Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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

Fathers and children

Fathers and children

The study was reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole thing.

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

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

This article from the Weekly Standard answers the question.

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Which types of relationships have the highest rates of divorce?

A quiz for you, from Ruth Blog.

Question:

Same sex couples have had the legal right to form domestic partnerships in several European countries.  Denmark was the first to introduce registered partnerships, in 1989. Norway was second, in 1993, then Sweden in 1995. Data from 2 of these landmark countries, Norway and Sweden, as well as California,  have been studied enough to answer this question:

What types of unions have the highest rates of divorce?

  • Opposite sex married couples: men and women are so different, it is a wonder they ever stay married.
  • Male unions: men are naturally less committed, and less monogamous, so their partnerships don’t endure.
  • Female unions: women get so emotionally distraught over things. A union of two women, without any male counter-balancing their roller-coaster, is very unstable.

Hint: the answer is the same in all three countries!

And here’s the answer:

Female unions seem to have the highest divorce rates, followed by male unions, followed by opposite sex unions.

“For Sweden, the divorce risk for partnerships of men is 50% higher than the risk for heterosexual marriages, and that the divorce risk for female partnerships is nearly double that for men.”

“For Norway, divorce risks are 77% higher in lesbian partnerships than in those of gay men.”  (The Norwegian data did not include a comparison with opposite sex couples.)

In California, the data is collected a little differently. The study looks at couples who describe themselves as partners, whether same sex or opposite sex. The study asks the question, how likely is it that these couples live in the same household five years later. Male couples were only 30% as likely, while female couples were less that 25% as likely, as heterosexual married couples, to be residing in the same household for five years.

The only contradictory data I have found to this pattern is from the Netherlands. In the Dutch data, same sex couples have a 3.15 times greater dissolution rate than opposite sex cohabiting couples, and a 3.15 x 3.66 or 11.5 times greater dissolution rate than opposite married couples. But, female couples seem to be more stable than male couples.

And not all married heterosexual couples are equally stable.

Consider this USA Today article from 2011 about that.

Excerpt:

It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.

But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.

“It’s a useful myth,” said Bradley Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist who recently wrote “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.”

“Because if a pastor wants to preach about how Christians should take their marriages more seriously, he or she can trot out this statistic to get them to listen to him or her.”

The various findings on religion and divorce hinge on what kind of Christians are being discussed.

Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%.

When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38% of weekly attendees.

[…]Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35% less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Nominal conservative Protestants, on the other hand, were 20% more likely to divorce than the religiously unaffiliated.

“There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life,” Wilcox said.

Here’s a quote from an Oklahoma State University study that confirms the Wright and Wilcox conclusions:

History of Divorce and Religious Involvement

Those who say they are more religious are less likely, not more, to have already experienced divorce. Likewise, those who report more frequent attendance at religious services were significantly less likely to have been divorced. This pattern of findings held using various analytic techniques that test which variables differentiate persons who have been divorced from persons who have not been divorced, while controlling for other variables that might affect the interpretation of the data, such as age, age of first marriage, income, and gender. When both the global rating of religiousness and the item assessing fiequency of attendance at religious services are entered into the same analysis, the attendance item remains significantly associated with divorce history but the global religiousness item does not. This suggests that a key aspect of how religious faith affects marital relationships may be through involvement with a community of faith.

Basically, the more your worldview grounds self-sacrifice over self-centeredness, the more stable it’s going to be.

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

Mike Adams on abortion: click for larger image.

Mike Adams on abortion: click for larger image.

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

He posted this:

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

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

I replied to him with this:

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

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

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

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

Then Mike replied to me:

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

I replied to that with this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is an interesting statistic from Relevant Magazine:

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

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

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

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

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

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Study finds that gay parents are more likely to raise gay kids

A peer-reviewed study about gay parents raising gay kids in AOL News.

Excerpt:

Walter Schumm knows what he’s about to do is unpopular: publish a study arguing that gay parents are more likely to raise gay children than straight parents. But the Kansas State University family studies professor has a detailed analysis that past almost aggressively ideological researchers never had.

[…]His study on sexual orientation, out next month, says that gay and lesbian parents are far more likely to have children who become gay. “I’m trying to prove that it’s not 100 percent genetic,” Schumm tells AOL News.

His study is a meta-analysis of existing work. First, Schumm extrapolated data from 10 books on gay parenting… [and] skewed his data so that only self-identified gay and lesbian children would be labeled as such.

This is important because sometimes Schumm would come across a passage of children of gay parents who said they were “adamant about not declaring their sexual orientation at all.” These people would be labeled straight, even though the passage’s implication was that they were gay.

Schumm concluded that children of lesbian parents identified themselves as gay 31 percent of the time; children of gay men had gay children 19 percent of the time, and children of a lesbian mother and gay father had at least one gay child 25 percent of the time.

