Tag Archives: Dad

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.


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.


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.

Psychologist claims father is an unfit parent for refusing to yield to son’s demands for fast food

Psychologist Marilyn Schiller
Psychologist Marilyn Schiller

From ABC News.


Saying no to a toddler’s demands for a McDonald’s meal got a father branded an inept parent, he says in a lawsuit claiming a psychologist urged a judge to curtail his parental visits over the dinner debacle.

David E. Schorr says psychologist Marilyn Schiller pronounced him incapable of caring for his nearly 5-year-old son after he offered a choice — dinner anywhere but McDonald’s, or no dinner at all — and let the boy choose the latter. He then took his irate son home to the boy’s mother’s house early from their Oct 30 dinner date, according to a defamation suit Schorr filed Tuesday.

[…]”Normally not a very strict father who rarely refuses his child McDonald’s,” Schorr put his foot down Oct. 30 “because his son had been eating too much junk food,” the suit said. Schorr himself didn’t immediately return a call Friday.

He quickly regretted his stance when his son threw a tantrum, but he felt that giving in would reward bad behavior, so he offered the elsewhere-or-nowhere “final offer,” as his court papers put it.

“The child, stubborn as a mule, chose the ‘no dinner’ option,” the suit says. And the father promptly carted the boy back to Bari Schorr’s building, still trying to entice the child into changing his mind as they waited in the lobby for her to get home from work, according to the suit.

Schiller told a judge the fast food flap “raises concerns about the viability” of the father’s weekend visits with his son and asked a judge to eliminate or limit them, his lawsuit says.

The NY Post reports that the brat’s mother immediately took him to McDonald’s.


Adding insult to injury, he said: “My wife immediately took him to McDonalds.”

[…]But the son apparently tattled on his dad and his wife flipped out and called the shrink, according to the suit.

Schorr claims that Dr. Schiller only interviewed the child and his mother and never asked for his side of the story before telling the court she was gravely concerned about Schorr’s parenting.

Bari Yunis Schorr sued her husband for a divorce in 2011, just four years after they married in a lavish ceremony at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.

Now does this situation happen a lot? I mean a situation where a mother goes to the feminist authoritities (psychologists/social workers/lawyers/teachers/judges) in order to overrule the father’s parenting authority?

Another case from Canada

Here is a story from Canada that shows why we need to be careful about enacting compassionate, non-judgmental, feminized social policies.The more you reduce the male role and male authority in the family, the fewer men will want to take on the responsibilities of being a Dad. We need to be careful not to replace husbands and fathers with big government social programs and intrusive, anti-male courts.


A Gatineau father lost an appeal Monday after a lower court ruled last June that he had issued a too severe punishment against his 12-year-old daughter.

The case involves a divorced man who says that in 2008 he caught the girl, over whom he had custody, surfing websites he had forbidden and posting “inappropriate pictures of herself” online. The girl’s father told her as a consequence that she would not be allowed to go on her class’ graduation trip to Quebec City, even though her mother had already given permission for her to do so.

The girl then contacted a legal-aid lawyer who was involved in the parents’ custody battle, who convinced the court to order that the girl be allowed to go on the trip with her class.  The father appealed the decision on principle, although his daughter went on the trip in the meantime.

The appeals court reportedly warned in its ruling that the case should not be seen as an open invitation for children to take legal action against their parents when grounded.

The girl now lives with her mother.

You may think that this would be overturned on appeal, but the father LOST his appeal, too.

So, what the daughter, wife, prosecuting attorney and judge (all feminists?) are all telling this Dad that he can donate sperm, pay bills, and pay taxes for feminist social programs, but that he cannot PARENT his own children. He cannot have any moral authority to guide the child into becoming a man. That job is for child care workers, single mothers and public school teachers. Men need to butt out of parenting – except they can pay for all these experts through taxes, of course.


  • Does anyone care what men want from marriage and parenting, or should we just be ordered around like little boys?
  • Do we really think that state coercion is going to make men be more involved with their marriages and children?

I think that marriage should allow men to express themselves as fathers, just as much as women can express themselves as mothers. Parenting should be an equally shared responsibility, and the father should have at least as much parental authority as the mother.

Compassion vs standards

Here is a pretty good article by Jewish scholar Dennis Prager that argues against compassion and for moral standards. He tells a story of a team losing a baseball game 24-7, when the scoreboard is reset to 0-0 DURING THE GAME. He then asks what beliefs would motivate this action.

As is happening throughout America, compassion trumped all other values.

Truth was the first value compassion trashed. In the name of compassion, the adults in charge decided to lie. The score was not 0-0; it was 24-7.

Wisdom was the second value compassion obliterated. It is unwise to the point of imbecilic to believe that the losing boys were in any way helped by changing the score. On the contrary, they learned lessons that will hamper their ability to mature.

He lists the lessons that the winning and losing boys learned from this compassionate act, and how they will act in the future. Then he continues his list.

