Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Study: fathers are important for the development of children’s brains

Fathers and children

Fathers and children

The study was reported in the Wall Street Journal.


Dr. Braun’s group found that at 21 days, the fatherless animals had less dense dendritic spines compared to animals raised by both parents, though they “caught up” by day 90. However, the length of some types of dendrites was significantly shorter in some parts of the brain, even in adulthood, in fatherless animals.

“It just shows that parents are leaving footprints on the brain of their kids,” says Dr. Braun, 54 years old.

The neuronal differences were observed in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is related to emotional responses and fear, and the orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, the brain’s decision-making center.

[…]The balance between these two brain parts is critical to normal emotional and cognitive functioning, according to Dr. Braun. If the OFC isn’t active, the amygdala “goes crazy, like a horse without a rider,” she says. In the case of the fatherless pups, there were fewer dendritic spines in the OFC, while the dendrite trees in the amygdala grew more and longer branches.

A preliminary analysis of the degus’ behavior showed that fatherless animals seemed to have a lack of impulse control, Dr. Braun says. And, when they played with siblings, they engaged in more play-fighting or aggressive behavior.

In a separate study in Dr. Braun’s lab conducted by post-doctoral researcher Joerg Bock, degu pups were removed from their caregivers for one hour a day. Just this small amount of stress leads the pups to exhibit more hyperactive behaviors and less focused attention, compared to those who aren’t separated, Dr. Braun says. They also exhibit changes in their brain.

The basic wiring between the brain regions in the degus is the same as in humans, and the nerve cells are identical in their function. “So on that level we can assume that what happens in the animal’s brain when it’s raised in an impoverished environment … should be very similar to what happens in our children’s brain,” Dr. Braun says.

Read the whole thing.

I think this is important because we hear so much today that marriage can be redefined, that having one of each parent doesn’t matter, that live-in boyfriends and stepfathers have the same motivation to care for a woman’s children as the biological father does. We don’t want to make judgments, even if setting boundaries is better for children. A child’s well-being is enormously affected by the woman’s choice of biological father.  You can’t have it both ways – either we are going to judge women who choose men who don’t have the desire to commit to marriage, and do the father role, OR we are going to take things away from children by encouraging women to choose men based on “feelings” instead of abilities. Lowering moral standards and removing moral obligations hurts children. It sounds so nice when we tell women, “you can do whatever you feel like, and just forget about responsibilities, expectations and obligations”, but letting women be guided by their feelings harms children. My stock broker makes me feel uncomfortable because he knows more than I do, and does not respect my opinion. But I pay him to make investment decisions for me. I mustn’t let my pride get in the way of letting him do his job – a job he is more qualified than I am to do. Let him do his job.

Here’s a related question: Are biological fathers or unrelated men more dangerous for children?

This article from the Weekly Standard answers the question.


A March 1996 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics contains some interesting findings that indicate just how widespread the problem may be. In a nationally representative survey of state prisoners jailed for assaults against or murders of children, fully one-half of respondents reported the victim was a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring. (All but 3 percent of those who committed violent crimes against children were men.) A close relationship between victim and victimizer is also suggested by the fact that three-quarters of all the crimes occurred in either the perpetrator’s home or the victim’s.

A 1994 paper published in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies looked at 32,000 documented cases of child abuse. Of the victims, only 28 percent lived with both biological parents (far fewer than the 68 percent of all children who live with both parents); 44 percent lived with their mother only (as do 25 percent of all children); and 18 percent lived with their mother and an unrelated adult (double the 9 percent of all children who live with their mother and an unrelated adult).

These findings mirror a 1993 British study by the Family Education Trust, which meticulously explored the relationship between family structure and child abuse. Using data on documented cases of abuse in Britain between 1982 and 1988, the report found a high correlation between child abuse and the marital status of the parents.

Specifically, the British study found that the incidence of abuse was an astounding 33 times higher in homes where the mother was cohabiting with an unrelated boyfriend than in stable nuclear families. Even when the boyfriend was the children’s biological father, the chances of abuse were twice as high.

