Family, country, God–in that order

The Barna pollsters have released a study of what factors tie into Americans’ self-identity.  The biggest factor by far is  “family.”  Then comes “country.”  Then comes religion.  Other elements, such as career and ethnicity, play a lesser but still significant role.  The mix is different according to different demographics.  After the jump, an excerpt and a link to the report, for more details. [Read more...]

Presbyterians (USA) give strong endorsement for gay marriage

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has formally expanded its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.  It becomes the largest denomination to affirm gay marriage in the strongest possible terms, upholding same sex marriage even in states where it is not legal and applying to all congregations (though pastors will be allowed to decline to participate).  After the jump, an account of the change and a summary of the position of other mainline liberal Protestant denominations and how they are different.  (The ELCA, for example, allows pastors to preside at same-sex services without formally changing the definition of marriage, as the PCUSA has done.) [Read more...]

It’s the family, stupid

Before Robert Putnam there was Patrick Moynihan, the social scientist and later Democratic Senator from New York, who pointed to the dire social and economic consequences when children are not raised by intact families.  His research to this effect came out 50 years ago.  He was studying African-Americans, who back in 1960 had a birthrate to unmarried mothers of 23.6%, which Moynihan believed kept them trapped in poverty, crime, and bad schools.  Today, the unmarried birth rate of all races is more than twice that.

George Will discusses Moynihan’s findings and gives some striking quotations. [Read more...]

Class, children, & the social costs of nonjudgmentalism

There is a growing chasm in our society.  It isn’t so much between the wealthy and the middle class, though it does have to do with social classes, a major demarcation seeming to be between the college educated and those who just finished high school.  But it isn’t an economic gap so much as a cultural gap, or, more specifically, a child-raising gap.  It’s between children who have been raised by both parents, who have been cared for, given lots of attention, and taken care of.  And children raised pretty much on their own, often with a single mother and serial boyfriends, with very little supervision, and with very little protection from abuse, sex, and their own impulses.  This is the thesis of Robert Putnam’s new book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.  Putnam, the author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, is a very important social scientist, a Harvard professor whose insights have been very influential across the spectrum.  That he is pointing to this crisis in childraising–which, in turn, leads to young adults poorly equipped for a successful life–will get attention.

Thanks to Larry Hughes for pointing me to a New York Times column by David Brooks, who reflects on Putnam’s findings, which he summarizes this way:

Roughly 10 percent of the children born to college grads grow up in single-parent households. Nearly 70 percent of children born to high school grads do. There are a bunch of charts that look like open scissors. In the 1960s or 1970s, college-educated and noncollege-educated families behaved roughly the same. But since then, behavior patterns have ever more sharply diverged. High-school-educated parents dine with their children less than college-educated parents, read to them less, talk to them less, take them to church less, encourage them less and spend less time engaging in developmental activity.

Brooks goes on to describe some of the heart-breaking profiles of children growing up that Putnam gives, from descriptions of abuse and neglect to this statement of a young man who said he would like to grow up to be a preacher:  “I just love beating up somebody and making they nose bleed and just hurting them and just beating them on the ground.”  Then Brooks considers what the problem is and what is needed to address it. [Read more...]

Raising little narcissists

A study purports to show how certain parenting styles can turn children into narcissists.  But it distinguishes between narcissism, which is bad, and “self-esteem,” which is good. [Read more...]

Parents who let kids walk home lose their child neglect case

We’ve blogged about the Maryland parents who let their 10 year-old son and 6-year-old daughter walk home from a park by themselves, whereupon they were charged with child neglect.  (See this and this.)

Well, the Child Protective Services ruled against them, saying that they were responsible for “unsubstantiated child neglect,” meaning that they are on notice for five years.  The parents say they will continue to practice “free range parenting” despite the ruling. [Read more...]


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