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Phase 4 of The Father-Son Relationship: Early Adolescence (Assessing the Beauty of Young Women).

Tags: , , , , , , adolescent sexuality, culture, fathers, love, men, Pat Fagan, sexuality, Uncategorized No comments

When you were born, I held you in my arms and made these promises to you:

I will teach you how to regard the bodies of women.

I will teach you how to listen carefully to women and hear what they mean .

I will teach you how  to treat all women, so they will know you are a man of good intentions.

Now, that you are becoming a young man your body can generate new life. Yes! You can now be a father. So, it is time for me to teach you all you want to know and all you need to know about this powerful new dimension of being alive.

Over the next few years we will talk about these issues at different times.  But the next lesson I want you to learn is that the world of women is both wonderful and dangerous and that you need to learn how to live in that world and assess these women. They — like men — can be angels or devils (most are somewhere in between). However, in our times, the number of dangerous women has grown, so you have to be wise or you will suffer much if you make the wrong choice.

Most women are attractive, physically.  Furthermore, God also made it part of their nature that they devote time and attention to being so. Finding a physically attractive woman is easy and the woman you will marry will likely be quite beautiful. The much more important form of attractiveness takes real practice to spot, and getting there is not easy for most men.

By contrast, women, starting in their teens, seem to enjoy exchanging their assessment of males and, even though their criteria as teenagers are limited they become more serious as they mature, for they begin to realize that much depends on their ability to assess a man’s capacity to work and provide for them and their future children, and the level of respect he has not only for them, but for other women. Men don’t share comparisons of women this way.  They more easily judge women by their looks.  That takes no training, nor great intelligence.

Because you have to acquire this capacity it is time for you to start, first by assessing the sisters of your friends and the friends of your sisters.  You can begin to spot and appreciate their virtues: who is kind; who is hard working; who is always cheerful; who takes care of her siblings; who honors her father; who is close to her mother;  who is prayerful (though that is hard to observe); who is modest in the way she dresses; who is even-tempered; who is punctual; who is prepared.  As you assess them you will notice weaknesses. However, you have to simultaneously learn to see the good in every young woman. No matter what weaknesses you spot, you realize that every young woman is the apple of her parent’s eye and especially of God’s eye: He has known each intimately even before they came into existence, and continues to hold each one in the palm of His hand.  In other words, even as you develop the capacity to spot their virtues you also develop the capacity to see them as God’s beloved daughters.  This is a sure-fire way to learn to respect every woman.

The effect of developing this capacity to spot the virtues in a girl is that you will become more motivated about developing your own.  The woman you set your heart on will likely have been observing the brothers of her friends and the friends of her brothers.  It would be a pity if you were to lose the girl of your dreams because you failed to turn a significant weakness into a strength.

One man I know was lucky.  In college he fell for a girl and asked her out on a date.  She – remarkably – told him to “Forget it. You arrive late to class, skip some of them, and, I am told, you lie in many mornings. If I were to fall for you and marry you, ten years from now I would be pulling you out of bed to get you to work. No way I’m going out with you.”  He changed quickly and had enough time (he was a sophomore) to convince her. Now they are happily married.  Most men never get such a chance —nor such an informed turn-down. But such turndowns happen all the time, silently.

Developing your capacity to assess the virtues of young women should motivate you to develop those capacities you need to replace the bad habits your brothers and sisters complain about, if you are to become a man pleasant enough to be with —-  for a lifetime.

We will talk about this from time to time.

Father and Son, Phase 3: Early Adolescence

Tags: , , , , , , adolescent sexuality, boys, child well-being, culture, Dating, fathers, men, mothers, sexuality, Uncategorized No comments

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

Tags: , , , , , , , adolescent sexuality, boys, child well-being, community, culture, family, fathers, generations, love, MARRI, marriage, men, men, mothers, parenthood, parents, Pat Fagan, sex, sexuality, Uncategorized No comments

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!

