Tag Archives: Children

How the presence and quality of fathers affects belief in God

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
A father in the home helps children to reconcile love and moral boundaries

Here’s an article by Paul Copan which points out how father presence/absence and father quality affects belief and disbelief in God.

Excerpt:

Seventh, the attempt to psychologize believers applies more readily to the hardened atheist.It is interesting that while atheists and skeptics often psychoanalyze the religious believer, they regularly fail to psychoanalyze their ownrejection of God. Why are believers subject to such scrutiny and not atheists? Remember another feature of Freud’s psychoanalysis — namely, an underlying resentment that desires to kill the father figure.

Why presume atheism is the rational, psychologically sound, and default position while theism is somehow psychologically deficient? New York University psychology professor Paul Vitz turns the tables on such thinking. He essentially says, “Let’s look into the lives of leading atheists and skeptics in the past. What do they have in common?” The result is interesting: virtually all of these leading figures lacked a positive fatherly role model — or had no father at all.11

Let’s look at some of them.

  • Voltaire(1694–1778): This biting critic of religion, though not an atheist, strongly rejected his father and rejected his birth name of François-Marie Arouet.
  • David Hume(1711–76): The father of this Scottish skeptic died when Hume was only 2 years old. Hume’s biographers mention no relatives or family friends who could have served as father figures.
  • Baron d’Holbach(1723–89): This French atheist became an orphan at age 13 and lived with his uncle.
  • Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–72): At age 13, his father left his family and took up living with another woman in a different town.
  • Karl Marx(1818–83): Marx’s father, a Jew, converted to being a Lutheran under pressure — not out of any religious conviction. Marx, therefore, did not respect his father.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche(1844–1900): He was 4 when he lost his father.
  • Sigmund Freud(1856–1939): His father, Jacob, was a great disappointment to him; his father was passive and weak. Freud also mentioned that his father was a sexual pervert and that his children suffered for it.
  • Bertrand Russell(1872–1970): His father died when he was 4.
  • Albert Camus(1913–60): His father died when he was 1 year old, and in his autobiographical novel The First Man, his father is the central figure preoccupation of his work.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre(1905–80): The famous existentialist’s father died before he was born.12
  • Madeleine Murray-O’Hair (1919–95): She hated her father and even tried to kill him with a butcher knife.
  • We could throw in a few more prominent contemporary atheists not mentioned by Vitz with similar childhood challenges:
  • Daniel Dennett (1942–): His father died when he was 5 years of age and had little influence on Dennett.13
  • Christopher Hitchens (1949–): His father (“the Commander”) was a good man, according to Hitchens, but he and Hitchens “didn’t hold much converse.” Once having “a respectful distance,” their relationship took on a “definite coolness” with an “occasional thaw.” Hitchens adds: “I am rather barren of paternal recollections.”14
  • Richard Dawkins (1941–): Though encouraged by his parents to study science, he mentions being molested as a child — no insignificant event, though Dawkins dismisses it as merely embarrassing.15

Moreover, Vitz’s study notes how many prominent theists in the past — such as Blaise Pascal, G.K. Chesterton, Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer — have had in common a loving, caring father in their lives.16

Not only is there that anecdotal evidence, but there is also statistical evidence.

Excerpt:

In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey that the researchers for our masters in Europe (I write from England) were happy to record. The question was asked to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.

If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.

If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church.

Let us look at the figures the other way round. What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goesupfrom 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing, as if loyalty to father’s commitment grows in proportion to mother’s laxity, indifference, or hostility.

[…]In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.

A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure rises to 80 percent!

The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father’s influence, from the determination of a child’s sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society.

Basically, anyone who doesn’t have a benevolent, involved father is going to have an enormously difficult time believing that moral boundaries set by an authority are for the benefit of the person who is being bounded. The best way to make moral boundaries stick is to see that they apply to the person making the boundaries as well – and that these moral boundaries are rational, evidentially-grounded and not arbitrary. It is therefore very important to children to be shepherded by a man who studied moral issues (including evidence from outside the Bible) in order to know how to be persuasive to others. If you want your child to be religious and moral, you have to pick a man who is religious and moral. And it can’t just be a faith commitment that he makes, he can just lie about that. Women ought to check whether men are bound to what they believe by checking what they’ve read. A man usually acts consistently with what he believes, and beliefs only get formed when a man informs himself through things like reading.

