Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Monday, May 9, 2011

I agree with Heather Mallick

Let me sit down and catch my breath for a minute here, I'm not used to such stunning inversions of the known universe.

However, as I tend to criticize her quite freely on most occasions, I think it only fair to give Mrs. Mallick her just due when she writes something that exudes a rare streak of common sense. And I promise this is entirely sincere and non-satirical. (Although that's not going to stop me from calling her Mrs. instead of Ms.)

She has written a blistering article about William Melchert-Dinkel, the nurse who persuaded several people to commit suicide, including Nadia Kajouji, a young Ontario woman. Or to be more precise, she wrote a blistering article about the idiot, out-of-touch judge who had the nerve to sentence the man to a grand total of a year in prison. Melchert-Dinkel admits to conning seven people into their deaths, five of them shrouded in anonymity, apparently he isn't telling the authorities who they were.

The man is sick. He is twisted, broken and evil. He should be spending at least the 15 years in prison that the prosecuters asked for, if not more. Oh, to make it all better, he will be spending the birthdays of his two victims whose names we know in jail for the next ten years. Before he goes off and plays another round of golf or lectures in the nearest school on the dangers of the internet.

But Mallick says it better than I could:

"In fact, Melchert-Dinkel had found a fresh new way to murder, far beyond the ken of a 61-year-old rural judge. To understand this killer, the judge had to grasp the dark side of online anonymity, instant messaging and complete unfettered freedom, how words are like loaded guns appearing on a screen.

Depressed people live in a personal blackness soaked with anxiety and despair. They are limp. They don’t have the strength to be suspicious or even alert...

Depression isn’t new. Melchert-Dinkel’s murder weapon is.

He didn’t hold Nadia underwater with his hands, he did it with his typing fingers. One crime would easily earn a 15-year sentence, the other gives the killer a year in jail and a pointless probation where the killer can still use the Internet for work and may speak to groups about the dangers of the online world. The mind reels. Imagine Melchert-Dinkel coming to your child’s high school.

The judge still lives in a world where blood drips from the knife the accused threw in a dumpster and arsenic dregs still sit in the coffee cup. Online is different....

The sentence is a travesty and should be appealed. Far from sending a warning to Internet predators, it encourages them. Melchert-Dinkel has been killing from a distance since he first got his monstrous hands on a computer. He’s laughing now"
 Justice - Not Served

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Institute for Marriage and Family Canada Conference Blog

Welcome to the event blog for the Institute for Marriage and Family Canada Policy Conference 2011, "Transforming the Way Canadians Think About Family".

Held at the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa, the event presents research on the state of marriage and the family, in Canada and around the world. The crowd was somewhat smaller this year than last, but the speakers remained excellent and the material fascinating. So without further ado, I bring you Dave Quist, Executive Director of the IMFC opening the event.

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Dave Quist took the opportunity to introduce the theme of the conference, "Transforming the Way Canadians Think About the Family" and the purpose of the conference, which was to consider the best way forward for Canadian families.

Following this there were various housekeeping announcements, and introductions to the speakers of the day, Jonas Himmelstand, Greg Fleming, Brad Wilcox, and Mark Regnerus (Bios here He also noted the various websites owned by the IMFC, and, their archives containing over 4000 research articles.

He noted the variety of people in the room, coming from many different backgrounds and professions, and that while we all have challenges before us, collectively we can address these issues.

IMFC Research by Peter Jon Mitchell

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Peter Jon Mitchell took the floor next to present a research report on adoption and foster care in Canada.

It is estimated that 30,000 children in Canada are awaiting adoption, however only 8% will be adopted this year. Canada can do better than this.

There are many roadblocks to adoption in Canada, Indeed the adoption system is much like a tangle of extension cords in your garage, messy and difficult to figure out. Part of what IMFC does is to try to untangle this mess.

He looked at the outcomes for kids in foster care and adoption. Do adopted children have better outcomes? Largely, yes. However there are difficulties in researching the issue as there are many variable and the systems are quite different.

There are few studies on long term foster care, however a few considerations may be put forward.

In terms of a child’s sense of belonging and attachment to caregivers, children who are adopted early, children who are adopted by their foster parents, and children who have contact with their biological parents have more healthy relationships. In contrast, those who do not have contact with their biological parents, and who were raised in institutions have worse outcomes. Foster children have an increased probability of poor results, for example poor educational outcomes, more homelessness, etc.

What are the predictors of adoption?
Age - The older the child, the harder it is to find adoptive parents.
Disabilities - this likely plays a role, but may be overstated as many adoptive parents are willing to adopt children with disabilities.
A Child’s Personal and Family History - the more troubled the child’s past and family the more difficult it may be to find adoptive parents.

