Tag Archives: Family

Study: early sexual activity has a negative impact on relationship quality and stability

Is it OK to tell women they are wrong?
Do young people understand the long-term impact of premarital sex?

I’ve posted before about how premarital sex affects the stability of marriages by making divorce more likely. But there has been more research published since. Let’s take a look.

Here a good study on relationship tempo and relationship quality.

Abstract:

Rapid sexual involvement may have adverse long-term implications for relationship quality. This study examined the tempo of sexual intimacy and subsequent relationship quality in a sample of married and cohabiting men and women. Data come from the Marital and Relationship Survey, which provides information on nearly 600 low- to moderate-income couples living with minor children. Over one third of respondents became sexually involved within the first month of the relationship. Bivariate results suggested that delaying sexual involvement was associated with higher relationship quality across several dimensions. The multivariate results indicated that the speed of entry into sexual relationships was negatively associated with marital quality, but only among women. The association between relationship tempo and relationship quality was largely driven by cohabitation. Cohabiting may result in poorer quality relationship because rapid sexual involvement early in the romantic relationship is associated with entrance into shared living.

The authors are from Cornell University and University of Wisconsin – Madison. Prestigious schools, and very far to the left.

Here’s another recent study that shows that if a woman has more partners than just her husband as a premarital sex partner, the risk of divorce increases.

Conclusion:

Using nationally representative data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, I estimate the association between intimate premarital relationships (premarital sex and premarital cohabitation) and subsequent marital dissolution. I extend previous research by considering relationship histories pertaining to both premarital sex and premarital cohabitation. I find that premarital sex or premarital cohabitation that is limited to a woman’s husband is not associated with an elevated risk of marital disruption. However, women who have more than one intimate premarital relationship have an increased risk of marital dissolution.

Here’s another study that makes it even more clear.

Findings:

Data from the 1988 US National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) were utilized to assess the impact of premarital sexual activity on subsequent marital stability. Among white NSFG subjects first married in 1965-85, virgin brides were significantly less to have become separated or divorced (25%) than women who had not been virgins at marriage (35%).

[…]The lower risk of divorce on the part of white women with no premarital sexual experience persisted even after numerous intervening and background variables were controlled.

And I am going to save the best study for last. This marvelous PDF is from August 2014, and is put out by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. It is comprehensive, and links to many papers from decades ago to the state of the art today. It seems like people are really rushing into sex these days, without much thought. They want to have fun, feel accepted, be like their friends, conform to the culture. But sometimes, it’s better to be practical than to be governed by the desire for fun and thrills. If you want to do something, look at the research and find out what the consequences are before you do it. That’s what a sensible person does.

When it comes to discussing the Bible’s rules on sex, evidence is very important. Evidence is what convinces even non-Chrsitian people to take the Bible seriously when it comes to putting sex in its proper place. That’s why we need to know what the Bible says, and we need to augment that with real-world evidence so that it is applied to our own decision-making, and so that we can be persuasive when discussing it with others.

Top fertility specialist advises women: don’t wait till 30 to try to have children

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

Dina sent me this UK Daily Mail article a while back, but I held onto it until I could find something to pair it with.

It says:

One of Britain’s top NHS fertility specialists last night issued a stark warning to women: Start trying for a baby before you’re 30 – or risk never having children.

In a strongly worded letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, consultant gynaecologist Professor Geeta Nargund has also demanded that teenagers are taught about the dangers of delaying parenthood, because of the spiralling cost to the taxpayer of IVF for women in their late 30s and 40s.

Professor Nargund cites the agony of a growing number of women left childless as a key reason why fertility lessons must be included in the national curriculum. Her controversial intervention – in which she warns Britain faces a ‘fertility timebomb’ – will fuel the debate over the best time to start a family, amid the rise in women delaying motherhood to pursue careers.

