Category archives: Family

A Bad Day for Kids

by Tony Perkins

March 24, 2007

Yesterday, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) announced that he wants to end state funding for abstinence education, a move that would eliminate about a half million dollars’ worth of positive programs. Strickland said, “Over the long term, there’s no data that show they prevent, in a statistical sense, sexual activity outside of marriage.” However, stacks of peer-reviewed research are showing the direct impact of abstinence education, including a peer-reviewed study on America’s largest and oldest abstinence program, Best Friends.

In Adolescent and Family Health, Dr. Robert Lerner’s analysis of urban D.C. participants found that, “Despite the fact that [these students come from schools that]… are located in Wards that have higher rates of out-of-wedlock births, girls who attended the program are substantially less likely to…have sex than a comparable sample… The relative odds of 120 to 1 of a [high school] Diamond Girl abstaining from sex is a result so strong that it is unheard of in practically any empirical research.”

Elsewhere, a U.S. District Judge has decided to strike down a 1998 law, supported by FRC, that protects children from online pornography. Judge Lowell Reed, Jr. suggests that parents invest in software filters because they are “far more effective than the [Child Online Protection Act].” Following the judge’s advice would be like dispensing with water treatment plants and asking every family just to filter their own drinking water.

Family Hangs in the Balance of New Budget

by Tony Perkins

March 22, 2007

As you fill out this year’s IRS paperwork, enjoy your family tax breaks. If the new Senate leadership has its way, they may be among your last. This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unveiled a resolution that calls for a balanced budget by 2012. While it seems like an insurmountable task, liberals have found an easy solution. They’ll simply reverse every GOP tax cut and raise an extra $900 billion in revenue.

As part of the plan, Democrats would reinstate the tax penalty on married couples, causing the standard deduction for joint filers to shrink from 200 to 167 percent by 2011. Also, liberals recommend slashing the child tax credit in half, reducing it from $1,000 to $500. Although Congress has managed to whittle the death taxes down to nearly nothing under the current code, Democrats would resurrect them in four short years. Unfortunately, the tax rates would rise substantially in every bracket, even among low-income taxpayers who would be forced to pay Uncle Sam at a 15 percent rate. Under the measure, taxes on both dividends and capital gains would increase by January 2009.

Although painful, this would help erase the U.S. budget deficit, right? Wrong. Reid’s legislation actually increases spending for health care, education, and transportation projects. Republicans are understandably frustrated by the proposal, which could lead to the biggest tax increase in history. Families, who were finally experiencing some tax relief under President Bush, would again be forced to shoulder a heavy financial burden—not to ease American debt—but to pay for Democrats’ pet programs. As Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said, “As we [start to debate] the budget… we shouldn’t begin with a plan to grow an even more massive bureaucracy on the backs of the American taxpayer.”

Hit Out of Bounds

by Tony Perkins

March 13, 2007

If you stand for marriage and family, you’re likely to face a blind-side blitz. That’s the message being sent by homosexual rights groups to Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy. Coach Dungy is scheduled to appear at a March 20 banquet where he will receive the Indiana Family Institute’s “Friend of the Family” award.

The homosexual groups are attacking the Super Bowl-winning coach because the Institute supports an amendment to the state’s constitution that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. One aghast gay activist told The Indianapolis Star, “Dungy appears to be an upstanding guy, but the coach’s willingness to appear at this banquet strikes him as tantamount to endorsing its opposition to gay marriage.”

Such pressure even prompted the Colts to issue a statement that Coach Dungy speaks on his own and that his “feelings on the importance of marriage and family are well known.” Coach Dungy should be applauded, not condemned, for his championship role for the family.

Marriage and Caste

by Family Research Council

March 8, 2007

In a review of Kay Hymowitz’s new book, Marriage and Caste in America, Lisa Schiffren notes how we have become jaded about out-of-wedlock births:

The U.S. government recently announced that 36.8 percent of the children born in America in 2005 were born out of wedlock. In other words, almost 4 of every 10 American newborns were placed into the arms of unmarried mothers with no real claims on the men who impregnated them. Very few of these parents will end up marrying each other, and very few of the fathers will be permanent presences in the lives of their children. The children themselves will have meaner and more marginal lives than their peers in two-parent families.

The number is staggering, and at least as much of a threat to our way of life as anything Osama bin Laden has cooked up. Yet it is met with a collective shrug. Indeed, we are now so inured to such statistics that we regard them as a fact of nature, about which little can be done. Because child-bearing outside of marriage is a subject wrapped up with the highly fraught issues of sex, race, and personal mores, politicians tend to avoid it. Academics often try to quantify it, but in ways that miss the human element of the problem.

Read the rest at Commentary magazine. (HT: Dustin Steeve of The Right House blog who also has some intriguing thoughts on the subject.)

