Jenet Erickson

Men don’t mother

Jenet Erickson
By Jenet Erickson
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November 14, 2012 (thePublicDiscourse) - There’s been a strange turn of opinions about fatherhood—at least in recent public debates. Decades of research have now documented the tremendous challenges children face when they grow up without their fathers. But you would never know it by looking at some of the recent public arguments for “genderless parenting.”

So what do the decades of research on fathers say? Boys from fatherless families are twice as likely to end up in prison before age 30. Girls raised in homes without their fathers are much more likely to engage in early sexual behavior and end up pregnant as teenagers—for example, girls whose fathers left home before their daughters turned six are six times more likely to end up pregnant as teenagers. Children who grow up without married mothers and fathers are also more likely to experience depression, behavioral problems, and school expulsion.

There is also more abuse in homes without fathers. In studies of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, fathers living with their children emerge as strong protectors—both through watching over their children’s activities and communicating to others that they will protect them. In one study, abuse was 10 times more likely for children in homes with their mother and an unrelated boyfriend.

These differences can partly be explained by the fact that these children are more likely to grow up in poverty. But that too reveals the importance of dads, as married fathers are the primary breadwinners in almost 70% of married families—providing resources that benefit children in a whole host of ways.

In spite of this evidence, some academics and voices that shape public opinion are asserting that fathers are not, in fact, essential. As two researchers recently argued in a top-tier family science publication, “The gender of parents only matters in ways that don’t matter.” Though it may be important to have two “parental figures,” their genders and relationship to the child don’t matter that much. Fathers—as well as mothers—are supposedly disposable when it comes to their own children’s development.

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Not surprisingly, arguments for “genderless parenting” are often based on a particular view of what defines male and female equality. Depending on the definition, one can do what the other can do, and do it just as well, if given the chance. Thus, mothers and fathers are interchangeable, and one or the other gender is unnecessary and replaceable.

It’s easy to see why these claims seem believable. We all know mothers who are breadwinners, and fathers who perform the traditional female role of providing full-time quality child care. And a body of research shows that fathers have both the desire and capacity to be protective, nurturing, affectionate, and responsive with their children.

But are fathers and mothers really the same? Do mothers “father” and do fathers “mother” in the same way the other would do?

Canadian scholar, Andrea Doucet, has explored this question in her book Do Men Mother? Her extensive research with 118 male primary caregivers, including stay-at-home dads, led her to conclude that fathers do not “mother.” And that’s a good thing. Although mothering and fathering have much in common, there were persistent, critical differences that were important for children’s development.

To begin, fathers more often used fun and playfulness to connect with their children. No doubt, many a mother has wondered why her husband can’t seem to help himself from “tickling and tossing” their infant—while she stands beside him holding her breath in fear. And he can’t understand why all she wants to do is “coo and cuddle.” Yet as Doucet found, playfulness and fun are often critical modes of connection with children—even from infancy.

Fathers also more consistently made it a point to get their children outdoors to do physical activities with them. Almost intuitively they seemed to know that responding to the physical and developmental needs of their children was an important aspect of nurturing.

When fathers responded to children’s emotional hurts, they differed from mothers in their focus on fixing the problem rather than addressing the hurt feeling. While this did not appear to be particularly “nurturing” at first, the seeming “indifference” was useful— particularly as children grew older. They would seek out and share things with their dads precisely because of their measured, problem-solving responses. The “indifference” actually became a strategic form of nurturing in emotionally-charged situations.

Fathers were also more likely to encourage children’s risk taking—whether on the playground, in school work, or in trying new things. While mothers typically discouraged risk-taking, fathers guided their children in deciding how much risk to take and encouraged them in it. At the same time, fathers were more attuned to developing a child’s physical, emotional, and intellectual independence—in everything from children making their own lunches and tying their own shoes to doing household chores and making academic decisions.

As she evaluated these differences, Doucet wondered if fathers just weren’t as “nurturing” as mothers. Their behaviors didn’t always fit the traditional definition of “holding close and sensitively responding.” But a key part of nurturing also includes the capacity to “let go.” It was this careful “letting-go” that fathers were particularly good at—in ways that mothers were often not.