Building character was the third value trumped by compassion. People build character far more through handling defeat than through winning. The human being grows up only when forced to deal with disappointment. We remain children until the day we take full responsibility for our lives.

…The fourth value that compassion denied here was fairness. It is remarkable how often compassion-based liberals speak of “fairness” in formulating social policy given how unfair so many of their policies are. It was entirely unfair to the winning team to have their score expunged, all their work denied. But for the compassion-first crowd, the winning team is like “the rich” who earn “too much” and should therefore be penalized with a higher tax rate; the winning team scored “too many” runs to be allowed to keep them all.

The standards that are undermined by compassion can be moral standards or standards of rationality. The former is under attack from moral relativism, and the latter is under attach from postmodernism. But I guess parents don’t really care enough to teach their children about these ideas, and when the children grow up, they vote for the policies that follow from moral relativism and postmodernism: policies of the secular left.

How early can you start to teach children about Christian apologetics?

Here’s a post from a new blog called Beyond Teachable Moments, which offers best practices for Christian parents who want to prepare their children for a world that doesn’t always support Christian convictions – and that’s putting it mildly. In this post, the author explains how she is able to prepare her two boys for a pretty common objection to Christianity.

The challenge:

I think all kids, and adults, have a curiosity about where the Bible came from, how it was put together, and how it was passed down.  That is why my husband and I wanted to teach our kids some of the basics about this topic early on in their lives.  We have found our kids to be really receptive to this material.

[…]Do these differences in the gospel accounts mean that the disciples made up the story about Jesus, or that they are at least unreliable eyewitnesses, as some conclude?  If the eyewitnesses to the gospel accounts can’t get their story straight, should we believe their testimony at all?

So the mom planned out an activity to teach her kids to defend against this objection: (how old do you think kids have to be for this to work?)

The gist of this activity is to set up a scenario where your kids act as eyewitnesses to an event, and then help them to discover that they each will remember and report on different aspects of that event.

There are many ways to do this activity.  I chose to create my own scenario, which I detail below.  You could alternatively have your kids, or one child and a different adult, watch a video clip together on YouTube or on a DVD.  Just make sure to watch the clip on your own in advance so you that have the details straight in your own head first.  Then ask similar pointed questions to the ones listed in the activity outlined below.

I arranged for our kids to meet me in the living room at an appointed time.  I told them that I had something special to show them.  I didn’t give them any further preparation.

Then I dressed up in a strange and elaborate costume.  I put on various pieces of my kid’s dress up costumes (a hat, a mask, ponytails in my hair, a cape, a shirt with a picture on it, gloves, a scarf, and various things sticking out of my front and back pockets, and I had a stuffed animal tucked in somewhere to boot).

At the appointed time, I came into the room where my kids were seated and announced with a strange accent:  “Welcome everyone.  I am Mommy the Magnificent and I have a magic show to perform for you!”

I then explained how I was going to make something disappear in my magic hat.  I put a small toy in my hat; I waved a fancy cloth over top of it that I had taken out of one of my pockets, turned around a bunch of times (mainly so they could see the back of my costume), and said some magic sounding words.  I did some fancy dancing moves and made the toy disappear (by concealing it in my hand).  I then bowed and left the room.

The kids were amused, but also confused.

I told the kids to stay where they were, and quickly took off all of my costume and hid it out of sight.  I re-entered the room where my kids were bouncing off the walls, re-gathered them onto the couch and told them that that they were just eyewitnesses to what I had performed for them.

Then I asked: What is an eyewitness?  (Answer: Someone who sees something with their own eyes.  As they also heard something, our kids coined the term ‘earwitness’ as well!)

I told them that I was going to interview each of them to find out what they saw in my performance.  I took them one by one into a different room where our conversation could not be overheard by their brother, and interviewed them individually.  I told the one waiting to be interviewed to think hard about what he had just seen in preparation for his interview.

Click through to read how the kids responded. I don’t have any kids of my own, but I am reading this blog to see how it’s done. Each post is showing a completely new creative technique for teaching apologetics to these two young boys. If you have any techniques like this, post an example in the comments.

Do you think that it is worth it to have a stay-at-home mom doing these sorts of activities with kids? Do you think that a government-run daycare would do similar activities? What sort of policies should a liberty-minded government enact in order to free up mothers to stay home and nurture their children like this? Which political party do you think is pushing for those policies? Which party is trying to make it harder for moms to stay home and do these sorts of activities?

W. Bradford Wilcox: the importance and impact of a good father

A pro-father article by W. Bradford Wilcox, from the left-leaning Atlantic.

He lists four ways that fathers make a distinctive contribution to child development.

