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Single Parents Seeking Forgiveness and Mercy from Their Children

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As a young friend was about to go to college his father sat him down and said, “I saved myself for your mother.  I hope you will do the same for your future bride.”  He was very grateful to his father for telling him that. It was a great ideal and his father’s achievement and encouragement carried him through many temptations. He is looking forward to the day when he can tell the same to his son. 

The purpose of chastity is to protect the child.  Today, where children are concerned, we are a ‘throwaway society’; we throw our children away and leave others to pick up the pieces. In 2018, of all U.S. children conceived, every fifth child was aborted, while among 17-year olds only 46% were living with both their biological parents. More than half these teens had heard at least one of their parents say: “My happiness comes before yours. Goodbye!” Some even heard both parents say: “Our happiness comes before yours. We are breaking up.”  These massive violations of the rights of children cry out for the adult offenders to seek mercy and forgiveness from their children, else they cannot talk reasonably about chastity, the virtue that will protect the rights of their children’s’ children. 

 Even good single parents intensely dedicated to their children will present a hypocritically conflicted picture of chastity if they don’t acknowledge the bad decisions that led to their single parenting.  Without a deliberate conversation there will be a major obstacle to talking about chastity.  

There are many ways of addressing this, but parents essentially say, “You are precious and are the most wonderful thing that has happened to me, but I brought you into the world the wrong way. I hope you will not make that big mistake. I hope you will have a good spouse, who with you, will raise your children and give them even more love than I have been able to give you.”  With a statement like this a new vista is opened up to the child, and one major obstacle to chastity has been removed.  A difficult but great good has been achieved.

Fathers and mothers who do this benefit immensely.  Their inner psyche will be stronger, more integrated and more at peace with itself.  With this conversation they will have given themselves and their child the freedom to talk about chastity and its benefits in every dimension of their children’s lives: their health and happiness, greater productivity, and especially the greater happiness of future grandchildren. The most foundational lesson in human relationships — chastity is the foundation of marriage which is the foundational relationship in society —  will have been taught. 

When single fathers seek forgiveness and mercy from their children, they change everything. Their apology for not giving them the marriage they deserved changes the conversation, permitting them to discuss why chastity totally protects and empowers the life of everyone involved. With this conversation fathers empowers their children  to think clearly and decide rationally.  

The beginning of maturity is when parents put the child first and themselves second. When we return to that norm, America will be great again, not before. If that day never comes, America will disappear. 

The single mothers and fathers who have these conversations with their children, ironically, are those who can most save America. In our day of materialist self-centeredness, to seek forgiveness and mercy is totally countercultural, particularly for these sexual transgressions. These parents are the ones who will have confronted our biggest stumbling block, are the ones who can break the contagion of unchastity.  

Many of them are themselves victims of their own parents. In our day, victims are most powerful if their cause is just.  Chastity is the greatest justice children need — even before they are conceived. In this epoch in Western Civilization mercy, forgiveness and chastity are now intertwined as never before. 

But it has been so from the beginning.  Other religions tend to be much less forgiving on family and sexual violations. Some are downright brutal. But for Christians Christ set the standard on chastity-intertwined-with-mercy:  the woman at the well with her “five husbands”; Mary Magdalen; the woman caught in adultery and His challenge “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” 

To forgive is divine.  Single parents who seek forgiveness and mercy gift their children and society with large doses of the divine.

Western Civilization can be rebuilt fastest by such single parents, and none more powerfully than the most dispossessed: single Black and Hispanic mothers and fathers of the inner city. They could bring so much strength to the rest of us. In this way they can be like Christ and His Father, the founders of Western Civilization, founded on a crime much worse than unchastity – the murder on the Cross, a murder committed by all those who would later be part of His civilization. Single parents who ask forgiveness and mercy can lay His foundation anew, by bringing chastity afresh to their children. 

Those who oppose them really favor murder. 

For the good of the child, the future of mankind,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

Standards at Home During Lockdown?

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“Should we lower our standards during lockdown?” they asked me during a video conference with fathers. My intuitive answer was “No, but we change them.” 

 ‘Lockdown’ is a tremendous opportunity to teach children how to deal with serious unknowns. They will face many in their lives: choosing a spouse, buying a home, caring for their first-born, facing unemployment, suffering through a major illness, or moving to a new country. All these are life-altering challenges never experienced before where mistakes could be costly. Lockdown is rehearsal time.

Because they want to teach them how to use their heads — how to reason — savvy parents use questions to help children think things through for themselves.  

A key to survival is learning the difference between needs and desires, something most adolescents never get to recognize and articulate. Needs tend to be few; desires are endless. In ‘lockdown’ we take care of reality first. While imagination thrives on desires, reason thrives on reality — and gets the work done. 

Savvy parents also encourage their children to remove obstacles for others in the family and for their friends.  The child who sees the connection between removing obstacles and becoming a leader is already wise. 

Lockdown can be a blessing, a dress rehearsal for some of life’s more serious challenges.   

For the sake of the child, the future of the world.

 

Pat Fagan

Deliberately Suppressing Reason

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Western Civilization began when Socrates died for the integrity of reason. 

Fast forward to Communism, Nazism and modern feminism.  They suppress reason and see the man of integrity, for instance Solzhenitsyn, as their most dangerous enemy.  Here in the United States, feminism is the great suppressor of truth.  And it has many dedicated allies and even more cowardly collaborators. Allies include The National Teachers Association, Planned Parenthood and SIECUS, and all the national associations of the “helping professions”: The American Medical Association, The American Psychological Association and all the others. Cowardly collaborators —those who stay silent — include leaders of the clergy, high school principals and teachers and most college professors: a powerful collection of corrupting elites.

