Tag archives: Parenting

How to Talk to Kids about Pornography: 3 Painless Steps

by Kristen Jenson

July 11, 2019

Parents, what conversation is dreaded more than the first one about pornography? I’m not sure there is one! Teaching kids about where babies come from seems simple in comparison. The good news is that it’s not as difficult as you think. I’ve broken it down into three relatively painless steps: start early, empower kids with the basics, and keep on learning and talking!

1. Start Early

How early should you begin warning your child about pornography? The short answer is as soon as they have any access to the internet (or apps that lead to the internet). #SoonerIsSafer! No conscientious parent allows a child access to a busy street without teaching them about the dangers of oncoming cars. It just makes sense to give young kids a gentle warning about harmful content as soon as they are allowed to play on the byways of the internet.

Susan is a very protective mom, and very wise, too. She told me about the time when her 7-year-old son was exposed to pornography by a neighbor. A few days earlier, she had re-read Good Pictures Bad Pictures to her son and reminded him of what to do if he ever saw a bad picture. Although it was distressing, everything worked according to plan! He turned away and went home and told his mom what he had seen. Thankfully, he was prepared!

Children who are caught off guard by pornography are not safe. They are more vulnerable than children who have been warned and given a plan for responding to exposure.

When a parent begins early, it’s not awkward for the child. As the adult, you create the context. Parents continue to tell me that their kids take it well, and that broaching the topic creates an even stronger, more trusting bond with their child.

Don’t be scared—be prepared!

2. Empower Kids with Three Basics

Children need to know three things about pornography:

  • What it is—they need an appropriate definition of pornography.
  • Why it’s harmful—so many kids grow up without a clue that pornography can hurt their young minds—they need good information!
  • How to reject it—a simple plan so they know exactly what to do when they see pornography.

An age-appropriate definition of pornography for a young child gives them just enough information so they can recognize it. In my Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books, I use the following simple definition. “Pornography means pictures, videos or even cartoons of people with little or no clothes on…that focus on the private parts of the body we keep covered with a swimsuit.”

Some critics argue that pornography should not be equated with nudity or else it will cause “body shame.” I take great pains to assure kids that “every part of your body is good, including your private parts. But taking pictures of them and sharing them with others is not good.” Kids are very literal, and nuance is lost on them. Just teach them to come and tell you if they see nudity or near nudity and you can enlighten them if they need additional understanding. For simple tips on how to explain the difference between porn and art to a child, read this blog post.

Explain why it’s harmful. For young children, I use the “picture poison” analogy in my Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. book. You’ve already taught them about poison and harmful substances. Pictures can poison the mind, too. Again, reassurance is critical: “There’s something good you can do if you see a bad picture.”

Older children can learn how pornography can become a bad habit or even an addiction. Once kids understand the process of addiction, they have a real opportunity to protect their own brains. Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids describes how the “thinking brain” and the “feeling brain” can work together to stay safe from addiction. This article from my website ProtectYoungMinds.org contains a simplified explanation of how addictions develop.

3. Give Kids a Plan

It’s common wisdom to teach kids to respond to a fire or active shooter. They need the same “fire drill” for pornography. Thankfully, most children won’t deal with a fire or a shooter, but all of them will need to escape from pornography.

The “escape” plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. is simply “Turn, Run and Tell!” Turn away from the bad picture, hurry and get away, and go tell a trusted adult what you saw. The CAN DO Plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures helps kids not only turn away from it, but to label it by saying “That’s pornography!” This allows kids to have more control over their thoughts by engaging their thinking brain.

Make sure your kids know who they can talk to about pornography exposure wherever they are. Talk to their teachers at school and find out what their plan is for students reporting pornography exposure.  

Finally, help your kids to know how to minimize or “forget” any shocking images they are exposed to by learning to redirect their thoughts to something they get excited about. For example, if they love horses, have them think about saddling up and galloping away! And encourage them to keep practicing—it takes several times, but every time a bad image pops up, just keep thinking about something else. Pretty soon, that memory will begin to fade.

