Category archives: Family

We know from the social science that children do best with a mom and a dad.”-TRUE

by Peter Sprigg

October 17, 2014

On Sunday, October 12, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins appeared on Fox News Sunday to debate the redefinition of marriage with Ted Olson, a prominent Republican attorney and advocate of giving civil marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

At one point in the discussion, Olson began to argue that we should redefine marriage because it would benefit children who are being raised by same-sex couples. Perkins replied, “We know from the social science that children do best with a mom and a dad.”

Within hours, the “fact-checking” website PolitiFact posted an analysis of the statement—and rated it “False.”

Unfortunately, the PolitiFact article itself gets a failing grade.

That is, unless they think the non-partisan, non-profit research group Child Trends was also telling a “falsehood” when they reported, “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.”

Presumably, they also think it was “false” when the anti-poverty group the Center for Law and Social Policy reported, “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. Compared to children who are raised by their married parents, children in other family types are more likely to achieve lower levels of education, to become teen parents, and to experience health, behavior, and mental health problems.”

And I guess they would also rate as “false” the statement by the Institute for American Values, which declared (as one of its “fundamental conclusions” about “what current social science evidence reveals about marriage in our social system”), “The intact, biological, married family remains the gold standard for family life in the United States, insofar as children are most likely to thrive—economically, socially, and psychologically—in this family form.”

I suppose PolitiFact would also say it was false when the American College of Pediatricians said that “the family structure which leads to optimal child development is the family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.” The ACP added details:

A growing and increasingly sophisticated body of research indicates that children with married parents (both a mother and a father) have more healthful measures of:

  • thriving as infants
  • physical and mental health
  • educational attainment
  • protection from poverty
  • protection from antisocial behavior
  • protection from physical abuse


The PolitiFact article put much emphasis on “peer-reviewed” literature. Are they actually suggesting that the conclusions of every single one of the sources cited in the following passage (adapted from my book Outrage) are “false”?

Children raised by opposite-sex married parents experience lower rates of many social pathologies, including:

  • premarital childbearing (Kristin A. Moore, “Nonmarital School-Age Motherhood: Family, Individual, and School Characteristics,” Journal of Adolescent Research 13, October 1998: 433-457);
  • illicit drug use (John P. Hoffman and Robert A. Johnson, “A National Portrait of Family Structure and Adolescent Drug Use,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60, August 1998: 633-645);
  • arrest (Chris Coughlin and Samuel Vucinich, “Family Experience in Preadolescence and the Development of Male Delinquency,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58, May 1996: 491-501);
  • health, emotional, or behavioral problems (Deborah A. Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health and Well-Being: Data from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey on Child Health,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 53, August 1991: 573-584);
  • poverty (Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, America’s Children: Key Indicators of Well-Being 2001, Washington, D.C., p. 14);
  • or school failure or expulsion (Dawson, op.cit.).

PolitiFact must also not trust federal government survey research—such as that published just a few months ago which said, “Children in nonparental care were 2.7 times as likely as children living with two biological parents to have had at least one adverse experience, and more than 2 times as likely as children living with one biological parent and about 30 times as likely as children living with two biological parents to have had four or more adverse experiences.” (Note that if you turn this around, it is saying that “children living with two biological parents” are at least fifteen times less likely “to have had four or more adverse experiences” than children in any other living situation with which they were compared.)

Finally, the Mapping America series produced by FRC’s own Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) has documented (based primarily on federal government survey data) literally dozens of outcome measures for which, on average, children raised in an intact married family do better than those in other family structures.

There are certainly other things PolitiFact could have said to put Perkins’ comment in perspective. They might legitimately have pointed out, for example, that relatively few studies have been conducted to date which makes direct comparisons between children raised by their married, biological mother and father and children raised by same-sex couples. While it is certainly true, not false, that there is a large and robust body of social science evidence indicating that “children do best with a mom and a dad,” as Perkins indicated, most of the studies involved in that body of research compared children raised by their married, biological mother and father with children raised in alternate family structures such as single-parent, divorced, or step-parent households—but did not include direct comparisons with the (relatively tiny) population of children raised by same-sex couples.