The great truth suppressed by them all is this: “Every child, from the moment of conception, has the right to the marriage of his father and mother.”

Aristotle, Socrates’s “intellectual grandson”, defined man as a ‘rational, conjugal animal’. Every human is born conjugal – male or female, made for conjugal union.  Conjugality (the union of male and female) gives us the primary political society, freely established by the vows of one man and one woman to each other, for the building of their own polis, their own family.

To enter into sexual intercourse is to embark upon such a polity — even if a young couple deny that is what they are doing. Denying it does not change the reality of it, even if the promises and premises are deliberately avoided. It is their action that establishes a “polis building” whether they like it or not, which most of them don’t when it becomes a “forever” reality in the inconvenient new person inside the woman.  

We have vast educational systems devoted to distorting the innate capacity of teenage boys and girls to grasp that unmentionable but so needed truth: “Every child has the right to the marriage of his or her father and mother.”  Billions of dollars go into teaching young adults (they are adults – they can give birth) how to copulate without being conjugal, without being appropriately political (polis building).  All instruction that denies the truth of that right of every newly conceived child violates the students. Thus, our public schools are now a massive system of child abuse (of unborn children) and of teenage sexual abuse by corrupting teen morals.

The American constitutional system cannot survive this malforming of citizens.  Why do you think marxist feminists fight to the last ditch for sex ed?  Because it undermines our constitutional order by teaching teenagers to violate their conscience — their capacity for moral reasoning.  The more that happens, the more gullible they will be, and the more easily led as voters or as “representatives of the people.” Having killed millions of their unborn children, they are more easily led into killing other freedoms.  We came close to it with the Colorado baker who resisted being forced to bake a particular form of cake; with Catholic nuns being forced, publicly by our President to distribute contraceptives, and by a Supreme Court nominee under sexual slander attack.  All these assaults on our freedom concerned the conjugal nature of man and woman. Most frightening was the number of citizens abetting these injustices — constitutional issues centered on the conjugal nature of man.

Most young Americans (and Swedes, Irish and Australians) now create their polis only to wreck it.  More than 50 percent of firstborns in the US are born out of wedlock. This is the reality of the building block of the American political order today: wrecking itself at its most fundamental level.  Marxists love the pattern for it is the demise of the US Constitutional order. Priests and bishops are silent on it, college professors abet it, and discussion of it in public and private high-school classrooms is not possible.  Courts have to defend it, for the Supreme Court said it is constitutional! Congress and state legislators pay big money to sustain it. We are a nation that forms its citizens to turn against their own children. 

How do we turn this around? The work is monumental but simple: we re-found our nation and, even more broadly, we re-found Western Civilization.  We do this by bringing universal moral reasoning into the conversations about sex between young males and females attracted to each other. There is nothing more political than their sexual union. To paraphrase the famous line of House Leader, Tip O’Neill, “All politics are local […very intimately local].”  

Many will answer “But we practice birth control.”  That does not remove the reality of the polis-building nor its obligations once contraception fails – which it does very frequently.  Babies still get conceived, as abortion clinic providers know, and as many mothers, married and unmarried, know.  Nine percent of all babies born (not conceived—born) are conceived by women on birth control.  

What a dangerous period in American history in which to be conceived: sixty-two million babies aborted since Roe vs Wade; only 46 percent of parents of American children today fulfil their obligation of marriage for their children while 54 percent of children have been violated very seriously (by divorce and out of wedlock birth) by at least one of their parents.  We massacre our own children in abortion even as we fret about the injustices involved in immigration and stop our economies cold because some may die from corona virus.  Justifiable yes, but totally irrational when we massacre more babies during this very same period.  

In a reasonable society it would be trite to say: “Sex is a very serious issue for the survival of the nation.” But it is verboten in today’s public discourse — from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times

The Constitution was designed for rational conjugal animals, not for animals who refuse to be rational or conjugal.  It is unsustainable in today’s irrational setting.  The generation that gave us the Constitution was an amazingly learned and rational generation.  The book-publishing center of the world was then London.  Most of the books printed there ended up in America, which fact caused Edmund Burke to take the American Revolution very seriously. These were rational men taking revolution very seriously. Today the law faculties of Harvard, Yale, Chicago and Stanford laugh at the most rational of ideas that every child has the right to the marriage of his father and mother. Being sophists, they, too, would condemn Socrates to death.

Throughout the whole animal kingdom, including the rational conjugal animal kingdom, on matters sexual it is the male who leads, who sets the pace by pursuing and winning the female. The female wishes and waits (even if she signals desire).  It is young teenage men who can re-build this once-great nation, by being rational and conjugal simultaneously. The young men who want their own families to be good and strong will build them in binding cooperation with the women they deem worthy of their life’s work.  These men have hearts to give but will keep them for that one woman only and then proclaim it in front of the whole world before entering into building their families. It is worth remembering that this country was made possible by men so young.  George Washington’s soldiers were on average between 20 and 25 years of age. Today’s young generation is asked to take up arms but instead of rifles to fight with reason and integrity. 

To renew and save itself and its Constitution, America first needs the oldest, most universal political oath: “I take thee as my lawful wedded wife. —- I take thee as my lawful wedded husband.”  These are the words that will save America. One good man with one good woman at a time.

For the good of the child, the future of America and the world,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D. 

PS Next week’s blog will be on the need to balance the justice due the child (this week’s blog) with the mercy needed for the offending parents. How does a nation cultivate mercy while it is failing so badly in justice?