These findings are consonant with those published a year earlier by Leslie Margolin of the University of Iowa in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. Prof. Margolin found that boyfriends were 27 times more likely than natural parents to abuse a child. The next-riskiest group, siblings, were only twice as likely as parents to abuse a child.

More recently, a report by Dr. Michael Stiffman presented at the latest meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in October, studied the 175 Missouri children under the age of 5 who were murdered between 1992 and 1994. It found that the risk of a child’s dying at the hands of an adult living in the child’s own household was eight times higher if the adult was biologically unrelated.

The Heritage Foundation’s Patrick Fagan discovered that the number of child-abuse cases appeared to rise in the 1980s along with the general societal acceptance of cohabitation before, or instead of, marriage. That runs counter to the radical-feminist view, which holds that marriage is an oppressive male institution of which violence is an integral feature. If that were true, then child abuse and domestic violence should have decreased along with the rise in cohabitation.

Heritage also found that in the case of very poor children (those in households earning less than $ 15,000 per year), 75 percent lived in a household where the biological father was absent. And 50 percent of adults with less than a high-school education lived in cohabitation arrangements. “This mix — poverty, lack of education, children, and cohabitation — is an incubator for violence,” Fagan says.

Why, then, do we ignore the problem? Fagan has a theory: “It is extremely politically incorrect to suggest that living together might not be the best living arrangement.”

The moral of the story is that it is a lot safer for children if we promote marriage as a way of attaching mothers and fathers to their children. Fathers who have a biological connection to children are a lot less likely to harm them. We should probably be teaching women to choose men who have a certain tenderness towards people they mentor or nurture, as well. These things are not free, you have to persuade women to value the male tendency to want to lead / guide / mentor. A lot of social problems like child poverty, promiscuity and violence cannot be solved by replacing a father with a check from the government. We need to support fathers by empowering them in their traditional roles. Let the men lead. Swallow your feminist instincts, and prefer men who take seriously their role of leading others upward.

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Should women who get pregnant after premarital sex expect the men to marry them?

Mike Adams on abortion: click for larger image.

Mike Adams on abortion: click for larger image.

Professor Mike S. Adams is pro-life, but he posted something on Facebook that I must disagree with.

He posted this:

Over 80% of post-abortive women said they would have had the baby if the guy had been supportive. Five guys find out their girl is pregnant: The first two pressure abortion, the third walks away or was never present, the fourth sticks around for 80 to 120 days, and the fifth steps up totally. This not a woman’s problem. It is a lack-of-manhood problem.

Mike has about 5000 friends, and 44 of them liked it. I would think that most of these people would call themselves pro-life conservatives. But I don’t think what he posted promotes the pro-life cause.

I replied to him with this:

Mike I could not disagree more. It’s a woman’s problem unless it is rape, since the woman consents to sex with a man she is not married to. In fact, the cause of abortion is YOUR opinion – namely, the opinion that women should not be obligated to be chaste or to think rationally about who they are having sex with. There is a path to marriage that goes through courtship, and that path has a name: self-control. Stop enabling the poor choices of women, because we have to stop the murder of unborn children.

Many of Mike’s friends supported him. So I wrote this:

Wow. I had no idea that so many of Mike’s friends think that the Bible is a pack of lies when it says that fornication is morally wrong. I guess you guys aren’t Christians then, since you feel so free and easy about revising the Bible when you feel like it.

If fornication is wrong, it’s wrong for women AND men. And you don’t fornicate and then expect happy outcomes from it. There is a word for a person who sins and then expects a good outcome. A FOOL.

Then Mike replied to me:

Sorry Wintery. Where I come from the man leads and is, therefore, responsible.

I replied to that with this:

Mike, I agree with male leading – IF the man is a Christian. But the men that these women chose are not Christians. And you can’t expect men to act morally unless they have a theistic framework that grounds morality.