  • Distinctive play style
  • Encouraging risk
  • Protection from threats
  • Disciplining style

Here’s the detail on the last one:

Dad’s discipline: Although mothers typically discipline their children more often than do fathers, dads’ disciplinary style is distinctive. In surveying the research on gender and parenthood for our book, Palkovitz observes that fathers tend to be firmer with their children, compared to mothers. Based on their extensive clinical experience, and a longitudinal study of 17 stay-at-home fathers, Kyle Pruett and psychologist Marsha Kline Pruett agree. In Partnership Parenting they write, “Fathers tend to be more willing than mothers to confront their children and enforce discipline, leaving their children with the impression that they in fact have more authority.” By contrast, mothers are more likely to reason with their children, to be flexible in disciplinary situations, and to rely on their emotional ties to a child to encourage her to behave. In their view, mothers and fathers working together as co-parents offer a diverse yet balanced approach to discipline.

Then he lists out some reasons why good dads matter:

  • Lower delinquency
  • Lower teen pregnancy
  • Lower depression

A very good article with lots of citations.

Why do we celebrate Fathers Day? Why is fatherhood important?

Father’s Day is the day that children and wives are supposed to honor fathers by giving them respect for being providers, protectors and moral/spiritual leaders. One of the best ways to motivate this duty is by studying research to find out the difference that fathers make.

Some statistics on the importance of biological fathers from Fathers.com.


Some fathering advocates would say that almost every social ill faced by America’s children is related to fatherlessness. Six are noted here. As supported by the data below, children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens.

For a summary, I’ll just list one fact from each of the six categories they listed.

1. Poverty


– Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. In 2002, 7.8% of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 38.4% of children in female-householder families.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Children’s Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2002, P20-547, Table C8. Washington, D.C.: GPO 2003.

2. Drug and Alcohol Abuse


– The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics. Survey on Child Health. Washington, DC, 1993.

3. Physical and Emotional Health


– Unmarried mothers are less likely to obtain prenatal care and more likely to have a low birthweight baby. Researchers find that these negative effects persist even when they take into account factors, such as parental education, that often distinguish single-parent from two-parent families.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Report to Congress on Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing. Hyattsville, MD (Sept. 1995): 12.

– Children in single-parent families are two to three times as likely as children in two-parent families to have emotional and behavioral problems.Source: Stanton, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics.”National Health Interview Survey.” Hyattsville, MD, 1988.

4. Educational Achievement


– After taking into account race, socioeconomic status, sex, age, and ability, high school students from single-parent households were 1.7 times more likely to drop out than were their corresponding counterparts living with both biological parents.Source: McNeal, Ralph B. Jr.”Extracurricular Activities and High School Dropouts.” Sociology of Education 68(1995): 62-81.

5. Crime


– Children in single parent families are more likely to be in trouble with the law than their peers who grow up with two parents.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey. Hyattsville, MD, 1988.

6. Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy


– A white teenage girl from an advantaged background is five times more likely to become a teen mother if she grows up in a single-mother household than if she grows up in a household with both biological parents.Source: Whitehead, Barbara Dafoe. “Facing the Challenges of Fragmented Families.” The Philanthropy Roundtable 9.1 (1995): 21.

Now take a look at this Wall Street Journal article that explains some of the ways that fathers have beneficial effects on children.


As an estimated 70.1 million fathers prepare to celebrate Father’s Day in the U.S., recent research shows that their distinct style of parenting is particularly worth recognition: The way dads tend to interact has long-term benefits for kids, independent of those linked to good mothering.

[…]The benefits of involved fathering are known: improved cognitive skills, fewer behavioral problems among school-age children, less delinquency among teenage boys and fewer psychological problems in young women, based on an analysis of 16 long-term studies of father involvement, published in 2008 in the scholarly journal Acta Paediatrica.

Some of dads’ behavior may spring from their roles as family breadwinners. Although mothers play a significant role in the workforce, men are still the primary breadwinners in more than three-fourths of married-couple households.

And 48% of working fathers spend less than six hours a day with their children, compared with 31% of working mothers, according to a recent poll of 459 working adults by Workplace Options, a provider of employee-assistance and work-life programs in Raleigh, N.C.

As a result, fathers may be less familiar with their children’s nonverbal cues. Such dads tend to challenge children more to express themselves in words, helping foster the better cognitive skills researchers have found in 2-year-olds with involved fathers.

Parenting patterns may be rooted in neurological differences. Under stress, research shows, men’s brains are wired to respond to challenges physically, leaping into action. Women are more likely to withdraw or shut down.

Because fathers have had to learn to manage their own impulses to strike out or react physically to frustration, they may be better equipped than mothers to help children manage their own urges to behave badly, Dr. Pruett says.

Indeed, fathers typically aren’t as upset as mothers by kids’ tantrums or bad behavior, based on a 2009 survey of 1,615 parents by Zero to Three, a nonprofit child-development research and policy organization. Only half as many fathers as mothers say their children’s temper tantrums are one of their biggest challenges.

Fathers matter, so women need to choose men who will be good fathers. And that means having an idea of what fathers do, and knowing how to evaluate a man to see if he can do what fathers do. There’s more to fathers than handsomeness and fun!

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