He attended a Parliamentary Committee which was looking at adoption. One of the witnesses before the committee was a Mother who adopted her son. The adoption process was very arduous, and very invasive. Even after it was complete, it was a very long journey, as they struggled to love a very difficult boy who was causing many problems in the family. By the time she was done speaking, there was not a dry eye in the room. The experts in adoption are the families which are living through it, as researchers, we need to tap into that expertise.

IMFC "Marital Mindsets, Current Realities, and Possible Futures"

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

The first keynote speech was by Mark Regnerus on the subject of Marital Mindsets, Current Realities, and Possible Futures. The primary topic was discussing how “emerging adults", in their late teens and early twenties think about marriage and intimate relationships.

Many people assume that what young people want is to “hook up”, however it seems that 90-95% of emerging adults actually want to get married.

Just… not now.

There has been a slow increase in the age of marriage to 26 for women and 28 for men in the United States. Inevitably, this has lead to a change in the purpose of dating. Most dating relationships do not end in cohabitation or marriage. However, many of these emerging adults do want to get married right now, 20-30% of single young people and 40-50% of young people who are cohabitating (percentage depends on gender. Women are more eager to get married than men, although men tend to appreciate marriage more once they are married).

Why don’t they get married then?

For one thing there is the attitude that if most of their peers are cohabiting, then it must be the right thing to do.

In Canada the median age of marriage is even older, 27 for women and 29 for men. Will this continue going up? Not indefinitely, the average age of first marriage probably has a ceiling.

What about those who have never married?

In 1970, 35.8% of men and 54.7% of women age 20-24 had never been married. In 2010 the numbers were 88.7% and 79.3%. For those 25-29, the percentage was 10.5% of men, and 19.1% of women. In 2010 it was 62.2% of men and 47.8% of women. In delaying marriage people are ignoring fertility, which peaks before 29. Indeed, many people, at least partly due to the pill, are very ignorant of and out of touch with issues of fertility.

There has been a dramatic drop in marriages per 1000 unmarried women from 2000-2004. People are not just getting married later however, as the rates are dropping at every age, not just younger ages. There is a flight from marriage.

Why are people getting married later? Some of the issues are economic and structural, others are cultural.

Economic and structural issues,

Children are no longer producers, they are consumers, they just cost money. (However this does not explain why marriage rate did not decline in the earlier part of the 20th century, as children have been consumers not producers for a long time now)

Increased educational and employment opportunities for women.

The low cost of sex. In many ways this is an exchange between men and women, and in the past men have had to “pay” much more in terms of demonstrating commitment and earning power to get it. These days, they do not have to pay much.

The high cost of living in metro areas, where young people prefer to live. Would affordable housing increase the marriage rates? Likely not, however.

Cultural issues.

Religious people are more likely to marry, but on the other hand they also want to go to college, etc.

Motivations for delaying marriage are couched in cultural narratives. Emerging adults hold marriage in high regard. However they see it as a trade, you will only give up the freedom of single-hood, if you get something better in return. In the past there were less perks to being single that they had to trade for marriage.

They receive little help in preparing them for marriage, home economics for example, has been largely dropped, so that they do not know how to do basic things like balance a chequebook that would prepare them for marriage. They have also no help in understanding their early relationships.

The cultural stories that encourage later marriage.

There is no rush. If you believe that you are likely to stay married to one person for the rest of your life, many people (especially men) feel that there is no rush to get into that.

Be your own person. Emerging adults want to experiment, to “find out who they are”. Marriage is like a full time job, it would interfere with their life. One young woman was quoted talking about how the main thing is to make sure you are your own person. You don’t know who you will be in 10 years if you get married young, you could be a different person.

Lots of young people think they don’t know who they are or what they want, so they use dating to find out what they like.

Another reason people give for delaying marriage is that they believe it is “too soon” to have children. For middle-class emerging adults marriage=children, indeed there is an almost pre-contraception mentality that the two are a package deal. Again, this doesn’t take peak fertility into account.

Many believe that the 20s are the time to travel. It is unclear why this would be prevented by marriage, indeed in his experience marriage, and the combining of resources, actually opens up the possibility of travel. But this is part of the freedom narrative.

Parental resistance is another issue. Parents warn their children that marriage is hard work. They discourage marriage by financially assisting their single, but not their married, children. If mothers want their daughters to delay marriage, this has a significant impact on the age at which their daughters marry.

Another reason is the belief that you must find sexual chemistry, and that this will be an instantaneous thing that cannot improve. In reality, such things take time and communication. That is why they believe that abstinence before marriage is foolish, and a risk factor for divorce. In reality, the more pre-marital partners a women has, the less chance they have of getting married.

These cultural narratives discourage early marriage, but are not in line with the data.

