Being the parent of an adolescent boy is legendary for its difficulty. But according to one priest, who acts as a spiritual director for high school boys, just keeping in mind seven points can make for a better relationship with adolescent sons.
This is the second part in a series excerpted from my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen. You can learn more about parenting in my books God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child or God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen.
A Parenting Style Case Study
Imagine you’re putting clothes into your teen’s dresser. When you open the drawer, you see a pack of cigarettes. Here’s how parents of the four parenting styles might react: Continue reading
This is the seventh part in a series excerpted from my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen.
We now come to the fourth letter—D for “Discipline.” Lifting up our teens with affirmation, blameless love, and connectedness is critical for their health. But like a table, a fourth leg is needed to keep things on an equilibrium—the leg of parental guidance and enforced boundaries. Continue reading
This is the sixth part in a series excerpted from my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen.
CONNECTING WITH THE WORKADAY WORLD
If your teen is not overscheduled and you feel good about the family connectedness, then part-time work may be another way your teen can develop into a highly healthy adult. After all, he or she does need to learn how to work, and the last I checked, the best way to learn how to work is to work! Continue reading
This is the fifth part in a series excerpted from my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen.
CONNECTING WITH FRIENDS … AND MORE FRIENDS
Besides connectedness with parents, highly healthy teens need connectedness with highly healthy friends, activities, and faith communities. As teens gain independence and go out on their own, friendships become more important than ever. Continue reading
This is the fourth part in a series excerpted from my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen.
The “C” of the “ABCD’s” of raising highly healthy children and nurturing highly healthy teens is “Connectedness.” It includes connecting with your kids, connecting your kids with good friends, and connecting your kids with their Creator. Continue reading
This is the third part in a series excerpted from my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen.
The “B” of the “ABCD’s” of raising highly healthy children and nurturing highly healthy teens is “Blameless” or “Unconditional Love.” Do you love your child blamelessly, unconditionally? Or is your love conditional, as in “I love you because of … ” or “I love you if … ”?
In my book, God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen, I wrote about the fact that highly healthy teens need four things from their parents to maintain their emotional health during their preteen and adolescent years.
I call them the ABCD’s of parenting:
- A = Affirmation
- B = Blameless love
- C = Connectedness
- D = Discipline
When Baby Makes Three, the 2011 State of Our Unions report from the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, relies on nationally representative data to answer four important questions about contemporary family life: Continue reading
Long-time readers know of my fondness and appreciation for Bill Judge, a retired dairyman in Kissimmee, Florida, who has been my mentor and coach since the mid-1980’s. Now that my father has passed, Bill has become my second dad. In a 2010 blog, “Mentored by a Milker of Cows,” I told you the story about Bill’s loving mentoring of me. Now this story is being retold by Significant Living magazine: Continue reading
Yet another study has shown what many parents are shocked to discover: Mom and Dad are most often the key to a teen developing highly healthy attitudes about sex — NOT friends or the media. Continue reading
Kids need to know their parents love them. But some moms and dads think that the way to show love is to accept children’s bad behavior. And that can turn even good kids into spoiled brats, says parenting guru Nancy Samalin, New York City-based author of “Loving without Spoiling” and other books on parenting. Here are Nancy’s nine parenting no-nos from a report on CBS News:
1) Mistake: Always “Rescuing” Your Child
Are you a “helicopter parent,” always hovering overhead to make sure your child does things right – and swooping in at the first sign of trouble? Big mistake. Kids need to experience disappointment. They need to know what it’s like to struggle with a problem. If it’s a matter of protecting your child’s safety or health, by all means step in. But if your child oversleeps or leaves his lunch at home, let him/her suffer the consequences.
2) Mistake: Trying to Keep Your Child from Feeling Unhappy
As long as they don’t persist, sadness, frustration, and other negative emotions won’t hurt your child. Sometimes they teach vital lessons about behavior. Your job as a parent isn’t to make sure your child never suffers disappointment. A disappointed child is not an unloved child.
3) Mistake: Saying No – But Not Really Meaning It
Kids need to know that when you say no, you mean it. No backtalk, no arguing. Otherwise you give the message that things are always negotiable – and that encourages kids to become manipulative. So when you say no, stick to your guns. Don’t give lengthy explanations or aplopgize. Just move on.
4) Mistake: Offering “Bribes”
Kids should do what they’re supposed to do without being bribed by their parents. Offering bribes for cleaning up a room, making the bed, tooth-brushing, etc., makes you look weak – and encourages them to expect rewards for everything they do.