No Child Deserves to Face the Porn Industry Alone

Kids who interface with screens need to know what pornography is, why it’s harmful and what to do when they see it. And they also need constant mentoring. Some families use #TalkTechTuesdays to address all kinds of digital age issues. Whatever day you choose, make sure you keep talking with your kids and listening to their experiences.

I am grateful for caring adults who choose to confront pornography head on so kids won’t have to face it alone. And once you begin the conversation, it gets easier and more comfortable. You CAN DO it.

To get started, check out the free Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents on ProtectYoungMinds.org.

Kristen A. Jenson, MA is the founder of Protect Young Minds and best-selling author of the Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books. She serves on the Safeguard Alliance founded by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Which Community?”

by Family Research Council

April 11, 2013

A fundamental clash of worldviews lies behind Ms. Harris-Perry’s controversial statement that children are the responsibility of the whole community. Conor Friedersdorf’s article in The Atlantic does an excellent job highlighting the impracticability of her proposal because

[…] children are raised by individuals, not diffuse collectives. Mother and father are in fact responsible for getting baby her shots, strapping her into the car seat, childproofing the house, noticing her allergic reaction to peanuts, and enrolling her in primary school. If they fail to do these things, or to find someone who’ll do them on their behalf, baby suffers … The fact that most parents feel this responsibility deep within them is literally indispensable to our civilization. Kids whose parents don’t feel or ignore it are often seriously disadvantaged (emphasis added).

But aside from the practical aspect of child-responsibility lies the fundamental question of society’s order: who, or what, is responsible for the individual and the family? Does individual liberty and a moral conscience make adults responsible for their choices and parents responsible for their children? Or is the government the organizing principle of society, taking the place of choice, and mom and dad?

While I am not assuming that Ms. Harris-Perry desires to promote anything other than the best interests of children by her statement, the worldview behind what she said is destructive to marriages, families, and thus the very children she wants helped. In “The Activists Game Plan against Religion Life and the Family: The UN, the Courts, and Transnationalist Ideology,” Pat Fagan and Bill Saunders compare the views of cultural Marxists with those of traditional society and observe:

Influential intellectual roots of anti-family and anti-religious efforts can be found in the writings of Karl Marx’s collaborator, the German philosopher Friedrich Engels. Engels, in his vision of state ownership as the means of production and the ultimate triumph of the proletariat, was keenly aware that two institutions would stand in the way of his communist vision: the family and organized religion. He understood that in order for the international communist vision to come to fruition, the natural primacy of family and religion in society must be undermined (emphasis added).

One thing that Marx and Engels understood was that in a society of personal responsibility and strong families, communism would not be able to flourish. To advance their ideology, family and religion must be undermined. Any idea that transfers responsibility from parents and gives it to the “community”—not the community as embodied by one’s church, school, and neighbors, but the “community” as enforced by national regulation and sustained by government services—does just that. Fagan and Saunders continue that “Cultural Marxists”

[…] try to undermine the family and religion through more subtle means than Lenin used. This is accomplished in an interrelated process: simultaneously, the power of the state is increased while that of the individual and his community is decreased, and laws pertaining to family and religion are undermined. Thus the traditional supports of society-family and religion-are crowded out by government.

When parents’ responsibility is diminished, whether through tragic neglect or government interference (see Mr. Friedersdorf’s article and a family’s encounter with child protective services), something will fill that void. Legitimate inability on the part of parents may be a time when suggest a family needs help. But the idea that, by default, children belong to the community is another insidious way of stating that there is no such thing as personal, and thus familial, responsibility. This subverts the God-ordained family and the very foundation of republican government.

