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Phase 6 of The Father- Son Relationship: Young Manhood

Tags: , , , , Catholic, chastity, child well-being, commitment, contraception, culture, family, fathers, happiness, MARRI, marriage, men, mothers, natural family planning, Pat Fagan, religion, sex, sexuality, society, Uncategorized No comments

My son, as a young man you are already master of your own ship and free to sail any sea and visit any port! But no matter what you do, the single biggest task ahead of you is choosing your wife, you companion for life. She will have a huge effect on your life and what the sum total of it will be in the end.

Over the years we have talked a lot about matters sexual so that you prepare yourself to thrive sexually. Once married you begin that wonderful sexual exchange. Most moderns think they have to “try it out” first to see if they are compatible, but they have it all wrong.

In the chart below from a national federal government survey you see a pattern that has been replicated many times: Sex before marriage is a threat to the marriage, and therefor to children and the future of society.  Because most moderns are totally unaware of this threat, and given its implications for the stability of marriage and family and its impact on the children of these men and women — and thus on all society— I think this is the most important chart in all of the social sciences. 

Add to this that those who enjoy the sexual the most are virgins at marriage who worship God weekly. They have the most rewarding sexual relations,[1] and the most enduring marriages. These insights have motivated me to raise you to be chaste. Your future wife will be very grateful.

I assume you will select a chaste girl. Anyone else is a big risk. But there are other important criteria for selecting your future wife, and, though some think it too calculating to consider all the attributes you want in your wife, I don’t, because, done right, it gets you thinking the right way. You can daydream about the physical attributes you desire but those attributes will likely fly out the door when you meet “her.” 

What do you want most in her?  I suspect the most important attribute is kindness. A kind person loves in small details, and your life together will be made up of millions of small details with occasional big ones thrown in.  

The next attribute is ‘hard work’: Is she tough on herself when it comes to work? Life is made up of loads of hard work.

Cheerfulness ranks very high. To be with a cheerful person is always so much easier. And you will be with her for the rest of your life. Better still: Can she stay cheerful even when she suffers?

Kind, hardworking and cheerful! That is a winning combination for a great partner — assuming you, too, are kind, hardworking and cheerful. When you spot such a woman do not waste any time: You will have lots of competition.  But make sure you see her in her family setting. That is where her “ordinary self’ is most likely to be seen. How she treats her family is how she will treat you, once the honeymoon phase has passed.

However, this first level of “filtering” is not enough. You both will have to assess openly whether you are “in the same business.” What is it you both want to have achieved together by age 70? And what do you want to be remembered for after you die?

The biggest issue for agreement is having children, for they will be your biggest, toughest project. Bringing new persons into existence is the greatest thing you will do together, and it is the ultimate purpose of marriage. This used to be an easy decision for women in the past: Culture shaped this expectation. Today women have professional choices and often have invested heavily in acquiring professional competence, and an anti-culture pushes in the opposite direction. Women today have more weighing up and deciding to do. They can “have it all” if they live a normal length because early childbirth gives both children and a long career later in life, whereas postponing child raising can lead to childlessness or a much smaller family than desired. Some women can manage both at the same time but normally with fewer children and more stress. You need to discuss this before getting engaged. Children are at the heart of marriage and you both need to agree.

How many children you have will be determined (all other things being equal) by the size of your heart and her heart. However, all things are never equal, so each child is a new decision. And this gets us to the heart of sexual relations and the huge mistake most modern couples make: They choose to contracept as their way to decide the size of their family. But, given the evidence we now have on the effects of contraception, we know that it is not only a stupid move, it is also an anti-human move. And, given its effects on communications within marriage, it is bad for the children too.[2]  Also deciding to contracept is deciding not to talk about having children! For many it is hard to break that silence… and they get into the habit of avoiding “tricky areas,” a real danger in marriage. (By the way both the pill and NFP have similar rates of success in spacing children). 

The best way to go is to enjoy sexual relations the way God made them: Natural intercourse, fully experienced. It is much more enjoyable, as long as you both are ready. But it will get tricky for your wife if you, her husband, are not very attuned to her pregnancy desires. Some couples want and are capable of having as many children as they can.  They don’t count the cost, are prepared to pay the bill and they just “go for it.”  But many couples are much more cautious or fearful. As a good husband you will always be aware of your wife’s stance on having a new child and will conduct yourself accordingly. You both will talk about this a few times each month. At times (at her request) you will restrain yourself. Your wife will know she has a gift of a man who is concerned to never force sexual relations on her when she is afraid (for whatever reason) of conceiving another child. And when you resume it is like a new honeymoon. It really helps keep marriage alive.

The whole world knows that Catholics are supposed to practice sexual intercourse this natural family planning way, but what the world does not know is that the biggest reason many Catholic women turn to the pill is they don’t trust their husbands’ ability to be self-controlled and not to “use” them!

