The “bushfire” threatening Australia: fragile families

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Family Edge
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    2011-09-07 05:29:57-04

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  The “bushfire” threatening Australia: fragile families

2011-09-07 05:29:57-04

Australia is known as the Lucky Country but a report on child welfare published this week suggests that its luck is running out. Read more...


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New Australian Report on decline of the family - 9/6/11

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Subject: New Australian Report on decline of the family - 9/6/11
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-  Families in crisis as the rate of children in care doubles
Sept 6, 2011 - The Australian
FAMILIES are in crisis with the number of children in care and teenage self-harm attempts almost doubling in a decade.

The 117-page "For Kids' Sake" report authored by the architect of the Howard government's family law reforms, Sydney University professor Patrick Parkinson, also finds thousand of children are using anti-depressants.

The report, which has compiled existing research, was commissioned by the Australian Christian Lobby and paid for by the Vos Foundation.

It blames the breakdown of traditional families for an alarming rise in social problems, and comes as Labor braces for a party brawl over gay marriage.

The report, which will be launched by opposition families spokesman Kevin Andrews in Canberra today, calls for a taxpayer-funded Families Commission that would run relationship counselling and child rearing education programs and a national families hotline.
For full article:
- Stable families, stable society. It’s that simple.
Kevin Andrews
06 Sep • The Punch (Australia)
In 1998, the House of Representatives Legal and Constitutional Committee issued a report entitled To Have and To Hold about marriage and family in Australia.

Writing the preface to the bipartisan report, I commented: “This report is about strengthening marital relationships. It is about preventing marital distress and the consequent breakdown of relationships. It arises from our concern for children; for their future, their happiness, and their ability to form their own loving and fulfilling relationships.”

While the family continues as a human aspiration, there have been a series of changes in family patterns throughout the industrialised world that point to a decline in marriage and a weakening of family life. To Have and To Hold summarised these patterns:

  • People are marrying less;
  • Those couples who marry do so at an older age;
  • There has been a dramatic increase in divorce;
  • The number of children involved in divorce has continued to grow since the early 1970s;
  • The rates of remarriage have fallen over the past 20 years;
  • Families are having fewer children;
  • The proportion of children born out of wedlock has increased dramatically;
  • There has been a marked increase in the proportion of single parent families;
  • Families increasingly have both parents in the paid workforce; and
  • In most nations, the population is ageing.

A decade later, it is timely to review these trends. Generally birth rates and marriage rates have continued to fall, pre-marital cohabitation has become the norm in most countries, the median age of first marriage has risen, divorce rates have increased, out-of-wedlock births have grown, as has the proportion of sole-parent families, and the population continues to age.

The rates of change vary from country to country, including some welcome reversals in various places. However, the deinstitutionalisation of marriage and the consequent trends for less stable families remains significant.

These trends are graphically illustrated in a new report by Professor Patrick Parkinson, For Kid’s Sake.

Subtitled ‘Repairing the social environment for Australian children and young people’, it is a wake-up call about significant trends in the social ecology of the nation.

Based on social science evidence, Professor Parkinson, a professor of law at the University of Sydney, observes trends in the wellbeing of our children that should concern all Australians. Describing the dramatic increase in the number of children who have been reported to the various State and Territory child protection systems as the “Canary in the coal mine”, the author documents the rise in adolescent mental health and risky behaviours in Australia.

While noting that there may be a number of explanations, he observes: “if there is one major demographic change in western societies that can be linked to a large range of adverse consequences for many children and young people, it is the growth in the numbers of children who experience life in a family other than living with their two biological parents, at some point before the age of 15.” Indeed, the number if children who do not reach the age of 15 in an intact family with both of their biological parents have almost doubled within a generation.

An increasing number of scholars and policy makers have recognised this as a major challenge facing many nations. Few people in western nations would dispute that life is more uncertain for our children then a generation ago. The renowned scholar of family studies, Urie Bronfenbrenner commented two decades ago: “There has been a progressive disarray at an accelerating rate since World War 11 of the disorganisation of the family in the western world.”

His remarks reflected the conclusion of the sociologist, David Popenoe, that there has been a significant decline in ‘familism’, by which he means the family is becoming weaker as an institution.

For Popenoe and others an interesting question was why so many sociologists “think of family decline as a myth and seek to dismiss the idea with such vigour and seeming uncertainty.” Part of the reason lies with the cultural ideals of individualism, sexual freedom, and social tolerance, as well as the obvious gains in health and wealth for many people, he suggested.

What the latest data reveals however are trends affecting families which require an effective social response to avoid the further fragmentation of families and communities, and the alienation of individuals. The chaos created when day to day stability and predictability are lost in family life, particularly for children, is illustrated in the new report.