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Her findings provide empirical evidence for the feelings described on Public Discourse by Robert Oscar Lopez in his recent account of growing up without the influence of his father. Lopez yearned for what kids in traditional families often take for granted—the opportunity to learn how to act, speak, and behave in ways that reflect the unique gender cues provided by the parenting of a father and a mother. Although Lopez would have appeared normal on most sociological indexes (as a well-trained, high achieving student), inside he felt confused. In his own words, he grew up “weird,” unable to relate to or understand either gender very well. And that made it hard to understand himself.

Andrea Doucet ends her report by sharing an illuminating moment from her research. After a long evening discussing their experiences as single dads, Doucet asked a group of sole-custody fathers, “In an ideal world, what resources or supports would you like to see for single fathers?” She expected to hear that they wanted greater social support and societal acceptance, more programs and policies directed at single dads. Instead, after a period of awkward silence, one dad stood and said, “An ideal world would be one with a father and a mother. We’d be lying if we pretended that wasn’t true.” Nods of agreement followed with expressions of approval from the other dads. Although many had had bitter experiences of separation and divorce, they couldn’t help but acknowledge the inherent connectedness of mothering and fathering—and the profound deficit experienced when one or the other is not there.

Arguments for the non-essential father may reflect an effort to accept the reality that many children today grow up without their dads. But surely a more effective and compassionate approach would be to acknowledge the unique contributions of both mothers and fathers in their children’s lives, and then do what we can to ensure that becomes a reality for more children.

Jenet Erickson is an assistant professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. This article reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse.

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‘Every life matters’: Rick Santorum announces new bid for president

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By Ben Johnson
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CABOT, PA, May 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Many questions surrounded today's announcement that Rick Santorum is running for the Republican presidential nomination, but none of them were about where he stands. Santorum, who is well known as a rock-ribbed social conservative, emphasized the value of life and family in a campaign kickoff that played up the senator's blue collar economic message.

Surrounded by his wife, Karen, and six of his seven living children, Santorum began by introducing “our sweet daughter Bella, who just turned seven a couple of weeks ago.” Bella, who has beaten the life expectancy of a child born with Trisomy-18, smiled broadly as the audience applauded her.

The senator still spoke about life and faith, issues that came to define him in 2012. “As president I will stand for the principle that every life matters – the poor, the disabled, and the unborn,” he vowed. Touting his record, he said, “I went [to Washington] to end partial birth abortion, and I delivered.”

Taking aim at Barack Obama's reduction of the First Amendment to a “freedom of worship,” Santorum said, “I will also fight for the freedom for you to believe what you are called to believe, not just in your places of worship but outside your places of worship, too.” The message comes amid a brewing controversy over religious business owners being forced to participate in homosexual “weddings” or be sued, perhaps prosecuted by the state. Some of his fellow Republicans have shied away from backing religious freedom legislation to ensure those rights.

The message was further driven home by the speech's backdrop. Penn United Technologies, an oil and gas manufacturing company, was founded as a “Christian company” and proclaims, “We exist to glorify God.”

Standing before his hometown of Cabot in western Pennsylvania, Santorum promoted “stronger families” through better schools. “Every child deserves her birthright to be raised by her parents in a healthy home,” he said. “The first step in that process is to join with me to drive a stake in the heart of Common Core.”

 

Yet everything about Santorum's message sought to broaden his support beyond social issues by placing economic populism at the heart of his message. 

From a dais surrounded by industrial equipment, Santorum held up a large piece of coal and an American flag as symbols of the nation's one-time industrial might and her enduring freedom.

His grandfather emigrated from Italy to mine coal and seek freedom. “My dad grew up in a coal town, actually a company town, with no indoor plumbing,” he said.

Men like his grandfather “built this nation” through selfless toil. But the Rust Belt suffered “economic devastation...particularly in the area of manufacturing, as a result of the excesses and indifference of Big Labor, Big Government, and yes, Big Business.”