5) Mistake: Always Putting Your Child First
Your child should know that the marital relationship sometimes takes priority. There’s nothing wrong with setting aside some time together with your spouse even if your kid objects. For example, if you and your spouse have a “date” every Thursday night and your child hates being left out, take the time anyway.
6) Mistake: Indulging the “Gimmes”
Most kids have a bottomless pit of things they want. But what do they really need? Not a great deal beyond your love and your time. Think twice before giving them more “stuff.”
7) Mistake: Tolerating Rudeness
No matter how angry or upset your child becomes, he/she should not be allowed to be rude or discourteous. Teach your child from a very early age – as soon as he/she is able to talk – to say please, thank you, and excuse me. Make it clear that it’s never okay to name-call, curse, or insult others.
8) Mistake: Giving In to Whining
Parents who give in when their kids whine, pout, or throw tantrums produce whiny kids. No way around it. Make sure your child knows you will not change your mind just because he/she makes a fuss. Even if your child says, “I hate you,” don’t take it personally.
9) Mistake: Making Excuses for Your Child
Kids should be held accountable for their actions. Otherwise, they have a hard time learning that in the “real world” there are consequences for bad or inconsiderate behavior. For example, if your child forgets to thank his aunt for a gift, don’t tell her that “he just has so much work to do that he probably just forgot.”
I discuss these and other parenting mistakes in my book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child. Although I don’t have any more copies, you can still find it online.
Do you remember playing games with your dad or having heart-to-heart talks? For men, many years later, that turns out to be incredibly important. The relationship you had with your father, and the way that you treat your sons, may be more influential than you think. Here are more details from WebMD:
A new study presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association reveals that men who had positive relationships with their fathers are better equipped to deal with the stress of everyday life than men who did not remember their dads fondly.
“A big take-home message is that if there is a father present in a child’s life, he needs to know how important it is to be involved,” said Melanie Mallers of California State University, Fullerton.
Researchers interviewed 912 men and women during an eight-day period about their psychological and emotional state that day. Participants also had to answer questions about their relationships with their mothers and fathers growing up, and how much attention their parents gave them.
The major finding of the study is that men who said they had bad relationships with their fathers in childhood were more likely to be distressed by the stressful incidents of daily life.
Study authors did not see this effect as commonly in women. Mallers thinks that’s because women are engaging in other kinds of coping skills, relying on a network of other people besides their parents for support. Men, on the other hand, learn instrumental coping skills from their fathers, she said.
“For dads who grew up without a dad, this is an opportunity to repair damage,” she said.
Overall, participants said that their relationship with their mother in childhood was better than with their father, Mallers said. More men reported a good mother-child relationship than women, study authors found.
Participants who had a good relationships with both parents in childhood tended to have fewer stressful incidents in their lives over the eight-day period than those who had poor parental relationships.
The study also emphasizes the importance of male figures in a boy’s life, even if a father isn’t available, she said. Positive mentors in a child’s life can make a real difference, she said.
For years I’ve been a medical consultant for HealthTeacher.com. Recently they published a very helpful article on “Banishing Bullies.” I hope that readers who are parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, and others who love and care for children will find this information helpful.
This time last year, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince was getting ready to start high school in South Hadley, Mass.
Today, as her classmates prepare for their sophomore year, her family and friends mourn their loss. One January afternoon, after enduring three months of relentless torment at school and online, Phoebe came home from school and committed suicide. The circumstances were horrible, but the truth is Phoebe’s story has helped shine the spotlight on this serious issue.
The Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that up to 25 percent of American students are bullied sometimes or more often.
Even more shocking, 15 percent to 20 percent of students admit that they bully others with some frequency.
Jonathan Cohen, president of the Center for Social and Emotional Education, says more than 160,000 American students stay home from school on any given day because they’re afraid of being bullied.
But as the prevalence of online bullying grows, many of them aren’t safe at home, either.
Cohen estimates one in three teenagers feel threatened online and that more than 60 percent of teens have participated in online bullying.
Not only is bullying prevalent, it can also have serious consequences for everyone involved, Cohen says.
“Over the last 20 years, a growing body of research underscores the fact that bullying is toxic, not just for the victim and the bully, but for the witness as well,” he says.
“Bullying undermines the ability for children in grades K-12 to learn and develop in healthy ways.”
The Wrong Way to Banish Bullying
Cohen, whose organization includes a bullying awareness program called BullyBust, http://schoolclimate.org/bullybust says most efforts to banish bullying in schools are ineffective over the long-term.