Social scientists increasingly worry about the current trends. The family scholar, Paul Amato describes the different approaches as a conflict between the institutional and individual view of marriage. Amato concludes that policies should support marriage and family:

“One widely replicated finding tilts the argument in favour of promarriage policies. That is, studies consistently indicate that children raised by two happily and continuously married parents have the best chance of developing into competent and successful adults. . .  Because we all have an interest in the well-being of children, it is reasonable for social institutions (such as the state) to attempt to increase the proportion of children raised by married parents with satisfying and stable marriages.”

Merely decreasing the rate of divorce is insufficient, he adds.

How we support marriage then, as the protective institution of family, particularly the welfare of children, is of profound importance. The parental relationship is unique in human affairs. Parents committed to each other are by far the most willing to make massive, unbalanced investments in children. Who else is capable and willing to make this investment? The State? Peer groups? Public or private childrearing organisations?

The answer, as any parent will tell you, is no-one. No amount of public investment in children can possibly offset the private disinvestment that has accompanied the decline of marriage and the weakening of family ties.

Professor Parkinson makes a series of recommendations to address these issues.  The substance of one of them, namely, the focus on prevention and the government support for better and more widespread marriage, relationship and parenting education was a policy that the Coalition took to the last election and has recommitted to since then.

The Coalition will examine the other proposals, including Community Trusts and a Families Commission as we continue our policy development.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed: “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”  This is an area where Government should respect other spheres of society by enabling them to fulfil their unique opportunities and obligations.

If our desire is for healthy, well-adjusted children and young people, who have every opportunity for the best education, who can obtain employment and live fulfilling lives, and who have a reasonable prospect of forming their own sustainable relationships - in short, if we desire a stable and healthy society - then healthy, functional family life remains the greatest hope for humanity.

As Martin Luther-King said: ‘The institution of the family is decisive in determining not only if a person has the capacity to love another individual but in the larger sense whether he is capable of loving. . . The whole of society rests on this foundation for stability, understanding and social peace.’ It is in family that obligations and values are learnt.

The For Kid’s Sake report makes the task of responding to the trends documented in it even more critical.
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Weekly Update of UK Marriage News - No 11.36

good stuff here every week


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Date: Mon, Sep 5, 2011 at 9:43 AM
Subject: Weekly Update of UK Marriage News - No 11.36

Welcome to this week’s UK Marriage News


A Reminder

Just a little nudge as you return from the summer break with respect to the costs and effort of ensuring you receive this newsletter each week. We don’t make any charge for the service, but that doesn’t mean it’s without either value, or cost! Our aim is to ensure that every reader has a weekly view on what’s happening in the UK with respect primarily to marriage to inform your thinking, and operational strategies – it would cost a lot to employ someone to present this information weekly!


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·         Government announces £6 million for children in care and families who need extra support

·         Couples who live together before they marry are much more likely to divorce, says Christian think-tank

·         Fewer couples think an affair is a reason to divorce


Government and Political

·         Government announces £6 million for children in care and families who need extra support

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton has announced an extra £6 million a year to provide additional support for foster carers and vulnerable families.


Thirty seven local authorities will share this extra funding in order to expand their own intensive intervention programmes and reach even more vulnerable children and their families.


The programmes supported by the government all address the need for stability in a child’s life.  There is increasing evidence that this work reduces the need for a child to enter care or custody, or can reduce the length of time spent in care.


Meeting foster carers in Oxford, Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said: “Poor parental care can have a lasting impact on children.  It can cause difficulties for children’s development across many areas of their lives.  Yet we know from the success of programmes such as Multisystemic Therapy that with the right support, families with entrenched difficulties can be helped to turn their lives around.


For those children who can not remain with their families, we want to ensure that those responsible for caring for them have the right support to help them meet their often challenging needs.  We know that programmes such as Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care have a track record in helping some of our most vulnerable children have a more stable and successful childhood.


I am delighted to announce today additional funding for 37 local authorities and their partners to develop intensive programmes of support in their areas.  Around half of these will be focused on families with children on the edge of care or offending, and half offering intensive support for foster carers.”


·         The Scottish government’s plans to redefine marriage are deeply flawed and socially corrosive, say Christian groups

This week, the Scottish government launched its consultation on redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships and to allow civil partnership ceremonies to be conducted on religious premises. CARE and the Evangelical Alliance have responded by calling on the Scottish Government to maintain the established  societal definition of marriage which has universally stood the test of time.


Dr Gordon Macdonald, parliamentary officer at CARE for Scotland, said: “Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman and not two people of the same sex. It provides the best context for raising children and contributes to social cohesion. The Scottish government is making a grave mistake by seeking to redefine marriage.”