Emerging adults esteem marriage, but they have lost confidence and trust in it as an institution. For example, 60% of children born to mothers 24-29 are born to unmarried women. It also seems that those who need the benefits of marriage the most, those who are poor or less educated, are the least likely to get married.

Marriage is not disappearing. It is getting deinstitutionalized. People want the kind of things that destabilize marriage, but the unintended consequences are high.

Emerging adults believe that marriage is a “story” that belongs to the late 20s and 30s.

There are two ways of viewing marriage, there are those who are marriage naturalists - you become an adult when you get married, and marriage is a natural progression in life. Marriage planners believe that you get married when you have become an adult, marriage is something you plan into your life.

It seems that people love choices, but hate choosing.

A strong predictor of early marriage for men is their level of interest in religion. This does not seem to be the case for women.

In the past people were channeled into marriage by many institutions, now it seems that the only the church is channeling them towards marriage.

What will happen in the future?

Average age at first marriage will hit a ceiling. However marriage rates (and with them divorce rates) will decline. The price of sex seems to have stabilized at a a low rate. The number of stay-at-home dads will quickly hit a ceiling. As fertility declines inter-generational relationships will grow more difficult as the gap between grandparents and grandchildren widen.

Will cultural conservatives win out by having lots of children? Probably not, there are many cultural pressures that discourage this, and most people are eventually pragmatists.

There is a moral hazard, as independence from marriage is seen as a right, which the government must support.

Question 1: Do you think the wedding of Prince William and Kate, and the excellent sermon given at that marriage, is likely to have any influence?

Answer 1: Not optimistic that it will have any long run affect on marriage.

Question 2: On the comments that inter-generational relationships will suffer. Has four children, only one is married. Is worried that we have lost the sense of the sacrament of marriage. How can they encourage their cohabiting children to marry? Should they withdraw financial support?

Answer 2: Sounds like questioner is a marriage naturalists, yet somehow that generation has given birth to marriage planners. Talking about sacramental aspect of marriage is a foreign language for many. And with the low price of sex due to the pill, why marry? You can have all the benefits of marriage without actually getting married. Women like the idea of marriage. Men are already getting the benefits of marriage without the costs.  Withdrawing financial support may help to channel them towards marriage.

Question 3: Why do you think the number of stay-at-home dads will peak?

Answer 3: Doesn’t think that men on average feel like being stay at home dads. Stay-at-home dads are more likely to be between jobs or underemployed, it is not the plan, it is an interim situation.

Question 4: Is a pediatrician and mother of two young children. He doesn’t address issue of helicopter parent phenomena. But it would be related. Children are still attached to their parents at older ages, so they feel like they cannot marry because they are not their own person yet.

Answer 4: That makes a good deal of sense. It is also connected to the issue of fewer children, parents focus more on the few children and expect more from them.

Question 5: The percentage of men who remain unmarried has gone up much more than the percentage of women at the same age. Who are the women marrying?

Answer 5: Men are marriageable later, and there tends to be an age gap between men and their wives. So you can’t just look across the chart, as older men are marrying the younger women.

One last thing to note, is that emerging adults begin cohabiting today at the same age as they would have gotten married in earlier years.

IMFC Research by Andrea Mrozek

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Andrea Mrozek, presenting research on Canada’s Top Family Friendly Cities.

They studied 33 metropolitan areas in five categories.

Community Feel - kilometres of bike paths, charitable giving, crime, number of community centres, parks.

Educational Choice - Options and funding for private/public/charter schooling.

Economic Strength - unemployment rate, taxes, transfers (more means less healthy economy)

Cost of Living - Consumer Price Index, rent, gasoline, % home ownership, mortgage costs

Family Independence - % of each family type, two parent, single parent, etc., seniors living with family rather than in homes.

The top marks went to:

Calgary AB
Edmonton AB
Guelph ON
Kitchener ON
Vancouver B.C.

The bottom marks went to

Saguenay QC
Saint John NB
St. John’s Newfoundland
Trois Riviers QC
Thunder Bay ON

Ottawa received a B+.

However, all Canadian cities did quite well on an international comparison level, the lowest mark was a C.

IMFC "Busting the myths of Swedish Family Policy"

 Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

The second keynote speaker was Jonas Himmelstrand from Sweden, who spoke on the Swedish family model.

Swedish family policies were implemented in 1975. At that time 10% of children were in daycare, today it is over 90%.

Selective statistics can be chosen to paint a beautiful picture of the affects of this policy, but if you look at the reality of life in Sweden, the picture is more alarming. As a management consultant he began to see problems, but didn’t know why. He was on the political left, but then he grew up, had a family, and started a business. His conclusions are also not religiously motivated, Sweden is a very secular country.

In 2000 he went into a school to give some lectures, and was quite surprised by the comments he heard from the Head Master and teachers about the terrible decline in the mental health of children. Sick leave absences are also very high in Sweden, it raises the question, why are so many sick in such a wealthy country? Women would tell them how painful it was to leave their children in daycare. So he started to study and write about these issues.