Women should not be told, by you and others, that they can choose to have sex with immoral men and then expect the immoral men to act morally. That is just enabling abortion by justifying a lack of prudence and wisdom. Instead, we should be holding women accountable to choose men who WILL control themselves.

We should not be supporting the fantasy view of love that says  that recreational sex magically leads men to commit to protect, provide and lead women for life. That view is neither wise nor Biblical. On the contrary, recreational sex leads men to NOT commit. Women have to learn how to select men, to evaluate them for marriage, and to make them prove themselves. We need to tell men AND women that sex before marriage is morally wrong. And we need to be convincing by showing them how recreational sex does not lead to stable marriages, and puts children, unborn and born, in harm’s way. Telling the truth about the danger of premarital sex is the best way to stop the killing of unborn children.

Here’s an example to make the point. We do not blame bears for mauling campers. Bears are bears, and they were bears before the campers showed up in their cave. We ought to blame the camper for choosing to wander off the trail and into the bear’s den in order to PET THE BEAR. Wild bears may eat free food that is offered to them, but they are not going to let you pet them and hug them. Women, like campers, need to be responsible. They need to choose the right man for marriage. They need to exercise self control. They need to make the man prove his ability to commit and support a family BEFORE they have sex with him. No one hires an employee without understanding what job they need done and then making sure that the candidate they choose can do the job. And that’s what we need to tell women.

Obviously, I was a little upset when I wrote that, but I hope it wasn’t too bad.

So what’s the point I was trying to make by being critical of Mike? I think the problem we have today is that men who are pro-life are unwilling to hold women accountable for their own poor decisions about sex and marriage. Basically, conservative and/or Christian men think that women don’t need to think through what choices are most likely to avoid abortion and most likely to achieve marriage. These men give tacit approval to the popular trend of trying to achieve marriage through premarital sex (or cohabitation), when the research shows that these behaviors do not result in long-lasting stable marriages. In fact, sex out of wedlock is a good way to get into a situation where an abortion will occur.

In my view, Mike is inadvertently encouraging women to get into the situations where they will be pressured to abort by reinforcing the idea that there is nothing wrong with their plan to achieve marriage by having premarital sex (or cohabitating), and then expecting men to respond to their pregnancy by MARRYING them. Mike seems to be telling women that it is normal for them to expect that marriage will follow from premarital sex with men who have not been vetted for the roles of provider, protector and leader As if marriage is natural for men who don’t even have jobs and who are surrounded by women willing to have sex with them on the first date. Any man who will have recreational premarital sex with a woman is exactly the kind of person who will not commit to lifelong providing and fidelity – he is having sex before marriage because he wants recreation, without the commitment and self-sacrifice that marriage requires. Rationally speaking, it makes no sense for men to buy the cow, and to keep buying the cow with 40 years of labor, when they can get the milk for free. And that’s what we need to tell women – think with your minds, not with your emotions.

Here is an interesting statistic from Relevant Magazine:

[A] recent study reveals that 88 percent of unmarried young adults (ages 18-29) are having sex. The same study, conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, reveals the number doesnʼt drop much among Christians. Of those surveyed who self-identify as “evangelical,” 80 percent say they have had sex.

[…]In addition to having premarital sex, an alarming number of unmarried Christians are getting pregnant. Among unmarried evangelical women between the ages of 18 and 29, 30 percent have experienced a pregnancy (a number thatʼs actually 1 percent higher than among those who donʼt claim to be evangelical).

According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half of all pregnancies in America are unintended. And of those, 40 percent end in abortion. More than 1 million abortions occur in the United States each year. But perhaps the most disturbing statistic for the Church: 65 percent of the women obtaining abortions identify themselves as either Protestant or Catholic (37 percent Protestant and 28 percent Catholic). Thatʼs 650,000 abortions obtained by Christians every year.