Rev Dr Fred Drummond, Scotland director of the Evangelical Alliance, stated: “Marriage is the bedrock of a stable society, allowing children to be produced and raised by a committed mother and father. Marriage is God-ordained and overwhelming sociological evidence points to the benefits of marriage for children in terms of emotional security, educational achievement, health and other life prospects. Marriage has already been undermined in our society and the consequences are easy to identify. At this time of social fragmentation and instability, any attempts to redefine the traditional value of marriage will further damage the well-being of our society.”


The overwhelming majority of the population know very well what marriage is and what it isn’t. CARE and the Evangelical Alliance call on the Scottish government to acknowledge the widespread concerns throughout Scotland over any attempts by government to redefine marriage at the behest of a tiny minority for largely political reasons but which will have massive consequences for society as a whole.


·         Teenagers asked "Would you spot abuse?" as Relationship campaign goes live

A powerful advertising campaign to challenge the attitudes of teenagers to violence and abuse in relationships has been launched by the Home Office. With 75 per cent of girls and 50 per cent of boys reporting that they have experienced some form of emotional abuse, the TV, cinema, outdoor and online advertising campaign aims to help teenagers recognise abusive behaviour at an early stage, before it escalates to physical violence.


The adverts are directed towards 13-18 year-olds and feature young couples in a variety of settings. Viewers are challenged to identify controlling behaviour and to reconsider their own attitudes about what is acceptable behaviour in relationships.


All the adverts point young people towards a website where they can find information, seek help and chat with their peers. The site is designed to encourage sharing of the campaign materials across social networks and will also host live web chats with experts. The first of these will happen 2 September at 5pm.


Minister Lynne Featherstone said: ""Although teenage romances can often be short lived, we know that sometimes, they can be just as intense and important as adult relationships. In extreme cases they can also fall foul of the same pitfalls and dangers. That's why it is so important to ensure young people develop healthy relationships and know where to go for support when things go wrong.  We need to challenge the attitudes and behaviours that foster an acceptance of abusive relationships by intervening as early as possible. Bringing the issue out in the open will help teenagers feel confident to challenge abusive behaviour when they experience it or see it."


The campaign, funded by the Home Office, is part of a long-term communications plan to tackle violence and challenge attitudes that relationship abuse is acceptable.


Research and Public Opinion

·         Couples who live together before they marry are much more likely to divorce, says Christian think-tank

Couples who live together before they marry are 'significantly' more likely to end up divorced, says a report by a Christian think-tank according to the Daily Mail. The study also discovered that more couples are cohabiting than ever before - with the average time living together before tying the knot doubling to three-and-a-half years in the past four decades.


The Jubilee Centre, a social reform group with a Christian perspective, said that living together had become 'a more fragile state of relationship than ever before'. It said that couples who cohabited before marriage were 45 per cent more likely to split than those who waited until after the wedding.


The report by Dr John Hayward and Dr Guy Brandon said: 'Despite the popularity of cohabitation and its relationship to marriage, it is also the case that marriages that start with a period of prior cohabitation are significantly more prone to divorce than those that do not. 'Where there has been a previous cohabitation with a separate person by one of both partners, the likelihood of divorce soars. Couples who never marry are six times more likely to split by the time their  first child is five, it added. 'This suggests that cohabitation is now being treated somewhat differently to the way it was in the 1960s and 70s,' said the report, Cohabitation: An Alternative to Marriage?


The data was based on 14,103 households and 22,265 adults. The research follows on from the think-tank's 2010 publication Cohabitation in the 21st Century, which showed the cost of family breakdown is £41.7billion. This is equivalent to £1,350 for every taxpayer each year.


It claimed these costs will rise 'significantly' over the next 25 years, with its analysis based on almost 30,000 family cases drawn from a nationwide survey.

·         Children whose parents divorce or separate before they are 5 are more likely to be problem drinkers, says report

Children with parents who divorce or separate before they are five are more likely to become binge drinkers when they reach 16 than children with parents who remain together, according to the think tank, Demos. Children with parents who are still together by the time they turn five are less likely to engage in risky drinking behaviour. Crucially, says the report, this is the case whether parents are married or cohabiting.


A study of over 15,000 children, entitled Under the Influence, indicates that parenting style is one of the most important and statistically reliable influences on whether a child will drink responsibly in adolescence and adulthood.


Demos found that, what they term, 'tough love' parenting, combining consistent warmth and discipline, was the most effective parenting style to prevent unhealthy relationships with alcohol right into the mid-thirties age range.


The report found that:

·         Bad parenting at age 10 makes the child twice as likely to drink excessively at age 34

·         Bad parenting at age 16 makes the child over eight times more likely to drink excessively at that age

·         Bad parenting at age 16 makes the child over twice as likely to drink excessively at age 34.