The couples who control their fertility through bio-tracking and communicating about it are — rather naturally, over time, great communicators. The acquired ability to communicate in this delicate area develops the ability in other critical areas.

Though sex is one tough area for young couples to talk about clearly, it has a rival: Money. It is will be very enlightening for you and your fiancée to make a joint budget, before engagement, on how you are going to use your combined monies, not just for the first year — that is easy when you are both working — but for the years you will have your first and second child. Budgets are sobering and bring you right into the “non-romantic” part of life where unity is more difficult but also much more important.[3]  If you both agree in advance on your budget are off to a great start. If you agree on both children and money have it made! I hope you do this hard work before you get engaged. You both will then have an enormous sense of “the freedom of togetherness” when you have it done.

Such togetherness and unity will determine the strength of your children. No matter what else you achieve, nothing compares to bringing children into the world and raising them as strong adults. Bill Gates’s three children are a much bigger contribution to the human race than is his Microsoft. They are priceless, Microsoft is not. The market puts a price tag on it every day. It will disappear; they will exist forever, and their children and so on for generations to come. You might achieve much more than Bill and Melinda Gates if you want to… with the right woman.  


[1] Laumann, Gagnon, Michael and Michaels; “The Social Organization of Sexuality”  (1994) and Michael and Gagnon “Sex in America, a Definitive Study” (1994).

[2] And there is increasing evidence of biological harm to children — sometimes.

[3] In days of arranged marriages budgets were a key part of the negotiations.  The parents did the math.  Today young couples have to do that unromantic work.  Like of old, it is best done before the deal is struck. It is a key part of marital dependence on each other.

Father and Son, Phase 3: Early Adolescence

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The good father will help his son to see that that adolescence is the great transition from childhood to adulthood.  It is like an iceberg: Though much can be seen on top, the bulk of what is going on lies deep below the surface — for everyone involved, the teenager as well as his parents, teachers and friends.

It as a period of growing self-knowledge about his mind, body and emotions; of learning about learning; of choosing which skills to develop and of where this all fits in his future life.

Even more important, it is a period of learning about how to live well with others: Figuring out what makes some people good and attractive, what makes them comfortable to be with, as friends, as work colleagues, and as members of different communities — family, sports teams, religious groups, schools and clubs. In other words, figuring out the nature of virtue in others. 

All this is the background that father will use as he readies himself for the more intense sexual formation of his son that is about to begin.

However, before he begins that direct formation, the good father will remind himself that he has already accomplished the deepest preparation of his son for good marriage later, by his mother bonding well with him as a newborn by him bonding well with his infant son. With these bindings his wife and he have him the firm foundation of the eventual fullness of his son’s sexuality. This is their great accomplishment to date— giving him the capacity to belong to others by belonging to him. They have already made him rich. With this his son will more naturally select as a partner for life someone who has the same capacity to belong — to give to him and to receive from him. She will be seeking someone like him while he is seeking someone like her. The complementary roles of his mother and father are what made this possible.  Other adolescents who have not experienced such complementarity between their parents will have greater struggles as they seek to find that other who will complement them. 

Having laid the foundation of a strong relationship, the son, as he undergoes the changes of puberty as he experiences a new strange unbeckoned pleasure – orgasm during sleep (wet dreams)– is now more likely to listen to his father as he introduces him to the nature and purpose of sexual pleasure. No one is better qualified to introduce him, because his father is the one who brought his son into existence through the enjoyment of that very pleasure.

Timing it as best he can, the father prepares his son for the changes he’s undergoing by pointing out to him that his interest in girls will also begin to increase. He will put that in the context of the massive amount of new learning his son will be acquiring over the next number of years, as he gets ready to be a competent adult. He will point out to him that during this period his brain will grow massively in size and in the interconnections that are both forming and reforming, growing and shedding, as new knowledge is acquired and old knowledge replaced and that, though this process will continue through the rest of his life, it will be particularly intense through the next 12 to 14 years, during which his son has the potential to become a great man by harnessing these changes, by being responsible to his future self, to his future wife (whoever she be), and to his future children (who are only thoughts in God’s mind at this stage).

During these 10 to 15 years he has the chance to develop strengths and to discover his weaknesses, to make friends, to form a few deep friendships, to explore the world, particularly those aspects of creation that he finds the most intriguing. Through this exploration he will discover his inclinations and gifts and gradually figure out a way whereby he can make a living—- how he can serve others in a way they would like to be served through a profession and in the process earn enough to live well enough.

During this period the father reminds his son that he will become increasingly aware of the two major dimensions of himself: That he is both spirit and body and that one of his greatest challenges in life will be to bring harmony between these two dimensions, that he will find such harmony is easy at times, while at other times difficult, and on a few occasions more like a raging storm, and that he has to learn to sail in all these types of seas — all the time remaining captain, so that if he gets lost he knows where to find his compass and recalibrate by true north.