A Virus More Deadly Than Corona Has Burrowed into The Brains of Americans

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Though the Corona virus infects many more that it kills, its deaths are painful and scare the living daylights out of us.  But another virulent virus has taken over the minds and hearts of 75% of America: an indifference to marriage. Most Americans now think family structure does not matter. Yet family brokenness kills, disables, rapes, murders, impoverishes, abuses and debilitates many, many more Americans than Corona virus.  This virus of indifference, literally, breaks families apart. This “immunity to marriage” will mean America’s fall from strength. During the reign of terror of the Corona Virus, this other virus will have killed many times more Americans. By far. A recent report by Pew Research Center illustrates how deeply this indifference has taken hold:

The views of the elderly (aged 69+) towards marriage are the most alarming of all.  Rather than being the most supportive of the intact family (what I would have expected) they are among the most indifferent — likely because they have children and grandchildren who are in family structures that are not intact.  Quite naturally they want no barriers between them and their offspring. 

Of all the developed nations in the world the US has the highest percent of children living in single parent homes.  China, on the other hand, despite many problems in matters sexual and family, has one of the lowest.  The implications for the human capital prospects of both economies are enormous… and heavily tilted in China’s favor! 

Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad:   Not only is the US falling behind on how it treats its children, it thinks it does not matter!  

Weep and pray for the child, the future of the nation and the world, Pat Fagan

The High Calling of Fatherhood

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W. Jesse Gill, Psy.D.   www.facetofacemarriage.com

The single most important thing you can do as a father is to understand and embrace your calling as one who loves and leads your children.  The influence of fathers reaches further into the hearts and minds of our children and grandchildren than we may have ever realized.  Modern neuroscience and Attachment science, the most comprehensive research literature on human love, clearly reveal the impact of parent-child relational patterns on every aspect of a child’s developing mind and body.[1] A father’s relationship shapes his child’s impressionable heart and mind in powerful ways.

For good or for ill, a father’s treatment of his children leaves an indelible imprint on their intellect, physical health, and central nervous system functioning.  A father’s relational pattern with his child will go a long way towards building that child’s sense of self, capacity to trust, ability to empathize with others, and settled confidence in him or herself to engage life on earth.  Dads who demonstrate consistency and faithfulness will also point their children in the direction of their Heavenly Father.

This direct connection was clearly illustrated when Christ taught us to pray to God as “Our Father, who art in Heaven...”   How can children conceive of a benevolent, just, and generous Heavenly Father if their earthly fathers were negative, stingy, or out of control?  Conversely, children whose earthly dads embodied wisdom, tenderness, and strength will be many steps further along in their ability to take steps of faith for their own personal walk and to also share God’s love with others.

Far more than being providers to our children, or even protectors of their lives, our role as dads is one of making internal maps in the hearts and minds of our children.  These maps guide our children in knowing how to trust, whom to trust, how to be vulnerable, and how to be compassionate.  We build these maps through the power of Attachment.

God’s Attachment Design  At the moment of our first breath on the planet we are helpless and in need of care.  God created a bonding process which links us in tenderness, playfulness, and safety to our parents.  This bond is called Attachment, and it ensures that we will be cared for.  The Attachment bond is co-created between a parent and child.  The child cries out for help, and the parent responds.  The parent smiles and warmly soothes, and the child rests in this warmth.  Attachment science shows that our brains and nervous systems are prewired to receive loving responses from our parents.  Parents are also primed to care for their young and to receive profound satisfaction, spiritual enrichment, and emotional growth by doing this.   We are literally created for connection.[2]

Therefore, children who receive the attentive gaze, tender touch, and consistent emotional responses from their parents will be strong emotionally and even have better health.  A settled confidence is forged in the hearts and minds of children who have received those experiences of being consistently seen and known, touched, and accurately responded to in times of need.

This settled confidence is called Secure Attachment, and it has two key ingredients:

  • Safe Haven– Secure children have internalized a sense that they are “not alone”, and so they don’t worry about abandonment. From countless experiences of being seen and attuned to emotionally, they have a confidence to reach for help in times of need from trusted ones in their lives.  They not only ask for help, but they grow to be adults who are accessible to others in need.
  • Secure Base– Secure children have an assurance of the presence of their parents, and so they are confident to branch out and explore the world. They launch out in ever increasing circles, starting with their own nursery and leading to the larger world around them.  From this launch-point they accomplish great things and take important risks vs. shrinking back in fear. Emotionally they are also capable of self-exploration, because a parent took the time to help them know and understand their emotional landscape through mirroring and emotional attunement.

Simply put, securely attached children know that they are loved.  They have tangibly experienced love in ways that reassure, comfort, and strengthen them.  As a result, they are less self-absorbed, more confident, and more capable of empathizing with the needs of others.  From a spiritual standpoint, they are one step closer toward knowing the God of the universe, who sums Himself up in one word, “love”.[3]

Such children are more confident in their souls as well, like a “weaned child”[4] they have found rest.  They will confidently rest in the presence of God.  They will branch out from this place of rest to do all that God has called them to do, motivated by love and secured by the promise,

My presence will go with you and I will give you rest”.[5]

Naturally, the branching out of children extends further when they reach adolescence, but securely attached adolescents still maintain open and trusting communication with their parents as they encounter the broader world.  These teens are also more capable of healthy dating relationships.  Boys who were secure with Dad and witnessed him being kind to mother, will have a map for healthy ways to treat a young woman.  They will have more compassion, versus objectifying women, and will be able to regulate their sexual impulses better as a result.   Girls who received the affection of their fathers will not have an empty space which is susceptible to teenage male advances.  These girls will also have a map for what they will and won’t settle for in a young man.

Dads help Children know God the Father.