The report also found that high levels of parental warmth and attachment at an early age and strict discipline at the age of 16 are the best parenting styles to reduce the likelihood that a child will binge-drink in adolescence and adulthood. While 'tough love' was the best parenting style to ensure against children becoming binge drinkers, less effective parenting styles were 'authoritarian', 'laissez faire' and 'disengaged'.


Binge-drinking figures in the UK have officially been dropping since the early 2000's, but the culture of a binge-drinking minority that has become more extreme, and more public, has fed the media's infatuation with a boozed-up Britain.

·         The many benefits of hands-on dads

Fathers who are hands-on in the raising of their children can play an important role in the intellectual and behavioural development of their offspring, new research has found reports BPS. Published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, the study showed fathers can positively influence their son or daughter by being actively engaged with the little ones.


Erin Pougnet, a PhD candidate in the Concordia University Department of Psychology and a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development - which has been in operation for more than 30 years - said: "Compared with other children with absentee dads, kids whose fathers were active parents in early and middle childhood had fewer behaviour problems and higher intellectual abilities as they grew older."


Ms Pougnet explained this finding is even true among socio-economically at-risk families, as a father has the ability to set appropriate limits and to influence their problem-solving abilities. She suggested dads could also play a role in a child's emotional problems, such as anxiety, social withdrawal and sadness.


Russell Hurn, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "I certainly agree. Not only do actively involved fathers provide additional emotional support but also provide modelling for behaviour, social interaction and the child's self-esteem.  Being involved with your child is a way of communicating your acceptance and love for them which can help to form the basis of their self concept and therefore the way they see themselves in the world. The benefits are also for the father as a good bond with your child can promote many positive feelings of self worth, pride and a sense of achievement."


·         Fewer couples think an affair is a reason to divorce

Extramarital affairs are no longer the main reason for divorce, according to research suggesting that unfaithful celebrities have made infidelity more acceptable reports the Telegraph. A study of leading family lawyers found that the most common reason for a marriage to end was couples claiming that they no longer felt in love and had “grown apart”.


The research, compiled by consultancy firm Grant Thornton, disclosed a sharp rise in pre-nuptial agreements, and evidence that many couples had merely delayed divorce in the recession, hoping for larger settlements once the economy had recovered. According to official records, the number of divorces in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level since 1974, as fewer couples choose to marry. The Grant Thornton research, which questioned 101 leading family lawyers, said that extramarital affairs had been the top reason behind marital breakdown every year since the survey was first conducted in 2003.


This year, however, infidelity was replaced as the most common cause of divorce by couples stating that they had simply fallen out of love with each other.  The proportion of lawyers citing extramarital affairs as the main factor for their clients' separation – 25% - has now fallen to its lowest level since the annual survey began. However, “growing apart” or “falling out of love” has become increasingly common and was the leading reason for marital breakdown, cited by 27% of lawyers in the survey this year.  Divorce lawyers are finding that people are no longer prepared to put up with unhappy marriages as in the past. Other causes of marital breakdown listed in the study included one partner having a “mid-life crisis”, emotional or physical abuse, “unreasonable behaviour” and financial worries.


Louisa Plumb, from Grant Thornton UK LLP, the financial and business advisors, suggested that the changing pattern could be attributed to celebrity couples who remained together despite one partner’s infidelity. England footballers including Peter Crouch, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney have featured in the tabloid press for their alleged infidelities yet are reported to be attempting to mend their relationships.


“We are seeing an increasing number of ‘celebrities’ putting up with alleged affairs in their marriage or relationship – with Abbey Clancy staying with Peter Crouch, and Cheryl Cole looking all set to go back to Ashley,” she said.  “It may be that this is starting to have an effect on the behaviour of couples affected by extra-marital affairs, with more marriages than before surviving a bout of infidelity.”


Christine Northam, a counsellor with Relate, said it was common for couples to say they loved each other but were no longer “in love”. “What’s normally the case is that their relationship has slid down their list of priorities, replaced by the pressures of work, money worries or raising a family,” she said. “Relationships need attention and time to nurture otherwise couples can easily drift apart.”


The report found that six out of 10 lawyers had seen a rise in the number of couples signing pre-nuptial agreements, and expected the trend to grow following a landmark Supreme Court ruling that gave such contracts legal weight last year.  However, the report also warned that a separate judgment was likely to see more divorcing spouses get away with hiding assets from their partners in future.


According to 82% of lawyers, unhappy couples have delayed divorce due to the recession, with most believing that the reduced value of assets had been the main motivation for waiting.


New Books, Resources and materials

·         Your relationship is precious... why not look after it?

We got the following flyer this week from Relate with a request we pass it on – so here you are:


“Here at Relate, we believe that relationships are the most precious thing in life. But we also understand that keeping a relationship healthy isn't always easy. With our new campaign, Heart to Heart, we want to spread the message that relationships deserve to be looked after and that it's best to get support as soon as possible.