Lack of Data on Same-Sex Parenting Should Be a Major Caution to Supreme Court

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 27, 2013

The brilliant legal scholar Nelson Lund, who co-authored FRC’s amicus brief on the President’s health care plan with the director of our Center for Religious Liberty, Ken Klukowski, has written a landmark op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal on the lack of any sociological data on how same-sex marriage affects children. Professor Lund, who teaches at George Mason University’s School of Law and formerly was executive editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, notes that “There are no scientifically reliable studies at all, nor could there be, given the available data,” with respect to the affects of same-sex parenting. He concludes, “If the Supreme Court constitutionalizes a right to same-sex marriage … there will be no going back,” says Professor Lund. “The court cannot possibly know that it is safe to take this irrevocable step.” Read his compelling analysis here.

Defining Marriage—Children of Same-Sex Couples

by Peter Sprigg

March 23, 2013

On March 26 and 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, they will consider the constitutionality of the definition as enshrined in the California state constitution by voters in that state when they adopted “Proposition 8” in 2008 (effectively reversing the decision of the California Supreme Court to impose same-sex “marriage” earlier that year). In Windsor v. United States, they will consider the constitutionality of the same definition of marriage being adopted for all purposes under federal law through the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In anticipation of those oral arguments, I am running a series of blog posts with questions and answers related to the issue. Today, we look at the claim that we should redefine marriage to protect the children already being raised by same-sex couples.

Q—How normal is “the new normal” (children being raised by homosexual couples)?

This week there was a flurry of news coverage of a new “Policy Statement” (that’s what it was, by its own labeling—it wasn’t a “study”) from theAmericanAcademy of Pediatrics, which endorsed the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

The impression which advocates for marriage redefinition seek to create in the public’s mind is that children of homosexual parents are essentially in exactly the same position as children of heterosexual parents, and children raised by same-sex couples are in the same position as children raised by married opposite-sex couples, except regarding the gender of the parents.

Yet some data reported in the AAP’s own Policy Statement tend to undermine that message. Consider this quote:

The US 2010 Census reported that 646,464 households included 2 adults of the same gender. These same-gender couples are raising ~115,000 children aged ≤18 years and are living in essentially all counties of theUnited States. When these children are combined with single gay and lesbian parents who are raising children, almost 2 million children are being raised by gay and lesbian parents in the United States.”

If the estimate of 2 million children with “gay and lesbian parents” is correct, then comparing it with the figure of 115,000 being raised by same-sex couples indicates that only 1 in every 17 children of “gay” parents actually lives with a same-sex couple. Thus, the model of “gay parenting” held up by homosexual activists in the marriage debate—that of children being raised in a stable household by a loving and committed same-sex couple—is extraordinarily rare in the real world, even as a fraction of the already small minority of children who have a homosexual parent.

Last summer, University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus published a groundbreaking study of homosexual parents in the journal, Social Science Research. It showed that children of homosexuals suffered disadvantages in numerous areas—both when compared with children raised in an intact biological family, and when compared with other, less stable (but heterosexual) parenting situations. (I summarized its findings and responded to critiques of it in a series of blog posts.)

One of the chief criticisms of his work (and really, one of the only criticisms of any substance) was that many of the 236 subjects he identified—young adults whose parent had a homosexual relationship while they were growing up—had never actually lived with the parent and the parent’s same-sex partner. Therefore, it was argued, the Regnerus findings could not be considered relevant to debates about children being raised by same-sex couples.

The reason for the paucity of children raised by same-sex couples in the Regnerus study was simple—they could hardly be found in a representative, population-based sample. The data-gathering group hired for Regnerus’ New Family Structures Study screened 15,000 young adults—and found only two who had been raised by a same-sex couple from birth to age 18. In both cases, the couple was a lesbian one—they found no one who had been raised by a homosexual male couple from birth.

In other words, what some liberal activists (and Hollywood) like to refer to as “the new normal”—kids being raised by homosexual couples from birth—is not normal at all, even for kids with a parent who has homosexual relationships.