Christian women are not told that premarital sex is wrong by many Christians and conservatives – and out of that refusal by “Christians” and “conservatives” to take a stand, we get 650,000 abortions per year. We need to have more courage to tell women to be more self-controlled and responsible when they choose who to have sex with, and when to have sex. We need to tell women to make good decisions that lead to stable marriages. We need to tell women to study these issues and to support policies that produce strong, moral men who are willing to marry – for example, by reforming education so that our schools produce men who can find jobs, perhaps by having more male teachers in the classroom. We need to tell women to support policies that make marriage more friendly for men, like abolishing no-fault divorce, and promoting shared parenting. Christians in particular need to counteract the views of love and romance that are prevalent in popular culture with a view of relationships built around chastity and love. Although many people today are uncomfortable with moral absolutes and moral judgments, it would be a good be a good idea for women to promote these things, so that the men they are choosing from are more moral.

In the end, I agree with Mike S. Adams in one respect. Abortion may be caused by a lack of manhood problem. Only the lack of manhood doesn’t come from the men that women choose to have premarital sex with. The lack of manhood comes from men who refuse to hold women accountable for their own free foolish decisions that put unborn children in harm’s way. In addition to the abortion problem that results from those foolish decisions, there is also the explosion in out-of-wedlock births to weigh in the balance. Again, the more people tell women that they should expect men who engage in recreational sex to commit to marriage after premarital sex (or cohabitation), the more fatherlessness we get.

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Poland seizes bond investments in private pension plans

Amy sent me this story from Reuters.


Poland said on Wednesday it will transfer to the state many of the assets held by private pension funds, slashing public debt but putting in doubt the future of the multi-billion-euro funds, many of them foreign-owned.

The changes went deeper than many in the market expected and could fuel investor concerns that the government is ditching some business-friendly policies to try to improve its flagging popularity with voters.

The Polish pension funds’ organisation said the changes may be unconstitutional because the government is taking private assets away from them without offering any compensation.

Announcing the long-awaited overhaul of state-guaranteed pensions, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said private funds within the state-guaranteed system would have their bond holdings transferred to a state pension vehicle, but keep their equity holdings.

He said that what remained in citizens’ pension pots in the private funds will be gradually transferred into the state vehicle over the last 10 years before savers hit retirement age.

The reform is “a decimation of the …(private pension fund) system to open up fiscal space for an easier life now for the government,” said Peter Attard Montalto of Nomura. “The government has an odd definition of private property given it claims this is not nationalisation.”

I was looking for someone who could take the spin off of this and found this article on Zero Hedge.


While the world was glued to the developments in the Mediterranean in the past week, Poland took a page straight out of Rahm Emanuel’s playbook and in order to not let a crisis go to waste, announced quietly that it would transfer to the state – i.e., confiscate – the bulk of assets owned by the country’s private pension funds (many of them owned by such foreign firms as PIMCO parent Allianz, AXA, Generali, ING and Aviva), without offering any compensation. In effect, the state just nationalized roughly half of the private sector pension fund assets, although it had a more politically correct name for it: pension overhaul.

[…]By shifting some assets from the private funds into ZUS, the government can book those assets on the state balance sheet to offset public debt, giving it more scope to borrow and spend.

It is nationalization, and we should expect to see a lot more of it as spendthrift governments start to run of road to kick the can down. Maybe even here at home, some day. The United States is already up against the debt limit now, and our credit has been downgraded twice already. How soon until IRAs are nationalized into Social Security to prop it up?

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Why did Detroit go bankrupt? Who is to blame? Whose fault was it?

This article from Front Page magazine traces the history of the city of Detroit.


Beginning in 1962, Detroit has endured a steady diet of Democratic mayors and their social welfare agenda. Beginning in 1962, Mayor Jerome Cavanagh ushered in a “Model City” program to a nine-square-mile section of the city. It was based on a Soviet Union-style approach, aimed at rebuilding entire urban areas all at once. The effort was funded by a commuter tax and a new income tax that Cavanagh told residents would be paid by “the rich.” Yet the same central planning that that formed the heart of the Model City program was extended to the people themselves, who eventually resented being told by government how to run their businesses and their lives in exchange for government goodies. Unsurprisingly, the program was a monumental failure.

