Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: children’s educational outcomes are closely linked to their mother’s

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

Well, I guess everyone who has read my courting questions knows that as a condition of entering into a marriage plan with me, I ask that the woman go on to graduate school and also work for a few years. I ask this because she is going to be in charge of the children all day, at least until we put them into private school, (if we do that), or longer if we go with homeschooling all the way. That means not only does she have to be good at math, science and everything else important, but she also has to know how to apply to college, how to apply to grad school, and how to get a job and survive in the workplace.

The mother of the children is the chief of staff of the home, and she has a more important job than the man. Raising the children is – truly – more important to God than the nature and pay of the man’s work. The man has to go to work to provide, but that is not normally going to have the impact for God that raising the next Alliance Defending Freedom attorney will have. I intend for my marriage to be (in part) an engine for the manufacture of effective, influential Christian scholars and/or professionals, and that means I expect the VP of the parenting division to be excellent. 

So… is there any more reason to asking marriage candidates to go to graduate school and to work?

Yes, and a new study reported in Family Studies explains why:

A new paper by Jessica F. Harding, Pamela A. Morris, and Diane Hughes in the Journal of Marriage and Family proposes studying the ways in which mothers’ education affects children’s outcomes through a three-part framework: mothers’ human capital, cultural capital, and social capital.

[…]In the realm of parenting, a college degree (or the knowledge and skills it stands for) seems to make people interact with their kids differently. Take the famous thirty-million word gap, for example: some scholars estimate that children of parents on welfare hear 30 million fewer words by the age of four than the children of professional parents.

The gap is not only about quantity, but quality: Better educated parents also use a wider vocabulary, and they dole out affirmations (not just complimenting kids, but repeating and building on what they say) more generously than less educated parents. Learning lots of words early in life is tied to better academic outcomes down the road, so parents’ early conversations with kids have long-lasting implications.

Mothers’ education also matters later in childhood: College-educated mothers are “able to more appropriately tailor cognitively stimulating activities to their children’s developmental level,” the researchers document, and they are more equipped to help kids do homework and study for tests.

[…]Cultural capital revolves around “preferences and behaviors that, although not inherently better than others, are relevant for educational success because they are sanctioned in a particular society’s educational settings.” Think visiting museums and taking music lessons—the sort of activities that upper-middle class parents emphasize. Participating in such activities “has been associated with teacher-reported academic outcomes for children and adolescents in a number of studies that have adjusted for other factors,” and it bolsters high school students’ college applications.

Cultural capital also helps kids to navigate the education system successfully: more educated mothers are more comfortable with schools, so they are more likely to advocate for their kids there (say, requesting that their child be assigned a certain well-regarded teacher) and to teach their kids how to advocate successfully for themselves (for instance, telling a child how to request the opportunity to re-take a failed test).

[…]Social capital encompasses “interactions that take place between mothers and people in their social networks or between people in mothers’ social networks and children.” It’s about mothers’ relationships to and connections with other people (whereas cultural capital has to do with mothers’ “abilities to use behaviors that aid in navigating . . . social and institutional relationships”). College-educated mothers are more likely to be part of social networks containing “knowledge, skills, and resources that are relevant to children’s academic success,” the researchers propose. For instance, their relatives, colleagues, and friends are likely to also have college degrees, meaning mothers can easily pick up tips about the best schools or gain advice about the college application process. Plus, their children will be surrounded by highly educated role models; in their circles, graduating from college will be an expectation, not an aspiration.

Everything I do in relationships is grounded in studies like this one. I work backwards from what God wants, to what the challenges in the society are, to what the children need, to what each spouse does in the marriage for each other and for the kids, to how each spouse prepares for marriage roles. Then, I look at the studies to find out the best way to achieve the goals. It’s all very serious – no getting drunk, hooking up, or partying.

I was preparing to be a husband and father from the time I started high school. Choosing STEM courses, passing on fluff courses. I hated doing hard things that made me look stupid, but I had to do them. We – me and my future wife and kids – would need the money. Same thing with chastity – I wanted my wife to have assurances that I could be faithful, so I never had sex outside of marriage (never went near the line). And on and on.

Marriage-minded women ought to be doing the same. Work your chastity, yes. But also study hard things, get hard jobs, and study economics, politics, apologetics and everything else a family will need. Find out what children are like. Find out how to cook. Find out how to encourage a man. Find out how to homeschool. Find out how to argue logically. Your successful marriage starts the day you turn your emotions off, and turn on your mind.