Fathers are vital in teaching children about God.  A father who himself knows the abiding presence of God will be confident to release and entrust his children to God’s care.  Dads who are tenderly affectionate to their children will help instill the tangible awareness of both Secure Attachment and the love of our Heavenly Father.  And children who receive consistent emotional support from their fathers, will not only believe that their fathers are accessible, but they will also be ready to believe in a God who cares for them personally.

Fathers who are generous with their children will see powerful fruit in their children’s lives.  As they are generous with their time, attention, and resources, their children will develop a mindset of God’s abundance.  Jesus wanted us to see God the Father in this light.

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”.[6]

Children who regularly experienced their fathers as being attentive to their needs will develop an attitude of hope.  Such children more readily believe that, “My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory,[7]  because they have experienced this from their earthly fathers.

We can see other ways that this hopeful expectation can align with faith, the kind of faith that Jesus desired for us.  In Luke, He told us a parable so that we “should always pray, and not give up”.[8] This was the story of the persistent widow who basically nagged the “unjust judge” until he gave her what she petitioned for.  We are challenged to bring our petitions before our Heavenly Father through this parable.  We might also chuckle when we think about ways that our own children persistently nag us for things, and we can utter the words of Christ to one who was petitioning Him, “great is thy faith!”. [9]

Of course, there are many times that we must set limits on our children, and this includes times when they are nagging us.  But it is interesting to think about ways that our response to our children’s petitions will influence their faith, their confident expectation of fulfillment from God.

The Blessing of a Father’s Gaze     Children who receive the face to face attention and gaze of their fathers will deeply know their worth.  We only gaze tenderly upon those who are precious to us.  Our look of delight lets our kids know that they are valued and protected; that they are the “apple of my eye”.[10]  We do this through laughter and playfulness.  We share stories, and lessons, even something as simple as asking them to tell us about their days.

My oldest child gets the greatest joy out of making me laugh, and my youngest is jubilant about being able to play a game with me.  So, take time to play with your child.  It can be something as simple as playing catch or having a tea party.  Affirm them for their efforts and tell them how much you enjoy spending time just with them.

We all know people who spent their whole lives wishing to hear that their fathers were proud of them.  It is a tragedy to go a lifetime without this.  You might be one of those people.  God knows, and He sees.  His great desire for you is that you would no longer feel “deserted”, and you name will no longer be called “desolate” or neglected; “for the Lord will take delight in you”.[11]

Hope for You and the Next Generation         Perhaps you are reading this, and the concept of God delighting in you seems completely foreign.  You may have been deprived of the experience of a father’s blessing.  Worse, you may have been horribly mistreated by your dad.

This makes it harder to be securely attached and to pass along the benefits of Secure Attachment to your children, but it is still possible to do.  Research literature describes people who have grieved for the losses they experienced as children, made a coherent narrative of their experiences, and forgive the parent(s) who harmed them.  These people were not raised with Secure Attachment, but they have worked hard to develop an “Earned-Secure Attachment” style. [12] Accordingly, they break the cycle of passing insecurity along to their own children, through the power of their own courage and compassion.

I have been privileged to work with many clients who accomplished this and were able to give their children the emotional safety they never had.  Attachment is God’s design and provision for us this side of heaven.  I believe that He desires to partner with those who wish to heal and forgive.  The very process of healing can also draw us closer to Him, as we come to Him with our pain and need.  The psalmist knew this to be true:

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.

I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.[13]

If you long for God to reveal this to you, I urge you to take a step of faith toward Him.

Father God, I need you to make it real to me how deeply you love me.  Settle me in your secure love for me.  Just like I want to show this kind of love to my child, I need to know it deep down inside of me.  I can’t do it alone.  I boldly ask you to give this to me, first for myself, and so I can give it to my child.”

I believe that God will honor this prayer.  He wants to show us His love, first for ourselves, and so we can give it away to our families. What a glorious testimony this is!  We can break cycles of insecurity that we were subjected to, and we can see God’s goodness in our lifetimes.  By faith we embark upon the transmission of security in our children and in our children’s children.

One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.

            They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your

            wonderful works.[14]

I know that my dream for my children is that my “ceiling” for love, ministry, and accomplishments would be the foundation from which they launch.  I also know that I can’t do it in my own strength.  I don’t have what it takes to be a good husband, or a good father.  But I lean back into the One whose strength is made “perfect in my weakness”.[15]

Strength for the Journey of FatherhoodIf you are weary in the journey of fatherhood, don’t give up.  Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”[16]

He longs to be your Safe Haven, your resting place.  “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks…. he increases might. Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint”. [17]

It is only by going to Him repeatedly that you learn to be attached; that you become attached to him. Attachment takes sustained relationship … on earth and in heaven!  As you come vulnerably and confidently before the Lord with your needs, you will grow deeper in faith and foster a deeper love in your home.  It has been my professional and my own personal experience that God ordained marriage as a key means by which men grow in Secure Attachment with God and with their families.  This is just one of the reasons I wrote the marriage book listed in the references below.

As you are growing in Secure Attachment, for yourself, and for your children, remember that your wife longs to support you.  Reach out and share with her.  She’s probably been waiting for years to hear more of your inner workings.  God can use her love for you to be another tangible expression of secure love as you grow in this process.  As you lead these acts of confident and vulnerable reaching out, you will create a deeply loving family environment which nourishes your children, your marriage, and you.

————–

Dr Jesse Gill is a clinical psychologist who practices in Hershey PA.  He may be reached through his website  www.facetofacemarriage.com  

 

[1] Johnson, S.M. (2019).  Attachment Theory in Practice: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with Individuals, Couples, and Families.  The Guilford Press, New York, NY.