A Deliberate Rejection of “Traditional” Men

Tags: , , , , boys, culture, gender, MARRI, men, Pat Fagan, Uncategorized No comments

The last blog before the Christmas/New Year break was “Rebuilding our nation, one son at a time” which laid out the work a father implicitly takes on with the birth of his child.  Since then the American Psychological Association (APA) issued Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Men and Boys, causing an uproar among “traditional value” folk who felt (reasonably so, as a quick read of the preamble and the titles of the guidelines will indicate). Two practicing psychologists have severe critiques that give substance to concerns of the layfolk: Dr. Sean Smith of Denver and Dr. Leonard Sax (psychologist and physician) of Maryland. That many of the members of APA likely agree with them is beside the point. The leadership of APA is determined to push the nation in a direction abhorrent to most of its citizens.

In reaction to the backlash APA issued a statement that some see as backpedaling but is in reality a digging in their heels: the president of APA and the two most recent past presidents weigh in on the side of the guidelines.

The three APA presidents state:

“We honor and respect the overwhelmingly majority of boys and men who aim to live fully human lives while valuing the dignity of all others. In short, Division 51 [author of the Guidelines] of the American Psychological Association believes the following:

Division 51 seeks to recognize and promote pathways for boys and men to live healthy and positive lives, [emphasis added] and also to identify and redress the effects of restrictive masculinities[1]. We do this through psychological science, education, advocacy, and clinical practice. In doing so, we aim to promote equality for people of all genders.”

This is not true. 

Let me give preliminary background before presenting the evidence to support my harsh retort: The guidelines are part of a set.  The other part is the almost-identical-twin guidelines for Psychological Practice with Women and Girls, issued in 2007. Two large working groups put in over 30 years of study, meetings, conferences and publications, all aimed at producing these two documents.  This is serious, deliberate project by a lot of highly intelligent, highly educated people, all of whom claim to be scientists, and members of a world-ranking organization that weighs in often as a scientific organization, e.g. in its Supreme Court amici briefs.

What is the evidence that the statement of the three presidents is not true?  In neither set of Guidelines nor in any of the years of research, conferences nor publications leading up to them, is there even the slightest attempt to “recognize and promote pathways for boys and men to live healthy and positive lives” in the traditional way of marriage and the regular practice of the worship of God (manifested in all cultures, over all of history).  Nowhere in any of the text of the two Guidelines, nor in any of the science cited, is there any indication that they acknowledge this widest of pathways, which is as visible as a 12-lane highway.  The data is staring them in the face, and is overwhelming in every federal survey,  but they treat these uncomfortable facts with that sort of contempt which makes itself clear when one turns one’s back on another. This is deliberate, not an oversight.   Also, it shows a total lack of interest in real social science, which will let the data fall where it will.

I like Dr. Sean Smith’s advice: If you need a psychologist (and there are many great psychologists, doing great and needed work), make sure to ask him (or her) about his stance on these guidelines. If he does not give a firm “NO — I do not support or agree with them” walk away from him and find a trust-worthy psychologist, one who will honor you and the traditions from which you come.

In sum these guidelines are an abuse of both therapists and clients: Placing ideology above the needs of vulnerable people in trouble seeking help.


[1] “Masculinities” is a neologism to be rejected and challenged whenever thrust upon you. It embodies the radical agenda within its meaning.

Black Americans Losing Their Freedom

Tags: , , , , black family, child well-being, family structure, intact family, MARRI, marriage, Uncategorized No comments

Most Black Americans are less free than their ancestors under Jim Crow laws.  They no longer can marry and stay married.

Most Black Americans today grow up in broken families and suffer their parents rejecting each other.  (Other ethnic children do also, but less so.)

Compare the Black Family to the Asian American family over the past decades:

[To explore this further go to The Decomposition of the American Family Over Time by Henry Potrykus, formerly with MARRI. If you go there: Click on the words in gold to get what you want to see.]

Parents pass on a lot to their children, one of the strongest being social capacity. This learned complementarity between husband and wife is the great strength that keeps on giving… across generations. The rejection between husband and wife also keeps on giving — more brokenness across generations. The more splitting in a family’s history, the more the children will split. 

