FRC Blog

The Peril of Praising Your Kids

by Family Research Council

February 14, 2007

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher told my mother that my grades would improve if I only applied myself to my schoolwork. Oh no, hes applying himself, mom would tell my exasperated teacher. Hes just really that dumb.

Mom believed that effort was more important than intelligence. And as Po Bronson writes in New York magazine, she might be right:

When parents praise their childrens intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think its important to tell their kids that theyre smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.

But a growing body of researchand a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school systemstrongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of smart does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.

According to the article, psychologist Carol Dweck says that those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. I am smart, the kids reasoning goes; I dont need to put out effort.

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The Harm of Teen Sexual Behavior

by Family Research Council

February 8, 2007

A recent study dealing with the emotional consequences of teen sex confirms what conservatives have long been trying to convince mainstream society premarital teen sex can be harmful. The study, performed by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, found that as many as one-half of the sexually-active teenagers surveyed felt guilty, remorseful, and used as a result of their promiscuity.

Survey results even highlighted the harmful impact that oral sex can have on the teen psyche, pointing out that about one-third of teenagers who reported having engaged in oral sex believed that it had been detrimental to them. In elaborating on the significance of the study results, researcher Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher stated, It is important for parents to help teens understand that having oral sex may result in social, emotional and physical consequences just as having vaginal sex may result in these consequences.

Given the source of this information, it is actually quite surprising that we see results which validate, if only from a pragmatic perspective, the conservative ideal of approaching sex with a great deal of caution. As expected, the study does not invoke any truly moral considerations for avoiding sexual intimacy, nor does it overtly say that teens should, in all instances, abstain from sexual behavior. It does, however, open the door for continued discussion and, at the very least, implicitly lends credence to the idea that abstinence is the best way to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the younger generation of Americans.

Possibly the most important result of this study is that it gives the conservative community yet another set of facts for arguing with our liberal counterparts individuals who oftentimes disdain moral considerations for remaining sexually pure and place reliance upon cold, hard facts. Well, we now have those facts. Lets use them to our advantage.

The door is cracked open. Its our job to widen that crack.

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The Marital Litmus Test

by Family Research Council

February 7, 2007

According to World magazine’s blog, “Defenders of same-sex marriage in Washington have filed an initiative that would require heterosexual couples to have children within three years of tying the knot — or have their marriages annulled.” NWCN.com, a Washington State news site, quotes the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance (WA-DOMA) as saying:

For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation … The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine,” said WA-DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow in a printed statement. If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.”

For the moment, let’s take this group seriously enough to examine the question, “Is marriage solely for the purpose of creation?” My tentative answer: Yes and no. I agree with natural law thinker Robert George, who says, “Here is the core of the traditional understanding: Marriage is a two-in-one-flesh communion of person that is consummated and actualized by acts that are reproductive in type, whether or not they are reproductive in effect…” He adds: “Although not all reproductive-type acts are marital, there can be no marital act that is not reproductive in type.”

A number of factors could prevent a married couple from having a child within three years (e.g., what if the child is stillborn?) so it would be unfair to penalize them for something that is beyond their control. Instead, a more reasonable criteria should be established that is based on actions that are solely within their power. For example, all couples who wish to marry—both gay and straight—must be willing and able to engage in “marital acts”, acts that are reproductive in type. To paraphrase the WA-DOMA, those couples who cannot or will not engage in marital acts that are reproductive in type should equally be barred from marriage.

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Young Minorities Share Old Values

by Family Research Council

February 7, 2007

A recent survey conducted by the University of Chicago provides some interesting insight into the comparative social behavior of blacks, Hispanics, and whites between the ages of 15 and 25. The scope of the survey was broad, covering issues ranging from political involvement to entertainment to sexual mistreatment of women, but what I found most intriguing about the study were the answers to the question, Is abortion always wrong? The responses surprised me greatly, for among blacks and Hispanics surveyed, 47% and 46%, respectively, thought that abortion was wrong in all instances, while comparatively only 34% of whites surveyed believed that abortion was wrong in every circumstance.

