the goodness of God's design for us as embodied beings, his good design for gender, his good design for marriage, his good design for the family.

And in that curriculum we lay out two very important truths upfront as we're teaching this material. The first truth we lay out is that God designed us in his image. We take the children directly to Genesis 1 27, and we read through that verse and we talk about what it means to be designed in God's image and how each and every human is an image bearer, which means that we show others a small reflection of who God is, that we bear his image, and therefore we have inherent dignity, value and worth that no one can strip from us. No one can take away our image bearing capabilities. Then the second thing we teach them is that God designed us as male or female. And again, we go right back to Genesis chapter one, verse 27, and we look at how God designed us as male or female, and we talk about how that truth is revealed by our bodies because right after Genesis 1 27 verse 28 starts to talk about how God gave humans the command to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it.

And in order for humans to be able to fulfil that command, you need both a male human and a female because it takes both a male's body and a female's body to make a baby to be fruitful and multiply. So those two truths are foundational. Our children need to understand that all humans are created in God's image and all humans are designed as distinctly male or female. So once we have that solid biblical theology laid out, then we need to look at okay, with what this child is dealing with, what can we do to help him or her? So I'll look at the first situation first. If we have a child who is more sensitive, a child who might cry more often, might be more drawn to the arts, might be more drawn to female friendships. If this is the case and a son is exhibiting these things, there's a host of things that I'm going to recommend that we do.

Now, at the end of this time, I'm going to recommend that we pray, and I'm going to save prayer for last, not because it's the last thing that we should do, but because I'm going to tie prayer back in with all of the other things that I mentioned. However, praying is the first thing that we should do because we are asking God for help. We're asking him for wisdom, and only God can give us the wisdom that we need, and only God can change hearts and minds. So I'm going to mention prayer last, but I'm going to mention it last not because it's the last thing, but because it's going to connect back to all of the different things I mentioned. So the first thing that I would recommend that someone do in this situation is to affirm the son's giftings, how God has gifted him as being distinctly male.

And so even if he's gifted in a way that more females tend to be gifted in, he is distinctly gifted in that way as a male. Why? Because he is male. So whatever gift he has, he is presenting in a distinctly masculine way. So if he is a son who has a very tender and sensitive heart, we want to affirm that and say, God has made you a boy who is so good at being sensitive to the needs of others. I'm so grateful that God made you this way. Or if we have a son who's really good at dance and likes ballet, he does that in a distinctly masculine way because he is a boy. So we can affirm God made you a boy who is so good at dance. I am so grateful that God has gifted you in this way. Or if we have a boy who's more drawn to painting, we can say, oh, God has made you a boy who is so good at painting.

I'm so grateful. God designed you in this way. And what we want to do is we want to constantly affirm God's good gifting of him and God's design for him as being distinctly male. So we want to affirm his giftings as good gifts from God in a distinctly masculine way. Then, we want to discuss his role as a male. Now, Scripture is very clear that there are different roles between men and women in marriage and between men and women in the church. However, in a lot of life, God has not outlined specific roles that we are to have or are not to have. So we want to be careful that we're not going beyond the bounds of Scripture, that yes, we are making sure we're aligning ourselves with Scripture because that is how God designed the world, and we want to obey God as our creator and live according to his design.

But we want to be careful not to put extra boundaries on things that God has not set up. So when we think about talking with our sons about being distinctly male, being distinctly male does not mean that our sons are going to like being outdoors and that they're always going to be rough and tumble. Yes, they may be that way, but that is not what it means to be male. However, being male with the way God has designed the male frame, most men are stronger than most women. Now, could there be a woman one day who is stronger than your son? Absolutely, but by and large he is because he is male, he is going to have more physical strength than most women. And as an image bearer, as a male who reflects God, the heart of God is to use strength to guide and to protect and to nurture.

And so we're going to want to make clear like, Hey, you are going to be stronger as you grow than most girls. And so God is the strongest of all. And what does God do with his strength? That's right. God guides, and he protects, and he's gentle with us. So as you grow in strength, you are going to want to make sure that you are gentle with others, particularly girls, because most girls are not going to be as strong as you. You're also going to want to make sure that you use your strength to protect and that you stand up for those who are weak because this reflects the heart of God. Another thing to do is if you have a son who is more drawn to things that females are more traditionally drawn to, or if he has a personality that has some personality traits that align more with some females, not that there are distinctly male or female personality traits. Still, there are certain personality traits that more men or more women tend to possess.

And if your son has some of these traits that are traditionally categorized more closely with females, what you're going to want to do is you're going to want to show him examples of those traits in a godly man. So I would recommend that you just pray through who are some men in your church that exhibit these similar characteristics as your son, and they have developed them in a very God-honoring healthy way and start to foster relationships with those families or individuals and so that your son can see, oh, here is a grown man who loves God, who is serving God and he's similar to me so that your son has those role models. Another thing I would recommend that you do is be intentional at helping him foster relationships. So if you have a son who's more naturally drawn to female friendships, you don't have to stop those.

You can still encourage and allow him to be friends with girls that those can be healthy, God-honoring relationships, but he is also going to need male friendships. And now if his personality is not naturally drawn to other male personalities, this is where you can actually play a role in helping facilitate those relationships. I found this in my years teaching that every year I would have one or two or even a handful of students who just naturally didn't gel with the other students in my class. And so what I would do to foster those relationships is each month I would pair students up in groups of two, sorry, that was self-explanatory. That's what to pair them means. So I'd pair them up and they would be paired with someone who had a personality that wasn't naturally drawn to theirs. And then what I would do is I would give them some sort of activity.