For example, the New Family Structures Study spearheaded by sociologist Mark Regnerus resulted in dramatic (and statistically powerful) results demonstrating the strong advantage held by the “intact biological family” over numerous other family forms. However—as Regnerus made clear from the beginning—even his comparison with “gay fathers” or “lesbian mothers” was only based on the adult respondents having said that at some point between birth and age 18, their father or mother had a same-sex romantic relationship. It was not a comparison with children raised by same-sex couples living and raising the children together (of which very few could be found, even in Regnerus’ large sample).

A key illustration of how the PolitiFact article lacked objectivity is that its description of the Regnerus research sounds as though it were simply cut and pasted from the talking points of “gay” bloggers. It is true that his research was sharply criticized in a variety of quarters—that is to be expected, given that academia is now dominated by liberal elites who are unwilling to tolerate the slightest dissent from the pro-homosexual orthodoxy. It is also true that among his fellow sociologists who distanced themselves from the study were members of the sociology department at his own university, the University of Texas.

However, it is false to say (as PolitiFact did) that the university itself “denounced” Regnerus’ research. On the contrary, the university conducted a full investigation of charges brought by a “gay” blogger who uses the pen name “Scott Rose,” and concluded, “Professor Regnerus did not commit scientific misconduct… . None of the allegations of scientific misconduct put forth by Mr. Rose were substantiated …” The New Family Structures Study continues to be hosted by the Population Research Center within the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.

The journal which published two Regnerus articles based on the New Family Structures Study, Social Science Research, also published extensive critiques of his work. Its editor designated a sharp critic of Regnerus, Darren Sherkat, to conduct an “audit” of the publication process. Since PolitiFact was dismissive of a book-length scholarly work because it was not subject to “peer review” like academic journal articles, it is worth noting what Sherkat said about peer review of Regnerus’ work: “Five of the reviewers are very regular, reliable SSR reviewers, and all six were notable scholars. Indeed, the three scholars who are not publicly conservative can be accurately described as social science superstars.” Most importantly, as editor James D. Wright points out, “all reviewers of both papers agreed that the papers warranted publication. The unanimity of reviewer opinion is notable in this case and is also fairly unusual.” A more thorough description of the Regnerus study can be found here, and a more detailed analysis of its actual findings can be found here.

One early study which did make a direct, couples-to-couples comparison was a 1996 study by an Australian sociologist who compared children raised by heterosexual married couples, heterosexual cohabiting couples, and homosexual cohabiting couples. It found that the children of heterosexual married couples did the best, and children of homosexual couples the worst, in nine of the thirteen academic and social categories measured.

More recently, studies based on U.S. and Canadian census data have allowed couples-to-couples comparisons using much larger sample sizes, but with respect to only a single outcome measure. Canadian economist Douglas W. Allen and two co-authors analyzed data from the 2000 census in the United States and reported, “Compared with traditional married households, we find that children being raised by same-sex couples are 35% less likely to make normal progress through school.” Another study by Allen using the 2006 Canada census found, “Children living with gay and lesbian families [i.e., a “same-sex married or common law couple”] in 2006 were about 65% as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families.”

Advocates for homosexual parenting and the redefinition of marriage sometimes argue (as PolitiFact did in a similar article challenging a Ralph Reed comment in April 2014), “What studies really show is that children are better off with two parents. Those studies do not focus on gender.” This statement by PolitiFact is clearly false. Most of the studies cited above focused on the presence of two biological parents—which by definition includes both the mother and the father. At best, same-sex couples resemble a step-parent situation, in which at most one of the caregivers is the biological parent of the child. The Child Trends publication cited above noted:

Children growing up with stepparents also have lower levels of well-being than children growing up with biological parents. Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.”

(Note: FRC believes that adopted children also benefit from the gender complementarity in parenting provided by an adoptive mother and father. However, the bulk of the research has focused specifically on households headed by the married, biological mother and father.)

On the other hand, the research that has been done specifically on children raised by same-sex couples has usually compared them only to children of “heterosexual” parents—including single-parent or divorced households—rather than comparing them directly to children raised by their married, biological mother and father (the “intact biological family,” as Regnerus refers to it).

The Center for Law and Social Policy report, cited above, summarized the implications of this succinctly:

Children of gay or lesbian parents do not look different from their counterparts raised in heterosexual divorced families regarding school performance, behavior problems, emotional problems, early pregnancy, or difficulties finding employment. However, … children of divorce are at higher risk for many of these problems than children of married parents [emphasis added].

