CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Bernardi, Families, Sense and Nonsense

Jan 6, 2014

South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi is a conservative who is not afraid to share his convictions in the public arena. For daring to do so, he of course becomes the object of huge doses of hate, derision and intolerance – mainly by those who shout ‘tolerance’ the loudest of course.

He has just released a new book and predictably all hell is breaking loose. In the book The Conservative Revolution he courageously seeks to speak the truth. For example, he dares to speak against the slaughter of the unborn. He dares to be concerned about creeping sharia. He dares to want to see children protected by living with their own mother and father.

Every lefty secularist in the country by now has already called for his head on a platter. If crucifixion were still in, they would be calling for that as well. And as usual, some spineless wonders in his own party have been distancing themselves from him. But we expect all that.

Now I don’t happen to have a copy of his book as yet (hint, publisher!). But I know Cory and I know what he stands for so I can imagine pretty well the sort of stuff he says in his book. Let me look at just one area he has focused on: the importance of intact, two-parent families. He said in part:

“Given the increasing number of ‘non-traditional’ families, there is a temptation to equate all family structures as being equal or relative. Why then the levels of criminality among boys and promiscuity among girls who are brought up in single-parent families, more often than not headed by a single mother?

“What is missing in the push for human cloning, in vitro fertilisation and surrogacy, for example, is the understanding that children come into families as gifts, not commodities. It is perfectly reasonable and rational therefore for the state, if it is to have a role in social policy and the affairs of marriage, to reinforce and entrench those aspects of traditional marriage that work, not undermine them and promote ‘alternatives’ which have led to social chaos.”

As I say, when I get the book I will be able to better speak to all this, but there is nothing he is saying here that is not solidly buttressed by over fifty years of social science research. The evidence is perfectly clear: children do best when raised by their own biological parents, preferably cemented by marriage.

The data on this is simply overwhelming. Yet we already have all the usual suspects coming out and blasting him for this. For example, Labor’s Anthony Albanese said, “He says he’s pro-family, but he’s against any family that doesn’t resemble his depiction of what a family is.”

Um no, he is not against all sorts of families. Rather, he is for the one proven family structure that we know without a shadow of a doubt is the best thing we can ever offer to our children. Family structure really does matter, and children will do best when raised by their own biological parents. This is simple social science fact.

And yet we already have some unhelpful Christian feminists bashing Cory Bernardi for his quite correct comments on two-parent families. They quite wrongly claim he is attacking single mothers and is being antagonistic to single-parent families.

These foolish critics are absolutely missing the point here of course. It is not picking on single mums to state the very clear empirical facts that children raised in single parent homes do perform, generally speaking, worse by every social indicator.

Whether we talk about educational performance, likelihood of suicide, the risk of getting involved in drug use, criminal involvement, and so on, children in any other family structure, including single-parent families, are at much greater risk in these and other areas. The research here is just unmistakeable.

Indeed, that simply happens to be the clear findings of the international social science data from some five decades now. To point out these basic truths is of course not about attacking single mums. The truth is, as Cory and other social conservatives certainly recognise, single mums – or dads – of course need all the help they can get.

They are obviously dealing with a double load of responsibilities while having only half the resources. So all the pro-family organisations around have plenty of help and resources available for single parents and single families. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family is one such example.

So no one is bagging single parents here. They need our help. But the point that Cory, I and others are making is rather different. It has to do with public policy and the like. What are the ideal policies when it comes to families that governments should seek to implement here?

It is one thing to find yourself a single parent through no fault of your own (because of the desertion of a spouse, the death of a spouse, etc). It is quite another thing to deliberately become a single mum, and deprive kids of one of the two most important people in their lives.

If it is true that children thrive, generally speaking, in a married household with their own mother and father, then anyone who really loves children will seek to see that outcome replicated as much as possible. We should make it part of our social policy to encourage things so that as many children as possible are raised in this ideal environment – the “gold standard” as Bernardi calls the married, two-parent home.

So Christians especially should not foolishly shoot the messenger here. What Bernardi is saying is 100 per cent correct. Any household – whether homosexual, or one with live-in boyfriends, etc. – should be at the very least frowned upon and not encouraged, given the very real impact such structures have on the wellbeing of children.

Pointing these truths out is not being intolerant, hateful, or narrow-minded. It is called following the evidence where it leads, and putting the wellbeing and priority of children ahead of trendy social experiments and radical alternative lifestyles.