[…]Arguing passionately for fertility lessons, she tells Mrs Morgan: ‘Information is power and the best way to empower people to take control of their fertility is through education.’ Prof Nargund said last night: ‘Ideally, if a woman is ready for a child, she should start trying by the time she is 30. She should consider having a child early because as a woman gets older, her fertility declines sharply.’

If a woman started trying early enough, doctors would still have time to diagnose problems and take action before it was too late, she said.

Her comments were endorsed by Professor Allan Pacey, outgoing chair of the British Fertility Society.

‘You need to be trying by 30 because if there is a problem and you need surgery, hormones or IVF, then you’ve got five years to sort it out,’ he said. ‘If a woman starts trying at 35, doctors have got to sort it out when she is already on a slippery fertility slope’.

Let’s see how accurate women’s beliefs about fertility and age are.

Consider this article from Aeon magazine.

It says:

Many studies show that women are not only woefully ignorant when it comes to fertility, conception and the efficacy of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) – but they overestimate their knowledge about the subject. For instance, a 2011 study in Fertility and Sterility surveyed 3,345 childless women in Canada between the ages of 20 and 50; despite the fact that the women initially assessed their own fertility knowledge as high, the researchers found only half of them answered six of the 16 questions correctly. 72.9 per cent of women thought that: ‘For women over 30, overall health and fitness level is a better indicator of fertility than age.’ (False.) And 90.9 per cent felt that: ‘Prior to menopause, assisted reproductive technologies (such as IVF) can help most women to have a baby using their own eggs.’ (Also false.) Many falsely believed that by not smoking and not being obese they could improve their fertility, rather than the fact that those factors simply negatively affect fertility.

[…]According to a 2011 study in Human Reproduction, which surveyed 410 undergraduate students, most overestimated a women’s chances of spontaneous pregnancy in all age groups, but particularly after receiving IVF beyond age 40. Only 11 per cent of the students knew that genetic motherhood is unlikely to be achieved from the mid-40s onward, unless using oocytes or egg cells frozen in advance. ‘This can be explained by technological “hype” and favourable media coverage of very late pregnancies,’ the authors concluded.

So, I guess now I’ll issue my advice to women in their 20s on how to avoid infertility:

Money gives men confidence to pull the trigger on marriage, so you should focus your efforts on men with a solid balance sheet and a gap-less resume. Beware of men who paint a rosy picture of their finances in the future that makes you feel good, but who have not demonstrated their ability to earn or save. It’s much better to focus your time on a man who can marry you right now. The best way to tell if a man is capable of marriage is not by listening to confident words, it’s by looking to see how he has prepared to perform his roles, one of which is provider.

Be debt free. Study STEM in school, update your resume, and get a job that pays well. Jobs are not meant to be fun or fulfilling. You need to be preparing financially for marriage, and that means a normal 9-5 job in an office with 3% annual raises and 401K matching. The more you save to help your man with the down payment on your house, the better. Pursuing fun and spending money on frivolous things like travel is not the way to prepare for marriage (unless you travel as part of your job, of course). Don’t live in the moment, do sacrifice for the future. Believe me: a woman’s debt is a serious damper on a man’s willingness to marry her.

If you went to college, chances are that you absorbed a lot of feminism. Feminism emphasizes being free of constraints, feeling happy, having fun, career over family, and independence from the needs of men and children. You need to renew your mind in order to undo the cultural denigration of marriage and children. Get yourself a marriage mentor, ask for book recommendations that will educate you about the challenges and rewards of marriage. A good marriage mentor will explain to you why marriage is a better plan than the feminist plan, and will emphasize self-denial, self-sacrifice, self-control and serving others. It’s only by getting specific about marriage and parenting that your heart will change to want to work on marriage rather than work on the things that the feminist culture prefers. I recommend Dr. Laura’s book on husbands, and lectures by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.