Marriage is hard work. You can’t just go crazy in your teens, 20s and 30s and then jump off at the last second into the perfect marriage. You have to build up to it – think where you want to go, and take steps every day that will get you there. It’s much better to learn about how marriage and parenting works from good books, good studies and the experience of wise, older people with long-lasting marriages. Don’t follow the culture, it’s crap.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

New study: children of same-sex parents have twice as many emotional problems

Here’s a report from MercatorNet on a new peer-reviewed study published in the British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science.

Mercator writes:

Fresh research has just tossed a grenade into the incendiary issue of same-sex parenting. Writing in the British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science, a peer-reviewed journal, American sociologist Paul Sullins concludes that children’s “Emotional problems [are] over twice as prevalent for children with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents”.

He says confidently: “it is no longer accurate to claim that no study has found children in same-sex families to be disadvantaged relative to those in opposite-sex families.”

This defiant rebuttal of the “no difference” hypothesis is sure to stir up a hornet’s next as the Supreme Court prepares to trawl through arguments for and against same-sex marriage. It will be impossible for critics to ignore it, as it is based on more data than any previous study — 512 children with same-sex parents drawn from the US National Health Interview Survey. The emotional problems included misbehaviour, worrying, depression, poor relationships with peers and inability to concentrate.

After crunching the numbers, Sullins found opposite-sex parents provided a better environment. “Biological parentage uniquely and powerfully distinguishes child outcomes between children with opposite-sex parents and those with same-sex parents,” he writes.

But is it caused by lack of acceptance and homophobia?

The most widely-accepted explanation of poor emotional and behavioural results amongst children in same-sex households is homophobia. Supporters of same-sex parenting attribute poor emotional well-being to stigmatization. These kids are damaged, it is said, because they have been singled out, teased and bullied. If their peers were less homophobic, things would be different.

But Sullins dismisses this. “Contrary to the assumption underlying this hypothesis, children with opposite-sex parents are picked on and bullied more than those with same-sex parents.”

This sounds surprising, but in another paper, published last year in the British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research and based on the same data, Sullins found that children of same-sex parents are more at risk of ADHD. And if they had ADHD, they were over seven times more likely to suffer stigmatization because of their impaired interpersonal coping skills. In other words, if kids from homes with same-sex parents are bullied more, it’s because they lack interpersonal skills, not because their parents are gay or lesbian.

Bullying is toxic, but it’s important to find out whether kids are being bullied because they’re different or because their parents are different.

That’s it for that study.

Let’s go back and look at the previous one, from Canada.

The Public Discourse reports on a recent study out of Canada.

Excerpt:

A new academic study based on the Canadian census suggests that a married mom and dad matter for children. Children of same-sex coupled households do not fare as well.

There is a new and significant piece of evidence in the social science debate about gay parenting and the unique contributions that mothers and fathers make to their children’s flourishing. A study published last week in the journal Review of the Economics of the Household—analyzing data from a very large, population-based sample—reveals that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples. And gender matters, too: girls are more apt to struggle than boys, with daughters of gay parents displaying dramatically low graduation rates.

Unlike US-based studies, this one evaluates a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census, where same-sex couples have had access to all taxation and government benefits since 1997 and to marriage since 2005.

[…]Three key findings stood out to Allen:

children of married opposite-sex families have a high graduation rate compared to the others; children of lesbian families have a very low graduation rate compared to the others; and the other four types [common law, gay, single mother, single father] are similar to each other and lie in between the married/lesbian extremes.

Employing regression models and series of control variables, Allen concludes that the substandard performance cannot be attributed to lower school attendance or the more modest education of gay or lesbian parents. Indeed, same-sex parents were characterized by higher levels of education, and their children were more likely to be enrolled in school than even those of married, opposite-sex couples. And yet their children are notably more likely to lag in finishing their own schooling.

[…]The truly unique aspect of Allen’s study, however, may be its ability to distinguish gender-specific effects of same-sex households on children. He writes:

the particular gender mix of a same-sex household has a dramatic difference in the association with child graduation. Consider the case of girls. . . . Regardless of the controls and whether or not girls are currently living in a gay or lesbian household, the odds of graduating from high school are considerably lower than any other household type. Indeed, girls living in gay households are only 15 percent as likely to graduate compared to girls from opposite sex married homes.

Thus although the children of same-sex couples fare worse overall, the disparity is unequally shared, but is instead based on the combination of the gender of child and gender of parents. Boys fare better—that is, they’re more likely to have finished high school—in gay households than in lesbian households. For girls, the opposite is true. Thus the study undermines not only claims about “no differences” but also assertions that moms and dads are interchangeable. They’re not.

Here’s the study.