To repeat, the simple and vital point Cory Bernardi is trying to make here is that children have a fundamental right to be raised by two, married, biological parents as much as possible. This is being denied them in so many cases nowadays: homosexual households, deliberate single-parent households, blended families, live-ins, etc.

The truth is, from a public policy point of view, we should seek to so arrange things so as to have as many children as possible raised in intact two-parent homes, and discourage these alternative lifestyle homes which so often can disadvantage if not damage children in so many ways.

Cory is quite right to put the interests of children ahead of various activist minority groups and social engineering schemes. Let me conclude with three summaries of the evidence just mentioned. The first comes from Sara McLanahan (herself a single mother) and Gary Sandefur:

“We reject the claim that children raised by only one parent do just as well as children raised by both parents. We have been studying this question for ten years, and in our opinion the evidence is quite clear: Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of the parents’ race or educational background, regardless of whether the parents are married when the child is born, and regardless of whether the resident parent remarries.”

The second is from William Galston of the University of Maryland: “A substantial body of research suggests that family structure is an independent factor influencing the well-being of children. Even after correcting for variables such as family income, parental education, and prior family history, children from single-parent families tend on average to fare less well economically, educationally, and emotionally, and encounter more difficulties on the road to becoming self-sustaining adults.”

The third one comes from family expert Dr Paul Amato: “Research clearly demonstrates that children growing up with two continuously married parents are less likely than other children to experience a wide range of cognitive, emotional, and social problems, not only during childhood, but also in adulthood.”

So stop shooting the messenger already.

www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-06/cory-bernardi-says-pro-choice-is-pro-death/5183852

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33 Responses to Bernardi, Families, Sense and Nonsense

  • Staggering that Bernardi is saying the demonstrably true right and obvious. The opposite of which our society is laboriously dangerously expensively and in some areas he mentioned pursuing with clinical cruelty. Yet to raise these matters as he is, is utterly taboo. His detractors in today’s media have been totally ad hominem. I haven’t heard one serious point raised against Bernardi’s statements.

  • Sadly all too typical of the secular left Ian.

  • According the Rev Sharon Ferguson, you are plain wrong Bill. Lesbians make far better parents than either having a father and mother or two homosexual dads. You see, the scientific evidence clearly shows that having a mother is better than having a father and common sense tells us that having two mums gives children double the dose of love. In fact having a hundred mums would be awesome.

    As for these children being bullied, having to carry the can for their lesbian mums, well, all children have always had to suffer bullying of some sort, whether it was for being ginger haired, short, fat or too intelligent. It’s all part of the growing up process. However if it is gay children being bullied that is totally different thing. That will not be tolerated.

    Enjoy Bishop, nay, Saint Sharon Ferguson

    www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00bqcs2

    David Skinner UK

  • Hi Bill,

    FYI …Melinda Tankard-Reist also gave Cory a jet-blast of jackboot dogmatic rhetoric during an interview on Perth radio’s 6PR drive program today.

    She used all the usual leftist academic throw back clap trap from the seventies.

    Unfortunately though, for academic types like Melinda (et al) the truth just won’t go away.

    Also I see the senator as having more guts that all the Catholic Church’s leadership combined..b.ut the next few days will tell. I await a supportive comment from the Catholic bishops conference!

  • We all need to show support for Cory Bernadi doing nothing more than telling the truth. Truth and facts, unfortunately, are hateful to the agenda of the left unless they have been sufficiently manipulated and white washed.

    David – I did a double take on your post before I picked up those veiled hints of sarcasm!

  • Senator Bernardi’s recently published pronouncements on abortion arouse the righteous indignation of many who call their politics “progressive”. In the twilight years of Soviet Communism, abortion became the main form of family planning used in the USSR: In 1990, there were 6.46 million abortions and 4.85 million live births in the Soviet Union. Hitler’s unspeakably evil systematic culling of six million Jews took much longer than twelve short months in one nation’s life. What is “progress”?

  • Publication details for “The Conservative Revolution”:
    Publisher: Connor Court Publishing, P.O. Box 224W, Ballarat, Vic, 3350; Ph.03 5332 6205
    Email: [email protected]
    Price: $29.95 (postage free)

    A comment from Chris Kenny in the weekend Australian:
    “Islam is incompatible with our Western way of life; gay marriage will deliver children into dysfunctional and dangerous environments; climate change is a distraction; and employers ought to be allowed to strike any deal they like with individual workers – this is the conservative revolution that Liberal senator Cory Bernadi is about to promote, no doubt creating political embarrassment for his leader, Tony Abbott.”