The PolitiFact article seemed to be devoted to debunking things that Tony Perkins did not say, rather than what he actually did say. If Perkins had said, “We know from the social science that children do better with a mom and a dad than with two moms or two dads,” PolitiFact might legitimately have challenged it—not because it is “false,” but because there is insufficient research on that direct comparison to assert we can “know” it as a social science certainty.

If Perkins had said, “We know from the social science that children do better with heterosexual parents than with homosexual parents,” then PolitiFact might also have challenged that—again, not because it is “false,” but because family dysfunction among heterosexuals (such as out-of-wedlock births, divorce, and cohabiting parents) is clearly harmful to children as well.

However, Perkins was clear, precise—and accurate—in what he did say, that “children do best with a mom and a dad.”

If, though, the social science research has not provided us with true, apples-to-apples comparisons between children raised by same-sex couples and children raised by their mother and father, was it legitimate for Tony Perkins to bring this truth about the general parenting research into a debate specifically about same-sex “marriage?”

I believe it was, because of the significant difference in quality and quantity between the two bodies of research at issue. As indicated by the summary statements quoted above, the research showing that children raised by their married biological mother and father do better than any other family structure with which they have been compared is extensive, methodologically sound, and convincing.

On the other hand, the research focused specifically on children raised by same-sex couples, most of which has been reported as showing that they do just as well or show “no differences” in comparison with children raised by “heterosexual parents,” suffers from serious methodological flaws.

Much of it has relied on small, non-random “convenience samples”—obtained, for example, by advertising in “gay” media. These samples may not be truly representative of the population of same-sex couples raising children. Parents whose children have significant problems may be less likely to volunteer, and parents who do volunteer may have an incentive (including a political one, knowing the significance of the research in public debates) to downplay any problems their children have (many such studies rely on the parent’s own report of child well-being).

In addition, arguments touting the large number of published studies supporting the “no differences” claim are misleading, because many of those studies are based on a single data set, from the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS). The NLLFS website lists 21 publications which have been directly based on this study, and five more related to it.

A 149-page book published in 2001 did a detailed analysis of the homosexual parenting research up to that point. The result was:

We conclude that the methods used in these studies are so flawed that these studies prove nothing. Therefore, they should not be used in legal cases to make any argument about ‘homosexual vs. heterosexual’ parenting. Their claims have no basis.”

A similar analysis was conducted by researcher Loren Marks and published in the same 2012 issue of Social Science Research as the first Regnerus article. Marks analyzes the 59 previous studies cited in a 2005 policy brief on homosexual parents by the American Psychological Association (APA). Marks debunks the APA’s claim that “[n]ot a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.” Marks also points out that only four of the 59 studies cited by the APA even met the APA’s own standards by “provid[ing] evidence of statistical power.” As Marks so carefully documents, “[N]ot one of the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 APA Brief compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children.”

So, the research supposedly showing “no differences” between children raised by same-sex couples and those raised by heterosexuals (remember, they are not usually compared with children raised by their own mother and father) is simply unreliable. The research showing that children do best when raised by their own, married, biological mother and father, when compared with numerous other family structures, is robust and clear-cut.

Essentially, homosexual activists (and PolitiFact) are claiming that children raised by homosexual couples are, remarkably, the lone exception to the overwhelming social science research consensus regarding the optimal family structure for children.

We rate their claim, “Highly Implausible.”

Children of the Heart

by Rob Schwarzwalder

September 23, 2014

Adoption is a regular target of psycho-babbling critics, race-mongerers, ultra-nationalists in countries filled with parentless children, and those who believe children are better warehoused than loved.

In addition to rejecting all of these demonic conceptions, it’s a personal joy for me to affirm the wonder that adoption brings into countless families, including my own.

Bethany Christian Services, through which my wife and I adopted our three children, has connected thousands of moms and dads with children who need the affection and security of a family. In a moving story on how Bethany brought him together with his father and mother here in the States, Ethiopia-born Getenet Timmermans tells how his brother and he “found a family” in Illinois, and with them found love, hope, and a future.

You can read Getenet’s account here. I hope you will, and that you’ll share it with anyone you know skeptical of bearing children from the heart and not just the womb.