When I read further, however, the survey data continued to puzzle me.

When asked about homosexual activity, 55% percent of blacks surveyed felt that homosexual activity was, once again, always wrong, while only 35% of whites felt the same way. What we increasingly see is that the picture being painted by this eye-opening survey is inconsistent with the traditional voting record of minority communities. As evidenced by the above statistics, we have minority groups, and most especially African-Americans, who appear to support the underlying moral principles of the conservative social agenda, yet who consistently and even dogmatically persist in voting for liberal legislators. So, how do we reconcile the findings of this study with what we know from past experience?

For any social issue there are a number of contributing factors, so to posit that there is a simple cause and effect for the dichotomy in professed beliefs and behavior of some minorities would be naive. However, I propose that this disparity might very well be due in no small part to a general lack of information in the minority community, especially among its younger members the subjects of this survey. Perhaps the conservative community is not reaching out to minorities as it should. Might it even be plausible that conservatives have, in some instances, ceded that ground to the liberal platform and gone on their merry way? I think this might very possibly be the case.

More than anything else, I believe these statistics give us hope. The real crux of the issue lies in the opportunity that conservatives have with the younger generation of minority voters the future influencers of thought and opinion both in minority communities and in the nation as a whole. At a time when the black and Hispanic communities are showing an increasingly open mindset toward the social issues so vital to the life of our nation, we need to seize the opportunity to reach out to them on common ground, to make ourselves relevant, and to lay the foundation for future success in revitalizing the moral fibers of our country.

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Our Hero the Villain

by Family Research Council

February 6, 2007

A new poll from the Associated Press and AOL News asked respondents to name the past years biggest villain. The results:

#1 — George W. Bush (25%)

#2 — Osama Bin Laden (8%)

#3 — Saddam Hussein (6%)

#4 — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran (5%)

#5 — North Korean leader Kim Jong II (2%)

#6 — Donald Rumsfeld (2%)

#7 Tie: Satan, Hugo Chavez, Tom Cruise, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Rosie ODonnell (1%).

The same poll asked Americans to name the years biggest hero:

#1 George W. Bush (13%)

#2 — The troops in Iraq (6%)

#3 Tie: Jesus Christ, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey (3%)

#4 — Bono (2%)

#5 Tie: Warren Buffett, George Clooney, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Billy Graham, Angelina Jolie, Colin Powell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Condoleeza Rice (1%)

When a poll shows our President is considered more villainous than three dictators, the world’s most infamous terrorist, and the Prince of Darkness, and that Barack and Oprah are on par with Jesus then either (a) we don’t take polls seriously anymore or (b) Americans are boneheads.

Maybe we should take a poll to find out the answer…

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Michigan Says “No” to Gay Benefits

by Family Research Council

February 2, 2007

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled this past Friday that public universities and state and local governments providing health insurance to the partners of homosexual employees would be in violation of the state constitution. In its ruling, the Court opined that the voter-approved gay marriage ban passed in 2004 applies not only to gay marriage itself but also to benefits of partners. The Court stated, The marriage amendments plain language prohibits public employers from recognizing same-sex unions for any purpose.

This, of course, is very encouraging news for the conservative community and is indicative of prevailing public opinion towards affording gay unions the same legal status as marriage between a man and a woman. The majority of Americans does not now support nor has it ever supported the legal elevation of gay unions to equality with marriage. Finally, we see a state court standing firm in its obligation to uphold its constitution, and we see a respect for the results of the democratic process in this case, the passage of the 2004 voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

What is even more auspicious than the ruling itself is the emphatic language used by the three judge panel in handing down its decision: The protection of the institution of marriage is a long-standing public policy and tradition in the law of Michigan. One might truly say that in the battle over the foundational unit of American society the family we can see the fight turning in our favor.

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