I guess my closing advice would be to be careful about the things you hear about marriage in the culture. A lot of people have agendas that sound good, but ultimately, they don’t satisfy. I really recommend that you read Philippians and mediate on Philippians 2 and 4, which talk about the importance of caring about other people (2) and sharing with other people (4).

Why do some people not move in together before marriage?

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Is cohabitation the right way to build lifelong married love?

I find Lindsay’s blog useful for getting a bird’s eye view of marriage. I like it because she and her husband Doug are running such a tight game plan and it’s clearly working. It makes me feel good about not blindly following the culture’s rules for relationships. One of the cultural norms that’s really popular these days is cohabitation.

Here’s a post by Lindsay about cohabitation.

I’m going to quote some stuff from her post, and you see if you catch sight of something she is talking about that is missing from relationships today:

Marriage is meant to be a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman in which they physically, spiritually, and emotionally bond to become one. This bonding of the entire self only works properly when all other options are permanently rejected. It is the nature of erotic love to include only two people. Each person has only one self and can only give that self wholly to one other. In order to bind oneself so tightly to another, it is necessary to forego binding in that way with any other at any time. Thus true love requires commitment.

[…]A person who is “keeping their options open” is not exhibiting love.

Marriage is designed to be a safe and loving environment for the sharing of self. When two people commit to each other before sexual intimacy, they affirm that their love for the other person is not contingent on bedroom performance (or anything else). True love says “I love you, whatever the cost may be, no matter what I may find out about you in the future, and nothing you do will ever change that.” When two people who have remained sexually pure commit to one another in marriage, they show the ultimate expression of love. They commit to one another without reservation, without exception clauses, without knowing everything, but having decided that whatever they may learn will not induce them to reject the other person. It takes courage and sacrifice to love like that. But anything less than full commitment is not true love. Conversely, cohabitation before marriage is not an environment that builds love and trust. Cohabitation, as a “trial period,” says to the other that they better measure up or else. It is an inherently selfish relationship that objectifies the other person. The emphasis in cohabitation is on getting what you want out of the relationship, which is the exact opposite of the emphasis in marriage, which is giving of yourself for the good of the other person. What is loving about taking pleasure in another’s body with the understanding that you may simply walk away if they don’t please you enough?  Cohabiting couples end up evaluating each other’s merits rather than giving of themselves. Their relationship is based on scrutiny rather than acceptance. Such an environment is not likely to build a healthy and lasting relationship.

Cohabitation before marriage also takes the joy of discovery out of the first part of marriage. The first few months of marriage are meant to have a lot of surprises. The newlyweds should have fun finding out what the other likes and how to please one another in an environment of mutual trust and commitment. There should be an air of excitement as they try new things together for the first time. Experiencing new and intimate things with the other person under the umbrella of a marriage commitment takes much of the performance pressure off and is crucial in building a strong and lasting bond between them. It allows both partners to be themselves without fear of rejection since the other person has already committed to them for life.

Contrary to everything you heard in the culture, romantic love is not about getting your needs met by someone else who is “perfect” for you. It’s about making a selfless commitment to love someone no matter how much he or she changes, no matter how much he or she fails. The point of the relationship is not to have happy feelings, it’s to enjoy building your little castle around this other person who is building his or her castle around you. Marriage is about enjoying the intimacy that you are building up by making an exclusive promise to that one person, instead of being distracted by everyone else, and even your own changing feelings.

People who know me well know that I have a pet bird. His species normally lives 15-20 years with excellent care. Mine is now 27 years old. When I would fly away to interviews in other cities, I would always get emotional when coming home and flying over my home airport – because I knew he was waiting for me to come home. In graduate school, I would call home from the computer lab to see what he was doing. I can completely understand why women hate leaving their children during the day. Now, I always had big plans for him, like teaching him to talk and teaching him to be toilet-trained. And I spent a lot of time with him trying to get him to do those things. Sometimes he learned, but sometimes he didn’t. I see lots of other birds of his kind who are younger on Youtube. Some can talk and do neat tricks. But my bird is my bird, and because he is mine, I am loyal to him. He is the only bird in the world who flies towards me instead of away from me. He is the only bird in the world who sings to me when I come home.