[2] Gill, J. (2015).  Face to Face: Seven Keys to a Secure Marriage.  Westbow Press: A division of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, Bloomington, IN.

[3] John 4:8

[4] Psalm 131:2

[5] Exodus 33:14; NIV

[6] Matthew 7:9-11; NIV

[7] Philippians 4:19

[8] Luke 18:1 (NIV)

[9] Matthew 15:28a, KJV

[10] Zechariah 2:8

[11] Isaiah 62:4; NIV

[12] Roisman, G.I., Padron, E., Sroufe, L.A., & Egeland, B. (2002).  Earned-secure attachment status in retrospect and prospect.  Child Development, July/August, Vol. 73(4), 12-4-1219.

[13] Psalm 27:10, 13 (NLT)

[14] Psalm 145:4,5; NIV

[15] II Corinthians 12:9

[16] Matthew 11:28, 29; NASB

[17] Isaiah 40:28-31; NIV

Insights on Leadership

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As we see our leaders’ responses to the pandemic, we are constantly appraising their performance. A virus, that tiniest of God’s creatures, exposes our leader’s strengths and weaknesses.

The book “The Servant: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership” first published 22 years ago made a big difference to many in business.  Its most profound impact on me was the distinction the author makes in it between power and authority.  Power is dominion, the capacity to hire and fire, promote and demote, etc. Authority is the capacity to influence. It exists in a totally different realm of human relations.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn had no power inside the USSR, but his authority was so great the powers-that-be had to exile lest he undo their power, which he eventually did.  

A person with authority has great influence. Often those in power have little.

The author, James C. Hunter, poses the question: Did Mother Theresa have much authority? Did she have much power?  Which parents have authority with their children? Is it the same as having power over them? Do they always have both power and authority?  When do they begin to lose power? How do they lose authority?

Who has had the most influence on you in your life? Would it be true to say that person had the most authority of all the people in your life?  Why did that person have so much authority with you? 

 Whence comes such authority?  Hunter suggests (and it has held up for me) that the one who has served best has the greatest authority. The parent with authority (seen particularly after children have left home) is the one who has served the most. That is why most mothers have more authority (influence) with their grown children than most fathers. 

Thus, the boss with authority is the boss who serves his people best.  The better he serves, the more authority he gains.

Which leaders are growing in influence as they handle their response to COVID-19?  Are they those who are serving best? Are they gaining in influence? 

We are all called to servant leadership, or magnanimous humility .  at different levels. Our most important leadership role is with our children and our spouses …that team we brought into existence, one with vows, the others in cooperation with The Creator.  Our relationship with our spouse is interesting to study. For happiness, does power count? Or does authority? 

Which brings us back to the tasks that virus has set in motion:  Who is leading well in government? In journalism? In public health? In business? In the schools which serve your community? 

It is an exercise worth doing – for our family’s sake.

For the good of our children, may we earn authority in their eyes.

Pat Fagan

 

“Duking Out” the Future of Our Children in the Data

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The Problem

We have a very serious problem in the public health scientific community.  Its model of youth development that shapes public policy is failing visibly in critical areas.

It is high time that this policy-shaping our youth be guided by science-well-done. Lives are being wasted. Diseases are running rampant. Nations are dying. Economies are weakening, being starved of young workers who start the new families of the next generation, all because of the influence of this model.

Two world class institutions champion this model. The first is Sweden’s social welfare/cultural ministry-youth policy/foreign office. The second in Atlanta, GA, is the Center for Disease Control. Its Division of Adolescent Health (DAH) directs US national youth policy on all matters sexual.

Both Sweden and CDC/DAH are highly professional, are generously funded and have long-stablished policy and research centers with enormous prestige and influence across the globe. Their models have been adopted by the UN and the World Health Organization.

Yet both are failing seriously; very publicly so.

Competing with the Swedish/CDC model is the natural law model, embraced by hundreds of millions, from many different religions, across the globe. At their core, the Natural Law Model and the Swedish/CDC Model differ in their view of the sexual nature of man.

Each leads to very different sexual outcomes such as the fertility and STDs outcomes focused on here.  The Swedish/CDC model has a bio-tech based strategy (dependent on contraception), the other is nature-compliant model (a “green model” if you will) that relies on education and relationships to form superior sexual attitudes and habits. It has for two millennia rejected biotech approaches to sexual behavior because they alter human attitudes, thinking, feeling, interacting and behaving.  

As covered in recent blogs Sweden’s fertility strategy works well in driving down fertility rates but not in restoring them once they go below replacement — a spreading and most dangerous phenomenon with more nations joining these ranks yearly

CDC’s failure is most visible in STDs, with the United States most infected state for HIV right outside its back door.  We have covered this before in earlier an blog.  California has many STD epidemics raging for years now, mainly among youth.  There are other areas of failure, but this is the most concrete and visible.

The Need

The time has come to vigorously challenge these “culture incubators” (Sweden’s words not mine).  To challenge, not with rhetoric or policy impositions but in the data.  Other models of youth culture exist each with its own positive outcomes. The model at the other end of the spectrum from the Swedish/CDC model is the traditional Christian one (or the natural law model), a model followed by millions of  families across the US, across Europe and the world. It is a robust and hallowed model with a different but proven track record. It is a worthy model to yield clear contrasting data outcomes that can inform the decisions of all whether they embrace the model in its totality or not.

The Suggested First Step

Form two social science teams of world ranking caliber, each to represent the case of its model and ensure proper use of the data commonly available to both teams (so there is no argument about data sources). Both teams would critique each other’s method prior to undertaking their studies. This will keep both sides honest and also increase the quality of the work. 

Why do this.

