7.17.2014

Rethinking Mom and Dad in Family Restoration

If you are ready for football season to begin, you'll be ready to read about some NFL players and their dads and moms in "Rethinking Mom and Dad," published at 42 Capital U. L. Rev. 441 (2014), and available for free download at the Social Science Research Network at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462112, discussing the latest research and evidence on parenting patterns. 
 
Some recent studies have claimed to demonstrate that children do just as well without a dad - or without a mom.  For example, a new study from the University of Melbourne in Australia on how kids from same-sex homes fare is getting a good deal of press. Perhaps you’ve seen the news stories and wondered if this changes the nature of the debate over the importance of the family? Let's consider the research. 

Reporting on this study the Washington Post stated that children from same sex parent families scored 6% higher on general health and family cohesion even when controlling for socio-demographic factors such as parents' education and household income.  But researcher and commentator John Stonestreet noted that sketchy methodology led to a serious research bias that flaws the outcomes.  You can read his ideas in their entirety at BreakPoint at http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/25700?spMailingID=9041076&spUserID=ODk4MzEzMDgyMDcS1&spJobID=341404420&spReportId=MzQxNDA0NDIwS0. 
Family researcher Glenn Stanton, Focus on the Family’s director of Family Formation Studies, also discussed this study at http://jimdaly.focusonthefamily.com/does-new-research-prove-kids-do-better-with-two-moms/?utm_source=nl_dalyfocus&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=186015&refcd=186015&crmlink=content-keep-reading.  He states that this new study gives the same kind of findings seen before, coming from the same kinds of studies with the same kinds of serious short-comings and method problems. You can read about the weaknesses of those previous studies here, here and here. The bottom line is that this Australian study and each study on same-sex or single-sex parenting are all derived from a sample size that is too small to render any actual evidence or generalizations, each study represents the answers and views of self-selected participants, and possesses conflict of interest elements because participants are interested in a positive outcome.
A most serious flaw of this and other studies is a general lack of normative control group utilization.  What this means is that this study and others like it tell us nothing about how kids in same-sex homes fare compared to children being raised by their married mother and father. It does not in any manner address that significant difference.  That is why "Rethinking Mom and Dad" at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462112 is so important for general knowledge on this issue.  And with football just around on the seasonal corner, it's a fun read as well.

Another family expert, Economist Dr. Douglas Allen at the Simon Fraser University in Canada, studies family makeup and its impact on children, the economy and culture.  His most recent work included a replication of a study that claimed children in same-sex households fared no differently than those raised in homes with a married mother and father.  After making several corrections in methodology, Allen and his team discovered an interesting maxim. "Gender composition matters a lot in a household... Moms probably do something that's a lot different than dads.  If you're a child there are times in your life when you really need a mom's input, and there are other times you need a dad's input; and those times are probably different for boys and for girls."  Read more on Dr. Allen’s work at CitizenLink at http://www.citizenlink.com/2014/05/12/family-experts-children-do-best-when-raised-by-their-married-mom-and-dad/.
 
Rethinking Mom and Dad toward family restoration requires a focus on the children as well as on the parenting formation.  (See http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462112.)
Family restoration happens when children have an opportunity to be raised by their mom and dad who are married to each other.  

You can access all my work on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) at http://ssrn.com/author=183817 – while you, like me, get ready for football season!

7.16.2014

Family Restoration & Regent Library Book Club

From Guest-Bloggers Dean Sara Baron & Associate Librarian Harold Henkel, Regent University Library:

A study of reading habits from 2003 revealed startling statistics. One-third of high school graduates never read another book after high school; 42% of college graduates never read another book after college. It is no surprise that organized book clubs, such as Oprah’s Book Club, have grown so rapidly in the time since this data was gathered. The Library Book Club at Regent University was founded in 2008 to encourage reading literature for pleasure. In our seven years, we have read many classic and modern works portraying many different kinds of families, including Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Tevya the Dairyman, and And the Mountains Echoed. 

This summer, the Book Club read To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. First published in 1960, Lee’s only novel was a cultural shock to America for its discussion of sensitive issues of race, violence, and justice, but it soon became a classic in American literature for how it innocently approached these sensitive subjects. 



It is also a picture of family life on many levels and in many fashions. Atticus Finch, a single father dealing with the early death of his wife and with a rising career in law and politics, is “doing the best he could do” with two precocious children. The children learn about sensitive issues that surround families in the small Alabama community and approach each with child-like innocence. A good family read since its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird continues to have lessons for contemporary readers about community, parenting, and family restoration. 

One of the most famous openings in literature is the beginning of Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Owing to the reputation of Anna Karenina, readers have tended to accept Tolstoy’s claim as a nugget of aphoristic wisdom. According to essayist David P. Goldman, however, Tolstoy got it exactly backwards: “…unhappy families are all unhappy in the same way. It is happy families that are different, because every child is radically unique, such that raising children is the one human activity that is sure to surprise.”

Goldman’s riposte to Tolstoy illustrates why it is essential that we read literature throughout our lives: to gain a new perspective, to see the world through other people’s eyes, and to “converse” with the great authors through engagement with their works. The Library Book Club invites readers of Family Restoration to join us in our eighth year as we explore together ten great classic and modern novels. A complete schedule for 2014-2015 will be posted soon on the Book Club website.      

Family restoration happens one family at a time.

7.15.2014

Civil Marriage is Legally Sacred

From Guest-Blogger Steven Fitschen (Regent 1999), President, The National Legal Foundation.

I am grateful to Lynne for inviting me to be a part of the marriage debate at the Virginia State Bar's Annual Meeting last month and for allowing me to write about the experience here. One of the Annual Meeting's so-called Showcase CLEs, the event was entitled "Marriage in Virginia: The Changing Status of Same-Sex Couples and Their Families."