While the ideal—the “new normal”—of the family revisionists is not normal, what about the “old normal?” Advocates for maintaining the definition of marriage as the union of a woman and a man uphold an ideal also—the married couple household in which a child is raised by a mom and dad (and in particular the natural family, wherein a child is born to and raised by his or her own biological mother and father, who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage).

Revisionists, however, scoff at this ideal, relegating it to the outdated, “Ozzie and Harriett,” “Father Knows Best” world of 1950’s sitcoms. When you consider the high rates of cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, and divorce, along with singles adopting and “gay parents,” the old-fashioned nuclear family hardly exists any more—or does it?

The answer to that question can also be found in the AAP Policy Statement, which reports, “In 2010, married adults were raising 65.3% of all children in this country.” Even if the Census Bureau (source of this figure) defied the federal Defense of Marriage Act and chose to include some of the 646,464 same-sex couples in this number, it is still clear that the overwhelming majority of these 48 million married couples are of the opposite-sex.

To summarize, only 1 in every 17 children of “gay” parents is living with a same-sex couple. So the “new normal” isn’t normal.

On the other hand, nearly 2 out of every 3 children of heterosexual parents are living with a married couple. The number of children being raised by a married heterosexual couple is more than 400 (four hundred) times higher than the number being raised by a same-sex couple.

The “old normal” is still the norm.

What Every Parent Should Know About Girl Scouts “World Thinking Day”

by Cathy Ruse

February 22, 2013

Today the Girl Scouts of America celebrate “World Thinking Day.”

On “World Thinking Day,” they earn badges for thinking about hunger or talking to a Peace Corps volunteer. They also “give thanks for” their membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), the creator of World Thinking Day. And to really show their thanks, they collect money to send it to WAGGGS. Parents, hold on to your pocketbooks!

A noted player on the international stage, WAGGGS is an ardent advocate for controversial social policies including abortion and sex rights for children. Girl Scouts USA is its single largest organizational funder. In fact, every American girl who joins a Girl Scout troop at her neighborhood church is made a de facto member of this radical group.

If you have not read about the plans, programs, and priorities of WAGGGS, you must do so today. I promise, it will give you something to think about.

Read about WAGGGS here:

http://www.100questionsforthegirlscouts.org/100/wagggs.cfm

http://www.girlscoutswhynot.com/WAGGGS.html

http://www.honestgirlscouts.com/files/HGS2011NatlConvFlyer.pdf

Better Bystanders or Moral Courage?

by Family Research Council

November 16, 2012

Bon Jovis 19-year-old daughter made the headlines Wednesday because of her hospitalization after overdosing on heroin at her upstate New York college. Stephanies incident serves as a public face for close to half of the nations full-time college students that abuse drugs or drink alcohol on binges at least once a month.

Where do these habits come from? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that regarding drinking, many students come to college with established drinking habits and the college environment simply exacerbates the problem.

Thomas Vander Ven, associate professor of sociology at Ohio University, author of Getting Wasted, (a book exploring the topic of college drinking) suggested in an interview that some of the why of college drinking can be contributed to

the structural position that these young people are in. Theyre 18- to 22-year-olds. Theyre away from the supervision of their parents, many of them for the first time, and thats an important time in life to search for identity. And for my informants alcohol was a vehicle for hooking up and meeting people and having romantic and sexual interactions. Its sort of a perfect storm to produce this high-risk behavior.

While prior drinking habits and the absence of parents certainly explains some of the motivation behind the college drinking and drug use, it cant be the whole story when we also have data from the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse that shows about 17 percent of American high school students are also drinking, smoking or using drugs. Where do the habits come from at that age?

Vander Ven suggests that the way to remediate the college drinking culture is to educate and train students to be better bystanders, because the bystanders will know when something is wrong. But if that is the best solution this author and professor can come up with, then the battle against college drinking is doomed to failure.

