Will California ‘split the child’?

The news is reporting on another troubling development from California, where the state Senate is considering a bill that would specifically allow the government to designate more than two “parents” for a child. Although radical, this idea is not entirely novel. A handful of state legislatures and courts have endorsed the idea of multiple parents for a child, usually in the context of disputes involving a mother, her partner and a sperm donor.

The reason these kinds of laws are disastrous are not difficult to see (though ideology seems to blind their advocates to them). Courts may presumptuously decide that three or more adults should get a say in a child’s upbringing, but a child’s time, educational opportunities, loyalty, etc., can’t always be divided without doing harm to the child. It is clear that children have additional challenges when they must navigate a world shaped by conflicts between their own mother and father during a divorce. Is there any doubt these problems will be compounded when there are even more adults demanding a say in a child’s life and making demands on the child?  Read more

Video: study shows children better off with father and mother

A new study shows there are significant differences among children raised by gay and lesbian parents when compared with children raised by intact biological families. Watch this video report to learn more from Bill Duncan, Sutherland Institute’s Director of the Center for Family and Society, and to hear a reaction to the study from Karrie Galloway, president of Planned Parenthood Utah.


Here’s the script of the video:  Read more

Groundbreaking Study on Alternative Families

This morning a reputable scholarly journal published two key studies that could unsettle some of the happy talk about alternative family forms. The studies have already been the subject of major stories in the Deseret News and Washington Times. Maggie Gallagher and Charlie Cooke have both made important comments at National Review Online.

In the first study, Dr. Loren Marks of Louisiana State University carefully critiques the research relied on by the American Psychological Association in its policy statement supporting parenting by same-sex couples. Dr. Marks effectively demonstrates that the methodology of the studies is poor enough that the conclusions drawn from them by the APA are unwarranted.

The second study, by Dr. Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, is even more startling. It examines a large national data set, randomly selected, and assesses the outcomes for children across a wide-range of variables.  Read more

Children of the revolution

In a book review in The Family in America, I proposed an analogy: “Today’s young adults are undeniably well-off and thriving materially. They enjoy opportunities and resources unheard of, even among their boomer parents. In terms of family and moral life, however, the appropriate analogy may be the packs of near-feral children who roamed about the countryside after the Communist revolution in Russia. Cut off from the hard-won lessons of tradition, they are emotionally (and sometimes physically) vulnerable not only to predators but also to the consequences of bad choices, consequences that still rear their ugly heads, even in the face of denial.”

The increase in children born to cohabiting couples is the most recent data point on the effects borne by children of the sexual revolution. A recent CDC study shows the percentage of children born to unwed mothers increased from 37.7 percent in 2002 to 45.5 percent in 2006-2010. Of these, the percentage born to women who were cohabiting grew from 12.4 percent to 23.6 percent.  Read more

Family and religion: a harmonious union

A Sutherland newsletter from last year noted the links between family and religion. It explained:

“Church and family are mutually supportive. Religious teachings about marriage, sexuality, obligations of spouses and parents, etc., bolster the natural affections of family life. Parents inculcate religious beliefs and religious morality in their children and family religious observance is at the center of the spiritual life for many people.”

There is plenty of empirical support for the proposition that religious practice strengthens family life. Dr. Patrick Fagan has collected some of the research for the Heritage Foundation here.

A very recent study notes that the beneficial influence of religion on family life holds true even in the most stressful family situations. The study of 1,134 single mothers found religious participation “was associated with greater involvement with children, reduced parenting stress, and a lower likelihood of engaging in corporal punishment.” The children of mothers who attend church frequently “were less likely to display problem behaviors.”

LDS readers will remember that these themes were mentioned in the most recent General Conference by Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder David S. Baxter.

Family issues in Utah Foundation survey raise more questions

The Utah Foundation recently released a helpful survey of voter and party delegate attitudes on a range of issues.

I’ve spent some time looking at the four questions related to family issues and have a couple of general observations.

First, question phrasing makes understanding of attitudes somewhat difficult. For instance, while only 22 percent of voters agree with the proposition “same gender marriage should be legalized,” it is not clear whether that amount would be even lower if the question accurately reflected the current state of the law. The statement in the poll suggests that same-sex marriage is illegal but, of course, anyone is free to participate in any kind of ceremonial marriage they choose. The question is rather whether our law of marriage (which reflect the near-unanimous consensus of civilization across culture and history) should be redefined to remove the element of sex difference.  Read more

Who’s paying for the party?

A recent study by BYU professors (see here and here) tells us that when parents pay for their children’s college, those children are more likely to engage in risky behaviors like alcohol abuse than those who pay their own way, in full or part. Such a finding is consistent with our intuition that when we remove consequences for actions, those relieved of responsibility will often act in irresponsible ways.

Government spending policy could take some cues from what we are learning about parental spending practices. When the government subsidizes unwise choices, whether in homebuying or family formation, we are likely to see those unwise choices becoming more common. The mortgage crisis and the startling rise in unwed parenting seem to confirm this.

Perhaps a good start for the family budget and for entitlement reform is to stop picking up the bar tab.

Another strike against cohabitation: mom’s boyfriend can be deadly

This blog has noted previously some of the problems with a recent spate of stories purporting to show that cohabitation is not necessarily so bad (see here and here).

Last week, the Deseret News ran a story reporting on yet another study that points to a likely heightened risk of divorce for those who cohabit before marrying.

Starker news comes from Nevada. Glenn Cook writes in the Las Vegas Review-Journal about a new “child welfare campaign” aimed at encouraging unwed mothers to be careful about the men they allow to have access to their children. Mr. Cook reports:  Read more

‘Never worked a day in her life’ vs. the 95-hour work week

It’s likely that you heard about the recent controversial remarks from Democratic lobbyist and pundit Hilary Rosen during an appearance on CNN:

“His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we — why we worry about their future.”

It’s the “never worked a day in her life” part that is rubbing so many the wrong way. Do stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) work? Salary.com conducts an annual survey of more than 8,000 moms across the country to determine what kind of work they do. They then use their “extensive salary data” to figure out how much a mom would earn if she were actually paid for that work.

Their 2012 survey revealed that SAHMs average a 95-hour work week. Career moms put in an additional 58 hours of work in the home on top of their “in the office” time. Below is their list of the top 10 “mom jobs” and what they would earn for performing that work in the home.  Read more

‘Old rules’ about marriage obsolete? No, and here’s why

On March 25, 2012, The Salt Lake Tribune editorialized on “Marriage reality: Old rules becoming obsolete.” To understand the chasm separating its reality from truth, it would be helpful to deconstruct its opinions.[pullquote]The culture war today is between those worldviews that see the natural family as an injustice and those that see the natural family as the source of all happiness.[/pullquote]

The Tribune’s editorial begins,

“There was a time when marriage was necessary for the very survival of the family.”

There also was a time when males and females were born and began to bond socially and physically. We call that time “in the beginning.”

“At least most people believed that to be true and perpetuated the theory.”

Most people, at one time, believed the Earth to be flat but sailed and sailed across the seas and never fell off the edge. And, yet, nearly every human being, then and now, marries. Marriage never seems to go away. A “theory” of marriage? The Earth thought to be flat is a theory. Global warming is a theory. Marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of the natural family is truth proven since the beginning of human history.  Read more