Relationship expert Paula Hall says, "It’s never too late to get help for your relationship. The sooner you come to Relate, the sooner you can sort out your problems. Don’t bury your head in the sand and get help if things aren’t right.”


To give you an idea about how healthy your relationship is, we have created our new Heart to Heart health check. 


You can also hear from other couples about how they approach their relationships in our new video which will give you five top tips for a healthy relationship.”


Forthcoming conferences and events

·         Forthcoming conferences

Details of all forthcoming conferences can always be found under our listing at 2-in-2-1


Consultations and Campaigns

Below is our running list of current and recent consultations and campaigns. New items or those requiring action are highlighted. The Reference numbers are to the newsletter where we covered the subject.


·         Review of Personal, Social, Health and Economics (PSHE) Education

The Government said in the Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, that it would conduct an internal review to determine how to support schools to improve the quality of teaching of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, including giving teachers the flexibility to use their judgement about how best to deliver PSHE education


This request for representations seeks your views on the core body of knowledge that pupils need to learn through PSHE education teaching and ways to improve the quality of teaching.


Closing Date: Wednesday 30 November 2011


Soap Box!!

·         Growing together

“Buyer’s remorse” (or “Purchaser’s Panic” as Liz once famously called it) is a well known phenomenon in retailing circles – basically it refers to the reaction that many of us experience when making a significant purchase – as soon as we have made a commitment we become convinced that we could have made a different (better) choice, and regret our actions – even if the product meets all our criteria for selecting it.


Of course sometimes the product doesn’t match our expectations, and before long our regret turns to full scale disappointment, and we lose interest in what we have bought, or worse still resent it and want to get rid of it. I can certainly think of personal examples of purchases that match this pattern – and one has only to watch kids with new toys to see it played out in real time.


I suspect that in a consumer society, we are seeing similar reactions to “mate selection” and marriage.  We know that idealisations of our partner, and married life together, are often hopelessly over-idealised. We are fed a constant diet of super celebs, with beautifully toned bodies, living an idyllic lifestyle in perfect surroundings, and apparently wildly and passionately in love – and we wonder why our humdrum existence doesn’t quite match up. Before long the nagging questions about “Have I made the right choice?” creep in.


The report from Grant Thornton on reasons for divorce which highlights that infidelity is no longer the number one reason probably says more about our distorted idealisation of what marriage is, than it does about  our attitudes to infidelity. The number one reason is simply “’growing apart’ or ‘falling out of love’” – in other words the gradual realisation that the relationship isn’t matching up to our idealisation – and the belief that somehow a different relationship (ie a “new product”) will be better.


What is missing is not a set of skills, or even a new framework of reference that sees the good rather than bad qualities in the relationship – it is a fundamental shift in the attitude to what marriage is. The covenant underpinning marriage is one of striving constantly to enable ones spouse to ever more fully become the person they can be – to enable self-actualisation. If both partners adopt this as their frame of reference and their underlying purpose, then there is no room for “buyer’s remorse” – the focus is on ‘other’, not ‘self’.


If we want to increase the popularity of marriage, and its odds of success, then we need to refocus on what makes it a success, not try and lower expectations. And it’s not a message about “relationships needing work” (which always strikes me as very onerous), but rather getting back to the underlying difference of marriage against any other relationship – the unswerving commitment to making it “best for my spouse” rather than “best for me”.


Such a focus would completely undermine the trend towards “growing apart” by ensuring that the foundation of the relationship itself is “growing together”.

Celebrity, Human and Fun stuff

·         CSA reveals its ten most bizarre excuses for not paying child maintenance

The Work and Pensions Minister, Maria Miller, has said that some absent parents are using ridiculous excuses in an attempt to avoid facing their responsibilities and paying for their children reports Family Law Week. Her comments coincided with the release by the Child Support Agency of its ten worst excuses used by parents to caseworkers chasing payments. They are:


  1. I'm not paying another penny. I've already bought my child a pick-and-mix this week', complained one.
  2. Another said he could not pay for his children because he had to take his ostrich to the vet.  
  3. A footballer earning £4000 a week said the cost of keeping his Ferrari on the road meant he wasn't able to pay off his arrears.
  4. One man said "I paid for her breast enhancement - and her new boyfriend is getting the benefit. I'm not paying child maintenance on top." 
  5. A man rang the Agency to say he couldn't be the child's father because the woman who filed the claim was too ugly. 
  6. Several have said it was against their human rights to have money deducted from their salaries. 
  7. 'I'm not liable to pay child support because I'm no longer the person named on the child's birth certificate" was the excuse of one man - after he had changed his name by deed poll. 
  8. Hundreds respond to arrears notices saying "the dog ate my wage slips and letters from the CSA".
  9. A father who had undergone a sex change becoming a woman argued she should not have to pay because she is not the man who fathered the children.
  10. And finally, another claimed he didn't officially exist any more because he was on the 'witness protection programme'. He wasn't and was made to pay.