No amount of better bystanders will instill the necessary virtue into individuals that enables them to make confident decisions and stand up to any societal pressure. This is a kind of moral courage that comes from formation that happens, among other places, in the family.

Research from the Marriage and Religion Research Institute shows that while only 8 percent of youth who come from intact married families and attend church each week are likely to use tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana as a minor, this number increases to 18 percent among youth who do not live in an intact married family and never attend church. This effect holds into adulthood as well, for only 24.7 percent of adults in always intact marriages who attend religious services weekly drink too much alcohol, compared to 52.1 percent of adults who do not attend church and are not in an intact marriage.

While the life and formation of each person is far from formulaic, there is much to be said for the protective nature of the family, and the wisdom of Proverbs which admonishes that we Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The Consequences of Instability: Child and Same-Sex Partnerships

by Sharon Barrett

September 21, 2012

In a 2004 New York Times opinion piece, Professor Don Browning of the University of Chicago said this of same-sex parenting: [W]e know next to nothing about its effect on children. Large-scale studies unmarked by major flaws simply had not been conducted, in part because same-sex households are a distinct minority in the United States. As of 2005, fewer than 0.4% of American children lived in households headed by same-sex couples.

Eight years later, what do we know? Same-sex households are still a minority, according to the New Family Structures Study. The NFSS highlights two other salient facts about these households: (1) many are poor and/or minority households (associated with increased risk of divorce), and (2) almost all are, technically, bisexual households. Typically, one parent moved in with a same-sex partner after divorcing or separating from the childs other biological parent.

In other words, most people entering same-sex relationships have already experienced instability in their sexual and emotional life. Giving a relationship the sanction of church or state wont infuse it with a stability it doesnt possess.

Not only have many persons in same-sex relationships suffered from the instability of a previous relationship, same-sex partnerships are naturally more tenuous than man-woman marriages. As I noted in a recent post on the MARRI (Marriage and Religion Research Institute) blog:

Man-woman marriage is built on a peculiar other-centeredness; it demands that two people who are polar opposites learn to live together. Paradoxically, this tension helps create stability. By nature, a same-sex relationship lacks this tension.

What are the consequences of instability? The first is easy: cohabitation (often with multiple partners) instead of marriage. In Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, and other nations that legally redefined marriage between 2001 and 2006, only a fraction of homosexuals took the option in some cases, only a fraction of a percent. In Massachusetts and Vermont, the story is similar. Across the United States, a large body of research indicate[s] that few homosexual relationships achieve the longevity common in marriages.

The second is obvious: divorce. In the past, same-sex couples who got a slice of the marriage pie immediately wanted their share of the divorce market. In South Africa, couples who were first to wed under a 2006 law also won the race to divorce court only a year later; two Toronto lesbians who wed in 2003 separated after only five days, petitioning successfully in 2004 for a judge to overturn Canadian law so they could divorce. Or take Los Angeles, where 2008s historic first same-sex couple divorced this summer although they had been together for 18 years! Lest we think these cases are exceptional, of the same-sex couples who did marry in Sweden, males were 35% more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples, while lesbians were up to 200% more likely.

Cohabitation and divorce both have significant negative effects on child well-being. Since marital instability is a commonly reported cause of divorce, should we place even more children at risk by legally redefining marriage to include same-sex partnerships?

The Homosexual Parent Study and The Weekly Standard, Part 1: Making Mountains out of Molehills

by Peter Sprigg

August 1, 2012

Last weeks The Weekly Standard featured a cover story by Andrew Ferguson (Revenge of the Sociologists, July 30) about the attacks being leveled at University of Texas scholar Mark Regnerus, who published a journal article in June concerning children whose parents had same-sex romantic relationships. The study largely debunks previous pro-homosexual articles about children of gay parents, which claimed that such children suffer no disadvantages. (The best part of the Standards piece was the cartoon on the cover, featuring Regnerus as a victim of medieval torture.)