A child’s relationship with God begins before he/she is even born. It begins with his/her mother’s ability to control herself and choose the right man for the job of being a father. Note that superficial qualities like “deep voice”, “broad shoulders”, “expensive shoes”, “likes dogs” and “makes me laugh” have no bearing on a man’s ability to commit and lead on moral/spiritual issues. Christians don’t really do a good job of showing the practical consequences of bad choices to women in the church. The ones I talk to impress on me how “unpredictable” men are, so that they are justified in choosing one that they like based on tingles, and hoping it will work out. We should be telling women that poor choices with men are wrong, and it leads to fatherlessness and abortion.

New study: children raised by same-sex parents have twice the risk of depression

Young people seem to like gay marriage more than they like individual liberties
Young people seem to like gay marriage more than they like to care for the needs of children

A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Depression Research and Treatment confirms that children do better when raised by their mother and father.

Here’s the abstract:

The relationship of elevated depression risk recently discovered among adult persons raised by same-sex parents with possible precipitating conditions in childhood has not previously been acknowledged. This study tests whether such inattention is supportable. Logistic regression based risk ratios were estimated from longitudinal measures of mental health outcomes observed in three waves (at ages 15, 22, and 28) of the US National Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health (,701). At age 28, the adults raised by same-sex parents were at over twice the risk of depression (CES-D: risk ratio 2.6, 95% CI 1.4–4.6) as persons raised by man-woman parents. These findings should be interpreted with caution. Elevated risk was associated with imbalanced parental closeness and parental child abuse in family of origin; depression, suicidality, and anxiety at age 15; and stigma and obesity. More research and policy attention to potentially problematic conditions for children with same-sex parents appears warranted.

The Federalist commented on the new study:

Children of same-sex parents also reported more violence, having a parent slap, hit, or kick them, or saying “things that hurt your feelings or made you feel you were not wanted or loved,” or “touched you in a sexual way, forced you to touch him or her in a sexual way, or forced you to have sex relations.”

In conclusion:

 The emergence of higher depression risk in early adulthood, coupled with a more frequent history of abuse victimization, parental distance, and obesity, suggests that the inattention of research and policy to the problems of children with same-sex parents is unwarranted.

As initial results, the present findings should be interpreted with caution and balance, based on the limited evidence presented, and (it is hoped) neither exaggerated nor dismissed out of hand on preconceived ideological grounds. However, well-intentioned concern for revealing negative information about a stigmatized minority does not justify leaving children without support in an environment that may be problematic or dangerous for their dignity and security.

Sullins’ study is not alone in suggesting more research needs to be done in this area. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published an extensive study proving the importance of biological fathers in the “healthy development of children.” In addition, “the most careful, rigorous, and methodologically sound study ever conducted” on the issue of homosexual parenting found “numerous and significant differences” between children raised by biological parents and children of homosexuals, “with the outcomes for children of homosexuals rated ‘suboptimal’ in almost every category.”

Very important to understand that same-sex couples who bring children into their relationship are intentionally depriving the child of a relationship with one or more of her biological parents. Just imagine growing up in the world and not having access to the people who made you. It’s not fair, and adult selfishness should have to give way to the needs of vulnerable children. Motherlessness is bad for children, and fatherlessness is bad for children.

Let’s go back and look at a previous study from Canada.

The Public Discourse reported on it.

Excerpt:

A new academic study based on the Canadian census suggests that a married mom and dad matter for children. Children of same-sex coupled households do not fare as well.

There is a new and significant piece of evidence in the social science debate about gay parenting and the unique contributions that mothers and fathers make to their children’s flourishing. A study published last week in the journal Review of the Economics of the Household—analyzing data from a very large, population-based sample—reveals that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples. And gender matters, too: girls are more apt to struggle than boys, with daughters of gay parents displaying dramatically low graduation rates.