Then there were the riots. In 1967, police broke up a celebration at a “blind pig.” Blind pigs were after-hours clubs that featured gambling and prostitution and had been part of the traditional black culture in Detroit since Prohibition. The political leadership considered them antithetical to the Model City program. An enraged neighborhood did not. People took to the streets, igniting the worst race riot of the decade. Black-owned business were looted and burned to the ground. Forty people were killed and 5,000 were left homeless. Thus began the “white flight” out of the city center, totaling 140,000 people over an eighteen month period, ensued. The city never recovered.

None of this stopped the progressive agenda from continuing to be implemented. Public employees were given precisely the exorbitant wage and benefits packages that are coming back to haunt the city now. This Democrat-fostered attitude extended to private sector unions, whose equally exorbitant packages, along with efficiency-strangling work rules, made the cost of doing business in the Motor City prohibitive. As a result, much of the car industry that formed the city’s employment backbone left for right-to-work states that provided a far less hostile — and far more affordable — business climate.

As chronicled here, the same progressive-inspired insanity destroyed the Detroit public school system (DPS), which itself stands on the brink of bankruptcy. This tragedy is highlighted by several sad realities. In 2009, DPS students turned in the lowest scores ever recorded in the national math proficiency test over its then-21-year history. The state of Michigan, led by Detroit, has one of the highest black-white achievement gaps in the nation. As of June 12, only 1.8 percent of the system’s students were capable of doing college level work.

Yet by far the most telling indictment of the system is this mind-bending reality: a full 47 percent of city residents are functionally illiterate.

The governor of Michigan Rick Snyder has just come out and said that he will not ask for a bailout from the federal government of Detroit.


Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the bankruptcy specialist he appointed to fix Detroit’s unprecedented financial problems put the blame Sunday squarely on the city and defended their decision to file for Chapter 9.

The Republican governor said Detroit created the problems and stood steadfast behind his decision to file Thursday for bankruptcy, with the city roughly $19 billion in debt.

“This is a tragic, difficult decision, but a right one,” he said. “It’s not about just more money, it’s about accountable government.”

He said corruption and city leaders ignoring warning signs for 60 years contributed to the problems. Among his biggest concerns, Snyder said, is the decline of municipal services for Detroit’s remaining 700,000 residents, including police response times of nearly one hour.

Thank God. Maybe now they will start to elect Republicans for the first time in over 50 years.

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A Dad: the tenth most popular gift requested by children at Christmas

Dina sent me this sad article from the UK Telegraph.


A study of 2,000 British parents found most children will put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list, closely followed by a request for a real-life reindeer.

A “pet horse” was the third most popular choice, with a “car” making a bizarre entry at number four.

Despite their material requests, the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a “Dad”.

[…]A request for a “mum” reached number 23 on the list.

It’s sad. I think that there is a perception among many young women today that it is OK to have recreational premarital sex that may lead to having a child out of wedlock. Many unmarried women have an intuition (not supported by data) that a child will turn out fine without a father in the home. Some think (against the data) that fathers can be substituted with a government welfare check and that children won’t notice the difference. But the research shows that this is a false belief.


Census data and the Fragile Families survey show that marriage can be extremely effective in reducing child poverty. But the positive effects of married fathers are not limited to income alone. Children raised by married parents have substantially better life outcomes compared to similar children raised in single-parent homes.

When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; be expelled from school; and drop out of high school.[19] Many of these negative outcomes are associated with the higher poverty rates of single mothers. In many cases, however, the improvements in child well-being that are associated with marriage persist even after adjusting for differences in family income. This indicates that the father brings more to his home than just a paycheck.