Where did this loss of freedom come from? Was this something imposed on Black Americans? Imposed on their church-going families? Where did this rejection virus come from? How is it so endemic even among church-goers?

And keep in mind, this is one Black parent rejecting the other. It is not imposed from outside. 

If Black leaders can build unity in the Black family, they can solve, not only their own problems but also white, Hispanic and Native American too.  Such leaders will become national heroes. 

How is this done? We can put men and women on the moon. But we do not know how build marriage for a lifetime. How do Asian Americans do it?  Can they transfer it? 

The five richest men in America, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all have intact marriages. If their combined funds could find the solution — nothing  would yield greater dividends to the nation nor restore to Black Americans the freedom most of them have lost.

The Power of Stories for MARRI

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Social Science data does not produce a warm and fuzzy feeling. It is quite cerebral. At times this causes me some significant professional problems. Now is one of those times.

We at MARRI have a number of donors looking at our work. They like it, but they are not sure of its impact. So, I am coming to you to ask for a favor: Not a donation of money, but something likely much more valuable to me right now: A story.

I ask you for a story (or two) about MARRI data: How it affects you, how you have used it.  Have you had others take a look at it? Use your own experience in simple terms.  It can be as long or short as you wish.

You have no idea how important your story might be for us. Please help by sending your story to:

marri.research@gmail.com

Sincerely,
Pat Fagan, Ph.D.
Director of the MARRI Project
Catholic University of America

Family Disruption and Child Wellbeing

Tags: , , , , child well-being, children, depression, divorce, family, intact family, MARRI, marriage, Pat Fagan, social policy, youth No comments

The most comprehensive overview of the effects of divorce on children until then was a 2012 synthesis paper I wrote with Aaron Churchill. For this blog I composed a short review of the more recent literature on divorce using the National Institute of Health’s Library and database. The simplified results confirm and extend the findings of the 2012 paper:

Parental disruption of the family leads to increased levels and diverse forms of depression (very noticeably in China) and anxiety, earlier death and serious illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, increased rates of cancer and stroke, and other somatic symptoms, such as atopic dermatitis. Ironically, the divorce of parents also decreases the likelihood of taking the medicine needed to treat personal illness and increases additional poor health behaviors (smoking, alcohol use [including early drinking], and unhealthy eating [obesity]). These effects, especially depression, persist into adulthood for offspring of divorced parents. For children who are already depressed (linked likely to family unhappiness) depression deepens with the divorce of parents and episodes of serious depression become more frequent and sometimes morph into bipolar depression.

When parents divorce, a child’s world is shattered. For some children it is a slow disintegration. For others it is cataclysmic in its suddenness.  The depth of the wounds is much the same, though the variety of wounds is myriad and, though patterns abound, each wound is unique and idiosyncratic in its effects on the mind, heart and soul of each child, even when a grown adult.

With divorce, the very center of the child’s universe has imploded. Yes, the child has to pick up the pieces and get on with life,  but they are pieces, a poor substitute for a wonderful whole. If the marriage of parents is the rich soil in which children thrive, then divorce leads them to a perpetual depletion diet.  The rich nutrition of love and unity is bleached out of their food. Different events — a visit to a friend’s home, a scene in a movie, a line in a song — reminds them all the time that they no longer eat steak every day but rather a thinner soup that they just have to get used to. No matter how much divorced parents try they cannot deny their rejection of each other, nor the wounds that rejection causes: They have made their child’s universe crooked. Granted in many cases it is one parent who did the shattering.  Given the effects on his or her children such a person has become evil by doing so great an evil. Hard words?  Just read the effects above in the italicized paragraph again (and they are only partial; for the full list read the full paper).

As laws have shifted away from protecting citizens from harm, by forbidding evils and punishing wrongs, legislators have turned instead to “policy making”. This shift really took off with the sexual revolution and the divorce revolution. The more they aided and abetted the storm (passing no-fault divorce laws), the more effort they have to put into minimizing the damage: This is much of “social policy.”

