Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why are Asian mothers so much better at raising high-performing children?

Consider this article in the Wall Street Journal.

But first – a little bit about Amy Chua, the author of the article:

Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her first book World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability was a New York Times bestseller, was selected by both the Economist and the Guardian as one of the Best Books of 2003 and translated into eight languages. Her second book, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance – and Why They Fall was a critically acclaimed Foreign Affairs bestseller. Amy Chua has appeared frequently on radio and television on programs such CNN Headline News, C-Span, The Lehrer News Hour, Bloomberg Television, and Air America. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and the Wilson Quarterly. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two Samoyeds in New Haven, Connecticut.

And now, an excerpt from the piece itself:

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it.

[…]Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that “stressing academic success is not good for children” or that “parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.” By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that if children did not excel at school then there was “a problem” and parents “were not doing their job.” Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.

What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.

And here are her three main points:

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

[…]Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it’s probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. (And it’s true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches, putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring, training, interrogating and spying on their kids.) Anyway, the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.

[…]Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences. That’s why Chinese daughters can’t have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can’t go to sleepaway camp. It’s also why no Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, “I got a part in the school play! I’m Villager Number Six. I’ll have to stay after school for rehearsal every day from 3:00 to 7:00, and I’ll also need a ride on weekends.” God help any Chinese kid who tried that one.

[…]Here’s a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style.

Now you go read the whole article to find out the three differences and read the coercion story. Read the coercion story now!

And what do we learn from it? Well, what I learned is that if we Christians want to have any hope of having an influence in the public square, then we will have to marry well, and we will have to train our children like Amy does. We should not be thinking of marriage as a way to have feelings and to gain happiness and fulfillment. Marriage should be about service to God. And one of the ways we serve is by producing children who will have an influence. I think that parents in the West tend to have the idea that the world is a safe place, and that we should try to please our children and make them like us – so that everyone will be happy. But there is one person who will not be happy if we focus on ourselves instead of serving God. Do you know who that might be?

One thing I would say in criticism of Amy is that she seems to only care about grades – which are assigned by teachers who are not necessarily going to have the same goals as a Christian parent. Teachers have their own agenda, and will happily give a child an F for espousing a belief in abstinence, or for talking about the Big Bang or protein sequence specificity, or for mentioning Climategate and dissent from man-made catastrophic global warming. If the class is math or computer science, then the children should be required to be the best. If the class is on hating America, then maybe the child should be going to a different school or being homeschooled. (Assuming that the Democrats have not banned all private schooling and homeschooling, which their masters in the teacher unions would dearly love to do).

My advice for men is this: Have a plan for marriage and parenting. Make decisions your whole life to implement that plan. Choose a wife based on the criteria of the job of marriage. And raise your children to have an influence for Christ.

If you cannot find a wife who actually puts serving God over her own feelings and desires, remain chaste and do not marry. There is no point in getting married unless marriage and parenting can serve God. The point of marriage is not to have a big wedding. The point of marriage is not to make women happy and fulfilled. The point of marriage is not for the woman to neglect her children while focusing on her career. The point of marriage is not to blindly hand children off to the schools to be indoctrinated as they obtain non-STEM degrees.

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Woman raised by two lesbian parents speaks out: I missed my Dad

Heather Barwick

Heather Barwick

This is from The Federalist. Just so you know, the author is a former same-sex marriage advocate.

She writes:

Gay community, I am your daughter. My mom raised me with her same-sex partner back in the ’80s and ’90s. She and my dad were married for a little while. She knew she was gay before they got married, but things were different back then. That’s how I got here. It was complicated as you can imagine. She left him when I was two or three because she wanted a chance to be happy with someone she really loved: a woman.

My dad wasn’t a great guy, and after she left him he didn’t bother coming around anymore.

Do you remember that book, “Heather Has Two Mommies”? That was my life. My mom, her partner, and I lived in a cozy little house in the ‘burbs of a very liberal and open-minded area. Her partner treated me as if I was her own daughter. Along with my mom’s partner, I also inherited her tight-knit community of gay and lesbian friends.

But now she opposes same-sex marriage because it became apparent to her through her own life experience and the experience of having children that children need a mother and father.

She writes:

Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognize the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me. And it’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting.

Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.

I grew up surrounded by women who said they didn’t need or want a man. Yet, as a little girl, I so desperately wanted a daddy. It is a strange and confusing thing to walk around with this deep-down unquenchable ache for a father, for a man, in a community that says that men are unnecessary. There were times I felt so angry with my dad for not being there for me, and then times I felt angry with myself for even wanting a father to begin with. There are parts of me that still grieve over that loss today.

I’m not saying that you can’t be good parents. You can. I had one of the best. I’m also not saying that being raised by straight parents means everything will turn out okay. We know there are so many different ways that the family unit can break down and cause kids to suffer: divorce, abandonment, infidelity, abuse, death, etc. But by and large, the best and most successful family structure is one in which kids are being raised by both their mother and father.

I recommend reading the whole thing.

Dawn Stefanowicz said similar things about her experience raised by her Dad and his gay partner in this interview posted on MercatorNet. This is mature subject matter.

It says:

MercatorNet: How did you feel about what was going on around you?