He will let his son know that from here on, as his son becomes more and more his own man that will bring joy to his father, even as a certain distance must accompany that joy, the distance of independence, of responsibility, a responsibility that the son cannot share, the responsibility of being the self he needs to become.

Sometimes the father will tell his son these things face to face but sometimes in letters—for he knows that the value of a letter lasts a lifetime and can be revisited – even after his father has passed away.  For the son of a good father these letters will be a great treasure and may even serve his grandsons (human nature does not change).

So far, the father’s work is about the son’s development of his inner self as a competent man, capable of contributing significantly to those around him who will be sought out by others for the skills he has and the contributions he can make. However, he makes clear that everything in life points towards being ready to give, even as his desire to receive will stay dominant— to receive income, promotions, praise, admiration, honors, enjoyment, friendship and even love, especially love. His father will point out to him the great human paradox: First we all want all these good things (income through love) but that they cannot be had first but only after we give, and that if he ever becomes a wise man he will know that it makes most sense not to think about the receiving but concentrate instead on the giving— giving where life beckon most. His father will remind him (gently but often enough so that it gets through) that life will keep being a major pain until he learns this solution to this universal dilemma. It is a lesson many fail to learn, or learn too late, but that great men realize this early enough in life to shape themselves that way.  He will urge his son to look out for such men and when he finds them to get as close to them as life permits.

(As I wrote this, a piece appeared in the Daily Signal on the first “non-binary” person in the U.S. [neither male nor female]. It teaches the same lesson but in a very different way. If you read the story carefully you will see that this man [he has “returned” to his original sex] had a father who was the opposite of what he needed. It is no wonder his sexuality went all haywire. Given the level of breakdown in marriage in our day, more and more young people are at risk for similar distortions in their psycho-sexual development). 

Next week I will continue with Phase V of the Father-Son relationship.

For the good of the child,

The future of the nation,

Pat Fagan

Phase 2 of the Father-Child Relationship (years three to nine or ten): Consolidation of Affection and Solidarity with an Eye to the Future

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From age three onwards the infant gradually becomes a boy.  And this is most noticeable in his play.  

All children love to play. Most boys like ball games: Kicking and throwing. They love horseplay (as long as it does not get too overpowering… a judgement call by the father, child by child). The goal is confidence in Dad as source of fun and protection. The horseplay is for the enjoyment of the child– not the father. It really helps consolidate the boy’s sexual identity as male when done with common sense.

The observant father now will begin to spot the different inclinations of his children (and draw on his wife’s observations as well). Their inclinations and strengths become occasions for father to affirm his son in these (be they quarterback-football or tiddlywinks or drawing).  To be affirmed in his strengths by his father is one of life’s great experiences for a boy. And it lasts a life time.

Gradually, over the next years the father tells his children about his own inclinations and gifts: What he enjoys doing, what he is good at, what he likes in his hobbies, his friends, his fellow workers (learning about persons and life). What he loves about his life: His wife– their mother, about his children, and his friends. He does this not to boast but to illustrate to them that it is good to revel in the gifts life has granted him so that they too will revel in the gifts life has granted them. He follows this with his own reveling in their gifts. Thus, he grows confidence deep inside his children. This capacity for confidence and appreciation is the foundation of a great sexual relationship with his spouse later on—twenty years or more from this phase.

Children love to be read to, and the books the father chooses will have quite an impact on them.  If he knows books, he can direct their reading. His wife also plays a big part here. If they don’t know books they can use my wife’s “A Mother’s List of Books”[1] which contains decades of experience in choosing books that are interesting (they have to be enjoyable for the child) yet model good character (or at least not undermine it as most modern children’s books do, especially on the role of the father).  If you do not believe me: Go and check out the books in the children’s section of your local public library.  The tentacles of NOW reach deep into all crannies of child formation including this one… and have for a long time.

If ever in doubt classic fairytales are a good bet. Young children love them— that is why they have survived.

Though they love having stories read to them they are absolutely taken with stories their father creates for them— no matter how corny, no matter what his level of skill in creating or telling them. What they love is the love he is showing them. They will ask for more and more. And father can compose the outlines as he travels and works.

During this phase another great theme and attitude is laid down by the wise father: Modesty. 

Father will lightly form their attitude towards the bodies of others: Privacy of all in the bathroom, especially those of opposite sex. Boys do not enter their sisters’ bedroom, nor girls their brothers’. None enter their parent’s bedroom. Even with parents present, they knock and wait to be invited. 

A boy learns from his father that nobody else ever touches the private parts of his body… except Mother or Father when ill or the doctor in his office. No one else! And he is trained that he should tell his parents if anybody tries . Anywhere! Anyone! Father or Mother or both will deal with that person. And if an adult is the one who touched them his parents will ensure that person goes to  jail. And they will make sure their child knows that they are never at fault or guilty in such a situation. It is always the adult, never the child.  It is a pity, but in this day of sexual license and sexual abuse parents have to both protect children more and teach their children how best to protect themselves.