An outsourcing economy left American workers bloodied by a steady erosion of jobs, and “both parties left them behind on the economic battlefield,” he said. “They had no plan, and they provided no hope. And to that I say: No longer.”

He proposed an economic plan to revive American manufacturing, the heart of the middle class for much of the last century. He also pledged “to give America a simple, fair, flat tax.” He is scheduled to unveil his “20/20” economic proposal shortly.

The former senator from Pennsylvania opposes free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), backs policies to revive U.S. manufacturing industries, and supports a modest increase to the minimum wage.

To massive cheers, he also promised that, as president, he “will revoke every executive order and regulation that costs American jobs,” such as Barack Obama's carbon emissions standards, which threaten to shutter the nation's traditional, coal-burning energy plants.

As manufacturing jobs have been exported, low-wage workers have arrived on American shores to take the remaining jobs, he said. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve brought into this country – legally and illegally – 35 million mostly unskilled workers. And the result? Over that same period of time, workers' wages and family incomes have flatlined.”

“Hillary Clinton and Big Business” – names booed almost as harshly as Bella had been cheered – “have called for a massive influx in unskilled labor,” Santorum said. “Their priorities are profits and power. My priority is you, the American worker.”

Santorum's immigration plan calls for reducing legal immigration from the record-high level of one million a year to 750,000 annually. NumbersUSA, an immigration reform group, gave Santorum a B-minus for his overall Congressional record.

“We can't succeed unless we strengthen the first economy, the American family,” he said.

Santorum also burnished his hawkish foreign policy credentials. “As you've seen, commander-in-chief is not an entry-level position,” he said, underscoring his commitment to maintaining a close relationship between the United States and Israel. He has not feared to propose new wars, including sending 10,000 ground troops to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State (ISIS). Santorum said if Islamic fundamentalists “want to return to a 7th Century version of Islam, then let’s load up our bombers and bomb them back to the 7th Century.”

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The emphasis, if not the issues, are different than his last race four years ago against Mitt Romney, when the 57-year-old won contests in 11 states and received nearly four million votes.

Despite a vote count marred by irregularities that included county vote totals mysteriously going missing, Rick Santorum actually won the 2012 Iowa caucuses by a razor-thin, 34-vote margin. However, the results were not announced for more than two weeks, which prevented him from becoming the anti-Romney candidate during the early weeks of the race.

“You gotta do well in Iowa,” Santorum told George Stephanopoulos today. “You gotta win on election night, as opposed to two weeks later.”

This time out, he will vie for their support against fellow Iowa caucuses winner Mike Huckabee, as well as Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Dr. Ben Carson, and Rick Perry.

That backing will be vital, since the first GOP presidential debate will be limited to the top 10 candidates in the polls. With today's announcement, Santorum became the seventh Republican to officially announce that he is running for president. However, many others are expected – including an announcement on Thursday from former New York Gov. George Pataki, who calls himself a “pro-choice” Republican.

Although the Republican Party often rewards those who run a second or third time – such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney – Santorum's polling numbers leave little room for anything but improvement. Yet he rests with confidence in his positions, his hard-working campaign style, and in his Catholic faith.

The conclusion of his speech came full-circle, as he asked his supporters to intercede for divine guidance. “There's much that we can do, but first we need to pray for the same kind of Great Awakening that inspired our founders to come to this country, and heal our land,” he said.

“Karen and I have learned a lot in our lifetime. If there's one thing we have learned it is that man is limited, and God is not,” he said.

“The last race we changed the debate. This race, with your help and God's grace, we can change this nation.”

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Maike Hickson

Criticisms of Pope Francis from within the Vatican Curia made public

Maike Hickson
By Maike Hickson

May 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- The prominent German monthly journal, Cicero, a secular-intellectual publication, has entitled its May issue “The Struggle for Rome” (“Der Kampf um Rom”) and has dedicated it to the papacy of Pope Francis. In it, Guiseppe Rusconi, the well-respected Swiss Rome-Correspondent and journalist  for  Inside the Vatican, reports on the internal criticisms of Pope Francis as they were privately and candidly disclosed to him from within the Roman Curia itself.

