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Friendship and the 21st Century Boy

The real problem for many today is not ADD; it is, rather, what Headmaster Alvaro de Vicente refers to as IDD: intimacy deficit disorder. This problem is even worse for men, who on average have fewer close friends. Studies indicate that the percentage of males who report having at least six close friends has been cut in half since the 1990s. There is, it would seem, a recession in male friendships. While there is no easy panacea for this problem, as with most things, one’s education can have a lasting impact on how a child learns—or doesn’t learn—to relate to others. 

This week we feature a recording of the annual Headmaster’s Lecture titled “Friendship and the 21st-Century Boy.” In the lecture, Alvaro discusses what friendship is and how to help children—and young boys, in particular—foster healthy friendships. He discusses contemporary obstacles to friendship and why growth in maturity is necessary for true, deep, and lasting friendships. He also offers a few words on what parents can do about bad friends—or, rather, friends with bad characteristics. 

In the end, Alvaro gives some practical advice for how parents and educators can set the stage for the formation of what Cicero called on of “the greatest of all gifts from the gods,” friendship. 


  • 4:42 Introduction 
  • 6:10 What is friendship? 
  • 8:47 Fostering friendship by common action 
  • 12:02 Intimacy 
  • 17:41 Why maturity is necessary 
  • 21:26 Characteristics of maturity in friendship 
  • 26:09 What to do about “bad friends”? 
  • 30:32 Should parents intervene in their children’s friendships?
  • 32:17 How to separate your son from a bad influence
  • 39:27 Specific challenges to boy friendship in the 21st century 
  • 50:50 Challenge of living in a hypersexualized environment 
  • 54:02 Practical ideas

Recommended reading 

The Second Family by Ron Taffel and Melinda Blau 

Fratelli tutti by Pope Francis  

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle  

On friendship by Cicero

How to tell a flatterer from a friend by Plutarch

Also from the Forum 

On Home as Social Hub with Tom Royals

Intergenerational Human Flourishing with Fr. Bob Gahl 

Friendship for Fathers with Prof. John Cuddeback

On Friendship after Senior Year with Dave Maxham

Cultivating Friendship in the Classroom by Austin Hatch

Friends in the World with Nate Gadiano

About the Guest

Alvaro de Vicente

Headmaster, The Heights School

In addition to his responsibilities as headmaster of The Heights, Alvaro acts as a mentor to high schoolers, and teachers senior Apologetics.

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