The boy is taught by his father to treat his own body well: Not touch his penis except at toilet and washing. He learns to keep it private: Hence these parts of the body are called “private parts.”  (This is laying the groundwork for teaching him about masturbation when he is comes into puberty.  Self-control during puberty, in turn, is remote preparation for the male being a great lover of his spouse later on. This is not neurotic anxiety but quite the opposite: It is preparing his son to be great in bed — without talking about it at this too early stage).

It is a pity but during this phase fathers now have to begin preparing their sons to handle pornography — by shunning it the first time they see it and coming to him with any question the experience provokes (and there will be all sorts of questions).  Father gets across that the body is sacred —-  always sacred, but that some wicked people exploit this.  He lets his son know his confidence in him that he will know when a picture is not right, and to always feel free to come to  him – or his mother – for they are the experts on the body. Again, with the breakdown in sexual mores and taboos this initial education in pornography is now needed as early as eight years of age… maybe even sooner!  It is a judgement call best arrived at by discussion between both parents.

Somewhere along the way… listening to his questions about babies and where they come from— father or mother give enough information to satisfy the questions asked, but do not go overboard. A light touch builds confidence in the son— confidence in approaching his parents on these issues— that father (or mother) will be his guide on this and he can always come to his father with any questions.

With an eye to the coming teenage adolescent years:  Making friends with other families you really like. 

When children are young they make friends with ease. Put them together and they play easily. Wise parents avail of this phase so that their children have good friends BEFORE they reach their teenage years.  Then when puberty hits, they have the friends of early childhood as their peer group in adolescents – all from good families, families who help each other through their children’s adolescent years. These early friendships will transfer easily to the teenage years and from these will grow many of the deeper friendships that emerge in adolescence, and among whom mixed groups will be natural  among the brothers and sisters of those they played with in single sex groups during this phase two.

Parents who neglect to do this will realize their mistake when it is too late to do much about it and their children have made friends the parents are not happy with, but at time when it is too late to do what could have been done with ease five years earlier: Shepherding them towards good friendships with children whose parents know how to cultivate character.  This has nothing to do with family income or status, but with the character of parents who know what character is and how to form it in their children.

The next phase covered will be early adolescence.


[1] I know it is a plug, but her  booklet is a classic — owned and used for decades by thousands of mothers across the country.  Email her at tafagan@juno.com for more details.  It is a plug.  But if there were a better one to plug I would do so.  There is not!

Radical Assault — Radical Insight

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The study of how to rebuild society leads initially to the study of how it was dismantled. That leads to many pathways but the central is the Marxist highway, which, though beginning with the commune in the French Revolution really got its start with Das Kapital by Marx and Engels. There they pinpointed family and religion as the two major obstacles. It took a hundred years of study for their intellectual offspring to figure out how to cause a collapse from with both those institutions.  They found one solution for both problems: Sex gone wild, as most graphically illustrated in Mallory Millet’s famous reportage on the pre-founding of the National Organization of Women. Men are suckers for it, and women too – in a very different way.

It is noteworthy that when a marriage or partnership disintegrates the children normally stay with their mother. This springs from the fundamental nature of female sexuality: Her sexual biology is overwhelming in its impact on her boding with her children. Once conceived, her child changes all her biological systems as they regroup to grow the baby in her womb. She gets to know that baby as it grows and takes over so much of her life during those nine months.

Then comes the trip down the birth canal and the eruption of pain and trauma of childbirth, an experience men cannot conceive of nor write about. It ends in the joy of holding her newborn and the instant conclusion it was all worth it. This experience alone would bond both so deeply. But it is followed by an even more intimate form with months of breastfeeding that makes the breast forever central to sexuality for both male and female.

For men, biology does not do anything comparable. A man bonding with his children is essentially an act of his will: A decision carried out repeatedly as he deliberately gets closer to his child. 

In the architecture of family and of society and even of civilization and culture the woman’s irreplaceable contribution is biology; man’s is decision, or will – or good habits.  

If the family is an arch the woman is the blocks while the man is the keystone. 

Pull out the keystone and the arch (the family, society, even civilization) collapses. 

The US feminists of the 1960’s, building on the 40 years work of the Frankfurt School and its Marxist allies, had finally figured out how to cause the collapse that Lenin envisaged: remove the father from the family. (For them the traditional intact married family is the “patriarchal” family).  The “litany chant” at the opening of the study group that led to NOW illustrates the method of removal: Let sex go wild. 

The Supreme Court was a key target and delivered the goods: The right to sex outside of marriage in 1972, to abortion in 1973, to contraceptives down to age 16 without parental consent, to homosexual acts in 2003, to homosexual marriage in 2015.

With each decision the place of the male in the family was notched down and down and down, with increases in all the “toxic masculinities” the APA is seemingly concerned about.