Best wishes,

The 2-in-2-1 Team


Technical Stuff


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The importance of dad

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Family Edge <>
Date: Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 10:01 AM
Subject: The importance of dad

Family Edge
bringing you news of family issues from around the world

    2011-09-03 19:01:52-04

  Click below to read the full text of the latest posting on FamilyEdge

  The importance of dad

2011-09-03 19:01:52-04

The importance of fathers in their children’s lives has been underscored by new Canadian research. Hands-on parenting by the dad tends to make kids smarter and better behaved. Read more...


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Courageous, The Movie

From: Keith Kilgore [] On Behalf Of Keith Kilgore
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2011 5:30 AM
Subject: Courageous, The Movie

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Serving Marriages, Inc.


The Grace Card

Honor Begins at Home

Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson, and Shane Fuller are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood.


While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they're quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark.

When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God ... and to their children?


Filled with action-packed police drama, COURAGEOUS is the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Riveted moviegoers will once again find themselves laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children.


Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That's courageous.


COURAGEOUS Movie Trailer

COURAGEOUS Movie Trailer

  Find a Theater and Buy Tickets

INTENSIVE Opportunities

Eddy and M 

Is your marriage experiencing significant challenges?  Do you consider your marriage to be in crisis?  Do you think the passion is gone from your marriage?  Do you think you are living with a stranger?  Do you hear you say to yourself, "I've lost hope of this marriage ever getting better."?  Are you ready to give up?

There is help.  Great help.  Proven help.  Foundational help.  Help that specifically addresses those whose marriage is in crisis.

Below are three great "intensive" resources.  Find the one that fits your schedule and register.  In the meantime, stay the course, don't give up!

What:  Love and Respect Marriage Intensive

Where: The Cove, Asheville, NC

When: September 16-18, 2011

Click here for more info or email

Marriage Intensive

Who: National Institute of Marriage (NIM) 

Where: WinShape Retreat, Rome, GA or Sunset Inn, Branson, MO

When: Ongoing dates, check dates and available by clicking here

Click here for more info or contact NIM at 866.875.2915

What: The ReGeneration Experience

Where:  Oak Haven Resort, Sevierville, TN

When: October 27-30, 2011

Contact FF at or contact FF at 865.769.2611


Why are these programs proven to be successful?

  • Intensives are not confined to the time constraints of brief weekly counseling sessions
  • You get away from daily distractions and focus on your marriage
  • Work with a team of professional counselors
  • The counselors have the time to help couples identify core issues and uncover hidden obstacles
  • Couples acquire new understanding and skills to be successful in their marriage
  • The counselors are caring and passionate about helping your marriage. 

About Serving Marriages, Inc.

Serving Marriages exists to align couples with resources, training, and services, in a retreat environment, for spouses to rest and rejuvenate, learn truth, relate and build trust, whether a marriage is strong or struggling.

Foundational Principals

  • Giving - our first priority is to give of ourselves, our time, and our resources
  • Serving - we seek to serve rather than be served
  • Unifying - we desire ever increasing levels of unity, collaboration, and fellowship
  • Measuring - we desire accountability for measurable results  

Serving Marriages, Inc.

Keith Kilgore

Serving Marriages, Inc.

Nathan Vaughn

Serving Marriages, Inc. | 3168 Bay View Drive | Lake Spivey | GA | 30236-4140

Institute in the Public Square











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From: Institute for American Values <>
Date: Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 2:06 PM
Subject: Institute in the Public Square

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  Institute in the Public Square
Institute for American Values.
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Slate on Why Marriage Matters
August 25, 2011
(Skip to 10:17)
Slate on Why Marriage Matters, August 25, 2011


Marriage is much in the news this month, and our scholars are at the forefront of the discussion. On Monday's PBS NewsHour, Institute president David Blankenhorn addressed new Census findings about marriage and divorce.

Census Data Reveals New Geography of Marriage for Americans

Ray Suarez, PBS NewsHour, August 29, 2011

"David Blankenhorn, Institute for American Values: In our parents' and grandparents' generation, when you got married you were joining an institution that had authority, told you the rules. You were supposed to act in accord with its procedures. Now the shift is toward private ordering. Each individual couple defines the relationship for themselves. One way to think about it is, in an earlier day, the marriage vow defined the couple. And now it's really the couple defining the marriage vow."