Positives in Sweden

Low infant mortality
Very high life expectancy
Relatively high birth rate
Low child poverty
Universal daycare
High levels of education spending
High level of income and gender equality
16 month parental leave

There are no babies in daycare in Sweden due to parental leave. However by 18 mo 92% of children are in daycare. This daycare is heavily subsidized, you will never pay more than $300 a month regardless of number of children or income, most pay more like $150. This costs the government about $20,000 a child per year. There are no national benefits for those who would stay home and look after their children however, and what is available is only available some places and is hard to use.

Because putting children in daycare and being a dual-earner family is seen as a very good thing, the government actively tries to make it almost impossible to be a one-earner family with high taxation. Staying at home is discouraged, and marginalized.

Home education is in effect illegal (He is a homeschooler however), only about 100 children in Sweden are homeschooled. Dominic Johannesson is an example, he was seized from his parents because of homeschooling, and the court said that since he missed daycare and the first year of school he has been harmed. As of July 1st, homeschooling will be illegal, although it is almost illegal now.

What were the envisioned family outcomes?
More equality
Better child social and academic development
Better school preparation
More adult life satisfaction
They had a “work policy” everyone should work full time to give them freedom.

Actual Outcomes
Strong decrease in the psychological health of youth (compared to comparable European countries). 30% of 15 year old girls have mental health issues. High levels of unemployment are found in the young as young men exhibit mental health issues by under-performing. It is ironic that mothers are being forced to work while the youth, who really need jobs, suffer unemployment.
Sweden went from top in the world in school performance 30 years ago to average today.
Classroom order is amongst the worst in Europe.
High rates of sick leave and early retirement among women. They are forced to work while children are young, and get burned out early from working two jobs.
Day care staff top sick leave stats.
Deteriorating parental abilities, even in the middle-class. Parents believe that the daycare workers are the experts and they lose their confidence in their ability to parent. They become activity coordinators not parents.
The quality of daycare is deteriorating. Cannot be said to be high quality anymore. 1/5 of daycares have more than 21 kids. For children under 3 group size is 10-17, 3-5 yrs it can be as large as 30. Child:Staff ratios are 5:1, 7:1, even 10:1. There is no regulation of group sizes or child:staff ratios.
Fertility rates are high compared to the rest of Europe, but low compared to other Nordic countries (which have home care allowances).
A very gender segregated labor force, women work in daycares, schools, and healthcare. Men are in the business world.

What explains these outcomes?

A lack of adult attachment when a child is young leave them with a low threshold for stress throughout their lives.
Large peer groups where children are “raising each other” encourage late maturation. Too much peer orientation leads to disinterest in learning, bullying, gangs, promiscuity.
There is a lot of stress on parents which leads to worse outcomes for them.

Political/Social Outcomes
There is little debate on these issues as there is so much guilt about leaving children etc.
Daycare is seen as a good part of normal life, every child has a right to daycare.
Housewives are bullied.
The very word “family" is politically incorrect.
Civil society is dying as the government takes over.
Child rearing becomes a matter of politics rather than an individual decision.

What do Swedes want?

60-80% want the ability to stay home with small children, up to the age of three or so at least.

Sweden’s family policies have negative effects and are not emotionally sustainable. We need to protect the parent’s right to choose. The institution of family needs support.

Q1: What is the state of homeschooling in Europe in general, and is it getting better or worse?

A1: Europe is not united on the issue. In Sweden it is very bad.

Q2: Why is the quality of daycare deteriorating.

A2: It is getting too expensive to maintain, and there are no regulations.

Q3: Canada’s figures on mental health are very poor, yet we do not have universal daycare. What other factors may come into play?

A3: In Sweden they don’t have many of the indicators such as child poverty that may explain many of North America’s problems.

Q4: What impacts on these statistics does widespread Muslim immigration cause? Is there a difference in outcomes?

A4: There is some trauma to be certain, from arriving in the country, or from the country they came from. But this goes way beyond immigration.

Q5: Noted that said undiagnosable mental illness on rise, what about diagnosable ones?

A5: They have also risen.

Q6: What is the next closest control country for use in comparing Swedish stats.

A6: Probably Denmark or Norway. But it is a very complex issue, and it is hard to find control groups for this sort of study.

Q7: If people want change, in a democratic country, why can’t they bring political change?

A7: One party does advocate for these issues, and gets about 5% of the vote. People believe that women will become “trapped” if they try to stay at home, so the government must prevent this. Politicians will say they are concerned about these issues but do nothing.

Q8: How do you homeschool if it is illegal?