The closed-shop-science of Sweden and CDC is failing in fertility replacement and in STDs control and diminishment. These are not the only issues of concern in youth policy, but both are public and pressing. The need to find much better solutions without resorting to “more money for more of the same” is urgent. Doing fundamental research is the first step in a sound strategy. The honest way is to foster robust challenges to each model. Both sides will learn a lot from each other – the purpose of the square-off.  

The public needs to be informed, not manipulated.  Crises can come as quickly as the COVID-19 pandemic or gradually as with the looming fertility crisis which moves at a glacial pace but also with a glacier’s flattening power. 

A well-informed populace tends to make better decisions over time.  The closed-shop monolith model used by Sweden and Atlanta is not leading to a well-informed citizenry, but to an institutional complacency that is visibly dangerous. 

The Needed Areas of Comparison 

There are key outcomes that will shape the final judgement on which model works best. Because each model will have its own favorite outcomes and both sets need to be measured by all. Here are some key measures that the natural law / traditional Christian model would want measured:

  • Incidence of monogamy vs other numbers of sexual partners.
  • Sexual restraint during adolescence (chastity / abstinence) as an ideal to be striven for. 
  • Life-long marriage as a goal.
  • Frequency of religious practice.
  • Financial costs each model incurs, personal and public.
  • Educational attainment levels.
  • Longevity.
  • Degree of intactness of the family
  • Sense of community belonging.
  • Sense of family belonging.
  • Degree of isolation/ anomie.

Some of the outcomes by which a model is rated superior or inferior to the other include:

  • Fertility rates
  • STD rates
  • Virginity at marriage
  • Number of sexual partners 
  • Fidelity within marriage
  • Longevity of marriage
  • Rates of divorce
  • Children living with both biological parents
  • Abortions
  • Out of wedlock births
  • Miscarriages 
  • Health of the female reproductive system/ organs
  • Male sexual health
  • Male sexual self-control
  • Male sexual violence or abuse
  • Female sexual violence or abuse
  • Offspring as victims of violence or abuse
  • Intergenerational family intactness (marital stability across generations)
  • Rates of anxiety or depression in childhood, adolescence, middle and old age
  • Educational attainment

There are other outcomes that the Swedish/CDC model will want to add. 

These two crises (fertility and STDs) make visible the need for a world class face-off that will enrich the social sciences and show citizens how to influence their children’s behavior. It is time for the competition to begin. 

For the good of the child,

Pat Fagan Ph.D.

 

Fertility Rates Are Dropping Dangerously Worldwide

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In 1996, five years before he received the Nobel Prize in economics, George Akerlof in “An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States” labeled contraception the “technology shock” that gave us the death of the ‘shot-gun marriage’ and the rise of single motherhood. A  second paper refined his argument still more. One of his coauthors was his wife, Janet Yellen, who later became Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, the central bank of the United States.  Central banks around the world now must deal with the slowing velocity of money as marriage and birth rates fall in developed countries, leading to less spending on children and new homes, phenomena closely linked to rates of contraception.  These unintended consequences are playing out in the most unforeseen ways, one of which is the growing shortage of native-born workers in the developed economies of the world, a vacuum drawing young legal and illegal immigrants from poorer homelands in search of a better life. 

Below we give the data on fertility and contraception rates.  2.1 children per woman is the “replacement” fertility rate, which would keep a nation’s population stable.

Fertility are dropping world-wide at an alarming rate inching towards the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman.  The present world fertility rate is 2.4 and is declining at a steady 5.25% per decade. At this rate the whole world will be below replacement rate within 30 years.  Once below it seems no county has been able to get it back up despite its best efforts. In other words we will face a world economy of constantly contracting markets. A company with contracting markets is in trouble. Economies with contracting markets are similarly in trouble.  There is time to correct this (one generation) but so far no nation has figured out how to do it.

What follows is fertility and contraception rates for 

  • The regions of the world, rank-ordered by rates of fertility
  • Individual countries, further divided into two: 
  • The six most populous countries, that together make up more than half the world’s population
  • 12 notable individual nations

 

All the Regions of the World, Rank-Ordered by Fertility Rates

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest regional  fertility rate in the world at of 4.7, which despite an average drop of 0.5 children per decade. Its contraception rate is 33%, steadily rising from 15% in 1990.  At present rates it would take more than 40 years for this region to drop below replacement fertility rates.  In the meantime, its young people will migrate to the high-income economies of the world. 

Central/South America has a steadily falling fertility rate, now at 2.9, and a contraception rate of 75%.

Middle East/North Africa has a fertility rate of 2.84 which has plateaued for a decade but may be falling again. Its contraception rate is 58%. 

South Asia has a fertility rate of 2.4 but is in a steady downward trend likely to drop below fertility within a decade.  Its contraception rate is 52%.

East Asia/Pacific nations has a steady fertility rate of 1.8, and a contraception rate of 76%.

The Russian Federation has a steadily increasing fertility rate, now at 1.75 combined with an increasing rate of contraception, now at 68%.

North America has a fertility rate of 1.73 and an average contraception rate of 76%

Western Europe/EU  has a fertility rate of 1.6 (steady rate). The average contraception rate is 74%.

 

6 Most Populous Countries, Rank-Ordered by Fertility Rates

Together these six nations contain more than half the world’s population.

Pakistan (212 million) has a 3.65 fertility rate; a drop of 46% since 1977 when its decline began.  It dropped 15.4% in the last decade. It is likely to take 20 years before it will drop below replacement rate.

Indonesia (268 million) has a fertility rate of 2.34, a drop of 59% since 1960; between 1999 and 2009 it remained unchanged but dropped again — by 6.4% in the last decade. Though its rate of decline is lower, it will likely drop below replacement around the same time as Pakistan, in 15 to 20 years.