Love isn’t about thinking about what you can get that’s better than what you have. It’s about making commitments and enjoying the experiences you have together, and how you build familiarity and intimacy with this one other person. I really think that what premarital sex and cohabitation teaches people is to enter relationships with one eye on the exit, and sabotage things at the first opportunity. What break-ups teach you is how to prepare for break-ups, how to hold back, how to not trust, how to separate your feelings from touching, how to not be vulnerable, and how to not invest in other people because something is “wrong” with them. It’s sad that it’s come to this. Everyone seems to be jumping straight into sex thinking that this is what relationships are about, and they are ruining their ability to marry and find out what relationships are really about – giving each other a sense of safety and belonging. What’s much more important than compatibility and happy feelings is the ability to make a commitment that survives disappointments.

What difference does the doctrine of humans being in “the image of God” make?

Here’s an article from the leftist The Week about how Christianity transformed our view of the value of children. (H/T Trina)

It says:

We have forgotten just how deep a cultural revolution Christianity wrought. In fact, we forget about it precisely because of how deep it was: There are many ideas that we simply take for granted as natural and obvious, when in fact they didn’t exist until the arrival of Christianity changed things completely. Take, for instance, the idea of children.

Today, it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care. We also romanticize children — their beauty, their joy, their liveliness. Our culture encourages us to let ourselves fall prey to our gooey feelings whenever we look at baby pictures. What could be more natural?

In fact, this view of children is a historical oddity. If you disagree, just go back to the view of children that prevailed in Europe’s ancient pagan world.

As the historian O.M. Bakke points out in his invaluable book When Children Became People, in ancient Greece and Rome, children were considered nonpersons.

Here’s how children were viewed before Christianity:

One of the most notorious ancient practices that Christianity rebelled against was the frequent practice of expositio, basically the abandonment of unwanted infants.

[…]Another notorious practice in the ancient world was the sexual exploitation of children. It is sometimes pointed to paganism’s greater tolerance (though by no means full acceptance) of homosexuality than Christianity as evidence for its higher moral virtue. But this is to look at a very different world through distorting lenses. The key thing to understand about sexuality in the pagan world is the ever-present notion of concentric circles of worth. The ancient world did not have fewer taboos, it had different ones. Namely, most sexual acts were permissible, as long as they involved a person of higher status being active against or dominating a person of lower status. This meant that, according to all the evidence we have, the sexual abuse of children (particularly boys) was rife.

[…]According to our sources, most abandoned children died — but some were “rescued,” almost inevitably into slavery. And the most profitable way for a small child slave to earn money was as a sex slave. Brothels specializing in child sex slaves, particularly boys, were established, legal, and thriving businesses in ancient Rome. One source reports that sex with castrated boys was regarded as a particular delicacy, and that foundlings were castrated as infants for that purpose.

Of course, the rich didn’t have to bother with brothels — they had all the rights to abuse their slaves (and even their children) as they pleased. And, again, this was perfectly licit. When Suetonius condemns Tiberius because he “taught children of the most tender years, whom he called his little fishes, to play between his legs while he was in his bath” and “those who had not yet been weaned, but were strong and hearty, he set at fellatio,” he is not writing with shock and horror; instead, he is essentially mocking the emperor for his lack of self-restraint and enjoying too much of a good thing.

This is the world into which Christianity came, condemning abortion and infanticide as loudly and as early as it could.

Here are a couple of stories that contrast the Christian view of children as made in the image of God with the secular leftist view that children, unborn and born, are basically just machines made out of meat.

First one from the Washington Times is on a wealthy Democrat donor named Jeffrey Epstein:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is incensed that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has been tied to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who’s also at the heart of an investigation into Prince Andrew’s alleged sexual dalliances with a minor, the New York Post reported.