The author of the study is a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. His PhD in economics is from the University of Washington. A previous study had shown that gay relationships typically have far more instability (they last for more shorter times). That’s not good for children either. Another study featured in the Atlantic talked about how gay relationships have much higher rates of domestic violence. That’s not good for children either. So we have three reasons to think that normalizing gay relationships as “marriage” would not be good for children.

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New study: 50 percent of divorced people wish they had never ended their marriage

The study was reported in the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

The decision to divorce is always going to be difficult, and for many there can be good reason to end a marriage.

Yet, 50 per cent of divorcees have regrets about their break-up, a study revealed. Researchers found that after the dust settled, 54 per cent experienced second thoughts about whether they had made the right decision, with many realising they miss or still love their ex-partner.

For some, the regrets have been so severe that 42 per cent have had moments where they considered giving their relationship another go, with a large percentage actually making the effort to try again and 21 per cent of those still together now.

[…]A spokesman for the survey, who asked 2,000 UK men and women that have either divorced or called time on a long-term relationship of more than five years, says: ‘Getting divorced is a huge step for any relationship, and sometimes, the words ‘I want a divorce’ can be said in the heat of an argument.

But once you calm down and really think about things, many realise it’s the last thing they want, but by then, you can feel it’s too late to take it back.

And even if you don’t regret it immediately, dealing with the aftermath of a break-up can lead to more second thoughts. But it’s great to see some have managed to talk about their regrets and give things another go.’

The study found one in five said the regrets started straight away, with another 19 per cent having second thoughts within a week of saying the D-word.

TOP TEN REASONS FOR REGRETTING A DIVORCE

  1. Missing an ex-partner 
  2. Feeling like a failure 
  3. Still being in love with an ex-partner
  4. Realising they were being unreasonable
  5. Feeling lonely
  6. Discovering the grass isn’t always greener
  7. An ex-partner finding someone new
  8. Realising they are not better off on their own
  9. Damaging the relationship with their children
  10. Children’s lives being affected  

But for some, it took longer with more than one in ten admitting it took a year or more for them to wish they hadn’t left their partner.

Others admitted they wished they could take things back when the divorce officially came through. Especially when they have worked to divide their assets or started telling people they were calling it quits.

This study fits together well with another study that I blogged about before.

The article is by Mona Charen, and the study is by the Institute for American Values. It’s an older article, but I was reading a book that mentioned the study, so I thought I would blog on it.

Excerpt:

Now, the Institute for American Values (www.americanvalues.org) has released a new study with some intriguing data about the effects of divorce on the unhappy couples themselves. It seems that another great myth is about to tumble – the myth that at least divorce makes unhappily married adults happier.

According to the survey, conducted by a team of family researchers, unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier five years after the divorce than were equally unhappy couples who remained together. And two-thirds of unhappily married people who remained married reported marriages that were happy five years later. Even among those who had rated their marriages as “very unhappy,” nearly 80 percent said they were happily married five years later. These were not bored or dissatisfied whiners. They had endured serious problems, including alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work and money troubles.

Even more surprising, unhappy spouses who divorced actually showed slightly more depressive symptoms five years later than those who didn’t. (They did, however, report more personal growth.) And – make of this what you will – the divorced sample reported a good deal more alcohol consumption than the married group.

[…]The data show that if a couple is unhappy, the chances of their being happily married five years hence are 64 percent if they stay together but only 19 percent if they divorce and remarry. (The authors acknowledge that five years is a relatively short period and many divorced people will eventually remarry, some happily.)

How did the unhappy couples turn their lives around? The study found three principal techniques. The first was endurance. Many couples do not so much solve their problems as transcend them. By taking one day at a time and pushing through their difficulties, many couples found that time itself often improved matters. Moreover, these couples maintained a negative view of the effects of divorce. “The grass is always greener,” explained one husband, “but it’s Astroturf.”

Others were more aggressive. Those the researchers labeled the “marital work ethic” types tackled their problems by arranging for more private time with one another, seeking counseling (from clergy or professionals), receiving help from in-laws or other relatives, or in some cases, threatening divorce or consulting a divorce lawyer.

In the third category were the “personal happiness seekers” who found other ways to improve their overall contentment even if they could not markedly improve their marital happiness.

Certainly the survey found some marriages that were impossible to save and some divorced couples who were happier than those who had remained married. That is as one would expect.

But the most telling aspect of this research is the light it sheds on the importance of the attitude toward marriage. Those who enter marriage with a dim (some might say accurate) view of divorce and a strong religious or other motivation for avoiding it are not only less likely to divorce; they are also less likely to be unhappy. That is the arresting news here. We’ve known that commitment was good for the children of such marriages. We’ve known that commitment was good for society. But until now, it was not clear that commitment actually made married couples themselves more likely to be happy.