Rusconi's revelations caused an immediate stir in Rome, since he simultaneously posted the Italian version of his article on his own website, rossoporpora.org, where he summed up and specifically quoted forthright comments made by high-ranking clergymen from the Roman Curia who also openly revealed to him the atmosphere within the Vatican. They spoke with the explicit request that they should remain anonymous.

Rusconi starts his article with the stunning quote from one of his sources: “Francis has remained with his heart and mind the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. That would also be fine, if he were not, for two years now, the Bishop of Rome and therewith Pope of the Universal Church.”

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As Rusconi says, many Curial members are still indignant about Pope Francis' last Christmas address in 2014 to the Roman Curia:

The large stomach of the Vatican still has not yet digested the last address of Pope Francis to the Curia on December 22 of last year. […] The address still burns under the skin of many Curials. 'If someone would have had the courage to get off his chair and to leave the Sala Clementina while the Pope was presenting his list [of reproaches and accusations], then, I think, all – or nearly all – would have left: right-wing or left-wing, young or old,' comments which came from my first interlocutor with the bitterness of a man who feels wounded. And he earnestly requested once more: 'That my name will not be made public! Can I rely on that?'

Rusconi describes the atmosphere within the Curia, as follows: “The Curia finds itself in an uncomfortable, even insecure situation.” He describes the intensification of conflicts in Rome:

Today, with the distance of two years, some of those wearers of the purple color who were then joining in jubilation might regret to have given their own vote to the then-76-year-old Archbishop. A struggle for Rome has started, and it is not  at all clear who stands where – also because Francis himself speaks in a contradictory way. But there is already taking place  a wrestling [a grappling]. And from October 4 on when between 200 and 300 bishops will meet in Rome for the [2015] Synod in order to speak about family questions, it could come to even harder fights.

Rusconi also reveals how Curial members have expressed compassion with faithful Catholics who feel themselves insulted by the pope:

The men of the Church who speak with me under the condition of anonymity give examples. For example, my first interlocutor says: 'Ideally, a family should have three children? That is what he [Pope Francis] said, during the press conference on the flight back from the trip to the Philippines. I am not astonished that many good Catholics felt offended.'

Pope Francis' expression of “Who am I to judge?” also finds much criticism:

With this renunciation to judge, this 'sentence which has been abused by many media, Pope Francis did damage to the Church,' stressed another interlocutor from the Vatican with whom I met for lunch in Trastevere. 'He has, without intending it, favored the advance of the homosexual lobby which he claims to fight.'

Concerning the question of the family, many members of the Curia do not understand Pope Francis' intentions. As one source says to Rusconi: “One simply does not understand what Pope Francis' aims are. After a very firm principled declaration, he follows up with words and gestures that cause insecurity and confusion among orthodox Catholics.” In the eyes of this man, Pope Francis is tempted “to want to win the hearts of those who are, according to the current teaching, living in an irregular situation [i.e., remarried couples].”

Rusconi discusses some of those Cardinals who push for a liberalizing agenda with respect to the Church's moral teaching, namely, Reinhard Cardinal Marx and Walter Cardinal Kasper, both of whom are now meeting with resistance and adverse criticism. For example, he says about Cardinal Marx himself:

The President of the German Bishops' Conference [Cardinal Marx] does not have an easy status and standing in Rome these days, since he has claimed for the German Church the right to go its own pastoral ways with respect to the problem of the remarried divorcees, and independently of any majority of the Synod. 'We are not a subsidiary of Rome,' Marx has declared. The Swiss Curial Cardinal, Kurt Koch, promptly felt reminded of the 'German Christians' who bowed down to the Nazis during the Third Reich. In the same way, the German Curial Cardinal, Paul Josef Cordes, also disapproved of the ideas of Marx. He declared in the newspaper Die Tagespost: 'As a social ethicist, Cardinal Marx might have some knowledge about the [commercial-financial] dependencies of subsidiaries toward their mother company. But, in the context of the Church, such comments should rather be left to the village pub.'