Unfortunately, Ferguson also takes issue with a statement by the Family Research Council summarizing the new study. Here is Fergusons critique of what FRC said:

Again, its not Regneruss fault that gay and lesbian relationships were so unstable when todays young adults were children. But the complication should have tempered the overenthusiastic pronouncements of his popularizers. As the conservative Family Research Council put it:

In a historic study of children raised by homosexual parents, sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin has overturned the conventional academic wisdom that such children suffer no disadvantages when compared to children raised by their married mother and father.

This is not only breathless but inaccurate. We may concede that Regneruss study could rightly be called historicthe data set he collected is unique and likely to yield interesting findings for years to come. But it is not a study of children raised by homosexual parents. Regnerus did not ask respondents to give their parents sexual orientation; merely whether they knew if their parents had at some point engaged in a homosexual relationship, for however long. The parents may or may not have considered themselves gay, then or now. And many of these children were not raised by a homosexual parent: There were GFs who never lived with their father at all. As a close reading of its title suggests, this is a study of adult children of parents who had same-sex relationships. And the Family Research Councils use of the present tense is jumping the gun. The study is retrospectivea picture of the nation during the last 40 years, much of it before the gay rights movement and the widespread social acceptance of homosexuality. For all we know, and as Regnerus readily admits, the instability, and hence the bad outcomes, could be largely traced to trauma caused by the antihomosexual prejudice of an earlier time.

To summarize, Ferguson calls the FRC statement inaccurate because in the study:

1) The parents did not necessarily self-identify as gay.

2) The children were not necessarily raised by the parent who had a same-sex relationship

3) The data was collected retrospectively from young adults (while the statement used the present tensesuffer … disadvantages).

4) No causal relationship between the parents sexuality and the negative outcomes was proven.

What Ferguson fails to note is that the statement quoted was merely the first, introductory sentence of a larger paper, nearly 3,000 words long (of which I was the author), which analyzed the Regnerus study in depth—and which included explanations of all of these points in the course of its analysis.

Let me go through these points one at a time.

1)Ferguson says, Regnerus did not ask respondents to give their parents’ sexual orientation … . The parents may or may not have considered themselves gay… .

Regarding the first partlater in the same paper, I describe more precisely the methodology by which the lesbian mothers and gay fathers (those are Regnerus’ terms) are identified: Of these, 175 reported that their mother had a same-sex romantic relationship while they were growing up, and 73 said the same about their father.

The second part of this is not a legitimate criticism of the FRC statement at all, because I did not call these parents gay either. I called them homosexual, and while many people may consider those synonyms, FRC has long made it clear that we do not.

Gay is a label of self-identification; but as I wrote in a recent pamphlet (Debating Homosexuality: Understanding Two Views), when we [social conservatives] use the word homosexual as a noun, it is usually intended merely to mean a person who engages in sexual relations with a person or persons of the same sex. (Regnerus asked only about a romantic relationship, not a sexual one, but the measure is likewise a behavioral one.) On that basis, I think you could argue that FRCs reference to homosexual parents is somewhat more accurate than Regnerus’ own references to lesbian mothers and gay fathers.

2) It is true that the subjects identified as having gay parents did not necessarily live with that parent. However, 77% of his respondents did live with the parent while they were in a same-sex relationship. Regnerus data includes more detailed information on that point, so other researchers could certainly mine the data to see if there were differences between children who were raised by a homosexual parent, and those whose homosexual parent was a non-custodial parent.

I made no effort to cover up this point in my Issue Brief. In fact, I said this:

The definition of what it means to have a homosexual parent is also a loose one in this studyby necessity, in order to maximize the sample size of homosexual parents. Not all of those who reported that a parent was in a same-sex relationship even lived with that parent during the relationship; many who did, did not live with the partner as well. Only 23% of those with a lesbian mother, and only 2% of those with a homosexual father, had spent as long as three years living in a household with the homosexual parent and the parent’s partner at the same time. Details like this involving the actual timeline of these children’s lives can reportedly be found in Regnerus’ dataset, which is to be made available to other researchers later this year.