It wasn't an academic activity, it was just some sort of activity that was fun and that they were working towards a common goal. I might give them a piece of paper and say, okay, in the next five minutes, you need to turn this piece of paper into the tallest tower that you can, or in the next five minutes you need to build a paper airplane. And then we're going to go outside and have a paper airplane throwing contests, see whose paper airplane can go the farthest. But when children work together towards a common goal that can help build comradery. Now, if I had just requested that those students go out and play on the playground together, that wouldn't have worked because the students I was pairing would frequently be a boy who was very athletic and loved to play football every recess with a boy who was more heady and would like doing things like computer, I'm sorry, computer coding.

I lost my words for a second, computer coding or playing video games or playing chess. And those two boys, if they went on the playground together, they wouldn't have found anything to play together. But if I gave them an activity to work towards together, that really helped them build a relationship. So, if you could be intentional about praying through other families in your church who have other children, boys, your son's age, and then who could you start developing relationships with? And then what are some things that you can do intentionally rather than just having the family over for a play date where your sons might not naturally have anything that they gel over? Could you go to the zoo and then go on a scavenger hunt at the zoo, just some kind of scavenger hunt that you set up where they're looking for specific things, or could you give them something like building a paper airplane together to seeing how far it can go, but just some activity that's going to help foster friendships?

Then I would really encourage you to be very intentional at the kind of school and extracurricular environments that you put your son in. Now, the words I'm going to say next are going to be very strong, but I believe they're true. And so I think it's important to share if anyone watching or listening has a child who does have personality traits or giftings that tend towards personality traits or giftings that are typically associated with the opposite gender, your child cannot be in the public school setting in 2024 because what is happening all across the country in the US is no matter where you live, no matter how conservative the community, there are things that are being taught in the public school system from anti-bullying curriculums that have now been codified into law to the picture books that are going to be presented to the examples in math curriculums that are presented to the events that are highlighted in history, that are consistently going to be telling your child that if they feel like they don't fit in with other boys or with other girls, that means that they are the opposite gender.

And so I know that that's a very strong statement saying that if our children struggle with this, they cannot be in the public schools. But in 2024 with what is going on in the us, that is just a fact that the risk is not worth having a free education. So we need to be very careful about the environments that we are putting our children in. And then the final step, which I mentioned at the beginning, and is the first step, is to pray that we need to pray for wisdom. We need to pray for wisdom in what is our son's gifting and how can we affirm those giftings as distinctly masculine, pray for? How can we encourage him in his role as a male in his relationships with others? Who are the other men in our church that we can help foster family relationships with so our son can see other men who are gifted in a similar way?

What are the other families in our church who have children our son's age that we can help foster relationships with? And what is going to be the best educational environment for him where he's going to be consistently affirmed as a male with the way that God has designed him? So we need to specifically pray for these things and also pray that God would protect our children from the attacks of the enemy because we have an enemy of our souls who wants nothing more than to have our children be confused about who God is and who they are so that they are never reconciled in their relationship to God. So those are the things that I would recommend for a situation where a parent has a son who might be more sensitive, who enjoys the arts or is more naturally drawn to female friendships. Now, for the second situation where there's a son who consistently wants to present himself as a female, whether that's wearing dresses or makeup or nail polish or saying that he wishes he was a girl, the first thing that we need to think through is where is this coming from?

Is this something innate within him, some desires that are just springing out of him, or is it more coming from an external influence where he is indoctrinated? As I mentioned above, that if we have children that struggle with these things, public school is not the right setting for them. So we need to determine, okay, is this something that's innate that is coming from within him or is this something where he's being in indoctrinated? And if he's being indoctrinated, obviously, we need to pull him out of that setting. If it's a situation where this is actually something that's innate, where a child is genuinely experiencing clinical gender dysphoria. One thing that Rosaria Butterfield shared on a recent webinar that I did with her on helping our kids not fall for the lies of transgenderism is she shared how research has shown that in 85% of children who experience clinical gender dysphoria, the illness corrects itself through the normal process of puberty, so long as children are allowed to go through that normal process of puberty and are not put on puberty blockers.

So that should be something that's an encouragement that 85% of children who experience clinical gender dysphoria corrects itself through the process of puberty. And so in this situation, if a parent, if you are experiencing this where your child is wanting to present as the opposite gender, and it's something that has happened since the child was very young, that you should be encouraged by this, the fact that in 85% of cases it corrects itself, I would recommend that you do the same things that I recommended above that for the first situation that you affirm his giftings as distinctly masculine, you discuss his role as a male, you foster relationships with other men in your church, godly men who have similar giftings to him, that you be intentional at helping him foster friendships, and that you're very intentional at the type of school and extracurricular environments that you have him in.

I would also recommend that if you find yourself in the second situation, you seek help through biblical counselling, you seek out a good biblical counsellor to help walk you through this process of guiding your son as he is genuinely struggling with clinical gender dysphoria. As I also mentioned, prayer. Prayer is vital no matter the situation our children are facing, whether our children are faced with struggles with gender or whether they're just faced with other struggles. Because until the day Jesus returns or until the day Jesus calls our children home, they have never made it. There's no such thing as making it because there is' an enemy of our souls who is constantly trying to keep them from God. Well, I know that this is a very short podcast. We work hard to try to keep this under 20 minutes, so I know I just gave some very basic recommendations here.

Would highly recommend that you check out our God's Good Design curriculum. That's a 30-lesson curriculum that's going to walk children ages four and up systematically through understanding what design is and how God's design for our embodiment, gender, marriage, and family is good. Then, understand deviations from that good design and why they are deviations. And then looking at what happens if we experience some of those deviations, or what happens when we encounter others who are experiencing them? How do we reach out in kindness, love, and compassion?

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that no matter the situation that you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more and to the image of His Son. I'll see you next time.

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