A8: You get ready to flee the country immediately, and at any time, What they do is apply for permission to homeschool at the beginning of each school year. When this is turned down they continue to appeal it to higher and higher courts. By the time they have exhausted their appeals the school year is over. Then they repeat it the next year. They are hoping that the case may go higher yet, and that the European Convention on Human Rights will support their right to homeschool.

Q9: Could this issue be addressed through the harm to businesses of increased sick leave, early retirement?

A9: Connection isn’t made by businesses, and the government is just responding to the issue by trying to push even sick people back to work.

Q10: To what extent is this problem caused by feminists trying to impose their views on other women?

A10: 100% Feminism is very protected and celebrated in Sweden.

Q11: They seem to advertise that they have equality but don’t respect women’s choices.

A11: Women are respected, when they act like men. It is a problem.

IMFC Update

 Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Dave Quist gave an update on the Institute for Marriage and Family Conference.

This is their fifth family policy conference. Why do we do this, what effect does our work have?

Something that was different about this election was how much family policy was talked about. While we don’t take credit for all of that, we can say that we have helped to bring family policy issues to public attention.

Family policies that different parties were talking about in the election were:

Family income splitting
Child fitness tax credit
Money for childcare
Caregiver benefits for those taking care of the elderly
Maternity benefits
Help for Moms to give birth at home

IMFC staff did 80 different interviews over the past elections weeks, as the media has started talking about family policy issues too.

Why is there so much talk?

Family issues are very high profile (Just look at the number of advertisements aimed at families)

We understrand intrinsically that some types of families are better than others, our research investigates this and substantiates it.

Demographics are bringing in trends which cannot be ignored, as the population ages, costs go up, and the tax base shrinks.

For too long politicians have looked at social and fiscal matters as separate issues. However a family’s fiscal situation will affect the decisions they make, and through them the economy.

Fiscal policies tend to impact the short term, while social policies affect the long term.

Most people know that family is very important, they are the people who we depend on in a crisis, the people we first learn from as children.

The prominence of family issues in this election show that politicians are starting to get it. Now we can talk to them about the research results. We should be accountable for the research we do, but politicians should be accountable for what they do with that research.

IMFC goals for the next five years.

Put forward credible research on family and marriage in the following key areas:

Family and Education
Family and Demographics
Family and Finance
Family and Children
Family and Community
Family and Marriage

IMFC Research by Derek Miedema

 Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Derek Miedema presents research on "Public Education and Parental Choice” and Government Gambling and Broken Families

He studied enrolment and funding trends in schools. He found that enrolment in public schools is declining, yet funding is going up. In private schools, enrolment is actually going up, but they get no funding in Ontario. Kids in private schools save the government 1.1 billion dollars, but that money does not follow the children, and their parents are being made to pay for education twice, once through taxes and once through tuition.

He also studied how problem gambling harms families. Children are not harmed just financially by problem gambling, as grocery money is spent in the casino, they are also harmed emotionally as they realize that they take second place to the gambling. About 3% of people in Ontario are problem gamblers, but it is estimated that 12-25% of people may be affected by problem gambling, as a spouse, child, etc. The government has no real incentive to deal with those who have serious gambling issues, in Alberta for example, 80% of their gambling revenue comes from 10% of the population.

IMFC Gender in Parenting

 Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Brad Wilcox spoke on Gender in Parenting - Vive La Difference.

He opened by noting how he ends up traveling all over the world, and using elaborate social science to prove that Grandma was right.

In California, a court said in a decision that it was beyond a doubt that the gender of a child’s parents was irrelevant.

Jennifer Aniston spoke about how women don’t have to settle with a man to have a child anymore, they can use sperm donors.

However regardless of this “elite wisdom”, social science shows that being in a relationship with their biological parents is very important to children.

What do Mothers bring to Parenting?

- Lowers cancer rates for the Moms
- Is emotionally rewarding for the Mother
- Helps protect children from many maladies
- Helps cement biological foundations of Mother-Child bond

Understanding Children
- Are better at understanding physical language, emotions, infant cry types
- Reading non-verbal cues in infants and older children better than men

Communicating with Children
- Moms use more words
- They speak more precisely
- They are better at interpreting tones
- Remember conversations better

Biological reasons for this are; more cells in their left brain, a larger corpus callosum, and more dopamine in their language centre.

Nurturing Children
- Are better at interpreting children
- Are more emotionally attached to children

Biological reasons for this are; more estrogen and oxytocin. Young children tend to prefer Mom when they are in distress.

This all helps to explain why the role of motherhood is more strongly tied to childcare all over the world.

What do Fathers bring to Parenting?

Providing - Money matters for families
- After having children Dads work more and Moms work less.
- In the U.S. ⅔ of family income typically comes from the Father in married families.