India (1.35 billion) has a 2.24 fertility rate which is a drop of 60.7%, very steady slope of decline: 20% drop in the last 10 years.  It will drop below replacement rate soon.

US (327 million) has a 1.8 fertility rate. This is the lower end of a bandwidth it has maintained for almost 50 years. Its contraception rate is at 76%.

Brazil  (209 million) has a 1.74 fertility rate; a drop of 71% since 1960 when rates started falling. Its rate of decline seems to be falling off. Its contraception rate is at 80%.

China (1.68 billion) now has a 1.68 fertility rate, a slow but steady increasing rate in the last 20 years.  However, it has a serious male-female imbalance. Given its draconian abortion policies, its contraception rate of 90% to 86% over the last decades renders comparisons with other countries problematic.

The US, China and Brazil have similar fertility rates and are significantly below replacement rates. India and Pakistan are falling steadily while Indonesia, though getting close to replacement rates is moving downward at a slowing rate. 

 

13 Other Notable Countries (Ranked A-Z)

Canada has a 1.5 fertility rate. It dropped to replacement rate in 1971, dropping further to 1.5 by 2000 and staying there since. Its contraception rate has risen steadily to 85%. It has a strong immigration culture.  

The Czech Republic’s fertility rate grew by 44% between 1999 and 2017, or by 12.4% in the last 10 years. Its contraception rates though highly variable have always been high— between 95 and 69%.  Its most recent rate is 86%.

Hungary now has a fertility rate of 1.53 rising from 1.23 in 2011 (a rise of 24.4 % in 6 years), combined with a decreasing rate of contraception, now 61 % — a significant decrease from 1993, when it was 89%. 

Ireland has a fertility rate of 1.8, fluctuating between this and 2.0 during the last 20 years. It’s rate of contraception is now 73%. 

Italy has a fertility rate of 1.34 and a contraception rate of 65%.

Japan has a fertility rate of 1.4 and a contraception rate that is dropping significantly, now at 40%.  

Mexico was at 2.157 in 2017 and likely has already dropped below 2.1. Its rate of contraception is now at 67%, having risen steadily from 39% in the mid 1970’s to around 70% by 2000. 

Poland has a 1.4 fertility rate. It is one of the few countries with contraception rates that seem to be dropping: 75% in 1977; 73% in 1991 and 62.3% in 2014.  

Russian Federation has a steadily increasing fertility rate of 1.75 combined with an increasing rate of contraception, now at 68%. This might be explained by a shift from abortion as the main means of family planning during the Communist era to contraception now. Russia has had a 52.3% growth in fertility since 1999, which includes a 24.4 % growth in fertility rate since 2007.  In 1999 the fertility rate was 1.157 (the lowest in the world at the time). Now the Russian rate is closing in on Ireland (1.81). However Russia’s hopes for a rise in Russian-speaking people’s fertility may not be happening.  

Singapore has a fertility rate of 1.16 and a contraception rate of 62%. It had a punitive 2-child policy decades ago but when fertility fell to  1.4 in the mid-1980s its government reversed course, almost reaching replacement in 1998 but since falling back even lower. 

Slovak Republic  has a fertility rate of 1.5%, 16.5% increase in the last decade and 24.3% growth in last 15 years.  Its rate of contraception is among the highest, at 80%.

Spain  has a fertility rate of 1.3 , up from a low of 1.16 in 1995 then to a high of 1.45 10 years later, but now down again to 1.3 Its  contraception rate was at 78% in 1978, and is now at 65%. 

Sweden has a fertility rate of 1.85 and a contraception rate of 75%, masked by what is likely the highest teenage abortion rate in the world – more than 2/3 of teen pregnancies end in abortion.

 

For the good of the disappearing child, 

Pat Fagan Ph.D.

An Embarrassing Truth

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A few years ago, in Budapest, I delivered a paper at a major conference convened to find the best programs to increase fertility rates. All Europe was grappling with below-replacement fertility levels, some dire. Low fertility rates lead to labor force shortage which leads to economic slowdown. It is a serious issue and is changing the make-up of nations and driving migration patterns across the developed world, despite governments best efforts.   Cabinet-level ministers and top civil servants of Western and Central Europe all spoke on “what each country had done to make it easy for mothers to exit the marketplace to give birth and reenter sometime later”, admirable, but the answer to a different problem. None of the countries had achieved replacement levels (nor has any nation since).

My paper focused on levels of religious worship and intact marriage, the two factors that deliver above-replacement fertility. Married couples have more children, and those who worship weekly even more. I finished speaking and their response? Not a single comment, challenge, or disagreement: only an embarrassed silence.

Their embarrassment stemmed from the form of family these countries have chosen, the secular family: married, remarried, divorced, out of wedlock parent, and cohabiting.  This family is source of the fertility crisis. The “embarrassing solution” is the always-intact-weekly-worshipping family. Not only does it outdo the modern secular family on fertility, it thrives on every other measure that concerns government: education, health, longevity, care of the elderly, good citizenship and tax revenues.  It is by far the least troublesome and least costly family, on crime, abuse (physical and sexual), addiction and long-term health care costs.

Since the always-intact-weekly-worshipping family is the solution, how should a democratically elected government treat it?  The answer is simple: protect it. Ensure it has the same resources as the secular family but with the freedom to use them their own way. It’s simple justice.  This minority (the always-intact-weekly worshipping family) delivers the most in human and social capital outcomes. So, investing in their freedom makes economic and social policy sense.  

