Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: marrying in your mid-to-late 20s confers benefits

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

This is from moderate Brad Wilcox, writing in the leftist Washington Post.

He writes:

These days, 20something marriage has gotten a reputation for being a bad idea. That’s partly because parents, peers, and the popular culture encourage young adults to treat their twenties as a decade for exploration and getting one’s ducks in a row, not for settling down. In the immortal words of Jay-Z, “Thirty’s the new twenty.”

Indeed, the median age-at-first marriage has climbed to nearly 30 for today’s young adults, up from about 22 in 1970. Of course, there’s an upside to that. As my coauthors and I report in  Knot Yet: the Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America, women who put off marriage and starting a family earn markedly more money than their peers who marry earlier.

But if you’d like to maximize your marital happiness, your odds of having a couple of kids, and of forging common memories and family traditions, you might not want to delay marriage if the right person presents his or herself  in your mid-to-late 20s. A University of Texas study found the highest-quality unions were forged by couples who married during that period.

He then goes over some of the benefits.

Here’s one that stuck out to me:

First, you are more likely to marry someone who shares your basic values and life experiences, and less likely to marry someone with a complicated romantic or family history.  Those who marry in their twenties, for instance, are more likely to marry someone who isn’t previously married and shares their level of educational attainment as well as their religious faith. Marrying at this stage in your life also allows couples to experience early adulthood together. In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, a 31-year-old woman who married in her mid-twenties, “My husband and I got to grow up together—not apart. We learned sacrifice, selflessness, compromise, and became better people for it.”

And:

Women who marry in their 20s generally have an easier time getting pregnant, and having more than one child, than their peers who wait to marry in their thirties.  You’ll also be around to enjoy the grandchildren for longer.

Marrying earlier is also nice because you get that “honeymoon” period before you have to start having kids. If you want to have 1-2 kids, you’ll need 3-4 years. You will want to have at least 2 years of “honeymoon” time to iron out differences and just enjoy married life. Children are challenging, and they will add more stress to the marriage. You don’t want to marry at 33 and start having kids before that 2 year settling-down period is finished. If marriage really is valuable, then it doesn’t make sense to put off building it together. The sooner your start, the more you can build. The more you can learn from each other. The more kids you can have.

Related to this study is a 15-minute TED.com lecture that talks about how people should be preparing for their marriages during their 20s instead of pursuing fun and thrills. (H/T Lindsay)

The transcript says this:

Okay, now that sounds a little flip, but make no mistake, the stakes are very high. When a lot has been pushed to your 30s, there is enormous thirtysomething pressure to jump-start a career, pick a city, partner up, and have two or three kids in a much shorter period of time. Many of these things are incompatible, and as research is just starting to show, simply harder and more stressful to do all at once in our 30s.

The post-millennial midlife crisis isn’t buying a red sports car. It’s realizing you can’t have that career you now want. It’s realizing you can’t have that child you now want, or you can’t give your child a sibling. Too many thirtysomethings and fortysomethings look at themselves, and at me, sitting across the room, and say about their 20s, “What was I doing? What was I thinking?”

[…]Here’s a story about how that can go. It’s a story about a woman named Emma. At 25, Emma came to my office because she was, in her words, having an identity crisis. She said she thought she might like to work in art or entertainment, but she hadn’t decided yet, so she’d spent the last few years waiting tables instead. Because it was cheaper, she lived with a boyfriend who displayed his temper more than his ambition.

[…]First, I told Emma to forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital. By “get identity capital,” I mean do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next. I didn’t know the future of Emma’s career, and no one knows the future of work, but I do know this: Identity capital begets identity capital. So now is the time for that cross-country job, that internship, that startup you want to try. I’m not discounting twentysomething exploration here, but I am discounting exploration that’s not supposed to count, which, by the way, is not exploration. That’s procrastination. I told Emma to explore work and make it count.