“A typical bullying-prevention practice involves identifying and punishing the bully, and that’s it,” he says.
“But that does not actually reduce bully behavior. In fact, it can exacerbate the problem because we’re not addressing the underlying problems that are resulting in bully behavior. Protecting the target is an essential first step in a bullying-prevention strategy, but that alone will not prevent bullying.”
You can read some of my other posts on bullying:
- Rules for Preventing Bullying
- Young teens underestimate bullying … wonder “Is it just me?”
- How to help your child cope with a bully
- The Truth about Bullying and How to Protect Your Child
- Spanking your kid could hatch a bully? Don’t bet on it!
- Bullies Target Obese Kids
- Obese kids more apt to be bullied, study confirms
For years I’ve been a medical consultant for HealthTeacher.com. Recently they published a very helpful article on “Banishing Bullies.” I thought that this section of the article, on “Rules for Preventing Bullying” was particularly helpful. I hope that readers who are parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, and others who love and care for children will find this information helpful.
Jonathan Cohen, president of the Center for Social and Emotional Education, says more than 160,000 American students stay home from school on any given day because they’re afraid of being bullied.
Understand what bullying is, and isn’t: Despite the prevalence of bullying, Cohen says there’s actually a lot of confusion as to what is and what is not bullying. “Most bullying prevention experts focus on two key critical factors: power and intent,” he says. “Did that person or group with more power intentionally hurt or humiliate a person or group with less power?”
Promote pro-upstander behavior: For every bully and victim, there’s usually a witness – someone who sees it happen and chooses to stand by and say nothing. That’s your typical bystander behavior. But bully prevention experts increasingly are talking about the importance of being an upstander – someone who acts directly or indirectly to stop the act of bullying.
“We need to raise awareness that there’s never a bully and a victim without a witness,” he says, adding that teachers can explicitly support students in learning how to become upstanders:
- By establishing upstander norms for the classroom: Just like having general classroom norms such as raising your hand to ask a question, establish norms about what to do when you see bully behavior.
- By recognizing bullying themes in other subject areas: Like many health topics, finding the time to teach them is a challenge, when requirements like math, science and language arts take precedence. Bullying is a prevalent theme in literature and history, so incorporating the topic is a natural fit.
- By acting as an upstander: Cohen says leading by example is one of the most powerful ways to teach a child. “One of the basic ways children learn is by being copycats,” he says. “Therefore, how individual teachers act is one of the most important ways they teach.”
- Communicate rules clearly and enforce them fairly: It’s the beginning of the school year. Establish rules about bullying behavior in the classroom. Share these with parents and students before school starts and ask for their commitment to helping prevent bullying. BullyBust offers free resources to teachers who sign up for its Partner School Program.
- Involve everyone, from students to community members: As with anything, preventing bullying is bigger than what one teacher can do. In fact, Cohen says, it needs to become a community-wide effort. He cites four critical dimensions that all comprehensive bullying-prevention programs should address: individual, classroom, school and community, including leaders from local businesses and social services, politicians and the faith-based community.
Cohen encourages teachers to talk to their principal and community leaders about creating a committee to study and come up with recommendations for a comprehensive bullying-prevention program. “Every school, like every individual, is unique,” he says. “There will be common themes, but understanding a school’s own history, strengths, needs and goals will make a bullying-prevention strategy more successful.”
New research is suggesting that adolescents underestimate the degree to which their peers are bullied. The online study of 1,454 adolescents ages 12-17, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, tried to gauge the differences between school bullying and cyberbullying and found that young people underestimate the bullying of their peers, particularly when it takes place online.
At least one incident of school bullying was reported by 77% of adolescents; 72% reported having been cyberbullied. But when young people were asked how much their peers may have had similar experiences in school and online, just 61% thought peers were bullied in school and 50% said peers had these experiences online.
“Even though we think of the online context of being this very public space where it’s easy to know what’s happening to others, we actually found out teens are not aware of how often cyberbullying occurs among their peers. We saw these underestimates, particularly online,” co-author Guadalupe Espinoza told a session at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention in San Diego. Jaana Juvonen, a professor of developmental psychology and co-author, has conducted previous research on bullying.
The study didn’t use the term “bullying.” Instead, students were asked how frequently “mean things” happened to them in the past year; the study defined “mean things” as “anything that someone does that upsets or offends someone else.” It included behaviors such as insults, threats or sharing embarrassing photos.