I think the last point is a good point. Right now, a lot of young people are choosing mates based on superficial criteria (looks, money, popularity). The purpose of marriage is, in their opinion, to be happy. And their spouse’s job is to make them happy. That’s their view of marriage. But this ignores the realities of what marriage is about. Marriage is not a contract, it’s a covenant. People who marry ought to be getting into it because they want the responsibility of loving another sinner in close quarters. It’s not about feelings and life enhancement. The most important thing to look for in a spouse is their ability to love self-sacrificially and to make and sustain long-term commitments. Both of these capabilities are damaged the more a person goes through painful serial break-ups, because people become unable to trust and instead withhold love and commitment for their own safety.

Filed under: News, , ,

William Lane Craig’s secret weapon is his amazing wife Jan

I want to draw your attention to a talk on “Vision in Life” given by Dr. William Lane Craig. Dr. Craig is the ablest defender of the Christian faith operating today. He has done formal academic debates with all of the best known atheists on major university campuses in front of thousands of university students.

It turns out that he owes a lot of his success to his amazing wife Jan.

The MP3 file is here. (32 minutes)

This talk was Dr. Craig’s chapel address to Biola University students.

About 11 minutes into the talk, Bill describes what happened after he finished his Bachelor’s degree at Wheaton:

And so I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 2 years, and was assigned to Northern Illinois University. And that was where I met my wife Jan. She was a graduate of the University of North Dakota where she had come to faith in Christ. And she had a similar vision for her life of evangelism and discipleship.

And as we worked at NIU together, she with gals and I with the guys, leading students to Christ and discipling them to walk with the Lord, we fell in love. And we decided that we would be more effective if we joined forces and became a team.

So their reason for getting together was because they thought that they would be more effective in evangelism and discipleship if they worked as a team.

It is at this point in the talk where Bill begins to explain just how Jan molded him into the lean, mean debating machine that travels the world striking terror into the hearts of atheists.

Bill’s first story about Jan occurs early after their marriage while he is working on his first Masters degree at Trinity:

And it was also at that time that I began to see what an invaluable asset the Lord had given me in Jan. I remember I came home from classes one day, and found her at the kitchen table with all the catalogs and schedules and papers spread out in front of her and she said, “look! I’ve figured out how you can get two Masters degrees at the same time that it would normally take to get one! All you have to do is take overloads every semester, go to all full-time summer school and do all these other things, and you can do two MAs in the time it takes to do one!”

And I thought, whoa! Are you sure you really want to make the commitment it takes to do this kind of thing? And she said, “Yeah! Go for it!” And it was then I began to see that God had given me a very special woman who was my supporter – my cheerleader – and who really believed in me. And as long as she believed in me, that gave me the confidence to dream bigger dreams, and to take on challenges that I had never thought of before.

In an article on his web site, he talks about how Jan encouraged him to do his first Ph.D:

As graduation from Trinity neared, Jan and I were sitting one evening at the supper table in our little campus apartment, talking about what to do after graduation. Neither of us had any clear leading or inclination of what we should do next.

So Jan said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I replied, “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to England and do a doctorate under John Hick.”

“Who’s he?” she asked.

“Oh, he’s this famous British philosopher who’s written extensively on arguments for the existence of God,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a cosmological argument for God’s existence.”

But it hardly seemed a realistic idea.

The next evening at supper Jan handed me a slip of paper with John Hick’s address on it. “I went to the library today and found out that he’s at the University of Birmingham in England,” she said. “Why don’t you write him a letter and ask him if you can do a doctoral thesis under him on the cosmological argument?”

What a woman! So I did, and to our amazement and delight Professor Hick wrote back saying he’d be very pleased to supervise my doctoral work on that subject. So it was an open door!

And in the same article, he explains how Jan encouraged him to get his second Ph.D:

As Jan and I neared the completion of my doctoral studies in Birmingham, our future path was again unclear to us. I had sent out a number of applications for teaching positions in philosophy at American universities but had received no bites. We didn’t know what to do.

I remember it like yesterday. We were sitting at the supper table in our little house outside Birmingham, and Jan suddenly said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I laughed because I remembered how the Lord had used her question to guide us in the past. I had no trouble answering the question. “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to Germany and study under Wolfhart Pannenberg.”

“Who’s he?”

“Oh, he’s this famous German theologian who’s defended the resurrection of Christ historically,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a historical apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus.”