Stefanowicz: You become used to it and desensitised. I was told at eight years old not to talk about this but I knew that something was wrong. I was not thinking “this is right or wrong” but I was disturbed by what I was experiencing. I was unhappy, fearful, anxious and confused. I was not allowed to tell my father that his lifestyle upset me. You can be four-years-old and questioning, “Where is Daddy?” You sense women are not valued. You think Daddy doesn’t have time for you or Daddy is too busy to play a game with you. All this is hard because as a child this is the only experience you have.

MercatorNet: How did this affect your relationship with others?

Stefanowicz: I had a hard time concentrating in school on day-to-day subjects and with peers. I felt insecure. I was already stressed out by an early age. I’m now in my 40s. You’re looking at life-long issues. There is a lot of prolonged and unresolved grief in this kind of home environment and with what you witness in the subcultures.

It took me until I was into my 20s and 30s, after making major life choices, to begin to realise how being raised in this environment had affected me. Unfortunately, it was not until my father, his sexual partners and my mother had died, that I was free to speak publicly about my experiences.

And:

MercatorNet: Why do so few children speak out?

Stefanowicz: You’re terrified. Absolutely terrified. Children who open up these family secrets are dependent on parents for everything. You carry the burden that you have to keep secrets. You learn to put on an image publicly of the happy family that is not reality. With same-sex legislation, children are further silenced. They believe there is no safe adult they can go to.

As I’ve written here before there are several completely non-religious reasons to oppose same-sex marriage. But the one that is surely the easiest to understand is that children need a mother and a father, and when they don’t have both they miss having both. In general, children do better with their mom and dad close by as they they are growing up. That’s a very good reason to promote the traditional definition of marriage – one man, one woman, for life. Period. I don’t want to have any part in depriving children of the safety and security of their mothers and fathers. It’s a scary thing to grow up in the world and not have two people who are YOURS. Who are interested in your development, and whose bond to you is irrevocable and undeniable.

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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.

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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Woman reflects on her bio-parents’ divorce and growing up in two-lesbian home

The Public Discourse posted a really interesting letter from a woman whose biological parents divorced, and then she grew up with her mother and her mother’s lesbian partner. She addresses this post to Justice Kennedy, the swing vote on the Supreme Court.

She writes:

Children are the reason government has any stake in this discussion at all. Congress was spot on in 1996 when it passed the Defense of Marriage Act, stating:

At bottom, civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing. Simply put, government has an interest in marriage because it has an interest in children.

There is no difference between the value and worth of heterosexual and homosexual persons. We all deserve equal protection and opportunity in academe, housing, employment, and medical care, because we are all humans created in the image of God.

However, when it comes to procreation and child-rearing, same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are wholly unequal and should be treated differently for the sake of the children.

When two adults who cannot procreate want to raise children together, where do those babies come from? Each child is conceived by a mother and a father to whom that child has a natural right. When a child is placed in a same-sex-headed household, she will miss out on at least one critical parental relationship and a vital dual-gender influence. The nature of the adults’ union guarantees this. Whether by adoption, divorce, or third-party reproduction, the adults in this scenario satisfy their heart’s desires, while the child bears the most significant cost: missing out on one or more of her biological parents.

Making policy that intentionally deprives children of their fundamental rights is something that we should not endorse, incentivize, or promote.

What about children who grow up with two gay adults? Aren’t they supportive of their gay guardians?

She writes:

I identify with the instinct of those children to be protective of their gay parent. In fact, I’ve done it myself. I remember how many times I repeated my speech: “I’m so happy that my parents got divorced so that I could know all of you wonderful women.” I quaffed the praise and savored the accolades. The women in my mother’s circle swooned at my maturity, my worldliness. I said it over and over, and with every refrain my performance improved. It was what all the adults in my life wanted to hear. I could have been the public service announcement for gay parenting.

I cringe when I think of it now, because it was a lie. My parents’ divorce has been the most traumatic event in my thirty-eight years of life. While I did love my mother’s partner and friends, I would have traded every one of them to have my mom and my dad loving me under the same roof. This should come as no surprise to anyone who is willing to remove the politically correct lens that we all seem to have over our eyes.

Kids want their mother and father to love them, and to love each other. I have no bitterness toward either of my parents. On the contrary, I am grateful for a close relationship with them both and for the role they play in my children’s lives. But loving my parents and looking critically at the impact of family breakdown are not mutually exclusive.

Now that I am a parent, I see clearly the beautiful differences my husband and I bring to our family. I see the wholeness and health that my children receive because they have both of their parents living with and loving them. I see how important the role of their father is and how irreplaceable I am as their mother. We play complementary roles in their lives, and neither of us is disposable. In fact, we are both critical. It’s almost as if Mother Nature got this whole reproduction thing exactly right.

So in same-sex marriages, either the father or the mother will be missing. I think that children can be a big responsibility, and they are challenging to the happiness of adults. The way that natural marriage solves this problem is by making both parents invested in the children biologically. That’s what causes mothers and fathers to keep trying and to not quit. They are biologically invested in their children. They are not accessories, they are little clones of their moms and dads.

Regardless of what Hollywood celebrities may tell us, studies show that fatherlessness is a disaster, and motherlessness is a disaster. And of course, studies show that same-sex parenting does not produce the positive outcomes for children that natural marriage does. There’s a conflict between children’s rights and adult’s rights in the same-sex marriage debate, just like their is in the no-fault divorce debate – and we need to side with the children in both cases.

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