The Marxists figured out that if you remove the father from the family society will gradually collapse into the waiting arms of the all-controlling socialist state envisaged by Marx. 

In the mid and late 1960’s some of America’s brightest (but not best) decided to take down the most powerful nation on earth. They have achieved much.

How to restore and rebuild? 

By replacing the keystone in the arch: Good fathers raising boys to be great husbands and fathers. The man is key. He is civilization. He is the keystone. 

(Women have nothing to fear in this order: It is the work of both. Equally. Just very different roles, stemming from very, very different biologies. But totally complementary biologies — if only we can get the “act of the will” right in both male and female, mother and father, husband and wife).

Three Short Periods That Shape an Individual’s Journey Through Life

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Three phases are foundational to a sense of well-being throughout life: The child’s early experience of his mother, the teenager’s decision about sex and God, and the newly wedded couples agreement on suffering. The first and last involve the two most important persons in his life. The middle- the teenager’s decision -is personal, private and alone, or alone before God. All three phases shape life way into the future by shaping the individual’s capacity for the wellbeing of spouse, children, friends, family, and colleagues at work.

The child who experiences the constant attention and affection of a self-giving mother during the earliest phase of life, is blessed beyond measure. That mother is giving him a great introduction to “reality as a pleasant place to be.” Life is good, life is warm, life is full. Well taken care of, that baby is ready to take life on! Depending on the mother’s capacity, both from within herself and from the environment around her (her own early experience of her own mother, her husband, her home, her support from family and friends), she fills her child’s emotional heart- his relational “cup”- full, half-full or quarter full. Less than full means the child will have a corresponding limp in human relationships for the rest of its life– without realizing it.

In a recent conversation with friends who live in Spain we mulled the mother-child dilemma in that country where almost all married women are expected to return to work four months after the birth of the child. Many fear that moment because of the pain of leaving their child so soon. By any research calculus, four months with mother is way too little as a norm. Spain is undermining the relational capacity of its children and guaranteeing fragile marriages and difficult parenting twenty-five to thirty years from now.

It cannot but be that most Spanish children will limp relationally to some extent, but it will be hard to spot because most other Spaniards will have been similarly affected. For almost all Spanish couples — even the middle class and higher — a culture of shame exists for husbands if their wives do not work. (The poor and the working class can’t afford the luxury of such shame.) Caring full-time for children at home has become rather socially unacceptable. In Spain, the marketplace is more honored than the child. The market now significantly shapes Spanish children’s relational capacities.

The next period to shape life takes place in the inner sanctum of each teenager’s heart. Between the age of fourteen to sixteen most teenagers decide very privately which path they will walk on matters sexual – ‘adventurous’ exploration of sexual relationships, or chaste abstinence until marriage. The other decision, rather interlaced with the first, is whether they will walk with God or without Him. Should they take the both paths the wrong way, they set themselves up for much unhappiness, broken relationships, even broken marriages, thus visiting suffering on their future children and grandchildren. Some learn their mistake before they go too far down the road. Others find chaste abstinence is possible, especially with friends who walk the same path and who go to God frequently in worship. Oh this “it takes a village” helps a lot. Though chastity leads to significant prosperity and happiness in marriage and family for decades to come, most teenagers are not aware of this, nor that, though they are free to choose, they are not free to choose the consequences, that the consequences are hardwired within them.

The third period bridges the year before and after marriage. The most basic wisdom young couples need concerns suffering. Their orientation to it shapes their future. Those who expect life together to involve some suffering and are prepared to back each other up (“for better or for worse”) will survive and thrive. Those who premise marriage only on “happy ever after” (our modernist norm) are in for a quick disillusionment, one that ends many marriages. The best definition I have come across of a great marriage is “a couple with the capacity to solve an emotionally dividing problem”. Stated differently: a couple who can confront the suffering that life throws at them and figure out how to move towards a solution they agree on.

Though all the social science dots are not yet fully connected across the three periods, enough of them are to link the first period to this last. A husband and wife whose mothers “filled their cup” in infancy are much better formed to be great problem solvers together.

Which brings me back to poor Spain! It takes the national wisdom of a child-friendly culture to deal well with family, love, suffering and children. St John of the Cross, who helped reform religious and institutional life in Spain in the late 1500’s and whose writings are explored by believers of all faiths, is one of the great teachers of the connection between love and suffering. Spanish life could do with a re-infusion of his insights. Then the rest of the world would learn from Spain, for many Western nations, and many good couples, struggle, during the first phase of the child’s existence, to solve the dilemma of mother, child and marketplace.