One of Rusconi's interlocutors criticizes Pope Francis for trying to fight material poverty while omitting to speak about the danger of spiritual poverty, and even the loss of Faith. He says:

But the Church is universal, and the greatest poverty is the spiritual poverty, as one sees it especially in the Occident, where the number of Catholics is continually dwindling. Unfortunately, the Pope has very little interest in Europe.

The same source, as presented by Rusconi, comments on the Synod of the Family:

I think, he [Pope Francis] wants to lead the forthcoming Synod on the Family in October onto a certain path so that the Synod Fathers feel urged to choose [putatively] merciful solutions – which would be, in my eyes, not be a true mercy – especially with regard to the question whether remarried people shall be admitted to Holy Communion.

The journalist Rusconi concludes his very important synopsis of some of the internal criticisms from within the Curia with these words: “The dispute in the fall, however, could turn out just the same: sour and sharp.”

Not a pretty picture; and not an edifying example or ethos, is it?

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Maria Madise

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Strong winds blowing from the UN to change climate at the Vatican

Maria Madise
By Maria Madise

Editor’s note: Voice of the Family’s Maria Madise gave the following talk at the Rome Life Forum on May 8.

ROME, May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- On Tuesday last week, a symposium was held at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences called “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity. The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.” This workshop featured two of the world’s leading population control advocates Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute. The event was jointly hosted by Pontifical Academy for Sciences (PAS), Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Religions for Peace in anticipation of the new papal encyclical on the environment.

The desired outcome of the last week’s symposium was a joint statement on the moral and religious imperative of sustainable development, highlighting the intrinsic connection between “respect for the environment and respect for people.”

This declaration of an intrinsic connection is very deceptive and links a real human crisis of poverty and modern slavery with certain theories about climate change. The participants in the Vatican workshop aimed to “raise awareness and build a consensus that the values of sustainable development cohere with values of the leading religious traditions, with a special focus on the most vulnerable.”

We in the pro-life and pro-family lobby are entitled to ask the question, what are the implications of this “special focus on the most vulnerable”? Pro-life and pro-family advocates who lobby at the UN, several of whom are present here today, know all too well how environmental issues have become an umbrella to cover a wide spectrum of attacks on human life and the family. These attacks pose an immediate threat to the lives of the most vulnerable – the unborn, the disabled and the elderly – as well as grave violations of parental rights as the primary educators of their children.

In light of the attacks on innocent human life witnessed at the UN under the guise of environmental concerns, it is very troubling to note the desire as stated in the agenda of this workshop “to help build a global movement across all religions for sustainable development and climate change throughout 2015 and beyond.”

It is even more troubling that this timetable exactly coincides with the negotiations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN, which include these very attacks on the most vulnerable members of the world’s population. The SDG negotiations that will culminate in June and July will determine the direction and financial aid for the third world countries for the next 15 years. By the time of these negotiations we should have a papal encyclical on – environmentalism.

Understandably the population control, pro-abortion lobby must be feeling very much empowered by the influence being exercised in the Vatican by two of the culture of death’s leading figures, Ban Ki Moon and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, especially just before the publication of an encyclical on the environment. The UN must eagerly await the papal encyclical on environment and hope that it will help to provide moral justification for imposing the Sustainable Development Goals on the world. If the encyclical remains silent on the hidden UN agenda, one can be quite certain that the UN and Obama administration will find ways how to use the encyclical to promote the sustainable development goals.

Who are the people advising the guardians of the Church teaching, whose job it is to guide and protect the faithful in the loving truth of Christ?

Ban Ki-Moon has on many occasions promoted the “right” to abortion worldwide. He also issued a controversial report this year on sexual violence in conflict zones, which was critical of the lack of so-called “safe abortion” in many conflict situations. The directive openly defies the consensus at the UN that abortion is an issue that should be left to individual nations.

Dr Jeffrey Sachs is a well-known international proponent of population control and abortion. He is the man sowing panic and fear that the world is overpopulated and that fertility rates must be lowered. In 2007 Sachs claimed “we are bursting at the seams.”