[…]Court documents related to a suit filed by Virginia Roberts, who allegesMr. Epstein paid her $15,000 to have sex with the prince, also included several references to Mr. Clinton. The documents from 2011 show thatMr. Epstein had 21 different email and telephone numbers for Mr. Clinton and an aide in his directory.

The court documents also show Mr. Clinton “frequently flew” with Mr. Epstein on his private plane between 2002 and 2005. The court documents say that Mr. Clinton “suddenly stopped, raising the suspicion that the friendship abruptly ended, perhaps because of events related to Epstein’s sexual abuse of children,” the Post reported.

Mrs. Clinton, widely considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential bid, is reportedly outraged that her husband’s name has again popped up in a sex scandal.

When I read the story about what allegedly happened to Virginia Roberts, I literally cried my eyes out. But then again, I’m coming at this from a Christian perspective where selfish adults ought to give way to the needs of vulnerable children. Secular leftists don’t have that view, so anything goes.

The second story is from Oregon Live and is about another wealthy Democrat donor:

The former boyfriend of Terrence P. Bean was arrested early Thursday on sex abuse charges stemming from the same alleged 2013 encounter with a 15-year-old boy at a hotel in Eugene.

Kiah Loy Lawson, 25, was arrested at 1:15 a.m. at the Portland Police Bureau’s Central Precinct and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center shortly after 2 a.m.

[…]Detective Jeff Myers from the Portland’s Sex Crimes Unit made the arrest, hours after police took Lawson’s ex-boyfriend, Portland developer Terrence Patrick Bean, into custody Wednesday morning.

Bean, 66, a prominent gay rights activist and major Democratic Party fundraiser, was arrested at his home in Southwest Portland and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 10:12 a.m. Wednesday.

The indictment charges Bean with two counts of third-degree sodomy, a felony, and one count of third-degree sex abuse, a misdemeanor, police said.

[…]Both Bean and Lawson are accused of having a sexual encounter with the same 15-year-old boy in a hotel in Eugene last year. They had arranged the encounter with the teen after meeting him via a website, investigators allege.

[…]Bean has been one of the state’s biggest Democratic donors and an influential figure in gay rights circles in the state. He helped found two major national political groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and has been a major contributor for several Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama. He’s also a close friend of former Gov. Barbara Roberts.

Children are weak and adults are strong. Secular leftists believe that selfish adults should be able to do whatever they want with children in order to gratify their own desires. This is the default “no God” view. I can guarantee you that no one who abuses children, unborn or born, expects to face God and be held accountable for what they did.

The secular left, which does not recognize that children are made in the image of God in order to know God, has discovered that it’s easier to sexually abuse children if you separate them from their biological parents, especially their fathers. That’s one of the reasons why they support no-fault divorce, single mother welfare, and now even same-sex marriage. Children who don’t have biological parents are much easier to exploit sexually. And if the children find anything wrong with being sexualized at an early age and groomed for sexual exploitation, well, we have public schools to teach them that this is all perfectly normal. Public schools that are championed by Democrats, of course.

New study: Tennessee pre-K program provides no educational benefit over control group

This is the most thorough study that I have ever seen evaluating the effectiveness of pre-K programs. The study was done by researchers at Vanderbilt University. (H/T Brad Wilcox tweet)

The study was reported on by the well-respected but leftist Brookings Institute.

They write:

State investments in center-based school readiness programs for preschoolers (pre-K), whether targeted for poor children or universally implemented, have expanded more rapidly than evaluations of their effects. Given the current interest and continuing expansion of state funded pre-K, it is especially important to be clear about the nature of the available evidence for the effectiveness of such programs. Despite widespread claims about proven benefits from pre-K, there is actually strikingly little credible research about the effectiveness of public pre-K programs scaled for statewide implementation.