Home Economics

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In his book Redeeming Economics, John Mueller, of The Ethics and Public Policy Center, formerly  an economic forecaster with many Fortune 500 clients, traces the suppression and the loss of the Fourth Law of Economics – the law of distribution.  This law had been well known to economists of the Middle Ages when the study of economics boomed — along with the boom in the European economy   (Adam Smith tried to reduce the laws  to one, failed, and ended up with two, but suppressed two.) Others since have added back the third.  The fourth has yet to be “rediscovered”, if one does not count Mueller’s work.   The distribution of the income of a firm, a family or an individual goes a very long way in adding to the economy of the firm, family or individual.  One basic example is how much spending vs saving vs charitable giving goes on. Some in the family often forego their share to take care of others (the law of the gift — of redistribution, freely undertaken).  Charitable giving at the right moment can make a huge difference to the life of someone in need; saving to send a child to college or to private school is another form of the gift.  There are myriad.  But going to the family level is the mother at home raising her children is involved in multiple gift-giving all the time and Nobel Laureate Gary Becker says makes a greater contribution to the economy than her husband working out in the marketplace.   That mother has a hidden and powerful effect on the money her husband brings home to the family.  She can make it go much further if she is wise.  The husband who has such a wife is much wealthier than the husband with the same income but a wife not as wise or selfless.  With a little thought you can identify women on both sides of this divide.

How large is that mother’s contribution?  We get some idea from the research of a colleague of mine at Catholic University, Dr. Sophia Aguirre.  Drawing on multiple federal economic surveys she demonstrated that when the mother goes out to work she has to reach pretty high levels of income to replace the lost “amplifying redistribution” effect, as well as making  up for the extra costs involved in going to work (clothes, transportation, increased taxes and  child care to name but a few).  Aguirre’s conclusion: “Yet, we also find that for the most part, the net income is [on average] economically insignificant.  Furthermore, the results suggest that the lower the income and the education of the secondary earner, the higher the probability of the net contribution to the total income of the household to be zero, or possibly negative.”

In other words, the net contribution of most mothers to the family income is not great, unless she is very well educated and can command a significant income ($100,000 +, ten years ago when the study was done).  Though this is disappointing news for many, looked at differently it is fantastic news for most:  The mother at home makes enormous economic contributions to her family and multiplies the income her husband brings home – and that does not even address the huge educational, psychological and social benefits of her presence to her children and their future earnings capacity (which was the basis of Gary Becker’s insight of her contribution to the economy being much greater than her husbands.  That conclusion depends on the time frame used to judge her contribution.  In a world of quarterly reports that contribution is totally missed.)

Now back to John Mueller: At a recent conference when he presented on the major insights of “Redeeming Economics” I asked him how much of the economy is hidden by the law of redistribution (the law of the gift, which among other gifts includes  the mother’s contribution at home).  His public answer: “About 50%”.  That is our GDP is twice as big as we think it is.

Mueller’s analysis and Aguirre’s analysis coming from totally different perspectives end up in pretty much the same place.  Mother virtually doubles the family’s economic benefit!

If one were to include the costs to the economy of increases in crime, addiction, school failure, ill health and mental illness — all resulting from “anti-gifts” — the absence of the gift of marriage to the children — with the depletion from the economy (crime, stealing, robbery, fraud, and all costs that would be avoided were all children raised in married families), this changes the picture yet more.

There is a long research road to hoe before this basic insight will be absorbed by the academy, by economists, by professors and their students, by legislators and those interested in wealth (investors and bankers), but the preliminary evidence is very, very big.

It is amazing how learned we can be yet how ignorant at the same time.  No wonder economics is the “dismal science” when it leaves out 50% of its field, all because it leaves out the gift of love in its most basic form: married family life.

Pat Fagan

Parenting and Education

family, fathers, marriage, mothers No comments

Last week we saw the powerful effects of two great teachers: the church and the state and the need for both to be fundamentally aligned if one is to have a peaceful and prosperous society. But in terms of power and influence, nothing compares to parents in shaping their children’s view of life and capacity for life.

From the moment of birth the mother has the capacity to orient her child positively to “reality” by making those first moments, days, months and even years enjoyable and welcoming.   Dying young soldiers often give testimony to this by calling on their mothers, instinctively harkening back to the great welcome into life even as they exit it.  By contrast, very troubled mothers can lay the foundation for psychosis if, rather than welcoming their child, they make those first experiences horrendous, and the child protectively retreats to a safer place within itself, cutting itself off from this dangerous world it has just entered.  Therapists later do their limited best to draw the person back out again.

Increasing attention has been drawn to the influence of fathers.  They shape the sexuality of their children by the way they relate to the mother of their children, for that is the primary sexual relationship in the family.  We know all sorts of other good effects such as the more they read to their children the quicker they come to read and love books.  The more time he spends with his children the more they thrive.  President Obama talked of this a number of times.

But what nobody talks about in the media is the effect of the parent’s marriage on their children.  A good marriage is more powerful than a good mother or a good father taken singly, much more.

But the most powerful marriage is the one that includes weekly worship of God.  Such a marriage is the most powerful teacher and educator of children in every measured aspect of human life.  The following is a snapshot of the national picture for the US, by family structure and frequency of worship.