- Fathers are better at discipline, as are more physically intimidating due to strength, size, toughness.
- More assertive, less willing to bend rules
- Especially good with teenage boys

Biological basis for this: Testosterone

- Fathers better at engaging their children in physical play
- Engage children in rough games
- Bring children excitement
- These promote social skills, self-control, teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses, how to regulate emotions.
- Kids who play with their Dad are more popular in school.

Challenge their Teens
- Encourage novel activities
- Encourage independence, fortitude, temperance, confidence
- Introduce children to the outside world

Loving their Mom
- Mothers who are happily married are better Mothers
- Boys are more likely to treat girls/women with respect if they see it modelled.
- Girls are more likely to expect to be treated respectfully if they see it modelled by their Father.

Negative effects when a Father is missing:

Teens in single mother homes are 2-3 times more likely to experience serious negative outcomes. That is not to say that single Mom’s can’t do a good job, he was raised by a single Mom, but generally speaking children do better in intact families.

Crime and Fatherless Boys

If boys never have a good relationship with male authority, to learn self discipline and self control, they can engage in self-compensatory masculinity, where they try to be extremely masculine and reject anything gentle or feminine.

Controlling for other variables, they are almost twice as likely to be in trouble.

Teenage Pregnancy and Dads

Dads protect daughters from teenage pregnancy by providing them with positive male attention, setting boundaries, etc. Fathers actually give off phonemes that delay puberty, sexual maturity in their daughters.

35% of girls who’s fathers left before they turned six will have a teenage pregnancy, 10% if the father left between the ages of 6-18, and 5% if Father stays with the family.

Sperm donor kids of single Moms are 2.46 times more likely to be in trouble with the law. 2.77 times more likely to engage in substance abuse.

The best evidence, biological, psychological, and sociological shows that men and women bring different talents to parenting. We should take advantage of these differences. Equity does not mean that both genders have to have the same duties.

We need to cast aside the “elite wisdom” for the wisdom of Grandma. This is not a religious claim, it is a human claim. Children do best in families with their married biological parents.

Q1: A bill is before Parliament to enshrine gender expression/identity in law. What is the best way to discuss this issue.

A1: We recognize that people don’t always conform to these patterns. At the same time, on average, these are the patterns for humans, for primates even. Science is on our side.

Q2: In courts the nurturing skills of Moms are used to argue that they are better parents, especially at early stages while Dads are more helpful later on. But should Dads be involved from early on?

A2: Moms have an advantage in the early years while Dads do play a bigger role later on. Unfortunately the breakdown of marriage means that we must often pick one parent, this is a great tragedy. Moms do more day to day nurturing, Dads are more distant, allow children more independence. These things need to be balanced. In a divorce, we need to make sure that Dad stays connected.

Q3: You did a study that the Family that Prays Together has positive outcomes for marriage. What is the impact of this on kids?

A3: Families that go to church, pray together, and share beliefs have more positive outcomes. However praying together was most connected to marital happiness. Haven’t done research on impact on children, but someone else did and reports that children do better when their parents go to church together.

Q4: Are there data differences between western and more traditional countries?

A4: There seems to be a trend that some countries have low fertility and strong marriages, while other countries have high fertility (at least near replacement) and weak marriages. No developed countries are strong in both categories.

Q5: Has the court decision that says a parent’s gender has no impact on children been challenged?

A5: It is being appealed

Q6: Are homosexual families similar to single parents in outcomes

A6: That is the $100,000 question. Many same gender households do a division, where one parent is more masculine and the other more feminine. However studies are not very rigorous so far.

Q7: Would assume that you were in favour of government support for one-income families, do you know of any movements that support this?

A7: Don’t really know of movements like that. Most Mothers want to either stay home with young children or work part-time when their children are young. One-income isn’t the only option.

Q8: Are there studies on the roles of others in raising kids, like relatives, heroes, etc.

A8: That is certainly something worth studying. There have been some on the role of Grandmothers in helping out single moms, which isn’t that great as it can confuse children. However it is quite possible that the best thing fro children is to have not just an intact parental unit but also an extended family.

IMFC "The Kids are all Right... or are They?"

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Kelly Dean Schwartz spoke on the subject, “The Kids are All Right… or are They? Children’s Mental Health in Canada”.

He works in a clinic where his job is to deal with kids in crisis, look for what is wrong, and try to fix it. However, he is a social developmentalist at heart, his interest is in how children develop.

Psychology has retrenched into the medical model of individual child = individual sickness. We are better at analyzing what works, rather than what doesn’t.

The big picture on children’s mental health in Canada doesn’t look that good. Among 29 OECD countries, Canada ranks 21st in terms of child well-being including mental health.

80% of our children are doing well, very well. However, about 20% suffer from some type of developmental, emotional, or behavioural problem. This number is expected to increase by 50% by 2020. 10% have problems with aggressive behaviour. There are 300 children/youth suicides a year, 90% preceded by mental health issues. Our numbers have not decreased while other countrys’ have.