It is disheartening to read research articles on the effects of divorce on children. The vast majority of studies encourage social policy to reduce the damage done to children by divorce.  Virtually nowhere is there a push for efforts to save couples from divorce, to rebuilding broken marriages or even (especially) those on the rocks. The mantra instead is one of conflict reduction… It is better that the children live in a home with less turmoil.  No one talks of a rebuilt home, a rebuilt marriage.

I know a man who is one of the great healers of “bad marriages”.  He may be  the greatest.  At one time he was working in a family court (a divorce court) in a large Mid-Western city. After he had demonstrated his skill by resolving  some awful relationships the judges gave him access to those waiting for their day in the divorce court. Soon, about half the divorce-seeking couples were going away HAPPILY reconciled. But that cut into the incomes of their divorce lawyers. In response, the divorce lawyers’ lobby got rid of him by having the legislature threaten to significantly cut the family-court’s budget. There is a special place in hell for the lawyers who pulled that off, and also for those behind the no-fault divorce revolution (read Jane Anderson’s 2014 on the effects of divorce if you think that too strong).

Next week I will delve into the effects (visible in the Add Health data) of divorce on boys. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the social science literature: The divorce of parents plus the worship of God turns boys into sexual predators.  

After this delving into the dark side, I feel like a good shower and a good drink, or something even better to revive the heart.

The Demographics of How “Godly” Are Our Religious Beliefs?

Tags: , , , child well-being, culture, family, MARRI, marriage, Pat Fagan, Pew Research, religion, Uncategorized No comments

Pew’s new report is a landmark study in the sociology of religion, which “—sorts Americans into seven groups based on the religious and spiritual beliefs they share, how actively they practice their faith, the value they place on their religion, and the other sources of meaning and fulfillment in their lives.” [1]

What are the seven types or groups? And how many are in each group?

If you want to know where you land within the seven types, go here.  For a quick overview of the difference between the types on major outcomes go here.  Here is one comparison (frequency of worship:

Keep the following relationship in mind (from MARRI’s own Mapping America) as you study the Pew report on matters family and marriage:

The chart above gives some idea of the link between frequency of religious practice and the importance given to marriage.  I note this as a reference point to keep in mind as you study the details below.

What is the relationship between Pew’s seven types and the typical identification by denomination?

As I am Roman Catholic, naturally, I paid attention to how represented Roman Catholics are “Sunday Stalwarts” (13%).  [By the way it is very easy to misread this chart: it is not the percent of Roman Catholics who are Sunday Stalwarts but the percent of Sunday Stalwarts who are Roman Catholic).  But still, for Catholics it is a poor showing indeed, for a religion which puts so much emphasis on the Mass (as the act of Redemption, and the obligation of weekly worship of God by this means).  Compared to Evangelicals they are weak in worship, even if, by the nature of being an Evangelical, one self-selects into a devout group, whereas being Catholic has (in ordinary life) as much to so with what one was born into as it has to what you intend do about it.  The biggest showing for “Catholics” is among the Diversely Devout — a strange title for you if you are “Catholic” because devout usually means a high level of faithfulness but not in this case! However, for the Pew typology the Diversely part fits it fits by Catholic norms even as the Devout part fits by Pew Typology norms.  But Pew acknowledges the shortcomings of its “clustering” techniques.  Even given my concerns the data is very helpful. 

What is the relationship between the seven types and family behaviors?

As expected: There is a decrease in impact with a decrease in worship:

What is the relationship between marriage and the seven types?

Given that the next chart does not control for age it is not all that helpful.  The biggest issue in “marriage” is the intactness of the biological parents’ marriage between their mid-30’s and their early 50’s, that phase of family life when their marriage has the greatest influence on their children’s future. From the Pew data below,  we cannot tell. 

It would be nice to figure out where the 7 types tend to fall in the different strata of family structures below. (From the MARRI collection of 5 thousand charts on family structure from the 1940’s to the present).