The effect of married fathers on child outcomes can be quite pronounced. For example, examination of families with the same race and same parental education shows that, when compared to intact married families, children from single-parent homes are:

  • More than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime;[20]
  • Twice as likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems;[21]
  • Roughly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school;[22] and
  • A third more likely to drop out before completing high school.[23]

The effects of being raised in a single-parent home continue into adulthood. Comparing families of the same race and similar incomes, children from broken and single-parent homes are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30 than are children raised in intact married families.[24] Compared to girls raised in similar married families, girls from single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to have a child without being married, thereby repeating the negative cycle for another generation.[25]

Finally, the decline of marriage generates poverty in future generations. Children living in single-parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty as adults when compared to children from intact married homes. This intergenerational poverty effect persists even after adjusting for the original differences in family income and poverty during childhood.[26]

And here’s a bit more data showing that having government replace fathers via higher taxes and more redistribution of wealth doesn’t take away the bad effects of fatherlessness:

Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. Source: “One-Parent Families and Their Children;” Charles F. Kettering Foundation (1990).

Children reared by a divorced or never-married mother are less cooperative and score lower on tests of intelligence than children reared in intact families. Statistical analysis of the behavior and intelligence of these children revealed “significant detrimental effects” of living in a female-headed household. Growing up in a female-headed household remained a statistical predictor of behavior problems even after adjusting for differences in family income. Source: Greg L. Duncan, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Pamela Kato Klebanov, “Economic Deprivation and Early Childhood Development,” Child Development 65 (1994).

After taking into account race, socioeconomic status, sex, age, and ability, high school students from single-parent households were 1.7 times more likely to drop out than were their corresponding counterparts living with both biological parents. Source: McNeal, Ralph B. Jr.”Extracurricular Activities and High School Dropouts.” Sociology of Education 68(1995): 62-81.

I think that these are significant in light of the recent shooting in Connecticut:

In studies involving over 25,000 children using nationally representative data sets, children who lived with only one parent had lower grade point averages, lower college aspirations, poor attendance records, and higher drop out rates than students who lived with both parents. Source: McLanahan, Sara and Gary Sandefur. Growing up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994.

A 1988 Department of Health and Human Services study found that at every income level except the very highest (over $50,000 a year), children living with never-married mothers were more likely than their counterparts in two-parent families to have been expelled or suspended from school, to display emotional problems, and to engage in antisocial behavior. Source: James Q. Wilson, “In Loco Parentis: Helping Children When Families Fail Them,” The Brookings Review, Fall 1993.

72% of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers. 60% of America’s rapists grew up the same way. Source: D. Cornell (et al.), Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 5. 1987. And N. Davidson, “Life Without Father,” Policy Review. 1990.

The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. Source: A. Anne Hill, June O’Neill, “Underclass Behaviors in the United States,” CUNY, Baruch College. 1993.

The shooter in Connecticut hadn’t spoken to his father in two years:

Peter Lanza, the father of Sandy Hook shooter, hadn’t spoken to his son for more than two years and his father is at a loss for what drove Adam to kill 20 students and six teachers at his old elementary school.

[…]Adam, 20, had not spoken to his brother Ryan or father for upwards of two years at the time of the shooting. Adam reportedly distanced himself from his father Peter when he started to become serious with his new girlfriend, and current wife.

Peter and Adam’s mother Nancy split in 2001 but did not formally divorce until November 2008. Court records made the split appear amicable as both parties agreed to put their sons needs above any bitterness, but Adam was apparently the one to cut ties with his father in 2010.

Women need to think ahead and realize that the little children will be impacted by her choice of man, as well of her choice of whether to have recreational premarital sex with a man. If she doesn’t test him adequately and makes poor choices, then the children will be deprived of a father in the home. I don’t think that the sentiment “he makes me happy and horny and my friends approve of him” necessarily translates into “he can do the job of protecting, providing and leading on moral and spiritual issues”. Those are two different sets of criteria, and often at cross-purposes in a culture that despises traditional male roles as “sexist”.

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