Girls suffer more anxiety and depression that boys. However, that still means that 87%+ are doing alright, so it is not that bleak a picture.

A new way of thinking about these issues is Positive Youth Development (PYD), which encourages thinking about strengths, rather than about deficits or illnesses when considering youth.

53% of children aged 12-15 report high levels of engagement with parents and school, (74% report high levels with school). 80% of 12-17 year olds are highly connected to peers, and 73% volunteer.

We need to remember however that not all that is well now will end well. Only 56% of children show positive development consistently, while 13% show consistent vulnerability. The other 30% move back and forth, about 15% moving from not vulnerable to vulnerable and about 15% moving from vulnerable to not vulnerable. Therefore we also need to engage with children who are not currently at risk, as they may become at risk.

Where does that leave us?

We should focus on asset-based mental health services for all children, not just remedial intervention for at risk kids. Cuts in funding for school psychologists is very discouraging, as it shows a lack of value for mental health services.

We need to focus on development and prevention.

Q1: Is there a gender gap in suicides?

A1: Yes. There is not much of a gap in suicidal thoughts/attempts, however males are more likely to complete suicides. Females inflict more self-harm if suicide fails. There is about a 20-25% gender difference in completed suicides, although it is hard to pin down the number exactly as the methods men use to commit suicide, like car accidents, can be mistaken for accidents.

Q2: What impact do parenting styles have?

A2: Families which have high expectations but also high involvement with their children do the best. However there is no one size fits all parenting approach, as parenting styles can vary even within a family for different children with different needs.

Q3: Has attendance at church been looked at?

A3: The spiritual component of mental health issues is very important, and it is very helpful when families address spiritual needs.

IMFC "Free to Choose"

 Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Greg Fleming spoke on “Free to Choose: The Consequences of the atomized individual in New Zealand”

New Zealand is often at the forefront of change. He is going to particularly address the decriminalization of prostitution in NZ and the criminalization of spanking.

The notion of the free and isolated individual as the foundation of society, rather than the family, is deeply imbedded in the NZ psyche. We see the image of a liberated unrestrained individual forming their own truth.

One way to measure the soul of society is to watch their advertisements. (Shows advertisement for university which emphasizes that our world now has no boundaries, no traditions, no one path. Everything is fluid. If we understand these things than the world is infinite. A second ad for telecommunications talks about all the choices we have today, we can have a virtual second life, men can stay at home while women work.)

He experienced the slant our system has towards divorce when his sister was going through a rough patch in her marriage. She had a great deal of support, but one day she took the advice of a friend and went to government social services, who told her that they would give her enough money to start a new life so that she could find happiness. There was no material, no resources in the office on how to keep a marriage together, only on how to get divorced. She found that their family could make more money if her husband moved out. He did, and at first he visited, but eventually the separation became permanent.

They view marriage merely as a product to be consumed. However social science shows that it is actually very important.

Our views of the world really shape the way we view evidence, he was on a show once and a professor in all seriousness said that the professor’s research showed that family form had no affect on children.

There is very little reliable information on legalized prostitution, it is really too soon to see the full affects. However there is some anecdotal evidence and polling.

Prior to the change in law prostitution was illegal but readily available. Police would use their discretion as to when to prosecute. Some people, who didn’t necessarily support prostitution, believed that things would be better if prostitution was legalized because it would be regulated and would be able to protect vulnerable participants. Others believed that prostitution is good and healthy, and that criminalizing it is what is responsible for any negatives in the trade.

The issue that really needs to addressed in the prostitution debate is one one of fundamental worldview. However it was not worldview or facts that decided the legalization of prostitution in NZ, but an emotional speech from a former prostitute.

In practice legalization has tied the hands of local authorities in containing or addressing issues with the trade. One big issue is the location of prostitution, many people object to its incursion into the suburbs.

Police report that there are now more under-age workers, more street workers, more gang activity than before.

Polls were done, and show that 66% of people want to ban it in residential areas, while 50% (64% of men) want to ban street prostitution.

There are two assumptions that were made in the legalization of the trade.

1. That women were freely choosing the trade.

2. That there were no negative external effects from the trade.

Both are wrong.

Legalization legitimizes something. We say that choice has the prime place in society, and yet the government has no trouble restricting choice when it comes to smoking.

Either way, laws are not the answer. The only real answer is community based help for these women, to get them off the street and off drugs.

The criminalization of spanking.

NZ had a bad history of child abuse. However the MP who sponsored the bill, did so because she saw no difference between children (mini-adults) and adults. And therefore if it would be assault to do something to an adult, it should be assault to do it to a child. Children are just another oppressed class to be liberated.