Forget about Japanese schooling or German schooling or British schooling.  They are all good but don’t hold a candle to the father and mother who are married and worship God weekly.  They are the “tiger mothers” and “super dads” all wrapped up in one loving package.  They are the most powerful educators on earth.  And they can be found across the globe. But talked about nowhere.  Strange.

Inner City Families

children, fathers, marriage, mothers No comments

Children are deeply relational beings–and depending on how that dimension is fulfilled for them by their parents they become competent human beings–or not.  Nurturing relationships early on makes “being a human being” a happy experience for them.  A mother, in the very close, comforting and warm nurturance of breast feeding, the foundational experience on entering a world that it is a good and nice place to be in.  This anchors a child in reality.  If a child is cursed with this early experience being a harsh one that child will retreat into life-long psychosis or milder forms of damaging self-defense from a harsh world.

Plenty of belonging leads to plenty of thriving.  A good culture, and a good nation devotes massive energy to ensuring plenty of belonging for its children: it is the sine qua non of its continued thriving as a culture and as a nation.

The core of such a culture is the marriage vow “till death us do part”, that vow by which fathers and mothers have bound themselves in perpetual belonging so that the children who will come have total reassurance as to whom and to where they belong.  That vow gives everyone a norm and a structure around which to build a highly functional society.  It absence indicates a body without a spine.

The other end of the spectrum which has belonging on one end is rejection. The norm and the “structure” around which rejection is built is sex outside of, or before, the marriage vow.   Its results are a national and cultural wilting instead of a thriving.  Rejection comes in many forms but for the building or, in this case, the deconstruction of society, rejection deep within the family is the natural and most common consequence of sex outside of marriage: out of wedlock births where most parents eventually end up rejecting each other; cohabitation with similar results for a large portion; and of course infidelity within marriage.  Abortion also is most frequently the product of out of wedlock sex (roughly 80%).

No matter which way society goes on matters sexual there are high costs for the two different pathways.

The costs of the pathway of traditional intact marriage are high for the individual requiring chastity (see last week blog); requiring that one pushes through the difficulties of marriage, no matter the burden; requiring fidelity (and in the process, requiring continued personal struggle and growth towards an even greater maturity lasting all the way their sixties and beyond – to the end).  The demands on the individual are high — but the benefits for them, their children and society are enormous.  The price of their struggle is more than well repaid.

The pathway of rejection does not make these demands on the individual; it is premised on avoiding them, on personal autonomy and “free choice”.  But it does demand a price:  the aborting of children (and America has, in the last 75 years, aborted the equivalent of one sixth of its present population); divorce and all its attendant consequences on adults and on children; out of wedlock births and all of its consequences , which for our inner cities, are now compounding through the fourth and even fifth generation.  For society at large the price is high in more school failure and drop out; more crime and addictions, more ill health and disease; shorter lifespan; much higher health costs; much higher education costs; much higher policing and criminal justice system costs; more poverty and less income; less savings; harsher old-age; more loneliness and suicide.   Even though the individuals who choose this pathway pay their own heavy price in the longer term, the premise of this culture is “I will make my choice – others can pay for the consequences.”  At its core this sexual pathway is anti-community, anti-child, anti-marriage and ultimately anti-cultural and, ironically, destructive of the individual who chooses that route.

A macro cost/benefit comparison between the two pathways leads quickly to a “slam dunk” winner.

Because these two different pathways demand very different cultures and, ultimately, very different political orders, we pay another price: civil strife and a growing gap between those who hold to the first pathway and those to the second.

Trying to make these two pathways work together causes one to daydream about solutions such as political geographies that permit one culture to work and pay for its way and the other to work and pay for its way.

But in such solutions one pathway would have to give up its foundational premise “I make my choice, the state (meaning everyone else, all the taxpayers) can pay for it.”  If the rejection pathway had its own political order and geographic community structures they would have to shoulder their own costs, and five minutes reflection by anyone, liberal or conservative, shows that is not possible for they would be bankrupt within a generation – in twenty five years or less.

But within that dilemma lies the seed of reform: achieve more and more ways of making folk of the second pathway aware of the cost to themselves and their children.   I bet that most single parent grandmothers in the inner city wish their grandchildren could take the “belonging till death us do part” pathway, the pathway of faithful marriage, even if they cannot see the way for that to happen.

It is from such grandmothers that the seeds of a “belonging America” can sprout.  On these issues no one has more authority, for they have the authority of suffering and pain, the authority of the victimhood of their grandchildren – should they learn how to harness it.  Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan of Belfast started the healing in Northern Ireland by harnessing similar suffering among mothers.  Is there a Betty Williams in one of our inner cities who could say for marriage in America what Williams, in her Nobel Laureate speech, said for peace in Northern Ireland:

“A deep sense of frustration at the mindless stupidity of the continuing violence was already evident before the tragic events of that sunny afternoon of August 10, 1976. But the deaths of those four young people in one terrible moment of violence caused that frustration to explode, and create the possibility of a real peace movement. As far as we are concerned, every single death in the last eight years, and every death in every war that was ever fought represents life needlessly wasted, a mother’s labor spurned.”