Unlike US-based studies, this one evaluates a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census, where same-sex couples have had access to all taxation and government benefits since 1997 and to marriage since 2005.

[…]Three key findings stood out to Allen:

children of married opposite-sex families have a high graduation rate compared to the others; children of lesbian families have a very low graduation rate compared to the others; and the other four types [common law, gay, single mother, single father] are similar to each other and lie in between the married/lesbian extremes.

Employing regression models and series of control variables, Allen concludes that the substandard performance cannot be attributed to lower school attendance or the more modest education of gay or lesbian parents. Indeed, same-sex parents were characterized by higher levels of education, and their children were more likely to be enrolled in school than even those of married, opposite-sex couples. And yet their children are notably more likely to lag in finishing their own schooling.

[…]The truly unique aspect of Allen’s study, however, may be its ability to distinguish gender-specific effects of same-sex households on children. He writes:

the particular gender mix of a same-sex household has a dramatic difference in the association with child graduation. Consider the case of girls. . . . Regardless of the controls and whether or not girls are currently living in a gay or lesbian household, the odds of graduating from high school are considerably lower than any other household type. Indeed, girls living in gay households are only 15 percent as likely to graduate compared to girls from opposite sex married homes.

Thus although the children of same-sex couples fare worse overall, the disparity is unequally shared, but is instead based on the combination of the gender of child and gender of parents.

[…]Thus the study undermines not only claims about “no differences” but also assertions that moms and dads are interchangeable. They’re not.

Here’s the study.

The author of the study is a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. His PhD in economics is from the University of Washington. A previous study had shown that gay relationships typically have far more instability (they last for more shorter times). Another study featured in the Atlantic talked about how gay relationships have much higher rates of domestic violence. Neither of these factors is good for children. So we have three reasons to think that normalizing gay relationships as “marriage” would not be good for children.

Related posts

New study: fatherlessness linked to negative outcomes

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

The paper is posted at NCBI NIH.

The abstract says:

The literature on father absence is frequently criticized for its use of cross-sectional data and methods that fail to take account of possible omitted variable bias and reverse causality. We review studies that have responded to this critique by employing a variety of innovative research designs to identify the causal effect of father absence, including studies using lagged dependent variable models, growth curve models, individual fixed effects models, sibling fixed effects models, natural experiments, and propensity score matching models. Our assessment is that studies using more rigorous designs continue to find negative effects of father absence on offspring well-being, although the magnitude of these effects is smaller than what is found using traditional cross-sectional designs. The evidence is strongest and most consistent for outcomes such as high school graduation, children’s social-emotional adjustment, and adult mental health.

I was curious to see what specific problems fatherlessness causes for children, according to this redo of previous studies.

The conclusion explains:

The body of knowledge about the causal effects of father absence on child well-being has grown during the early twenty-first century as researchers have increasingly adopted innovative methodological approaches to isolate causal effects. We reviewed 47 such articles and find that, on the whole, articles that take one of the more rigorous approaches to handling the problems of omitted variable bias and reverse causality continue to document negative effects of father absence on child well-being, though these effects are stronger during certain stages of the life course and for certain outcomes.

We find strong evidence that father absence negatively affects children’s social-emotional development, particularly by increasing externalizing behavior. These effects may be more pronounced if father absence occurs during early childhood than during middle childhood, and they may be more pronounced for boys than for girls. There is weaker evidence of an effect of father absence on children’s cognitive ability.

Effects on social-emotional development persist into adolescence, for which we find strong evidence that father absence increases adolescents’ risky behavior, such as smoking or early childbearing. The evidence of an effect on adolescent cognitive ability continues to be weaker, but we do find strong and consistent negative effects of father absence on high school graduation. The latter finding suggests that the effects on educational attainment operate by increasing problem behaviors rather than by impairing cognitive ability.