Espinoza suggests that one reason for the online underestimate is the young people may think they’re the only ones facing cyberbullying. “It may be the case that cyberbullying is especially painful for youth if they think ‘I’m experiencing this alone. It isn’t happening to any of my peers. Why just me?” she says.
The research found that most of these young people have experienced bullying at school and on the Internet, but boys in particular underestimated such situations among their peers.
The study also attempted to find out more about the reasons for bullying, by asking the teens and pre-teens the most common reasons for these occurrences. Girls thought it was jealousy or looks, while boys said the most common reason was a prank.
You can read some of my other posts on bullying:
You probably heard or read a headline saying something like this, “The National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) published byAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers the following conclusion: ‘Adolescents who have been reared in lesbian-mother families since birth demonstrate healthy psychological adjustment.'”
Now, Dr. A. Dean Byrd, PhD, MBA,MPH, has evaluated the data and comes up with a completely different conclusion. Here are the details from Life Site News:
Authors Gartrell and Bos generalize their findings to the lesbian population at large, claiming their research offers “implications for same-sex parenting.”
Making an enormous scientific leap, they conclude that their study provides scientific proof that there is “no justification for restricting access to reproductive technologies or child custody on the basis of the sexual orientation of the parents.”
Implied, though not stated, is the notion that fathers are not necessary or important for the healthy development of children. This implication is a throwback to an article published in the American Psychologist in 1999 titled “Deconstructing the Essential Father.”
Like the authors of the American Psychologist article, Gartrell and Bos are on record as activists seeking public support for homosexual parenting.
However, a cursory review of this study (funded by the Gill Foundation and the Lesbian Health Fund of the Gay, Lesbian Medical Association) demonstrates significant flaws that most first-year graduate students would quickly recognize.
Any reasonable observer would easily conclude that the authors overstated their findings and that in this instance, whatever external review process was utilized, was inadequate. Consider the following:
1. The problems inherent in any self-report study:
The lesbian mothers’ own reports that their children were well-adjusted were accepted by the study’s authors uncritically.
The authors should have clarified the limitation and usefulness of such qualitative, self-reported data in light of the fact that the lesbian parents knew that the study would be used to further their political cause; in contrast, the control group had no idea how their reports would be used.
In addition, most mothers, lesbian or not, would likely report their children’s adjustment in a favorable light. Outside observers such as the child’s teachers or counselors, if consulted, could have offered a different perspective.
2. The lesbian parents were hardly typical parents:
93% were Caucasian.Most were college-educated (67%). Most were middle/upper class (82%). Eighty-five per cent were in professional or managerial roles.
The control sample, however, had significantly more minorities; many more children from the South; they were very different in race composition and socioeconomic status; and the educational level of these mothers was unclear.
A statistical adjustment for these differences could have been easily addressed. Had these differences been controlled, they might have been reduced, been proven negligible, or perhaps reversed.
3. The sample was far from random:
Participants were recruited from gay and lesbian venues (i.e., lesbian pride events and lesbian newspapers in three major metropolitan areas – Boston, Washington. D.C. and San Francisco).
Although the authors acknowledge the non-randomness of their subject pool and the potential problems this situation could pose, this limitation did not seem to limit their conclusions.
As a result, a very strong case could be made for selection bias having invalidated the findings.
Despite the obvious study flaws, the authors offer the following generalization: “The NLLFS adolescents are well-adjusted, demonstrating more competencies and fewer behavioral problems than their peers in the normative American population.”
Notably absent was data about the sexual orientation of the adolescents or the preferences or expectations for the adolescents’ sexual orientation (some of this data was, in fact, collected for the 10-year study). Was this data collected and simply dismissed?
Remarkably, the authors report that the relationship-dissolution rate for the lesbian couples was 48% at the 10-year mark and 56% at the 17-year mark. (The average duration of the relationship prior to dissolution was 12 years.) When compared to the relationship-dissolution rates of the biological heterosexual sisters of the lesbians, the rate of relationship breakup is nearly double for the lesbians.
Is the reader to conclude that dissolution of the parents’ relationship has no effect upon the adjustment of the adolescents? This conclusion hardly fits the existing research.
Other research, perhaps even more interesting, was released about the same time as the NLLFS study – research conducted by Marquardt, Glenn and Clark, titled, “My Daddy’s Name is ‘Donor’: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation.”
The authors’ conclusions included the following troubling negative factors: on average, young adults conceived through artificial insemination were more confused, felt more isolated from their families, were experiencing more psychic pain, and fared worse than a matched group of children who were conceived naturally in areas such as depression, delinquency and substance abuse. And the list goes on.