I think that’s good advice. Have the goal of getting married through high school and college and the early working years. Do hard things to prepare yourself to for the hard work that marriage requires. The reason why so many people are divorcing is because they are trying to pursue happiness through their 20s, then jumping off into marriage after their lives have been wrecked by drinking, promiscuity, debts, self-centeredness and painful break-ups. That’s completely the wrong way to go about getting married.

Usually, when I meet a person who has not achieved as much as he/she wants to have done, I try to encourage the person to study hard things. Update their resume. Apply for better jobs. Start saving more money. Try to serve others. Take on more responsibilities, even if they are not fun. Usually, people understand why I am asking them to do hard things. Because the only way to develop “identity capital” is by saying “NO” to the desire for happiness, and “YES” to doing hard things. No, you can’t study philosophy. Yes, you have to study computer science. No you can’t work as a waitress. Yes, you have to apply for an office job. No, you can’t delay paying off your debts. Yes, you have to start investing $100 a month.

Structure and boundaries seem difficult to young people – like they are going to lose their ability to have fun. But in the long run, building something worthwhile is more important than short-term fun and thrills.

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Richard Dawkins: prevent parents from teaching their faith onto their kids

Richard Dawkins explains morality on atheism

Richard Dawkins explains morality on atheism

This is from the radically leftist Huffington Post UK.

Excerpt:

Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins has argued that children with religious parents must be protected from indoctrination.

Dawkins expressed concerns to the Irish Times that parents are given too much leeway when it comes to their children’s education. The biologist, who is backing a campaign by Atheist Ireland to overhaul education, spoke ahead of a talk at Trinity College in Dublin.

He said: “There is a balancing act and you have to balance the rights of parents and the rights of children and I think the balance has swung too far towards parents.

“Children do need to be protected so that they can have a proper education and not be indoctrinated in whatever religion their parents happen to have been brought up in.”

Physicist Lawrence Krauss who was also present for the interview agreed, but stressed he believed state education should be held to different standards than private schools.

He said: “If the state is going to provide education, it has an obligation to try and educate children. That means parents have a limited — it seems to me — limited rights in determining what the curriculum is. The state is providing the education, it’s trying to make sure all children have equal opportunity.”

He added: “Parents, of course, have concerns and ‘say’ but they don’t have the right to shield their children from knowledge.

“That is not right, any more than they have the right to shield their children from healthcare or medicine.

“And those parents who do that are often tried – at least in my country – and imprisoned when they refuse to allow their children to get blood transfusions or whatever is necessary for their health. And this is necessary for their mental health.”

So Richard Dawkins is too cowardly to debate Christianity with William Lane Craig, but he is willing to use the power of big government to force parents not to explain to their children why Christianity is true, and what Christianity teaches.

Why does Dawkins want to prevent parents from teaching their kids about religion? I think the answer is that he doesn’t like that religious people can make moral judgments. If there is no God, then there is no rational basis for saying that anything is objectively right or wrong.

This is in fact Dawkins’ own view. Dawkins has previously written this:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)

Dawkins’ view is that nothing is really good or bad objectively. Cultures just evolve certain conventions, and those conventions vary arbitrarily by time and place. There’s nothing really right or wrong in the universe. Just do what you like as long as you don’t get caught – or change the laws so that the evil you want to do is legal. You can even force people to pay the costs of it. Heck, you can even use the courts to force them to celebrate what you do. It’s all up in the air for an atheist.

Richard Dawkins himself is in favor of infanticide:

In the past, Dawkins has also spoken positively about adultery.

So this is probably why Dawkins is in favor of using government to prevent parents from teaching their kids that God exists. If you think that morality is an illusion, then you do what feels right to you, hurting the weak if necessary. That is what Darwinism teaches, in fact – survival of the fittest, the strong use and destroy the weak. And if anyone disagrees – well, that’s what big government is for. And that’s why atheism is often wedded to big government – they need the big government to force people with different views to do what they want them to do. Atheists like Dawkins want to do what feels good to them, and they don’t want to be judged for it. Not all atheists are like Dawkins, but he is favored by them for a reason – he represents a large number of them.

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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.

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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.

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