“Domestic Tranquility”: I review Andrew Cherlin on working-class families

for the Weekly Standard:When the sociologist Timothy Nelson asked low-income men who didn’t live with their children what the ideal father was like, eight of them spontaneously mentioned the same man: Ward Cleaver, the dad from Leave It to Beaver. That might make sense if Nelson’s interviews had taken place in the 1950s-60s, when the show aired; but these men were interviewed in the late 2000s. Why did they hark back to a man old enough to be their own grandfather? Maybe it is because the … [Read more...]

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Me on “Marta Oulie,” Sigrid Undset’s First Published Novel

at the University Bookman: Marta Oulie opens with the confession, “I have been unfaithful to my husband.” So it comes as no surprise that the novel depicts a woman’s sexual awakening: the obsessive thoughts of him, the thrill at his touch. “I suddenly felt scared and didn’t dare look at the scrap of chest visible below his throat, but then couldn’t resist glancing at it.”What might be more surprising is that this is the sensual passion of a virgin for the man who will become her husband. Lik … [Read more...]

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“To Overcome Distrust, Renew Friendship”: Amber and David Lapp

have basically the same conversation I just had with a woman at the pregnancy center: ...While Robert Putnam and others have documented the increasing isolation of all Americans, the alienation and distrust that we witnessed in this working-class town seemed like an advanced form of isolation. Things that we took for granted in relationships with new acquaintances—asking questions and listening to the responses, returning phone calls and text messages, extending invitations to dinner—soon ear … [Read more...]

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“Zoning Boards Go Nuclear on Too-Traditional Families”: Me at AltFem

from the Gospels to the Golden Girls: The people in 68 Scarborough St., in Hartford, Conn., make an unlikely band of outlaws. The eight adults and three children live in a 6,000-square-foot house in a wealthy residential neighborhood, and pass their time with family talent shows. A photo of the crew in the Hartford Courant shows a dog in a maroon coat and a record player with actual records.The adults in the house are longtime friends who “intentionally came together as a family,” as one of … [Read more...]

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“An Open Conversation on Mixed-Orientation Marriage”

over at Theology in the Raw. Up-front about the suffering they've experienced; also challenging to the churches: We’ve received a lot of well-meaning advice that has turned out to be very harmful, but possibly the worst is to avoid other LGBT people. The assumption and fear is that if Brian befriends another gay man, of course he’ll cheat. While there is wisdom in maintaining some physical, emotional, and relational boundaries, isolating oneself completely is extremely harmful. Brian’s frien … [Read more...]

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From Andrew Cherlin, “Labor’s Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America”

In 1957 a national sample of Americans was asked what they would think of a person if all they knew about him was that he was not married. Several options were presented, and about one-third of the respondents chose "mentally ill." … [Read more...]

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Does Working-Class Marriage Need More Progressivism?

Ross Douthat lays out the question:Many optimistic liberals believe not only that such imitation is possible, but that what needs to be imitated most are the most socially progressive elements of the new upper class’s way of life: delayed marriage preceded by romantic experimentation, more-interchangeable roles for men and women in breadwinning and child rearing, a more emotionally open and egalitarian approach to marriage and parenting. The core idea here is that working-class men, in p … [Read more...]

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