Furthermore, when the study restricted the results so that they included only children in their 20s — presumably after they’d been able to work out any adolescent confusion or experimentation — 58 percent of the children of lesbians called themselves gay, and 33 percent of the children of gay men called themselves gay. (About 5 to 10 percent of the children of straight parents call themselves gay, Schumm says.)

Schumm next went macro, poring over an anthropological study of various cultures’ acceptance of homosexuality. He found that when communities welcome gays and lesbians, “89 percent feature higher rates of homosexual behavior.”

Finally, Schumm looked at the existing academic studies… In all there are 26 such studies. Schumm ran the numbers from them and concluded that, surprisingly, 20 percent of the kids of gay parents were gay themselves. When children only 17 or older were included in the analysis, 28 percent were gay.

Here’s the paper entitled “Children of homosexuals more apt to be homosexuals?“. It appeared in the Journal of Biosocial Science.

Abstract:

Ten narrative studies involving family histories of 262 children of gay fathers and lesbian mothers were evaluated statistically in response to Morrison’s (2007) concerns about Cameron’s (2006) research that had involved three narrative studies. Despite numerous attempts to bias the results in favour of the null hypothesis and allowing for up to 20 (of 63, 32%) coding errors, Cameron’s (2006) hypothesis that gay and lesbian parents would be more likely to have gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure (of sexual orientation) sons and daughters was confirmed. Percentages of children of gay and lesbian parents who adopted non-heterosexual identities ranged between 16% and 57%, with odds ratios of 1.7 to 12.1, depending on the mix of child and parent genders. Daughters of lesbian mothers were most likely (33% to 57%; odds ratios from 4.5 to 12.1) to report non-heterosexual identities. Data from ethnographic sources and from previous studies on gay and lesbian parenting were re-examined and found to support the hypothesis that social and parental influences may influence the expression of non-heterosexual identities and/or behaviour. Thus, evidence is presented from three different sources, contrary to most previous scientific opinion, even most previous scientific consensus, that suggests intergenerational transfer of sexual orientation can occur at statistically significant and substantial rates, especially for female parents or female children. In some analyses for sons, intergenerational transfer was not significant. Further research is needed with respect to pathways by which intergenerational transfer of sexual orientation may occur. The results confirm an evolving tendency among scholars to cite the possibility of some degree of intergenerational crossover of sexual orientation.

Please exercise caution when commenting, we do not want to be Brendan Eich’d by the Obama administration.

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UK survey finds that men and women expect to have sex after a few dates

Dina sent me this depressing article from the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

Men now expect to sleep with a new partner on their third date – but women typically won’t consider it until the fifth, according to an intriguing new study on dating in the 21st century.

On the first date men are most likely to pay for dinner and drinks, with most couples tending to split the bill from the second date onwards.

But by the third date men expect sex and are willing to splash their cash to hurry the romance along.

[…]Both sexes are now spending small fortunes in a bid to prepare themselves for a date that could end in sex, the study found.

Men typically spend £46.79 on grooming, while women spend £5 less at £41.79.

Women prepare for a first night of passion by waxing their legs (58 per cent), buying new lingerie (32 per cent), and waxing their bikini line (17 per cent).

Men are most likely to buy new underwear (28 per cent), groom their pubic hair (27 per cent), and buy new bed linen (15 per cent).

The money is being spent wisely, as men say their biggest turn-offs are a hairy upper lip, dirty sheets, and hairy legs.

And women are turned off by dirty sheets, untidy nails, and an untidy bedroom.

I’ve posted before about how having a large number of premarital sex partners causes marriages to fail. This finding is true for men who have many partners, and especially true for women. The fun that people have before they are married gets paid for later when they cannot hold the relationship together. Premarital promiscuity teaches you nothing about how to be faithful and self-sacrificial in a marriage. It trains you to think that sex is not something to save for a commitment, but something to be done in order to have “fun”. When people have premarital sex, they are treating sex as a recreational activity. They are not willing to commit to loving and taking care of the person they are having sex with for life, so that the other person will not be harmed if the relationship fails. We shouldn’t be having fun with a person in ways we’re we will be deeply connected to them and then just pull away from them and leave them alone. If that happens to a person enough, it ruins their ability to be trusting and vulnerable. It’s hard to repair the damage once it’s been done.

I think that if we are going to be serious about marriage, then we need to think seriously about rolling back our support for this sort of promiscuity, as well as laws that promote break-ups like no-fault divorce. Instead of encouraging people to think that sex before marriage is normal, we should be encouraging them to look at the data that shows that waiting a long time (or even better, waiting until marriage) before having sex is the right thing to do.

And for Christians, let me just reiterate that premarital sex and adultery are both forbidden. You cannot be a Christian and be having sex outside of marriage. The Bible is very very clear about that. Although people like to think that Christianity is compatible with sex outside of marriage, it’s not. We need to be careful about watering down Christianity in order to avoid the need to bow the knee to God’s authority in sexual areas.

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