The research base examining the longer-term effects of father absence on adult outcomes is considerably smaller, but here too we see the strongest evidence for a causal effect on adult mental health, suggesting that the psychological harms of father absence experienced during childhood persist throughout the life course. The evidence that father absence affects adult economic or family outcomes is much weaker. A handful of studies find negative effects on employment in adulthood, but there is little consistent evidence of negative effects on marriage or divorce, on income or earnings, or on college education.

Despite the robust evidence that father absence affects social-emotional outcomes throughout the life course, these studies also clearly show a role for selection in the relationship between family structure and child outcomes. In general, estimates from IFE, SFE, and PSM models are smaller than those from conventional models that do not control for selection bias. Similarly, studies that compare parental death and divorce often find that even if both have significant effects on well-being, the estimates of the effect of divorce are larger than those of parental death, which can also be read as evidence of partial selection.

Something to think about when people on the left tell you that children don’t need a father. And remember, increasing welfare payments for single mothers just encourages them to have more children, and to delay marriage. Big government takes the place of a man, and allows them to pursue men who make them feel good, rather than men who can actually do the job of being a father and a husband. The single mothers I’ve spoken to like government stepping in, because it allows them more freedom to follow their hearts, rather than having to give to and invest in a man. We are paying them to do this when we give them money, making fathers optional. It’s child abuse, aided and abetted by government.

New study: women seeking to have a child should start before age 32

Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com
Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com

Dina sent me this sobering piece of research from the New Scientist which is perfect for all the young feminists who have been taught in college that marriage should be put off, and women can easily get pregnant after age 40.

Excerpt:

It’s a question many people will ask themselves at some point in their lives: when should I start a family? If you know how many children you’d like, and whether or not you would consider, or could afford, IVF, a computer model can suggest when to start trying for your first child.

Happy with just one? The model recommends you get started by age 32 to have a 90 per cent chance of realising your dream without IVF. A brood of three would mean starting by age 23 to have the same chance of success. Wait until 35 and the odds are 50:50 (see “When to get started”).

The suggestions are based on averages pulled from a swathe of data so don’t give a personal prediction. And of course, things aren’t this simple in real life – if only family size and feelings about IVF were the only factors to consider when planning a family. But the idea behind the model is to help people make a decision by condensing all the information out there into an accessible form.

“We have tried to fill a missing link in the decision-making process,” says Dik Habbema at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, one of the creators of the model. “My son is 35 and many of his friends have a problem deciding when to have children because there are so many things they want to do.”

It’s a scenario that will be familiar to many; the age at which people have their first child has been creeping up over the last 40 or so years. For example, the average age at which a woman has her first child is 28 in the UK and has reached 30 in Italy, Spain and Switzerland. In the US, the birth rate for women in their 20s has hit a record low, while the figures for those over 35 have increased over the last few decades.

The decision is more pressing for women thanks to their limited supply of eggs, which steadily drop in quantity and quality with age. Female fertility is thought to start declining at 30, with a more significant fall after the age of 35.

[…]The new model incorporates data from studies that assess how fertility naturally declines with age. The team took information on natural fertility from population data collected over 300 years up to the 1970s, which includes data on 58,000 women.

I have often tried to talk to young women about the need to get their lives in gear. I advise them to work summers during high school, obtain a STEM degree in university, minimize borrowing money by going to community college for the generic prerequisites, don’t have premarital sex, get a job related to their STEM field straight out of college, pay off their debts, move out of their parents’ house, start investing from the first paycheck, marry between age 25-30, and then start having children after the first two “stabilizing” years of marriage. This is sound advice, rooted in my careful reconnaissance of the things that human beings care about and need in their old age. This advice is not bullying, it comes from reading many, many relevant papers. It comes from putting the knowledge gained from reading the papers into practice, and seeing results where appropriate.

I am giving you the numbers. Straight out of a peer-reviewed study. Don’t follow your heart. Don’t listen to your friends. Follow the science. Make your decisions within the boundaries of reality. God will not save you from foolish decisions.

Related posts

New study: father absence is a strong predictor of depression for young girls

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
If you want your children to grow up happy, commit yourself to marriage

The study is here on PubMed.