Can the price that our American children are paying, particularly our inner-city poor children are paying, draw forth that brilliant Black grandmother hidden somewhere in one of our cities?  That grandmother has a moral authority no one else can aspire to … and hundreds of thousands will follow should she give proper voice and they can begin the end to our American stupidity.

Millennials and Conservativism

chastity, child well-being, commitment, community, family, fathers, happiness, intact family, monogamy, mothers, parents 1 comment
Society is a network of relationships between its citizens. Each citizen’s capacity to relate to others increases or decreases the social cohesiveness and strength of a nation, and each one of those individual citizens’ capacities to relate has been significantly shaped by the family which formed them. As any family therapist will tell you, these family relationships, in turn, are significantly tied to the relationship between the father and mother of that family. As their marital relationship goes, so goes the intra-psychic strength and the social capacity of their children. The marital relationship changes everything in the family. Multiplied a hundred million times in the U.S., it has a massively compounding effect on society—for strength or weakness.

Thus, the relationship between the mother and father figures in a family is the most foundational relationship in society, the “DNA” that influences all the relationships that emanate from it. How the shopkeeper responds to his customers, or the professor to her students, is often quite tied to how they experienced their parents’ marriage. When a marriage breaks apart, it affects a child’s behavior and relational capacity. When a parental relationship is never transformed into marriage (e.g, in out-of-wedlock births or cohabiting households that break up) it alters the child’s social capacity.

Thus, the future of society is structured by the social ordering of this primary sexual relationship. That is the heart of the culture wars.

Change the DNA of the body, and you change the body by altering its whole functioning process. Alter the sexual relationship, and you alter everything else. Political philosophers are very aware of this. Marx and Engels saw this as absolutely necessary for their massive project: the permanent altering of society along the lines of their utopian dream.

Others see this connection even if they do not desire the same outcome as did Marx and Engels. Most bright Millennials understand it. They see that society has to pay a certain price for the sexual choices permitted to them today —choices that were not sanctioned in times past. They will even admit and accept that the innocent children of these sexual acts will have to pay the price. Many are prepared to see such prices paid, and therein lies the dilemma.

Marx and Engels wanted this sexual restructuring; many Millennials accept it. Though Millennials are certainly not all Marxists, it hardly matters: In the cultural and political contest of the day, they will stand aside and let the coercive liberal state march forward in the direction laid out by Marx and Engels.

Are we doomed to some form of coercive Marxist state as our future because of the sexual choices many in our society treasure? Other than widespread religious conversion, I do not see much potential for change in the right direction; hence, I invite your comments. Is religious conversion the only route?

Does Absence Really Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

adoption, child well-being, children, economics, family, mothers No comments

By MARRI Intern

Olivia Walton from The Waltons and June Cleaver from Leave It to Beaver are just two idealistic television mothers who shaped the idea of what moms were supposed to be. Throughout the years, we have seen drastic changes in the role that women are expected to have in society. Women can be torn between societal expectations and what they personally desire. This is often the case when they are faced with the choice (or the need) to work outside the home, especially if they have young children.
The ratio of stay-at-home moms to mothers who are work full-time outside the home has fluctuated greatly over the years. An articlefrom the UK Daily Mail that was published this past spring highlighted the great value contributed by stay-at-home moms. Not only does their staying home benefit the child or children involved, but it benefits society as a whole, because strong families are the foundation of a strong society.
The attachment theory developed by the psychologist John Bowlby (1907-1990) states that a child needs to be in a loving, stable environment with a consistent primary caregiver in order to develop in a healthy manner. The above noted Daily Mail article noted that the first three years of a child’s life are the most critical years of development and that the child’s greatest need is to feel loved and secure. How the child is treated and the relationships which are established within the first three years are good predictors of the child’s future. However, if this is true and the majority of mothers are in fact working full-time, how will this affect our society?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 about 70.5 percent of women who had children 18 years old and younger were in the workforce. When mothers spend the majority of their time working outside of the home, their children may not be able to establish a secure attachment to them, especially when they are younger. This attachment is critically important for the child’s development and foundational to all of their future relationships. Depression and behavioral issues are common childhood outcomes linked back to the lack of a secure attachment with their mother (or primary caregiver), the Daily Mail post above states. Sadly, this often means that the child’s needs were not met emotionally or, perhaps at times, physically.
Typically, attachment theory has been associated with the issue of adoption, particularly because it can be difficult to establish a secure attachment if the child is adopted at an older age.  However, whether the child concerned is adopted or one whose primary caregiver is in the workforce, it is of vital importance to establish this deep connection. Additional information on adoption and attachment theory can be found within thisMARRI publication on the benefits of adoption.