No research was cited in the Gartrell and Bos study regarding the outcomes of children conceived through sperm donation, when compared to children conceived through the natural union of a man and a woman. The authors address the issue of donor status in a very cursory fashion, almost dismissively.
It seems an interesting coincidence that earlier this year, another paper authored by Biblarz and Stacey (2010) offered a similar conclusion to that of Gartrell and Bos: “In fact, based strictly on the published science, one could argue that two women parent better on average than a woman and a man, or at least than a woman and a man with a traditional division of labor.”
Based on these two papers, could one really conclude that a double dose of mothering is superior to a mother and a father?
If a double dose of mothering is superior to mother and a father, would it follow that a double dose of mothering is vastly superior to and actually contraindicates the placement of children in homes where mothering is absent (i.e., gay men)?
Nowhere do Gartrell and Bos cite the extensive research demonstrating the importance of gender complementarity to the healthy development of children.
Nowhere do these authors cite the extensive, peer-reviewed literature on the importance of both mothering and fathering for the healthy development of children.
To Gartrell and Bos’s credit, they do identify some of the reasons for what appears to be politically-motivated conclusions: “The study has implications – for the expert testimony provided by pediatricians on lesbian mother custody, and for public policies concerning same-sex parenting.”
What seems clear is that the flaws in this study render it unsuitable for anything other than the following brief description: “interesting.”
Gartrell and Blos’ conclusions don’t rise to the level of support for lesbian parenting that they would like.
Certainly, this study does not merit inclusion in any expert witness testimony nor does it rise to the level of policy implications.
Until such limitations are addressed and more rigorous research conducted, the sought after conclusions stated by the authors are without substantial scientific support.
Perhaps the study would be better titled, “Preconceived Conclusions Seeking Research Support” or “Activism Masquerading as Science: A Study Suitable for Scrutiny by Beginning Graduate Students.
Silverstein and Auerbach, authors of the “Deconstructing Fathers” article, offered the following disclaimer: “We acknowledge that our reading of the scientific literature supports our political agenda. Our goal is to generate public-policy initiatives that support men in their fathering role, without discriminating against women and same-sex couples. We are also interested in encouraging public policy that supports the legitimacy of diverse family structures, rather than privileging the two-parent, heterosexual, married family.”
The same could be said of this study. Gartrell and Bos should have offered the same disclaimer as Silverstein and Auerbach.
But they did not.
- Biblarz, T.J. & Stacey, J. (2010). “How does the gender of parents matter?” Journal of Marriage and Family, February, p. 3-22.
- Gartrell, N. and Bos, H. (2010). “US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents,” Pediatrics, Volume 126, Number 1, July 2010 p. 28-36.
- Marquardt, E., Glenn, & Clark, K. “My daddy’s name is donor.” New York: Institute for American Values, p. 1-135.
- Silverstein, L.B., & Auerbach, C. F. (1999). “Deconstructing the essential father,” American Psychologist, 54, 6, p. 397-407.
First we learned that DVDs intended for babies are not only not helpful to children, but may harm them. Now comes a study showing no evidence of the so-called ‘Mozart Effect.’ The study, reviewing over 40 studies done of the topic, was performed by Austrian researchers.
HealthDay News has a report with the details: For years, research showing a link between listening to Mozart and increased brainpower spurred parents to expose their tots to the great composer.
But now, a new Austrian review finds there’s no evidence that listening to Mozart — however glorious the music — will do anything for anyone’s cognitive powers.
In particular, the findings debunked the myth of improved spatial task performance among Mozart listeners.
University of Vienna psychologists examined more than 40 studies and unpublished research that included more than 3,000 subjects. Their conclusion: nothing supports the idea that Mozart music improves what’s known as spatial ability.
“I recommend listening to Mozart to everyone, but it will not meet expectations of boosting cognitive abilities,” study author Jakob Pietschnig, a psychologist at the University of Vienna, said in a news release from the school.
The researchers report that they couldn’t confirm the beneficial effects of listening to Mozart music, as suggested in a famous 1993 study published in Nature that focused on spatial abilities. That research led to a tremendous amount of interest in exposing babies and children to classical music, and businesses rushed to sell it to schools, day-care centers and parents.
The headlines at MSNBC are no different that those carried by most news media this last month: “Children of lesbian parents do well.” These headlines are based on a study published in the journal Pediatrics. You can see a critique of the study here and a negative commentary on the study here.