There were also calls for lowering the age of consent and the voting age.

In the past, children were seen as part of a family, innocents in need of protection. Now they are seen to have rights like adults, and need to be emancipated from parents and their support structure.

Assault is defined as the use of force, or the threat of the use of force. In this case, even punishments like timeout could become illegal if you need to restrain the child using force.

Formally minor correction (like a light smack) was legal. Currently it is not, but police have discretion in prosecution.

There was a referendum on the issue and 87% of voters supported the decriminalization of spanking. However the referendum was not binding and was ignored.

Parents now report feeling less confident, and 32% say their child has threatened to report the parents to the authorities if they are spanked.

However there is hope in NZ. There has been positive progress in devolving social services to the community level. The Maori have had a very positive influence, they have not been affected by the notion of the supremacy of the individual, but still hold family in very high regard. As their culture is greatly respected, some progress may be made there.

The story of individual supremacy is unraveling, and he has real hope that in 20 years New Zealand may be a model for Canada, rather than a warning.

Q1: What is some positive news?

A1: That there are ceilings on many of these statistics which NZ has probably hit.

Q2: How is the anti-spanking law working, are the police using discretion?

A2: About 300 people have been charged under the law, 30 have gone to court, and 6 have been sentenced. The biggest impact of the law has been on parental confidence and clarity on what their rights and duties as parents are.

Q3: How do parents, such as Christian parents in particular, deal with that?

A3: Isn’t sure that spanking is really necessary. But parents do need physically authority. Basically there aren’t enough police to prosecute everyone, so his advice to parents is just keep doing what you were doing.

Q4: Police are allowed to lay charges unless it is in the public interest not to. Shouldn’t Parliament be deciding on the public interest?

A4: Yes they should be. The court ultimately decides public interest in these cases. But it does leave too much discretion, too much decision making in the hands of the police. The problem is that it is harrowing to be investigated, whether or not you are finally convicted.

Q5: What forces do you think will change things?

A5: Strategic planning, it is a small country, things change fast.

Q6: Did they end up changing the age of consent?

A6: No.

And that mostly wraps up the IMFC conference. It was a great day and if you weren't there, you should have been. I believe I heard something about audio/video of the conference being available later on, you may want to check out the website in the coming weeks for that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


And the Conservatives have swept to a...... Majority of 167! Cue fireworks.

The Bloc has been decimated, worse than decimated. They dropped from 49 seats to a humiliating 4, and lost official party status.

The NDP have swept into the Official Opposition position with 102 seats, more than triple their previous mediocre position of 29.

In a campaign that reminds me of the cartoons where someone runs off the side of a cliff, does a stationary bicycle routine in thin air for a minute, and then plummets to the depths, the Liberals went into something like free-fall from 103 seats to a third place 34. Only, unlike in the cartoons, the Liberals do not appear to have survived the fall without a scratch.

In some of the most dramatic news of the evening, Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe couldn't even win seats in their own ridings. Ignatieff lost to a Conservative, swept away in the flood that crumbled Fortress Toronto where the Conservatives picked up 32 out of 47 seats by one estimate. Up from their previous low number of absolutely none. Gilles Duceppe lost to an NDPer, by good fortune not the one who went holidaying in Los Vegas during the campaign.

Pundits learned that they didn't know as much about Canadian politics as they thought they did, and pollsters learned that they can be quite wrong, very few polls put the Conservatives as high or higher than they actually performed.

And Cheryl Gallant's "controversial comments" did not sink her victory in our riding, unless you consider a lead of around 17,851 votes over the next candidate (an independent) to be a close win. And for a certain relative of mine who shall remain nameless but knows who he is, the Blue Guy in your riding won by a margin of around, 25,251 votes.

In other news, I would like to uncharitably dig up an article Heather Mallick wrote on the subject of what if Harper get a majority.
Old-tyme religion will reign, and our spiritual leader will be Harper's favourite evangelical, Charles McVety... I used to decry the concept of tenure, suspecting it made professors coast in class, but now I see it as a fence standing between us and the intellectually primitive. In Harperland, your students would turn you in for Wrongspeak and you would lose your job...
Guns on the street, gated communities, rampant drug use, unlimited anonymous corporate political donations, no government safety standards for food and medicine, classrooms that resemble holding pens more than civilized safe rooms for the young to learn . . .Individuals would be in trouble.... The Conservative hate machine will swivel toward you like a Dalek and advance. You're doomed. A Harper majority government wouldn't just lash out generally. It would hunt down its enemies.
Fear these people. Don't get sick. Don't grow old. Don't have children. Make yourself invulnerable.

I suspect the Toronto Star columnists, if they were gathered together in a huddled enclave watching the election results coming in, may have had their keys collectively taken away as a result of their pain mitigation techniques.