Figures like these suggest a need for more research, to distinguish, for example, the effects of living with a homosexual parent from having a non-custodial one, or the effects of living with a homosexual single parent vs. a homosexual couple.

3) It’s also true that this was a retrospective study—the subjects were young adults ages 18-39, who were asked about their experiences between birth and age 18. But again, this is quibbling—every academic study is retrospective in one sense (the data were collected at some point in the past), and it is hardly unusual to draw generalized conclusions about the present based on data regarding past events. Again, it would be possible to use Regnerus’ data to compare the responses of the older respondents (who had a gay parent growing up longer ago) from those of the younger respondents, to see if changes in the social and legal climate are paralleled by changes in the outcomes for children with homosexual parents.

The FRC paper accurately described who the respondents were and how the data were collected—and, unlike Ferguson, pointed out some notable advantages of this method of data collection:

Another improvement Regnerus has made is in his method of collecting data and measuring outcomes for children in various family structures. Some previous studies collected data while the subjects were still children living at home with their parent or parentsmaking it impossible to know what the effects of the home environment might be once they reach adulthood. Some such studies even relied, in some cases exclusively, on the self-report of the parent. This raised a serious question of self-presentation bias—the tendency of the parent to give answers that will make herself and her child look good.

Regnerus, on the other hand, has surveyed young adults, ages 18 to 39, and asked them about their experiences growing up (and their life circumstances in the present). While these reports are not entirely objective, they are likely to be more reliable than parental self-reports, and allow evaluation of long-term impacts.

4) As to the issue of causality—it is worth noting that even the one sentence of mine which Ferguson quoted did not say that having a homosexual parent causes harm to children. It merely implied that such children suffer disadvantages (by stating that Regnerus study had overturned the conventional academic wisdom that such children suffer no disadvantages).

My paper went into more detail on the issue of causality—and why the inevitable uncertainty on that point in social science research cannot mitigate the importance of Regnerus findings:

Author Mark Regnerus emphasizes the traditional caveat in social science, warning against leaping to conclusions regarding causality. In other words, just because there are statistical correlations between having a homosexual parent and experiencing negative outcomes does not automatically prove that having a homosexual parent is what caused the negative outcomesother factors could be at work.

This is true in a strict scientific sensebut because Regnerus carefully controlled for so many other factors in the social environment, the study gives a clear indication that it is this parental characteristic which best defines the household environment that produces these troubling outcomes. The large number of significant negative outcomes in this study gives legitimate reason for concern about the consequences of homosexual parenting.

The latter point is one made in a paper by Ana Samuel (New Family Structures and the No Differences Claim) that appears on the official website for Regnerus study, the New Family Structures Study (NFSS; emphasis added):

Controls help sociologists eliminate alternative explanations for a given outcome, making the causal link between parenting structure and childrens outcomes more likely when the results are statistically significant after controls.

The NFSS website also includes the following summary of his findings under the Frequently Asked Questions:

More precisely, he [Dr. Regnerus] says, the data show rather clearly that children raised by gay or lesbian parents on average are at a significant disadvantage when compared to children raised by the intact family of their married, biological mother and father.

This statement is virtually indistinguishable from the FRC statement Ferguson cited. Fergusons criticism of one out-of-context sentence by FRC is petty quibbling—making mountains out of molehills, merely because the study could not be exhaustively described in a single sentence.

Tomorrow, in part two of this post, I will examine the ways in which Ferguson, on the other hand, made some mountainous errors of his own.

Fathers, Be Good to Your Daughters

by Family Research Council

July 12, 2012

I walked past a sweet moment yesterday. It was the hour for busy professionals to catch a quick dinner, before heading home. But one cafe table caught my eye.