Last week I had a pleasure of hearing an excellent briefing by Elizabeth Yore, a noted children’s rights advocate, on the genesis and development of his agenda. She explained how Sachs’ forerunner Paul Ehrlich offered “solutions” from birth control in drinking water to coercive sterilisations to control population growth. She also discussed how, despite the fact that Ehrlich’s doomsday prophecy was a fraud, the UN began on its course of world wide reproductive edicts to reduce fertility, including contraception, sterilization and abortion.

In a recent article on a well known Italian site La Bussola, Riccardo Cascioli writes: “I got to meet Sachs a few years ago at [a] Meeting in Rimini, where he was one of the speakers, and [when a] question arose on this issue, he replied with a smile: ‘I have spoken with many bishops on birth control and they have told me in private that they agree with me though for obvious reasons cannot say openly.’” The “obvious reasons” are, of course, the Magisterium of the Church, the doctrine that holds every human life sacred without exception.

Dr Sachs is one of the architects of the millennium development goals and a member of the Executive Board of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Continuing Paul Ehrlich’s line of overpopulation he uses human trafficking, and climate change to justify the urgency of abortion and sterilization tools to achieve the UN proposed SDGs. The Network to which Sachs belongs has proposed draft Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which contain provisions that are radically antagonistic to the right to life from conception to natural death, to the rights and dignity of the family and to the rights of parents as the primary educators of their children.

These meetings that are happening in the shadow of the family synod, aim to bring the language of the papal documents in line with the UN directives. The language that we are opposing at the UN, with the Holy See being the only delegation clearly rejecting the UN’s population control plans for 20 years, is now being given some credence before the publication of a new papal document.

The final document of SDGs at the UN is going to be signed in September. Pope Francis is going to address the UN General Assembly in September on - environmentalism. Very sadly, it is all too obvious that his address could be seen as providing acceptance or validation by the Catholic Church of the global population-control agenda. Pope Francis is already on record as saying that humanity and mankind are behind 99% of the climate change.

Without prejudice to the validity or otherwise of the many theories about climate change, they should not be exploited to bring into question or deny the inviolability and the sanctity of each and every human life, unborn or born, healthy or sick any more than they can justify the rethinking of marriage, the family and parents’ rights or the absence of 200 million Asian girls.

Most of you present know, how laws and practices are formed and manipulated through language.

Environmental issues in international negotiations are not about planting trees, but killing babies, the infirm and the elderly. There is no poor family in the world, whose happiness index arises, when they get rid of their babies and grandparents. The human drama and despair that this language is ultimately bound to bring is unspeakable. Yet these ambassadors of the culture of death are welcomed to advise our pope.

The holding of this vitally important conference in the Vatican at this crucial time in- between the two family synods and in the lead-up to the publication of the Sustainable Development Goals, and with the participation of these leading international pro-abortion advocates, is all the more worrying in the light of the most recent statement of Hillary Clinton saying, effectively, that opposition to abortion must cease to exist, even in the teaching of the Church.

Earlier this year the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency’s Secretary, Gina McCarthy visited the Vatican to coordinate the their environmental agenda with the upcoming papal environment encyclical. Upon her arrival at the Vatican, McCarthy acknowledged that the Obama administration is “aligned with Francis on climate change.”

Liz Yore writes in the Remnant Newspaper that Tim Wirth, former Clinton State Department population control chief “who proudly displayed a tree made of condoms in his office,” has been among the Vatican’s invited guests this year.

To sum up, the thought that the UN and Obama administration foresee a shared solution with the Vatican for the problems troubling the modern world should set alarm bells ringing for everyone in the pro-life and pro-family movement. It is a schizophrenic situation, where collaboration is pursued between those who see life as gift from God and those who see it as a burden on the planet.

We must remain strong and faithful in the loving truth of Christ also in this storm. We must not despair or be afraid, but we must strengthen ourselves and those close to us to face this turbulence prayerfully and courageously and to insist with all the means at our disposal that any discussion on the environment must stem from understanding that the family, defined correctly, is the key to sustainable development, particularly at this time when the Synod on the Family has been called by Pope Francis to consider problems facing the family.

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