And here’s an article about it posted at The Family in America, a public policy journal.

Excerpt:

Who has benefitted from the war radical feminists have waged against marriage? Certainly not young women. A very large new Canadian study concludes that one of the strongest predictors of depression among young women is the loss of a biological parent. And it is the easy divorces that feminists have pushed for that have typically occasioned such a loss.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia, this new study isolates the factors predicting depression among Canadians ages 16 to 20. The researchers limn these factors by scrutinizing data collected between 1994 and 2007 from a nationally representative sample of 1,715 individuals tracked during this 13-year period.

Predictably, the researchers adduce evidence that such things as parental rejection and childhood anxiety predict depression between a young person’s 16th birthday and his or her 21st.  But gender makes a difference: consistent with other inquiries, this study finds that “girls reported more [depression] than boys.” However, not all girls are equally vulnerable: the data reveal that “The loss of a parent by the ages of 4 to 8 years predicted depression at ages 16 to 20 years for girls [p = 0.008] but not for boys.”

Of course, a girl can lose a parent through death. But the researchers realize that such tragedy occurs far less often than the trauma of parental divorce. Consequently, they know how to interpret parental loss as a predictor of girls’ depression at the threshold between adolescence and young adulthood. This is a finding, they realize, that fits hand-in-glove with the results of a 2008 study establishing that “the effects of parental divorce . . . differ between genders in respect to the development of depression with risk increasing for girls but not for boys.” They further realize that their study harmonizes with a 1997 study concluding that “young women whose parents had divorced reported higher levels of depression compared to young men from divorced families.”

Given the paralyzing effects of depression as “a leading cause of disability worldwide,” the researchers hope their study will lead to “targeted, specific and personalized intervention” that will curb such depression. More particularly, they hope that “girls may benefit from interventions designed to address parental loss due to death, divorce, and other causes.”

But since nothing takes a parent away from a daughter more often in the 21st century than does parental divorce, it is very clear that the kind of intervention girls most need is the kind that will keep their parents together. Just how quickly that intervention comes will depend heavily on how much reality can puncture feminist ideology.

This study makes me think of the problems that we have these days getting married and staying married. I think that there are three kinds of challenges. The first challenge is ideology, e.g. – radical feminism. The second challenge is cultural, e.g. – the hook-up culture on campus. The third challenge is political, e.g. – no-fault divorce. It seems likes the odds are really stacked against marriage-minded people.

Most people like the idea of having someone of the opposite sex commit to them for life. I write a lot about what people should be looking for in a mate. Factors that predict a person’s ability to commit, what their worldview should be, etc. But we also have to remember that we have to be turning ourselves into people who are suited to a lifetime commitment, involving self-denial and self-sacrifice.

A lot of people seem to think that if they meet the right person – the person who makes them feel good – then they won’t have to do any self-denying or any self-sacrificing. But that’s not true. Feelings change. It’s possible for two serial killers to feel good about each other, and to having things in common, but marriage isn’t about whether you “like” the other person and whether they “like” you. Marriage works when you have two people who are comfortable making commitments. Two people who are comfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations.

The point I am trying to make here is that not only must we be looking for someone who can be faithful, loyal, commitment through thick and thin, but we must also prepare to become a person like that. If we make choices for our own happiness every day – fun and thrills – then we are not making ourselves into the kind of people who take responsibility and make commitments.

The strange thing is that those who choose fun over and over and over again seem to make the worst decisions when it comes to choosing mates. Of course it’s easier to pick someone who is not too moral and not too religious. Then they won’t be able to judge you. They’ll just let you do whatever you want and never shame you for anything.

The problem is that marriage works best when two people are comfortable with moral obligations to others. You have to be someone who is comfortable with obligations over the long term. And you have to choose someone who has a strong sense of morality, otherwise they won’t honor their moral obligations to others. Commitment means doing what is right regardless of how you feel about it, It means giving up on the pursuit of fun, in order to build something strong that will take you into your old age.