Watch Here

Meanwhile, the new third edition of our report, Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences, released this month by a team of family scholars led by W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia, has garnered widespread media attention and stirred debate in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to pieces in the New York Times and National Public Radio and many other outlets the week of its release, recent stories include:

A Shaky Foundation for Families

W. Bradford Wilcox, New York Times, Room for Debate, August 30, 2011

"Why is cohabitation so risky to children? Compared with marriage, cohabitation furnishes less commitment, stability, sexual fidelity, and safety to romantic partners and their children. Consequently, cohabiting couples are more than twice as likely to break up and four times more likely to be unfaithful to one another, compared with married couples. All this has obvious implications for children in these homes."

Read the Article

Parents Choose Cohabiting Over Marriage

Lisa Belkin, New York Times Motherlode blog, August 17, 2011

"A twelvefold increase in the number of cohabiting households over the last four decades is of concern, the report's 18 authors say, because marriage is better for children."

Read the Article

The Double X Gabfest: Momentary Lapse of Judgment Edition

Jessica Grose, Kate Julian, and Hanna Rosin, Slate, August 25, 2011

"In this week's gabfest, DoubleX founding editor Hanna Rosin along with Slate senior editor Jessica Grose and editor Kate Julian discuss . . . a new report from the Institute for American Values about the rise of cohabitation."

Listen to the Discussion (Skip to 10:17) | And read a response at and at

Before Kids, Put a Ring On It

Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, August 23, 2011

"More than 40 percent of children in the United States spend time in a cohabiting household. That's among the findings of the new 'Why Marriage Matters' study from the Institute for American Values and the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia."

Read the Article

The Cohabitation Revolution

Rich Lowry, National Review, August 26, 2011

"According to a new study by the Institute for American Values and the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, cohabitation has increased 14-fold since 1970."

Read the Article | And read at

Cohabitation, not divorce, now top marriage threat

David Blankenhorn, Sr., Jackson Clarion Ledger, August 26, 2011

"This third edition of Why Marriage Matters makes the case that many cohabiting Americans are starting an 'intimate' relationship rather than a 'committed' one."

Read the Article

Study: Cohabitation more harmful than divorce

Mark Pattison, National Catholic Reporter, August 25, 2011

"'Family instability continues to increase for the nation's children overall, mainly because more than 40 percent of American children will now spend time in a cohabiting household,' according to the study, 'Why Marriage Matters,' issued Aug. 16 by the Center for American Families at the Institute for American Values."

Read the Article | And read here at

First in Print: Cohabitaton--Largest Threat to Children

Mike McManus, The Daily Reporter, August 29, 2011

"The Institute for American Values issued a landmark report, 'Why Marriage Matters, Third Edition' which states: 'The rise of cohabitation is the largest unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children's family lives.'"

Read the Article

In our work on the future of parenthood:

Barn är ingen mänsklig rättighet

Anna Lagerblad, Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden daily paper), August 29, 2011

"'To protect their own feelings, parents often turn a blind eye to the difficulties that donor children can experience,' says blogger and founder Alana S., whose story was featured on the front page of one of Sweden's major daily newspapers."

Read the Article | And read a note about the article by Alana S. at

Tell kids early, says report on sperm donation

Michael Cook, BioEdge, August 12, 2011

"A well-publicised report last year from the Institute for American Values found that 'young adults conceived through sperm donation are hurting more.'"

Read the Article

Other media attention to our marriage and family work includes:

Divorce reform could save billions in government aid

Cheryl Wetzstein, Washington Times, August 15, 2011

"Even a 'modest reduction' in the U.S. divorce rate likely would benefit 400,000 children and save taxpayers significant sums, wrote retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice [and Institute board member and senior fellow] Leah Ward Sears and University of Minnesota professor [and Institute partner] William J. Doherty, proponents of a new 'Second Chances' divorce reform."

Read the Article

Yount: A call to save marriage in America

David Yount, The Republic, July 27, 2011

"Last December, the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values noted that marriage is disappearing among middle-class Americans. A majority (60 percent) of first marriages happen after couples first live together. Three of every five unmarried couples have children."

Read the Article

Money, Education, and Marriage: The New Relationship

Voice of America, August 14, 2011

"[Institute senior fellow] Brad Wilcox is a sociology professor at the University of Virginia and head of a pro-marriage group, the National Marriage Project."

Read the Article


Family Happiness and the Overbooked Child

Alina Tugend, New York Times, August 12, 2011

"'Parents can say no to material things, but it's very hard to do that for what we call [enrichment] opportunities,' said Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, director of the John Templeton Center for Thrift and Generosity at the nonprofit Institute for American Values. . . 'Kids have to understand there are limits to what a parent can do for them, but it's very, very difficult to say, "I'm sorry, we can't afford it,"' she added."