Children Are Always a Blessing

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 19, 2014

Here is one of the best quotes I’ve read in a long time; it’s by Courtney Reissig, writing at Christianity Today’s “Her.Meneutics” site:

Children are not a death sentence to our ambitions and goals. They may change them, postpone them, or even make them more difficult to attain—but they are always a blessing. We don’t earn the right to stay home or have children only after having done something important with our lives. We earn the benefit to have children simply by being created in God’s image.

Preach it, sister. Career dreams, professional attainments, academic achievements: All that are done for the glory of God are good and noble things. But to place children in apposition to them is a false alternative. I’ll let Mrs. Reissig have the last word:

Children also come to us — biologically or through adoption — at God’s timing. Despite my desire to start a family earlier, I didn’t give birth to my twins until I was 30. Even when we are open to having children, it doesn’t always happen right away and sometimes, they don’t come at all. But the church should be a place that welcomes expectant mothers regardless of what they have accomplished pre-pregnancy. Even if she never finishes her degree, lands a top client, or wins an Academy Award, bringing life into the world is a beautiful and God-honoring thing.

The Dinner Table and the Banquet

by Family Research Council

July 28, 2014

Ronald Reagan once said that great change starts at the dinner table.

One Easter Sunday morning after the Vigil Mass, my family sat down to a beautiful yet simple brunch, still in our pajamas. It was nothing extraordinary, but it remains in my memory as one of the most harmonious days of my life, surrounded by family, in the peace of the Risen Christ.

But there is something greater that allows for a dinner table to even exist and for a family to be around it. That something is love.

In God’s first words regarding mankind in the beginning, He established the whole basis for love and marriage in the Trinity: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). This Trinity, the plurality of persons (“our”) in a singular unified entity (“image”) speaks the generative Word that brings humankind into existence. This love is the love which is reflected in the institution of the family.

In marriage, the persons of the husband and wife become one body. They take upon themselves the work of God and partake in the creative words of the Trinity. The parents also choose to make man in “our likeness.” Their unitive love produces children, just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the communion of the Father and the Son. The family, in its unity of distinct members, becomes a reflection of the Trinity.

President Reagan also said that the strong and loving families fathers help create are the soul of a nation. The family is the most fundamental institution of any nation, so vital that it is the very animating factor of society. It is the institution that stems from and proceeds towards charity, towards the heavenly institution which it reflects — the Trinity.

When the family sits down at the dinner table, all the members come together to share in a meal made possible by the provisions of the father and the nurturing of the mother.

And as a Catholic family, my family begins our meal with the Sign of the Cross and grace; we mark ourselves in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We invoke the love of the One Name upon our one family.

The dinner table is the place where love engenders transformation, radical changes that pour out from the family to the nation. Some of those changes are immediate; others take place over time, taking root on good soil to blossom later. Yet whether sudden or subtle, the dinner table is where life is fashioned and souls cultivated, souls which set the world aflame.

This earthly table is a prefigurement of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. It is a place of communion in familial love, the starting place for change, and an earthly vision of the eternal end in the heavenly banquet.

Is Living Together the Same as Marriage? The Latest Research

by Peter Sprigg

July 3, 2014

A growing number of couples are living together in sexual relationships without bothering to marry. Are these relationships essentially the same as marriages? Research over the decades has shown significant differences in these two household forms, and the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics continues that trend.

Here, verbatim, are the “Key findings” in a new report, “Marriage, Cohabitation, and Men’s Use of Preventive Health Care Services.”

QUOTE

Key findings

Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 2011-2012

  • Among men aged 18–64, those who were married were more likely than cohabiting men and other not-married men to have had a health care visit in the past 12 months.
  • Marriage was associated with greater likelihood of a health care visit for both younger and older men, and for men with health insurance.
  • Among those for whom blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, married men were more likely than cohabiting men to have received these clinical preventive services in the past 12 months.
  • Cohabiting men were less likely than other not-married men to have had a health care visit, cholesterol check, or diabetes screening.

END QUOTE

The take-away? Men, the next time your wives nag you to go to the doctor — be thankful!

Adoption Made Me Love Superman

by Family Research Council

June 18, 2014

Are Superman’s parents aliens, too?”

My nine-year-old brother, Eli, turned to us with curiosity.

