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Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Thursday, May 5, 2011

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.

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