The most disturbing finding:

For the future of our nation, the most disturbing finding for me is the following:

From this we see a disturbing polarization outside of the Sunday Stalwarts (who have some balance on the issue).  I would be among those who would say (with a major caveat) that it is not necessary to believe in God to have good values and to be moral. I have met many such people.  My caveat: it is much easier to be moral and have good values if one practices believes in God enough to worship him in community.   I don’t trust the ‘God and Country’ type nor the ‘Diversely Devout’ to build the bridges necessary for a functioning polis or political community, which at bottom is a discourse on political morality.  And clearly the remaining groups in the Typology see no contribution from religion to morality.  Now that is dangerous! The more the Sunday Stalwarts shrink as a percent of the nation, the more polarized and the fewer bridge builders we will have, leaving more and more of the country polarized.  Reason and philosophy will have no place in matters moral!

For the “wonks”: Notes on Motivation and Method from the Pew Report

“Pew Research Center’s religious typology is not meant to replace conventional religious affiliations, but rather to offer a new and complementary lens with which to glean new insights into religion and public life in the U.S.” [2]

“The typology groups were created using cluster analysis, a statistical technique that identified homogeneous groups of respondents based on their answers to 16 questions about their religious and spiritual beliefs and practices, the value they place on their religion, and the other sources of meaning and fulfillment in their lives.” [3]

“In some ways, cluster analysis is as much art as science. The groups that emerge will depend on both the number of groups that researchers specify and the questions that they choose to include in the analysis. What’s more, there is no “correct” cluster solution or any single criteria for deciding which solution is best. Researchers must weigh a number of factors: whether it’s clear why people are grouped together, whether the groups are different enough from each other to be analytically useful, and whether the groups are consistent with what researchers already know about the subject.” [4]

“In preparing this report, researchers tested several possible solutions – ranging from five to eight groups – and experimented with including larger and smaller numbers of questions.” [5]

“Researchers ultimately settled on the 16-question, seven-category cluster solution summarized in this report because it has several strengths. First, the solution divides respondents into a relatively small number of groups that are distinct from one another, large enough to permit statistical analysis, and substantively meaningful. Second, all the survey questions that went into the algorithm are measures of religious or spiritual characteristics, making this truly a religious typology.” [6] [1-6] From the Report.

God, Fertility, and Hope for the Future.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , children, culture, divorce, family, MARRI, marriage, religion, Uncategorized No comments

Last week, The Upshot (New York Times) reported that women are having less children than they would like, mainly because of the worries illustrated below.

Despite the fact that we live in the biggest, most prosperous nation ever in history, our women are anxious and fearful about having children. Given their psychological and family experiences this is understandable: Most young women (and men) today come from broken families. They are afraid to take the risk of a “big exploration trip into the unknown” together. Unlike Columbus setting sail into unchartered waters, they stay onshore fearful of probable storms and occasional bad weather.

But those who worship God weekly see life differently. They are more likely to take the risk and to set sail. Though, unlike Columbus, they don’t discover new continents — they make them.

John Mueller of The Ethics and Public Policy Institute found that, globally, across religions and cultures, women who worship weekly have more than twice as many children as those who never worship.

Mueller reasons: “Personal gift of time and resources involved in worship is closely and systematically associated with the personal gift of having children for their own sake rather than for the pleasure and utility of the parents.”

MARRI graphs further illustrate the influence of belief in God on related issues: on the meaning and importance of having children, on happiness, and on fears and anxieties during intercourse.

Those who worship frequently value having children more those who do not practice.

National data shows intact married couples that worship frequently are happiest.

National data indicates that intact families who worship weekly are less anxious and worried during intercourse.

The Upshot team at the New York Times repeatedly does “almost-great” work . Had they included religious worship question and marital status question they would see a dramatically different picture. The national averages would be the same but who is afraid and who is ready to plunge forward would stand out.

 

 

With an eye to the hand that could rock the cradle and give us the world,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

Director of the MARRI Project

Catholic University of America