But, you may be wondering, “What can I do to counter the latest attack of political correctness?” How can I respond to the recent Lesbians-Make-the-Best-Parents claims?
The Ruth Institute has a great idea — a way YOU can fight back against the absurd bias of academia and the media. First, let me the Ruth Institute make a long story short:
The study that made the headlines in Fox News and MSNBC is small sample of politically interested, statistically unrepresentative, self-identified lesbian mothers reporting on the behavior of their children.
The researchers found these mothers via announcements at lesbian events, women’s bookstores and lesbian newspapers in Boston, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, hardly a scientifically representative sample.
And would you be impressed by a report that says, “My precious little darling is doing fine in school,” without ever asking the teacher, or checking the child’s grades?
That’s the basis for this survey’s claim that the children of lesbians do better in school than the children of the general population.
And did I mention the sample size? The study surveys 77 mothers of 78 children. You read that correctly: the latest spasm of political correctness was based on 78 children.
Naturally, the survey concludes that the children of lesbian mothers do better than everyone else, and that men are completely unnecessary.
Naturally, the Main Stream Media breathlessly reported this “news” without the slightest bit of critical reflection. Why am I not surprised?
Two can play at this game. The Ruth Institute wants to find their own non-random set of politically interested mothers to report on their own children. That would be YOU and YOUR friends! They have a feeling we can find more than 77 mothers with more than 78 kids on our side. Their goal is to get 7,800 mothers’ reports by Fathers’ Day, Sunday June 20th!
Everyone can help.
Mothers with kids at home, fill out our little questionnaire. And since this survey is about children, you can fill it out for as many minor children as you have at home. Please forward this survey to your friends.
If you aren’t a mom, if your kids have left home, if you’re a guy, forward this message to every mother with children in the home in your address book! We can find plenty of people who appreciate the contributions of fathers to the family!
Help us fight back against the illogic of political correctness! Just in time for Fathers’ Day!
Take the survey on the impact of fathers on children’s behavior.
Please, only mothers fill out this survey for each minor child living in your home.
Then forward the link to all the moms you know!
You’ve all seen the headlines by now: “Children of lesbian parents do well.” These headlines are based on a study published in the journal Pediatrics. Here’s a excellent critique of the study by Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage:
Here are 8 reasons why this study does not prove anything about the functioning of the children of lesbians.
- The sample is extremely small: 78 children of lesbian mothers and 93 children in the control group.
- The sample of lesbian mothers is unlikely to be representative of the general population of lesbians. This is a sample of people who volunteered for the study, not a random sample. The most motivated and high-functioning people are the most likely to volunteer for a politically charged study.
- The “results” are intrinsically unreliable. The results are nothing but the mothers’ reports of their childrens’ behavior and functioning. There is no cross-checking with objective outcomes, such as actual school achievement or teacher’s reports of behavior problems.
- The results for the lesbian moms show no difference in any indicator between boys and girls. This is highly unusual, and supports the possibility that the lesbian mothers are under-reporting difficulties.
- The children of lesbian moms do just as well, whether or not the couple had separated. This too, is highly unusual. Most studies show that children are harmed by disruptions in the parental relationship.
- This study makes no attempt to control for possibly confounding factors, such as socio-economic status. According to previous reports on this sample of lesbian mothers, 67% were college educated, and the median household income was $85,000. The children’s high functioning could be due to the fact that these lesbian mothers have more resources than the average family.
- The study does not report on how the control group of 93 children was selected. We have no way of knowing who these 93 children are, or how representative this control group really is.
- The most detailed part of the study was devoted to showing that any problems the children of lesbians experienced were due to homophobia. But the causal link between the mother’s reports of homophobia and the mother’s reports of aggressiveness could run the opposite way: kids might dislike those who are aggressive, and this dislike could be interpreted as homophobia.
My friend, Glenn Stanton, has written extensively on this topic. Here’s his analysis of what the vast majority of the research on same-sex parenting says:
There is a strong sociological consensus that married mothers and fathers are essential for optimal child well-being. There are strong, well-researched statements from mainstream sociologists which clearly identify which family forms best provide for healthy child-development. These statements are based on at least 30 years of social science evidence, and the researchers have done their homework. And, unlike the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) … they are free from the influence and partisanship of the same-sex “marriage” political debate. A sampling of this work follows:
James Q. Wilson, a world-known and widely-respected social scientist, recently authored a very important article on the importance of marriage. He says:
Almost everyone – a few retrograde scholars accepted – agrees that children in mother-only homes suffer harmful consequences: the best studies show that these youngsters are more likely than those in [mother/father] families to be suspended from school, have emotional problems, become delinquent, suffer from abuse and take drugs.