Our conversation drifted to other subjects, but Jan later told me that my remark had just lit a fire under her. The next day while I was at the university, she slipped away to the library and began to research grants-in-aid for study at German universities. Most of the leads proved to be defunct or otherwise inapplicable to our situation. But there were two grants she found that were possibilities. You can imagine how surprised I was when she sprung them on me!

Both of these Ph.D experiences are also described in the talk. And the talk concludes as follows:

I am so thankful to be married to a woman who is tremendously resourceful, tremendously talented and energetic, who could have pursued an independent career in any number of areas, but instead, she has chose to wed her aspirations to mine, and to make it her goal to make me the most effective person I can be, for Christ. And she has been like my right arm in ministry over these many years. And it is a tremendous privilege to be a team with a person like that.

And you young men, I would encourage you, if you marry, to find a gal who shares your vision, not some independent vision, but who is interested in aligning herself with you, and pursuing together a common vision and goal that will draw you [together], so that you will avoid the growing separateness that so often creeps into marriages.

And now you know the rest of Bill’s story. The person you marry will have an enormous influence on the impact you will have for Christ and his Kingdom. It is up to you to decide whether that influence is going to be positive or negative, by deciding if you will marry, and if you do marry, by deciding whom you will marry.

I have a popular post that has a lot of questions to ask a woman to make sure that she has the knowledge required to be a wife and mother, but I think in the context of this talk, I should highlight a few other questions that are more about her personality instead of her knowledge.

  • Does she think that the purpose of the relationship is to serve God or to serve herself?
  • Does she enjoy taking on the helper role, or does she ignore the man’s need for help?
  • Is she able provide alternatives when decisions have to be made?
  • Is she comfortable letting a man lead by letting him making decisions?
  • Is she good at being calm, persuasive and reasonable during disagreements?
  • Is she able to control her emotions, and separate facts from feelings?
  • Does she respect what her man has been able to achieve in the normal male roles? (Provider, etc.)
  • Is she the man’s “cheerleader”? Does she praise and encourage him privately and publicly?
  • Does she see her man as an engine for serving God? Does she have a plan to help him perform better?
  • Does she show her man that she is interested in teaching and mentoring others to grow?
  • Does she take an interest in growing her man spiritually? (Men are often more practical than spiritual)

You may also be interested in this talk given by William Lane Craig, entitled “Healthy Relationships” (National Faculty Leadership Conf. 2008) (audio here) In that talk, he offers advice to Christians who want to have a marriage that is consistent with their Christian faith.

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Study: non-family daycare linked to anti-social behavior in children

From the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Academics at Oxford University discovered that exposure to some forms of early education contributed to bad behaviour and could be linked to emotional problems.

The study, based on an analysis of infants from almost 1,000 families, showed that the strongest influence on children came from within the home itself.

Children raised in poor families with high levels of parental stress or mental health problems were most at risk of developing emotional problems by the time they started school, it emerged.

The research also uncovered trends relating to children who were in formal child care — away from their parents.

The disclosure will revive debate over the best way to raise children amid a surge in the number of under-fives enrolled in nurseries and with childminders in the past 20 years. Figures from the Department for Education show that 441,000 children under five are in day nurseries while another 272,000 are being looked after by childminders.

[…]In the Oxford study, researchers recruited 991 families with children aged three months. Mothers had an average age of 30.

Researchers assessed children at the age of four through questionnaires about their behaviour and emotions completed by teachers and parents. They also observed care provided by mothers and observed non-parental care for at least 90 minutes for those children placed in formal childcare settings.

The report, published in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development, said that “children who spent more time in group care, mainly nursery care, were more likely to have behavioural problems, particularly hyperactivity”.

The study, led by Prof Alan Stein, of Oxford’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that “spending more time in day care centres, over the total period was a predictor of total problem scores”.

“Children who spent more time in day care centres were more likely to be hyperactive,” it said. “Children receiving more care by childminders were more likely to have peer problems.”

The authors added: “The findings in relation to childminding suggest that it might be out of home care rather than group care that raises the risk of behavioural difficulties.”

The researchers also tracked other forms of early years care and found benefits to different approaches.

They found that children who spent more time in pre-school playgroups – normally for a few hours a day, rather than a full-time nursery – had fewer problems.

More time with a nanny in parents’ own home predicted higher levels of “pro-social behaviour”, showing willingness to help others, it emerged.

The study said: “These findings suggest that interventions to enhance children’s emotional and behavioural development might best focus on supporting families and augmenting the quality of care in the home.”

A study like this will be useful when debating people with open minds, but hardcore feminists and socialists, who want women to work in order to fund bigger government, will not be moved. Because for them, it’s not about evidence. It’s about ideology. That’s why we have to be careful about letting people like that get elected.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , ,

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