Like many states that became interested in scaling up a state funded pre-K program in the early 2000’s, voluntary pre-K (TNVPK) was introduced in Tennessee in 1996 as a way to provide academic enhancement to economically disadvantaged children. It expanded in 2005 to an $85 million-plus statewide investment serving 18,000 Tennessee income-eligible children in 935 classrooms across all 95 counties.

Launched in 2009, the TNVPK Effectiveness Study, a coordinated effort between Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute and the Tennessee Department of Education, is a five-year evaluation study funded by the US Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences. It includes the first randomized control trial of a scaled up state funded pre-K program and the first well-controlled comparison group study of the effects of program participation as children progress through elementary school..

Policymakers and proponents often cite some of the famous early studies of pre-K programs that have shown long term benefits extending into adulthood for the participating children. But those were studies of especially complex programs that are unlike scaled-up public pre-K in many ways. The Vanderbilt study is the first rigorous controlled longitudinal study to be conducted on a large-scale state-funded pre-K program.

And here is a summary of the results:

Standard score results from pre-K through 3rd grade on a composite measure that averaged the six achievement subtests are presented from baseline forward in the graph below.

As is evident, pre-K and control children started the pre-K year at virtually identical levels. The TNVPK children were substantially ahead of the control group children at the end of the pre-K year (age 5 in the graph). By the end of kindergarten (age 6 in the graph), the control children had caught up to the TNVPK children, and there were no longer significant differences between them on any achievement measures. The same result was obtained at the end of first grade using two composite achievement measures (the second created with the addition of two more WJIII subtests appropriate for the later grades). In second grade, however, the groups began to diverge with the TNVPK children scoring lower than the control children on most of the measures. The differences were significant on both achievement composite measures and on the math subtests. Differences favoring the control persisted through the end of third grade.

In terms of behavioral effects, in the spring the first grade teachers reversed the fall kindergarten teacher ratings. First grade teachers rated the TNVPK children as less well prepared for school, having poorer work skills in the classrooms, and feeling more negative about school. It is notable that these ratings preceded the downward achievement trend we found for VPK children in second and third grades. The second and third grade teachers rated the behaviors and feelings of children in the two groups as the same; there was a small positive finding for peer relations favoring the TNVPK children by third grade teachers, which did not meet traditional levels of statistical significance.

Results graph:

TNVPK data: pre-K program is in red, baseline is in blue
TNVPK data: pre-K program is in red, baseline is in blue

We are already seeing that cheap daycare in high-tax, big government provinces like Quebec cost a lot, and produce negative results. And of course Hillary Clinton is a longstanding advocate of universal pre-K. As a Senator of New York, she introduced a universal pre-K plan that would cost $10 billion over 5 years. President Barack Obama’s own Preschool for All plan would cost $75 billion over 10 years. This Vanderbilt study should cause us to question whether the policies of the secular left, pushed largely because of emotions and ideology, are worth the tens of billions of dollars they want to take from us. And if you take tens of billions of dollars out of families, then families on the margin will have to give their children to the state to raise. And that includes Christian families, who would no longer be able to afford a stay-at-home mother.

Now, taking children away from parents so that their mothers can work is seen as a worthy goal by those on the secular left. First, communally raising the children is “good” because it removes inequalities between single mothers and traditional working-husband homes. Second, making it easier for women to “go fatherless” is “good” because fathers are not to be trusted to teach their children about morality and religion. That is best left to secular government workers. Third, mothers who choose to marry good providers pay less in taxes if they choose to stay home with their kids and not work. That is “bad” because the government wants more taxes, so they can spend it on vote-buying social programs. Fourth, children who form stable bonds with their parents are less likely to become dependent on the government, meaning their allegiance cannot be bought with government handouts. That is also “bad”. Fifth, it is also “bad” that children who grow up with stay-at-home mothers are more likely to develop empathy and morality, which gives them an independent standard by which to judge the government’s actions.

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