No,” Jonas, my teenage brother, replied. “Superman is adopted.”

Eli’s eyes immediately lit up, and a new obsession was born.

Eli is adopted from South Korea. He was brought home to America when he was seven months old, and every year since then we always celebrate that day as a family. He loves hearing us tell the story about how God had a special plan for our family and how excited we were to hold him for the first time.

I was eleven when Eli was born, and so I recall vividly the lengths my parents went to in order to adopt. They had been talking about it ever since I could remember, but demoralizing obstacles continued to get in their way. Birth mothers who backed out, concerns about parental rights, a baby born who only survived for a few days because of mistakes the mother had made while pregnant all seemed to be standing in the way of a successful adoption. Even as a child I couldn’t help but notice the heartbreak each disappointment caused my parents.

Nevertheless, the call on their hearts to adopt only increased as the years passed. Most of all, I remember my dad getting home from a long day at work and rushing to join my mom at the kitchen table. There they would sift through cascading piles of paperwork, make phone calls, and sort through adoption agencies. Eventually, as American agencies continued to be problematic, my parents turned to international adoption and South Korea.

While most children are born out of a few hours of labor, my brother was brought home only after years of labor.

The joy we felt when we were finally matched with Eli by the agency was inexpressible. My family huddled around the picture of him as a newborn. I remember looking at his picture and knowing, beyond a doubt, that I loved him.

Growing up in a small Midwestern town, people were friendly but occasionally naïve about our experience with adoption. Especially once Eli was home, and people would see us at the store or in the park. My family would receive comments like, “You are so generous to have rescued him from wherever he was before this.”

Questions like these reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of adoption, and as an eleven-year-old, I could never understand what they meant. It was difficult for me to comprehend how anyone could consider this overwhelming blessing in my life to be something as one-dimensional as a “rescue mission” or charity. While adoption is, in ways, a charitable act mirroring God’s compassionate adoption of all Christians into His family, it is also so much more. The lessons and love that come with a new child or sibling are independent of the means by which they are joined with the family. There was never a single moment that Eli was categorized in our hearts or minds as an outside individual whom we just happened to bring into our home. Instead, adoption was simply the medium through which God united us with the next member of our family. Despite years of setbacks in the adoption process, God used each disappointment to lead us closer to a specific agency, at a specific time, so that we were matched with the person He had always intended to be my brother.

Now, nearly nine years later, I indulge Eli’s obsession with Superman and watch the 2013 movie Man of Steel with him on repeat. It’s what sisters do.

And although this caped crusader isn’t necessarily my favorite, there is one part of the movie that always stands out to me: the moment that the young Clark Kent realizes he is adopted. The young boy looks up at the man who’s been raising him his whole life, and with a quivering voice, asks, “Can’t I just keep pretending I’m your son?” His father immediately embraces him in a hug, and says firmly, “You are my son.”

The first time Eli saw this scene tears began streaming down his face.

It’s almost impossible to explain the depth of my love for Eli, and how it has no distinction from my love for anyone else in my family. To anyone considering adopting, know that it blesses you in ways you can never imagine. I will forever be grateful that God made our family whole through adoption.

Vincente Del Bosque, Spain’s Greatest “Football” Coach, and Pure Love

by Chris Gacek

June 17, 2014

The quadrennial playing of the World Cup soccer (“football”) tournament began last weekend and will last several more. As the tournament approached, many, many articles, especially in European papers, have focused on this worldwide competition. The Financial Times (FT), for example, published a small section with several lengthy feature articles about the World Cup in its June 7/8 weekend edition.  The weekend FT is a wonderful amalgamation of articles on a wide variety of international topics including the arts, sports, travel, real estate, books, gardening, and hard news.

This World Cup section contained a brilliant article by Jimmy Burns on Vincente Del Bosque, perhaps the greatest soccer coach in Spain’s history. Presently Del Bosque is the coach of the Spanish national team that received a drubbing at the hands of the Netherlands last week.  That said, Spain’s only World Cup tournament victory came in 2010 under Del Bosque’s leadership. There have been many other victories and honors in his career, and Burns provides a masterful overview of the coach’s professional achievements.