Here he is referring specifically to the unfortunate deficits found through studies of single-mother homes.
Dr. Wilson also explains repeatedly in his work the importance of the husband and father in the home and the clear, measurable child well-being benefits father’s provide.
This being the case, there is no indication that a mother’s lesbian lover can replace the essential and distinct role of a father. Wilson explains that some of the differences noted in perhaps half of the fatherless children, are plausibly accounted for by the mere economic difference of living without a father. But significantly, he notes , “The rest of the difference is explained by a mother living without a husband.” [James Q. Wilson, “Why We Don’t Marry,” City Journal, located here]
Wilson states elsewhere,
There is no society where women alone care for each other and their children; there is none where fathers are not obligated to support their children and the mothers to whom they were born. [James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families, (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), p. 29.]
In addition to Wilson’s statements, two leading mainstream child-advocacy organizations recently sought to understand which family form best elevated child well-being outcomes. Their conclusions found that married mothers and fathers in low-conflict marriages accomplished this important task best.
Specifically the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), found:
Most researchers now agree that…studies support the notion that, on average, children do best when raised by their two married biological parents… Research indicates that, on average, children who grow up in families with both their biological parents in a low-conflict marriage are better off in a number of ways than children who grow up in single-, step or cohabiting-parent households. [Mary Parke, “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?” Center for Law and Social Policy Policy Brief, May 2003, p. 1, 6.]
The other organization, Child Trends concludes:
An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage… Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seem to support child development. (emphasis in the original) [Kristin Anderson Moore, et al., “Marriage From a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do about It?” Child Trends Research Brief, June 2002, p. 1-2.]
The work of a diverse team of family scholars provided a detailed list of advantages for the children with a married mother and father. Working collectively from the Universities of Texas, Virginia, Minnesota, Chicago, Maryland, Washington, UC Berkeley, and Rutgers University, they reported that children who live with their own married mother and father:
- live longer, healthier lives, both physically and mentally,
- do better in school,
- are more likely to graduate and attend college.
- less likely to live in poverty,
- be in trouble with the law,
- drink or do drugs,
- be violent or sexually active, or
- be victims of sexual or physical violence.
In addition, these children are also more likely to have successful marriage when they are older. [W. Bradford Wilcox, et al., Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition: Twenty Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences, (New York: Institute for American Values, 2005).]
Finally, Sara McLanahan of Princeton University, one of the world’s leading scholars on how family form impacts child well-being, explains from her extensive investigations:
If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children’s basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent family ideal. Such a design, in theory, would not only ensure that children had access to the time and money of two adults, it would provide a system of checks and balances that promote quality parenting. The fact that both adults have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child. [W. Bradford Wilcox, et al., Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition: Twenty Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences, (New York: Institute for American Values, 2005)]
When we look at the larger body of literature on family formation and child well-being, we find there are great and consequential differences between the various kinds of heterosexual homes.
This is a truth the AAP (and the other medical and professional organizations that followed their lead) should have considered – and communicated — in using their status to support a new and experimental family form called same-sex parenting.
Instead, they have used their enviable status to irresponsibly support a new and controversial family form with very weak data and ultimately a slippery conclusion.
Conservative researchers and bloggers are dealing with the sampling and reporting problems associated with a recent study purporting to show that the children of lesbians are doing just fine. Here’s a commentary on the study by Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage:
The fact is, that the study claims that the children of lesbians are doing better in every dimension than the children in the general population. The underlying message of this story is NOT simply, “leave us alone to have kids the way we want.”
Herewith, are the Three Really Pernicious Messages behind the “Lesbians Make Better Parents” Story line:
- Women are better parents than men. Therefore, two women are better for kids than a mother and a father. Men are unnecessary and possibly dangerous.
- The only problems that the children of lesbians experience are really caused by straight society.
- The children of lesbian parents were intensely planned and deeply wanted. Therefore, manufacturing children through Donor Insemination is superior to conceiving children through an act of sexual intercourse.
Well, two can play at this game. The Ruth Institute wants to find their own non-random set of politically interested mothers to report on their own children. That would be YOU and YOUR friends! They have a feeling we can find more than 77 mothers with more than 78 kids on our side. Their goal is to get 7,800 mothers’ reports by Fathers’ Day, Sunday June 20th! And, EVERYONE CAN HELP.