It started with remarks by Virginia's Attorney General, Mark Herring. This was certainly appropriate in that Mr. Herring is a hero to those who believe that Virginia's one-man-one-woman Marriage Amendment and marriage statute are unconstitutional, while he is a villain to those who believe that both the amendment and statute are not only constitutional, but also the only approach to marriage that matches millennia of wisdom, cultural heritage, and religious conviction. This is so because he reversed the course of his predecessor, Ken Cuccinelli, who had vigorously defended the amendment and statute in court. Mr. Herring refuses to defend them or to appoint anyone else to defend them and, in fact, has joined his former adversaries in opposing the amendment and statute.

No surprise: the hero/villain left without fielding questions and without participating in the panel debate.

So three of us on each side of the issue slugged it out, although "slugged it out" is probably an overstatement. For once, this issue was actually debated with civility. (You can see the list of panelists in Lynne's post of June 12, 2014.)

My points were fairly simple, but new to most people. I had realized that (as of the time of the debate) two crucial sentences had appeared (in whole or in part) in the court opinions of Virginia's same-sex marriage case and 14 others. These sentences had their origin the U.S. Supreme Court case, Griswold v. Connecticut, and also appear in five other Supreme Court cases dealing with various aspects of marriage. The crucial sentences are these: "We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights—older than our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred."

Two things must be observed about these sentences. First, the critical phrase, "intimate to the degree of being sacred," is ALWAYS invoked at the talismanic level: if it's intimate, it's worthy of being called marriage. But such invocation is invalid. If pro-same-sex litigants are going to routinely invoke this language; they, their opponents, and the courts must take it seriously.

The Supreme Court never held anything like "if it's intimate, it's worthy of being called marriage." Nor could it with any legitimacy. Not everything intimate is either marriage or sacred. To take the easiest example, adultery is by definition not marriage. And by the authoritative texts of many religions—and as any victim of a cheating spouse can attest—it is not sacred.

Rather, and the second thing that must be observed, the Court has held that civil marriage—which was the only kind of marriage the Court ever addressed—must legally be recognized as sacred. Now I know that can fry the minds of lawyers and even lay people who are trained to think in terms of modern Establishment Clause jurisprudence. And because of that, I spent some of my time at the debate fleshing out this problem and some solutions to it.

However, let me repeat: civil marriage must legally be recognized as sacred.

Two downstream consequences follow from this. First, we (meaning all those on both sides of this debate and those without made up minds) should expect people of faith—including Christians like me—to continue to oppose same-sex marriage. After all, things that are sacred are the special province of religion. When one asserts—as the Supreme Court and the pro-same-sex litigants correctly have—that civil marriage is sacred, one ought to expect a theological examination of what validly constitutes civil marriage. So sorry to take your rhetorical flourish so seriously.

Second, in light of the first consequence, it is illegitimate to call such opposition "animus" or "bigotry." And that is why I ended my prepared remarks with calls for 1) pro-same-sex marriage advocates to stop using such name-calling against those who hold an opposing view, 2) pro-one-man-one-woman advocates to refuse to self-censor religious arguments, and 3) those who are undecided to at least recognize that on THIS point, the name-callers are wrong. This debate stood apart as a civil and respectful opportunity to discuss the key issues involved in marriage policy. The marriage debate at the Virginia State Bar's Annual Meeting at the Beach in June was a great opportunity to debate a cornerstone of public policy, and I appreciate the chance to write about the experience here.

The National Legal Foundation is a Christian public interest law firm dedicated to the preservation of America's freedom and constitutional rights and can be found at http://nlf.net and contacted at nlf@nlf.net.

7.14.2014

Family Restoration One Family at a Time: 10 Years is a Good Start on the way to 100

From Guest Blogger Toussaint Roman (Regent Law '06), North Carolina Attorney

So it's been that long.  July 3, 2004 I said "I do" and I have.  Well, we have!  My wife and I have been married for 10 years today and we want at least 100 years more. God has blessed my fabulous wife Tunisia and I with 3 lovely children: Simone Dominique Romain (6 yrs old); Toussaint Crosby Romain, II (4 years old); and Lathan Xavier Romain (17 months old) and Caicos "the Dog" Romain (just old).  (See picture of fam).  They are a great band and have transformed the meaning of what family means to me.  We are so grateful.  I have had a phenomenal time being a husband and a father.  Best jobs in the world. 

In addition, my vocation and calling as a lawyer has aided my abilities as a parent and husband in learning how to serve others.  I have served as a Public Defender since finishing law school.  This job has taught me so much and I am currently working on my first murder case.  I also teach as a professor at UNC Charlotte. 

Overall, I have seen the need to prevent young folks from becoming my clients and to direct them into becoming my students.  As a result, I have raised over a "million dollars worth" in dollars, in volunteering or in services for different organizations and events that serve young black men/boys. (i.e. hi-tech free after school programs; entrepreneur classes and microloans for black men with records; and several others that deal with developing our youth.)
My career choices have been a sacrifice to our family financially, etc. but so much value has resulted.  We are a strong family.  With vision, with patience, and with God we are still happily married while fulfilling the passions of our hearts!  We are stronger today than we were 10 years ago.

Biggest Life Lessons
  1. Don't sweat the unGodly stuff.
  2. Stay focused on God and our purpose.
  3. Love other people.  (You don't have to like everyone, but share the love of Christ with them even if that means from a distance without fighting.)
  4. Remember Who loves you and those who truly support you! 
  5. Smile.
We smile at you as we celebrate this milestone.. . . and stay tuned for what's next!
Toussaint C. Romain, Esq.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -  Jeremiah 29:11