That said, it was another aspect of the story and Del Bosque’s life that gave the article a transcendent quality.  At the beginning of the piece, Burns informs us that Del Bosque, 63, has three children including Alvaro, age 24, who has Down’s syndrome. It is here that Burns describes a touching dimension of Spain’s 2010 World Cup campaign:

While Del Bosque’s Spain was winning the country’s first ever world cup in 2010, Alvaro became an unofficial member of the squad. Afterwards Del Bosque wrote him a letter, now reproduced with his permission in a new Spanish biography. “It wasn’t Iniesta’s goal, or Iker Casillas kissing Sara, his journalist girlfriend while being interviewed by her on TV which moved me to tears. It was seeing you on TV, saying that you felt proud of your Dad, that you always wanted to help, that your heart was with him.”

How beautiful. The article then proceeds at length to discuss Del Bosque’s career and the current state of Spain’s 2014 World Cup efforts.

As Del Bosque and Burns take leave of each other, Burns returns to Del Bosque’s family and Alvaro:

Our meeting ends as it began, with family. Del Bosque’s daughter, Gema, 21, picks him up in the family car. “Can I give you a lift anywhere?” Del Bosque asks me. Before we say goodbye, I ask about his son Alvaro. A big smile comes over his face as he shows me a photograph of Alvaro in a suit working behind a desk. “We’ve achieved what we set out to achieve, which is to find him work.” Alvaro, he says, has come to mean more to him than anything else. “I’m not very expressive of my feelings. I am not a great one for words. I am not very lyrical. I am quite a practical person. But when I think of pure love, it is what I feel for Alvaro.”

Isn’t it fascinating that so many parents of Down’s children say similar things about the exquisite nature of these innocent souls? Del Bosque is known for being a “big-hearted” decent man: “Spain’s Man of Honor,” as the article’s title informs us. Is it unreasonable to suppose that Alvaro is responsible for many of those qualities? I don’t think so.

Our Father

by Family Research Council

June 13, 2014

When I was young, my father used to take each of his children out to spend a day with him. Whether it was playing putt-putt golf, getting lunch, or spending a day with him at work, our “day with dad” was always an anticipated treat. Then, those days were times devoted to bonding and having fun with dad. Now, those days have built memories and lasting foundations of love that I would not trade for the world. I was learning to walk in Dad’s footsteps.

When we celebrate our fathers on Father’s Day, we honor men who have ultimately given their lives to the vocation of fatherhood. We are not recognizing men who are handy with tools, or who like cars, sports, and beer, as Hallmark cards so often try to sell us on. We commemorate men who have chosen fatherhood as a primary role in life and who regard all other occupations as inferior. Rather than submitting to the materialist mindset so prevalent, the recognition of the significance of fatherhood grows more potent every day. This is why it is vital to celebrate fathers in a society that degrades strong male figures and attacks traditional fatherhood.

Scripture tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, and to lay down his life for her if necessary. Earthly fathers are figures of our Heavenly Father, and they direct us upward to him. Father’s Day reminds us that, though it is a day to celebrate our earthly fathers, everyday should be one spent with our Heavenly Father, from Whom all blessings flow.

In a letter written to his son on the topics of love, manhood, and marriage, Ronald Reagan said, “There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.”

I’m always listening for your footsteps, dad.

As the years pass and simple days of childhood fade into tempestuous reality, one thing remains: the Trinitarian love reflected in the family, flowing from the father. I have learned from my father what true manhood and fatherhood are: the willingness to pour out one’s love and life in sacrifice.

So to the man who taught me about the importance of tradition, family stories and family prayer, whose generosity to the family and to strangers astonishes me still, and who revealed to me, most especially, that doing small things with great love is the road to holiness… Thank you. Thank you for the memories of simpler days when the path of truth was illuminated over lunch and putt-putt, for being a caring father, and for being a father whose footsteps I still wish to walk in.

Hamilton McCallum: Joyful. Committed. Gift-giver.

by Cindy Mouw

June 12, 2014

My father loved life with exuberance and wanted to help everybody else love it as much as he did. He sought out bargains on ponies, snowmobiles, and motorcycles so his five daughters could experience new adventures in the world that so enamored him. Knowing that a family requires the nourishment of joy and fun, he set work aside for two weeks each summer to bring his family to a cottage on Bass Lake.  He recognized that God loved the world and was pleased with those who sought to experience all its joys and delights. But a depth of wisdom matched this exuberance. He was a listener and a pragmatic advisor for everyone he knew. Down to earth and in love with his family and his world, he knew how to offer good gifts and love.

