Elizabeth Marquardt at the always excellent Family Scholars Blog notes that people tend to associate negative connotations to the concept of commuter marriages. Marquardt believes that many people think that somehow, at the very least, the physical presence of a couple together is what makes a marriage real. She goes on to note that we take a quite different view when it comes to the children of divorce:
When it comes to children whose parents part, most people will concede that something sad has happened but these days many people will also add something like this: well, divorce happens a lot. Children of divorce know a lot of other kids growing up the same way. Its not such a big deal nowadays. Its normal.
In other words, when it comes to the parent-child relationship we dont think much of the fact that for many children today even the simple physical presence of both parents in their daily lives cannot be taken for granted. Some who support widespread divorce might even argue that the daily presence of their parent is not all that critical to the parent-child relationship. The parent-child relationship is no less real simply because they dont live together.
A commuter childhood is just another way of growing up these days. But a commuter marriage? Well, what adult wants to live in that?
Indeed, children of divorce are often expected to endure a situation that most adults would never willingly choose for themselves. Edith from Monastic Musings adds an insightful point:
When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher told my mother that my grades would improve if I only applied myself to my schoolwork. Oh no, hes applying himself, mom would tell my exasperated teacher. Hes just really that dumb.
Mom believed that effort was more important than intelligence. And as Po Bronson writes in New York magazine, she might be right:
When parents praise their childrens intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think its important to tell their kids that theyre smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.
But a growing body of researchand a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school systemstrongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of smart does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.
According to the article, psychologist Carol Dweck says that those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. I am smart, the kids reasoning goes; I dont need to put out effort.
A recent study dealing with the emotional consequences of teen sex confirms what conservatives have long been trying to convince mainstream society premarital teen sex can be harmful. The study, performed by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, found that as many as one-half of the sexually-active teenagers surveyed felt guilty, remorseful, and used as a result of their promiscuity.
Survey results even highlighted the harmful impact that oral sex can have on the teen psyche, pointing out that about one-third of teenagers who reported having engaged in oral sex believed that it had been detrimental to them. In elaborating on the significance of the study results, researcher Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher stated, It is important for parents to help teens understand that having oral sex may result in social, emotional and physical consequences just as having vaginal sex may result in these consequences.
Given the source of this information, it is actually quite surprising that we see results which validate, if only from a pragmatic perspective, the conservative ideal of approaching sex with a great deal of caution. As expected, the study does not invoke any truly moral considerations for avoiding sexual intimacy, nor does it overtly say that teens should, in all instances, abstain from sexual behavior. It does, however, open the door for continued discussion and, at the very least, implicitly lends credence to the idea that abstinence is the best way to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the younger generation of Americans.
Possibly the most important result of this study is that it gives the conservative community yet another set of facts for arguing with our liberal counterparts individuals who oftentimes disdain moral considerations for remaining sexually pure and place reliance upon cold, hard facts. Well, we now have those facts. Lets use them to our advantage.
The door is cracked open. Its our job to widen that crack.
According to World magazine’s blog, “Defenders of same-sex marriage in Washington have filed an initiative that would require heterosexual couples to have children within three years of tying the knot — or have their marriages annulled.” NWCN.com, a Washington State news site, quotes the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance (WA-DOMA) as saying:
For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation … The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine,” said WA-DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow in a printed statement. If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.”
For the moment, let’s take this group seriously enough to examine the question, “Is marriage solely for the purpose of creation?” My tentative answer: Yes and no. I agree with natural law thinker Robert George, who says, “Here is the core of the traditional understanding: Marriage is a two-in-one-flesh communion of person that is consummated and actualized by acts that are reproductive in type, whether or not they are reproductive in effect…” He adds: “Although not all reproductive-type acts are marital, there can be no marital act that is not reproductive in type.”
A number of factors could prevent a married couple from having a child within three years (e.g., what if the child is stillborn?) so it would be unfair to penalize them for something that is beyond their control. Instead, a more reasonable criteria should be established that is based on actions that are solely within their power. For example, all couples who wish to marry—both gay and straight—must be willing and able to engage in “marital acts”, acts that are reproductive in type. To paraphrase the WA-DOMA, those couples who cannot or will not engage in marital acts that are reproductive in type should equally be barred from marriage.
A recent survey conducted by the University of Chicago provides some interesting insight into the comparative social behavior of blacks, Hispanics, and whites between the ages of 15 and 25. The scope of the survey was broad, covering issues ranging from political involvement to entertainment to sexual mistreatment of women, but what I found most intriguing about the study were the answers to the question, Is abortion always wrong? The responses surprised me greatly, for among blacks and Hispanics surveyed, 47% and 46%, respectively, thought that abortion was wrong in all instances, while comparatively only 34% of whites surveyed believed that abortion was wrong in every circumstance.
When I read further, however, the survey data continued to puzzle me.
When asked about homosexual activity, 55% percent of blacks surveyed felt that homosexual activity was, once again, always wrong, while only 35% of whites felt the same way. What we increasingly see is that the picture being painted by this eye-opening survey is inconsistent with the traditional voting record of minority communities. As evidenced by the above statistics, we have minority groups, and most especially African-Americans, who appear to support the underlying moral principles of the conservative social agenda, yet who consistently and even dogmatically persist in voting for liberal legislators. So, how do we reconcile the findings of this study with what we know from past experience?
For any social issue there are a number of contributing factors, so to posit that there is a simple cause and effect for the dichotomy in professed beliefs and behavior of some minorities would be naive. However, I propose that this disparity might very well be due in no small part to a general lack of information in the minority community, especially among its younger members the subjects of this survey. Perhaps the conservative community is not reaching out to minorities as it should. Might it even be plausible that conservatives have, in some instances, ceded that ground to the liberal platform and gone on their merry way? I think this might very possibly be the case.
More than anything else, I believe these statistics give us hope. The real crux of the issue lies in the opportunity that conservatives have with the younger generation of minority voters the future influencers of thought and opinion both in minority communities and in the nation as a whole. At a time when the black and Hispanic communities are showing an increasingly open mindset toward the social issues so vital to the life of our nation, we need to seize the opportunity to reach out to them on common ground, to make ourselves relevant, and to lay the foundation for future success in revitalizing the moral fibers of our country.