    Official launch at Endeavour Forum’s 35th Birthday celebration, 31st Jan 2014. Stay tuned for details.

  • Great article. Demonstrates the gutter of the labor party (ie the Layba left) doesn’t grasp the concept of “nuance” as demonstrated by Anthony Albanese’s knee-jerk asinine simpleton comments on Bernardi’s work.

  • And Ian, did you hear the bellicose bombast from Albanese on TV last night, complaining about his “extreme views” and calling on Tony Abbott to rein him in and silence him? It made my blood boil!
    But that is the left for you: right is wrong, black is white, freezing is warming (the warmist lobby is now claiming that the extreme cold in North America right now is proof of warming! Talk about voodoo science!), and hate is love – love is hate.

  • I emailed my congratulations to Cory Bernardi for speaking the truth about the importance of marriage and his horror of the abortion rate in Australia.

    I noticed on the ABC blog that his detractors were just venting anti-Christian bigotry. None of them actually engaged with the substance of his claim that marriage is the gold standard for the rearing of children. It proves yet again that these people are incapable of rational thought; thy just emote.

  • Dear Bill, Thank you for the article about Cory Bernadi’s comments.

    I remember years ago how difficult it was when my husband had to work away for a short period and I had the experience of looking after my children on my own.It was very hard and I remember thinking how lonely and difficult life must have been for the thousands of women whose husbands were away fighting in World War 2. I realised how arduous it would be if I had to sustain the effort for years on end. I may not have been strong enough and the effort may have worn me down. My children missed their father terribly and the boys especially missed him and tried to take his place which was putting too much responsibility on them.However, I have a very handy husband who was a loving, wonderful father who always believed in doing his share both with the children and in the home so I can sympathise with women who don’t have that and are forced to take on the role of both mother and father.

    It should be acknowledged that this challenge is so formidable that not all women are strong enough.There are few super women and to say that all women [or men] can be super human is as ridiculous as saying that all marriages are perfect. Marriage is hard work and perseverance is necessary. However, rushing into divorce or single parenthood is not the answer. That makes life just as hard as it was in a bad marriage.

    Life should be easier with two to share the load. That is how God and nature intended it to be. The Holy family are a prime example. Where would the Blessed Mother have been as a single mother without Joseph? Single mothers might not get stoned these days but their lives are still harder than they need be with no one to share it with.

    Getting people to admit the simple Truth of this is not easy. No one wants to admit failure whether it is a failed marriage or children troubled and deprived because of it.However,they have to if we want to aspire to the ideal. No one questions athletes who strive to be the best so why should we not strive for the best for our children? ‘The Gold Standard’ as Cory puts it. Children living with their biological parents in a a happy marriage. Anything less might work to some extent but it is not the ideal.

  • Cory Bernardi
    Apart from the fact he is a true beacon of light
    and putting salt on their wounds, Day and night.
    I pray for him, this beam so bright.
    For his strength comes from outer sight.

  • With the ABC reporting that our Prime Minister is distancing himself from the content in Senator Bernardi’s book, I think it is worth while to contact both Mr Abbott and other members of parliament to show our support for Senator Bernardi. If they see that there are many supporting Senator Bernadi….

  • Just look at the ground swell of (surprising) support Phil Robertson is garnering in the US. Despite his courage to speak the truth on national television, he has inspired the sort of grass roots support that Christians and advocates for children and families probably didn’t know existed.

    We all need to speak out and support Cory. He is a courageous man.

  • What is Senator Bernardi’s email and PM Abbott’s email? They need emailing… especially since Tony doesn’t seem to distance himself from that loathsome Malcolm Turnbull’s comments constantly rubbishing Coalition policy!

  • Thanks for the info about the book. Given the negative review campaign on Amazon, probably by people who haven’t read the book, I can only assume it’s a good one, so it’s on my wish list.

  • Thanks Antony. We can reasonably assume that 98% of those folks slamming the book on amazon do not have it and have not read it. Just another case of the tolerance thugs in action again.

  • [email protected] is in my address list

  • I get information emails like “Our first 100 days” from the PM via
    Tony Abbott .

    I know it’s not personal, but it’s a start.

    There is also Web address: pm.gov.au to try (this I found at liberal.org.au).