A blue-shirted, bespectacled man had lost his tie and sat with his elbows gently planted on the table and directed an attentive gaze across it. His date sat on the edge of her seat, feet barely reaching the ground.

I have no idea if the girl was talking about camp or Barbies or her favorite movie, but dad was paying attention. I nearly pulled out my cell phone camera to capture the moment. I thought better of it and merely shot a quick text to my dad. I saw a cute little girl on a date with her dad and it made me think of you and our special Friendly’s dates. Thanks for those. I love you!

Ive been in his life for nearly thirty years and I got this response, in just two minutes flatMelt my heart! love you too my girl.

I know dads and daughters dont always have the sweet relationship that I enjoy with my father. And I dont even know if my dad was secretly hoping that Id have been a boy. But this friendship of ours has been one of my most profound I have known.

In a recent blog post, Fathers, Dont Abort Your Daughters, author Timothy Dalrymple eloquently educates the reluctant father regarding the unique joys of parenting a girl. He shares a bit of his own story in the following words:

I had told myself that I just wanted a healthy baby, boy or girl. But when I first learned that the child growing within my wifes womb was a girl, I felt a pang of disappointment. I had always looked forward to the father-son relationship. This will sound egotistical and it is precisely that but I had also wanted to see what a boy with my genetic inheritance, but with the opportunities and direction I could give him, could accomplish.

Dalrymple also explains how that preference for a male child has become one of the most horrifically ironic trends to evolve from a womans supposed right to abort her child.

As many besides me have noted, its one of the most tragic ironies of the modern political world that this supposedly great victory for womens rights has led to a cheap replacement for female infanticide. And the social pathologies that arise when the male-female ratio is out of whack are also terrible for women, especially (since there are too few women for every man to have a wife) the dramatic increase in prostitution and sex-slavery and human trafficking.

The entire post is well-worth the read. Check it out at his blog, Philosophical Fragments.

Spoiled Kids, Bad Parents

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 26, 2012

The New Yorker is not my literary flavor of the month. It’s smug tone and retrograde, endlessly astonished liberalism make it, shall we say, an acquired taste.

That said, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, in proof of which this venerable if unpalatable publication has just come out with, “Spoiled Rotten: Why Do Kids Rule the Roost?

The author’s insight seems, in itself, pretty accurate. A lot of American kids are obnoxious, impolite, foul-mouthed, and preoccupied with life’s superficialities. Elizabeth Kolbert, the writer of the piece, attributes the fact that, according to one survey, two-thirds of American parents say their children are spoiled to excessive intervention and supervision, wanton materialism, and even evolutionary biology (she says rather baldly that humans are “unlike other apes” - a “speciest’ perception I choose not to share). Yet perhaps most striking is what this lengthy article does not say: That a mother and father are the core of any healthy family and are essential to the well-being of a child. (See Marri.us for more information.)

We live in an era of massive marital instability. When parents divorce, they compensate their children with “stuff,” as though expensive trinkets will make up for the absence of a father. Some parents surely over-intervene, as in the case reported in this article of the couple who sued their child’s high school because he did not obtain a high grade on a term project. This would tend to make any boy or girl feel not just “special” but, at a deep psychological level, both unaccountable and imperturbably arrogant. The still point of this child’s turning world would not be, per T.S. Eliot, Christ but rather his own incessant whine.

What “Spoiled Rotten” does not account for is something so basic that its very obviousness stands in stark relief to all the sophisticated reasons listed by the author: Children are not adults, and they need a male father and a female mother (in the era of homosexual activism, those are not redundant terms) who wed affection, discipline, time, instruction, fidelity (to one another and to their family), and moral instruction in the way they raise them.

The Psalmist reminds us that “children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Ps. 127:3). If that’s true, then they deserve conscientious and prayerful parenting, things of which The New Yorker seems, quite sadly, oblivious.

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