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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.

Excerpt:

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.

Excerpt:

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.

ACORN registration workers charged with felony voter fraud

Story from Fox News. (H/T Dad)

Excerpt:

Five Wisconsin residents, including two who worked for community organizing group ACORN, were charged Monday with election fraud relating to the 2008 presidential election.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced felony charges against Maria Miles, Kevin Clancy, Michael Henderson, Herbert Gunka and Suzanne Gunka.

Miles and Clancy worked for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and are accused of submitting multiple voter registration applications for the same individuals, including each other, to meet voter registration quotes imposed by the community organizing group.

Henderson is charged with one count of voting by a disqualified person and providing false information to election officials. The allegation claims he was on a felony probation and prohibited from voting at the time.

Herbert and Suzanne Gunka are each charged with double voting — a felony — by allegedly absentee voting and then going to the polls to vote.

Michele Bachmann catalogs some more, as she struggles to block federal funding of ACORN:

Stanley Kurtz at National Review wrote the definitive article on Obama’s connections to ACORN.

Scientists discover how fathers improve brain development of children

Story from the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Andrew)

Excerpt:

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.

Related posts

How socialism undermines the traditional family in Sweden

Take a look at this guest post by LN at Gates of Vienna. He describes how socialism in Sweden has undermined traditional marriage and traditional parenting and caused health problems for children. For example, he discusses the effects of day care and schooling of children from the ages of 1-12 years.

Excerpt:

In large parts of the world it is natural — or at least it was — that young mothers work less than men or not at all. Career women and mothers with small children gave notice and abandoned their top skilled jobs to become “stay at home” mothers. In countries where motherliness and motherhood is a large and accepted part of life, women could leave work to become full-time mothers without losing prestige or merit.

But not in Sweden. Taxes are now so high that today it is generally required that both parents work and pay taxes to the yawning chasm that the state has become.

And this has profound effects on the children.

Excerpt:

Professor Jay Belsky is an internationally recognized expert in the field of child development and family studies. His areas of special expertise include the effects of day care, parent-child relations during the infancy and early childhood years, the transition to parenthood, the etiology of child maltreatment, and the evolutionary basis of parent and child functioning.

[…]Many hours in pre-school, regardless of quality, results in increased behavioral problems. Nor can pre-school compensate for the weak mothering of young children. A one-or two-year-old child with a less responsive mother develops better in the mother’s care than in many hours (10 hours/week) at pre-school. Children with a less responsive parent (mother) seem to need more time with the mother, said Belsky. Nor is there any evidence that preschool would improve the child’s social development.

And here’s another excerpt:

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a clinical psychologist from Canada with a reputation for penetrating to the heart of complex parenting issues, and the author of the internationally recognized book Hold On to Your Kids — why parents need to matter more than peers. Dr. Neufeld’s message was that the younger generation’s lack of adult contacts in the Western world is one of the most disturbing and misunderstood trends of our time — peers replacing parents in the lives of our children. Dr. Neufeld has dubbed this phenomenon peer orientation [jämnårigorientering], which refers to the tendency of children and youth to look to their peers for direction: for a sense of right and wrong, for values, identity and codes of behaviour.

But peer orientation undermines family cohesion, poisons the school atmosphere, and fosters an aggressively hostile and sexualized youth culture. It provides a powerful explanation for conformism, aggression, schoolyard bullying, and youth violence; its effects are painfully evident in the context of teenage gangs and criminal activity.

Gates of Vienna also had a recent post about the epidemic of gang rape that is currently going on in Britain. (Click here to watch a British documentary which features interviews of women and men talking about this gang rape problem). This is especially sad because young unmarried women who are the victims of the breakdown of the family actually voted 77 percent for Obama, who favors the same socialist policies that cause mothers to leave the home and put the children into the hands of strangers.

IRS slaps ACORN with $548,000 tax lien for unpaid payroll tax

Story from the Washington Examiner. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

The Pelican Institute’s Steve Beatty reports that the federal government just filed a new $548,000 lien against ACORN for unpaid payroll taxes. This comes at the same time as Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell investigates the group for unpaid state payroll taxes.

According to Beatty, his adds to the existing tax debt of more than $1 million.

Why are all Democrats tax cheats? They keep voting for higher and higher taxes for their productive neighbors to pay for social programs and grants, but they don’t want to pay into the system themselves. We are talking about people who have nothing but contempt for the law here.

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