    Both of these are party oriented, rather than official government focused, which is what we are after just now.

  • Bill, I notice that the “pm_gov_au” looks only at “pm_gov” as the link.

  • Having been raised in both a single parent home and then a step parent home, I can say that it sucked and I comsequently became a more emotionally insecure and defiant child and teenager. Only seeing my dad once every three weeks was awful and it left a massive hole in my life that, from necessity, I adapted to but it was never a food situation and far from the best option. I love my parents and they did a good job given the circumstances but many of these offended single parents attacking Bernardi need to claim responsibility for their failed marriages (and of course I am NOT refering to single parents who flee violence and abuse) rather than abdicating their responsibilities and claiming single parenting is great for kids. It isn’t. It merely does the job, and not always that, but it sure doesn’t do it as well as both biological parents together in unity – the highest standard. As a child impacted by divorce, I determined that as an adult I would not allow divorce to impact my children (by God’s grace it will not). My parents failure has pushed me to pursue the highest standard for my own marriage, just as failure in many areas of our lives should cause us to strive for better, not capitulate and insist that failure and success are equal and produce the same results. What olympian who came last would say they are proud because it is as good as a gold medal?! That’s logic is moronic! But then again, what culture would call evil good and good evil…a selfish, conceited, right-demanding, responsibility-abdicating culture would I suppose.

  • I’ve used this email successfully in the past:

    [email protected]

    Blessed New Year to Bill M & supporters.

  • Great article Bill.

    Tony Abbott’s email address, which I have used successfully in the past is:

    [email protected]

    Likewise, Cory Bernardi’s email Is:

    [email protected]

  • I agree Simon Fox, the point is, and this comes back to my point of lacking understanding nuance, is that single parenting and step-parenting (eg Electricity Bill) is accidental, mostly under unfortunate circumstances, and not desirable, whereas gay marriage is a deliberate creation, legislatively prescribed, of non-biological parenting and forceably denies the right of children to access their family medical and other important history.

  • Thanks again Bill. I felt that the ABC interviewer tried to paint Cory into the radical extremist corner and to ‘taint’ Mr Abbott and his government by association. I thought that Cory handled the questions with restraint and reasonableness, and stuck to his point which, to me, was to defend and reclaim for Australians the freedom to discuss these issues publicly. I also felt to write to Mr Abbott to express my fears that he will be pressurized to distance himself from Cory’s book, and to appeal to him to defend Cory’s right to express his views and to also be prepared to express his own appreciation of Cory’s passionate opposition to political correctness which stifles debate on many issues about which many Australians feel deeply. Incidentally, I thought it was worth mentioning, by way of contrast, the ABC’s failure to challenge Anthony Albanese’s outrageously unfair comments on the views Cory had expressed, which is typical of the ABC’s left wing bias and which has prompted many to suggest it should be privatized.

  • While most people pouring hatred and ugly contempt on Cory Bernardi have most likely not even read his new book, I have. Here is my review of his important volume:

    www.billmuehlenberg.com/2014/01/08/a-review-of-the-conservative-revolution-by-cory-bernardi/

  • This is the email address I used to contact our PM if any one is still struggling.
    www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm

  • NB The tony. [email protected] email address is now out of date due to change of govt. Sharon’s address www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm is the way to go. God bless

  • Seems to me most of the criticism/rejection is due to hypersensitive consciences, with objectors seeing personal criticism in generalisations.
    To offer a specific illustration; How many males have told a woman ‘I love you’ & then disowned the resultant pregnancy? This is NOT irrelevant.

  • Dear Bill, I have just written to the pm (thanks for the contact details, Lesley) to say how disappointed I am with his reaction to Cory’s book.
    I follow Cory’s blog, and I’m very impressed by his courage. God bless Cory!

  • Oops….thanks to Sharon for pm’s contact details!

  • As a blind person I know that my condition does not reflect the good way God made people with 2 working eyes, ears, legs etc. To say single parent families are normal is like saing blindness and lameness are normal. In our broken world these things happen, but to say they are normal is lowering the bar and robbing people of hope of better things too. Likewise, there are helps in place for people with a disability. However if people disable themselves on purpose, everyone would say that was wrong and so it would be. Creating and supporting the creation of single parent families on purpose is wrong. One of the few things I thought the Howard government got wrong was not to discriminate in favour of married women when they gave out the baby bonus.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

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