But what differentiates them from the majority is their sexual morality, which they are intent on passing on to their children.  This is big when it comes to education, for sexual norms are implicit in the teaching of literature, history, art, economics and about religions and moral codes.  Thus, though the minority delivers the most, it is alien to the majority in its need to educate its children in its own ways.  

Decent governments and the ‘traditional family’ both need to persuade the majority that freedom in education for this minority benefits everybody. 

[1] Singapore is one of the most telling examples.  Though a market-based economy with free elections, Singapore had a draconian two-child policy decades ago, in which the whole family lost all social welfare benefits, including free education, if they had a third child. The policy worked — too well.  Fertility rates dropped but too much. The government then reversed course and worked to stimulate fertility. It has failed miserably. Singapore’s present fertility rate  is 1.16 or 42% below replacement, and its labor force shrinkage intensifies. This trend is well advanced in all the  economies of the world.

Chastity at Harvard, Catholic or Baltimore Community College©

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For college presidents and their students, decadence is the societal context in which the grand task of education now takes place:

  • a widespread disregard of traditional sexual moral teachings, 
  • a falloff in marriage, 
  • an exodus from the churches, 
  • a rise in cohabitation
  • 50% of first births out of wedlock, 
  • a million abortions a year, 
  • universal cohabitation before marriages, 
  • epidemics of STDs, 
  • pornography, 
  • sex trafficking, 
  • homosexual ‘marriages’ and LGBTQ.

As always on matters sexual the stakes are extraordinarily high: choices made today shape adult and children’s lives forever and change their communities.  The passions in play, lust and anger, are very powerful. Given these conditions what is a good college leader to do?  How to tackle the issues of chastity and marriage?

  • First, lay the groundwork (see below) on the relationship between freedom and the Commandments and the thriving of their students over a lifetime.  
  • Second, establish the relationship between mastery of one’s sexual capacities and the greatness of the institution of marriage (the sexual in its fullest expression) — all in the service of the children they will bring into existence.

A major purpose of an education is to cultivate the long view of life. The dean of a business school has a relatively easy time getting a business student to see himself as the head of a thriving business 20 years from now. The college president has a much more daunting task in helping students envision their personal lives 15 and  20 ahead: their future family and how their choices on sex and marriage will help or harm their children as nothing else will. These children will embody the choices they make. The greater the president the more compelling he will make his case.

Freedom and the Ten Commandments

When college presidents speak, they teach and the loftier the issue, the more inevitable the moment of confronting or dodging the issue of God.  Assuming they are rational they will, at minimum, permit that everything in creation comes from God and is good and positive. Soon enough this leads to the question of why God chooses to be so negative in most of His Commandments?  

Pope John Paul II’s answer  applies.  He describes the commandments as a behavioral floor below which we may not go, because below this floor we yield our freedom, and, as it were, put ourselves in prison.  We harm others when we break the commandments, but we harm ourselves even more by corrupting ourselves. Any analysis of history, ancient or recent, shows that going ‘below the floor’ leads to disaster: lying, cheating, stealing, rape, murder, affairs, backbiting, betrayals, overindulgence and addictions, the passions unbridled (lust, anger, envy, overindulgence, laziness, conformity).

Above the floor, by contrast, lies the wide-open space we are made for, freedom the way the Creator ordained it, with the right and capacity to do any good within our reach. Above the floor every individual, every couple, every family, community and nation thrive. Long term flourishing is found only there.  It does not take religious faith to see that, just honesty.

The simple image below applies to students at Harvard as much as to students at any community college. It summarizes the dynamics of the floor of the forbidden vs the open sky of the positive available to us.

Sex within the Commandments

Even non-Christians will agree that Christ began a sexual revolution.  He changed the “Old Law” and forbade divorce; He raised the bar on adultery by pointing out that a man commits adultery in his heart by looking at a woman lustfully.  Every man knows what He meant, and every wife or girlfriend, betrayed by the way her man looks at another woman, knows it too — all women know it, across all cultures, all religions and no religion. It became a universal once it was made authoritatively clear by Christ. 

As Christianity spread His family-sexual revolution spread — unnoticed because it was not Christianity’s goal but its fruit.  And Western civilization thrived on it, and now wilts in retreat.

To slip ‘below the floor’, though easy, if not quickly reversed, leads to immense and intense suffering for all involved, and spreading, wrecks the local community. Sex is extraordinarily powerful above or below ‘the floor’, for good or for ill.

The data of the social sciences continuously illustrate (and cannot but illustrate) the way God made man and how he thrives. Thriving demands a minimal greatness in the relationships between men and women on matters sexual.  

Confidence in God

For young believers at college, as they figure out how to thrive in a decadent society, the issue is likely one of not yet trusting God and His commandments on matters sexual: many suspect that everything related to sex is better and easier and more enjoyable outside God’s way.  Their conclusions will depend on whether they (and their teachers) take the long or the short view. Most older folks who have ‘seen it all’ and have their own long-term view, are more likely to agree that Christ’s sexual revolution enables human thriving. 

Back to Harvard and the social sciences.  The data continuously support the case for confidence in God’s way. For instance, college students should hear that the data repeatedly illustrate that those who were virginal at marriage and who worship God weekly enjoy the sexual intercourse the most.  Furthermore, those who have the self-mastery to practice natural family planning have superior outcomes in intercourse, communications in marriage and in success in raising their children. These data are little known (most social scientists are embarrassed by them) yet, if God’s way is best, they are most appropriate. But to accept them you need the long-term view.

For the good of the child, the future of society.

Patrick F Fagan, Ph.D.

President, Marriage and Religion Research Institute

February 14 (Valentine’s Day), 2020 ©