Working parents perpetually agonize that they don’t see enough of their children. But a surprising new study finds that mothers and fathers alike are doing a better job than they think, spending far more time with their families than did parents of earlier generations.
In my book, God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen, I write, “Other than blameless (unconditional) love, there is no more powerful connector than the gift of TIME.” In other words, in connecting with your child, you must spend time with them.
I often tell parents, there is no “quality” time without “quantity time.” And, there is no better investment, after our relationship with our creator and our spouse (if we’re married) than to spend time with out children.
Here are the details of this new study from a report in the New York Times:
The study, by two economists at the University of California, San Diego, analyzes a dozen surveys of how Americans say they use their time, taken at different periods from 1965 to 2007. It reports that the amount of child care time spent by parents at all income levels — and especially those with a college education — has risen “dramatically” since the mid-1990s. (The findings by the husband-and-wife economist team of Garey Ramey and Valerie A. Ramey appear in a discussion paper presented in March at a Brookings Institution conference in Washington.)
Before 1995, mothers spent an average of about 12 hours a week attending to the needs of their children. By 2007, that number had risen to 21.2 hours a week for college-educated women and 15.9 hours for those with less education.
Although mothers still do most of the parenting, fathers also registered striking gains: to 9.6 hours a week for college-educated men, more than double the pre-1995 rate of 4.5 hours; and to 6.8 hours for other men, up from 3.7, according to an additional analysis by Betsey Stevenson and Dan Sacks, economists at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Family researchers say the news should offer relief to guilt-stricken working parents.
“Parents are feeling like they don’t have enough time with their children,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute in New York, which conducts research on the work force. “It’s a function of people working so hard, and they are worried they’re shortchanging their children. I’ve never found a group of parents who believe they are spending enough time with their kids.”
Although previous studies have shown increases in parenting time starting in the 1990s, the study by the Rameys is important because it links so many time-use surveys and also breaks the data down by age of the child and education level.
The rise in child-centered time is just one of the ways the American family is changing. Couples are typically waiting longer to get married and begin having children. Divorce rates are dropping with each generation.
And notably, children are no longer so widely viewed as essential to a happy marriage. In 1990, 65 percent of Americans said that children were “very important” to a successful marriage, but by 2007, the number of adults who agreed with that statement had dropped to 41 percent, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
In fact, the surge in parenting time may say more about modern marriage than about modern child care practices, Dr. Stevenson said. She notes that among college-educated parents, two- to two-and-a-half hours of the increased time takes place when both parents are together. “Everybody gets in the car,” she said, “and mom and dad both cheer on the kid.”
That may reflect a rise in what Dr. Stevenson calls the “hedonic marriage,” in which couples share home and work responsibilities so they can spend more time together.
By contrast, couples from earlier generations typically had “specialized” roles that tended to keep them apart — the husband working at a job to support the family, the wife staying home to raise the children.
“We’re seeing a rise in marriages where we’re picking people we like to do activities with,” Dr. Stevenson said. “So it’s not surprising we’re going to see that some of the activities we want do together involve our children.”
So where is the extra time coming from? Women, in particular, are spending less time cooking and cleaning their homes, while men are putting in fewer hours at the office. A 2007 report in The Quarterly Journal of Economics showed that leisure time among men and women surged four to eight hours a week from 1965 to 2003.
Notably, the data in the Ramey study do not count the hours mothers and fathers spend “around” their children — at the dinner table, for example, or in solitary play. Instead, the survey tracks specific activities in which the parent is directly involved in the child’s care.
“It’s taking them to school, helping with homework, bathing them, playing catch with them in the back yard,” said a co-author of the leisure-time paper, Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “Those are the activities that have increased over the last 15 to 20 years.”
Dr. Galinsky notes that although working parents typically feel guilty for not spending more time at home, children often have a different reaction. In a landmark study published as “Ask the Children” (Harper, 2000), she asked more than 1,000 children about their “one wish” for their parents. Although parents expected their children would wish for more family time, the children wanted something different.
“Kids were more likely to wish that their parents were less tired and less stressed,” Dr. Galinsky said.
Amy Sobie is the editor of The Post-Abortion Review, a quarterly publication of the Elliot Institute. The organization is a widely respected leader in research and analysis of medical, mental health, and other complications resulting from abortions. This very informative article of hers was carried in Life News.
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A weight loss intervention directed at parents of overweight children may be as effective as interventions directed at both parents and children, study findings suggest. This new study confirms what Dr. Walt and his colleagues found when they did research for their book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. You can find the book here.
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