Read the Article | And read at the Gainesville Sun and the Times of India

Government push to expand gambling is a bad bet for Americans, August 1, 2011

"The new website,, launched by the Institute for American Values, sheds light on the numerousand significant social ills caused by the partnership of governments with legalized gambling. Contrary to what elected officials would have citizens believe, state-sponsored gambling is bad public policy that costs all taxpayers."

Read the Article

Starved Budgets Inspire New Look at Web Gambling

Matt Richtel, New York Times, August 13, 2011

"'It's a business model built on addiction and indebtedness,' said Les Bernal, [Institute partner and] executive director of the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation."

Read the Article | And read at Herald Tribune and

Congress may OK online gambling

Josh Kosman, New York Post, August 16, 2011

"Les Bernal, [Institute partner and] executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling, said, 'This is a government policy that shrinks the middle class and pushes people in deeper debt at a time the government should be encouraging people to save more money.'"

Read the Article

Gambling projections for Massachusetts no sure bet

Stephanie Ebbert and Casey Ross, Boston Globe, August 27, 2011

"'No matter where you look across America, the government policy to expand gambling has failed to deliver on its revenue promises and its job promises,' said Les Bernal, [Institute partner and] executive director of the national group Stop Predatory Gambling."

Read the Article

Gov. Patrick OK's racing simulcast bill

Boston Herald, July 29, 2011

"Les Bernal of the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation [and Institute partner] is trying to direct viewers to a 60 Minutes segment set to re-air Sunday night on industry efforts to ensure slots are addictive products."

Read the Article

Business Digest for Aug. 2

Daily News staff, Milford Daily News, August 2, 2011

"The Davlin Philanthropic Fund, the first mutual fund to allow investors to direct charitable contributions from advisory fees, has announced that philanthropic author and historian [and Institute senior fellow] Claire Gaudiani of New York has been elected a board director of The Davlin Foundation in Wayland. Gaudiani is currently adjunct professor of philanthropy at the Wagner School of Public Service of New York University and chairwoman of Gaudiani Associates."

Read the Article

Ben Franklin's advice in 1782 about America revealing

David Blankenhorn, Sr., Jackson Clarion Ledger, August 12, 2011

"Franklin's 1782 advice to those who want to succeed was sound in 1782, and is so in 2011."

Read the Article

Parx officials tell state of child-abandonment deterrents

Suzette Parmley, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 18, 2011

"'Child neglect is a classic symptom of gambling addiction,' said Philadelphia attorney Paul Boni, a board member of the national [and Institute partner] Stop Predatory Gambling."

Read the Article

Gaming board gives Parx an earful about unsupervised kids

Suzette Parmley, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 19, 2011

"According to the national group [and Institute partner] Stop Predatory Gambling, outside Pennsylvania there have been five cases nationally since 2000 in which parents in Rhode Island, Oregon, Georgia, and Minnesota were arrested for leaving children in vehicles while the adults gambled."

Read the Article


September 30, 2011, "Three Views of Oman," St. Antony's College, Oxford, England

Please join us for the opening of a photography exhibit about society and religion in Oman, 1945-2006. The exhibit is curated by Institute Executive Vice President Raina Sacks Blankenhorn. Photographs are by Wilfred Thesinger, Charles Butt, and Edward Grazda.

View the Details


Upcoming conversations at our Center for Public Conversation:

September 22, 2011, "Our Call to Civil Society" New York, NY

A Conversation with Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spellman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, Divinity School, University of Chicago, hosted by David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values. Please join us for a wide-ranging and riveting discussion on the state of American political life and culture with Professor Elshtain, one of the nation's most prominent public intellectuals and whose body of critical thought has shaped elite opinion for a quarter of a century.

View the Details

September 26, 2011, "Is Marriage for White People? How the Decline of African American Marriage Affects Everyone" New York, NY

A Conversation with Ralph Richard Banks, Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Author, Is Marriage for White People? How the Decline of African American Marriage Affects Everyone, hosted by Leah Ward Sears, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice (retired). Based on his social science research, Professor Banks looks at the intimate lives of African American women and examines why they are not getting married and are the least likely to marry of any segment of the American population.

View the Details

See the most recent conversation held at our Center for Public Conversation:

Why Marriage Matters: An Argument for the Goods of Marriage

A Conversation with Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values; Amy L. Wax, Robert Mundheim Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School; and W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, University of Virginia and chair of the team of scholars that authored the third edition of Why Marriage Matters; hosted by Jonathan Rauch, guest scholar at the Brookings Institution.

Watch Here


September 26, 2011, "The Ring Makes the Difference" Poughkeepsie, New York

Elizabeth Marquardt, director Center for Marriage and Families; Institute senior fellow and National Marriage Project director W. Bradford Wilcox; New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan; and Bruderhof Church Community senior pastor Johann Christoph Arnold discuss family and marriage.

View the Details


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