 

As a man of faith, my dad wasn’t vocal, but he lived out a commitment to Christ for years without wavering. He readily admitted that he didn’t understand the depth of biblical stuff; instead, he lived what he believed.  When I think of the fruits of the spirit I think of him.  I think of a man who practiced love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. As kids we could count on him being home from work every day at 4, and we knew that he’d take us to church every Sunday. He provided all of his daughters with a Christian education, knowing that he was investing in long-term formation. He made these daily choices without complaint or comment; they were a given. I am thankful for this every day.

 

He knew how to do the important stuff — praying at dinner, coming home on time, taking his family to enjoy the lake — over and over again. Father’s like him know that what matters in life should be practiced, recited, lived out each day. He was a Christian tradition in an Irishman’s body, someone I could always count on to joyfully live the commitments he made. 

Rob Schwarzwalder: Love. Wisdom. Fun.

by Christopher Marlink

June 12, 2014

Rob Schwarzwalder is the kind of guy you hope to work for when you sign on at an organization like Family Research Council. He’s a man of deep faith and conviction. He’s stubbornly gracious with his interlocutors, often affording to them unrequited courtesy. To his friends, Rob is encouragement personified. Think of the character Faithful in Pilgrim’s Progress, and you’re about there.

I’ve had the pleasure of working for and with Rob at FRC for a number of years now, and he’s someone I’ve come to admire and value as a friend and mentor. Rob has embraced the character of his heavenly father, who has adopted us all into his family (Eph 1:5), by becoming an adoptive father himself.

Rob was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the adoption process, and to share what he’s learned about fatherhood along the way.

 

CM: Rob, for some men, fatherhood catches them off-guard. Not unwelcome, but perhaps unexpected. You had the experience of becoming an adoptive father, which entails a significant process, and a kind of fierce intentionality. Describe your reaction when you got the news you were going to be a father?

RS: We had had a couple of fall-throughs in which the birthmothers who had committed her child to us changed her mind, so I was somewhat guarded.  Actually holding them at the adoption agency and then driving home with them in car seats behind my wife and me was surreal (but joyous!).  My wife had prayed for twins for about 16 years, so of course our hearts were full of praise.

CM: How can family and friends best encourage those couples struggling with infertility and perhaps going through the adoption process?

RS: Don’t give trite, dismissive advise (“Well, you’d probably get pregnant if you’d only relax”) and listen a lot.  Encourage the couple with the fact that Jesus was adopted (his Davidic lineage came through His adoptive father Joseph) and that all Christians are the adopted children of our Father.  So, adopting places you in good company. -J

CM: Do you have a favorite Father’s Day memory?

RS: Going to an Outback Steakhouse and watching my then-two year-olds come close to obliterating our table with grease, sauce, napkins, etc.

CM: How has fatherhood changed you?

RS: It has filled a vast empty place in my soul.  It’s forced me to recognize the depth of my selfishness and also that I have reserves of physical and emotional fortitude that surprised me; and it has made me more fervent in prayer than I otherwise might have been.

CM: What fatherhood/parenting myth would you most like to see suffer an ignominious death?

RS: Two, actually: That you are doomed to repeating your father’s mistakes and that you must always be the source of complete wisdom and even-temperedness – saying, “I don’t know” and apologizing after getting angry count for a lot. That’s not to excuse anger, but to remind that anger is almost unavoidable – the key is to strive against it and, when you fail, take responsibility for it.

CM: What do you and your children enjoy doing together? Favorite pastimes or hobbies?

RS: All kinds of things – hiking, watching movies, church activities, throwing the baseball, wrestling, etc.

CM: If you could give new dads a piece of advice or a bit of wisdom that’s been helpful to you, what would you say?

RS: (1) The best gifts you can give your wife and children are your love for Jesus Christ and your time; (2) everyone who has ever had a child thinks he’s an expert, so take un-asked for advice with a grain of salt; (3) read Christian parenting books with discernment – there is no mechanical template for raising children, only principles that must be applied with wisdom and grace per the needs of the child; and (4) boys need to wrestle and rough-house – accept no substitutes.

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