Marriage Leads to Prosperity—not Vice Versa

by Tony Perkins

March 6, 2007

The Washington Post reported yesterday on statistics which show that married couples have higher incomes than single people or cohabiting couples, and that children raised by married couples are less likely to live in poverty than children raised by single or cohabiting parents. This should come as no surprise.

FRC has been reporting on this “wealth” of data for years, in publications like The Family Portrait. What is surprising is how the Post chose to spin this story. Instead of praising marriage as a ticket to prosperity, it seemed to lament the greed of those who wed, saying that the institution is “becoming the self-selected province of the college-educated and the affluent,” a “luxury item” that is “helping to drive a well-documented increase in income inequality.”

When the Post says that “the marriage gap appears to be driven primarily by education and income,” the cart is pulling the horse. Economic prosperity and educational advancement (especially for children) are driven by the decision to marry (before having kids) and staying married—not the other way around. The cost of the marriage license is the best investment most couples ever make.

Childless in Seattle

by Tony Perkins

February 19, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

In Washington state, a group of same-sex activists say that if heterosexuals want to protect marriage, theyd better be ready to deliver. Literally. Gregory Gadow is collecting signatures for a proposal that would force newlyweds to have children in their first three years of marriage. If they refused, the law would dissolve their union. Gadow said that if homosexuals cant get married because they cant have kids, then reproducing should be requirement of those who can. The move may be a publicity stunt, but its raised some important questions. In todays world, we increasingly view childrennot as blessingsbut as burdens. How else can we explain the birth rate reaching record lows? While not every married couple can or should have kids, creating and raising the next generation should be high on Americas priority list. Obviously, this proposal is too extreme, but in the end, its an important reminder that our public policy should encourage a pro-procreation environment.

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. To subscribe to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

UNICEF’s Incomplete Mirror on Families Reflects Poorly on U.S.

by Tony Perkins

February 16, 2007

A new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) paints an unflattering picture of the United States and the United Kingdom. In “An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries,” UNICEF claims that the two nations rank dead last in providing for young people’s welfare. Citing the lack of government-sponsored day care and “economic inequality,” a spokesman for UNICEF said, “They don’t invest as much in children as continental European countries do.” The U.S. should take some exception to this comment as money is not the only accurate measure of a child’s well-being. Unlike most Europeans, Americans don’t rely on a socialist system to provide for their families’ needs. In this study, only government funds were measured. The money provided from other sources was ignored. Assessing factors such as health, safety, family relationships, risk behaviors, and education, the study did cite the overwhelming number of single parents in the U.S. as cause for concern. Coupled with the alarming rates of teen promiscuity and substance abuse, the breakdown of the family must be addressed. Having said that, the government is not most Americans’ first choice when it comes to creating wealth, raising children, or making decisions about their health. As we’ve seen from the recent HPV vaccine mandates, Americans are not ready to let the government decide every issue for our children. If that’s the benchmark for high grades from UNICEF, then the U.S. is far better off than this study suggests.

Commuter Love

by Family Research Council

February 14, 2007

Elizabeth Marquardt at the always excellent Family Scholars Blog notes that people tend to associate negative connotations to the concept of commuter marriages. Marquardt believes that many people think that somehow, at the very least, the physical presence of a couple together is what makes a marriage real. She goes on to note that we take a quite different view when it comes to the children of divorce:

When it comes to children whose parents part, most people will concede that something sad has happened but these days many people will also add something like this: well, divorce happens a lot. Children of divorce know a lot of other kids growing up the same way. Its not such a big deal nowadays. Its normal.

In other words, when it comes to the parent-child relationship we dont think much of the fact that for many children today even the simple physical presence of both parents in their daily lives cannot be taken for granted. Some who support widespread divorce might even argue that the daily presence of their parent is not all that critical to the parent-child relationship. The parent-child relationship is no less real simply because they dont live together.

A commuter childhood is just another way of growing up these days. But a commuter marriage? Well, what adult wants to live in that?

Indeed, children of divorce are often expected to endure a situation that most adults would never willingly choose for themselves. Edith from Monastic Musings adds an insightful point:

The push and pull of ties in two locations is amplified when there is a parent in both places. The unsettling feeling of being in someone else’s home - but having a right to be there - or not having any stable sense of home. The fatigue with travel, with schedules, with packing and unpacking, with planning. The pressure to be happy and upbeat - no matter how hard the day or week - because there is only a short amount of time to be together — all of those things are present for the commuter child as well. If it is hard on a marriage, it is certainly hard on a parent-child relationship.

These are not identical situations, certainly. But it makes the studies about the impact of divorce on relationships between parents and children much easier to understand. No wonder so many parents and children grow distant over time: commuter love is hard to do!

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.

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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