Politically Incorrect Thought of the Day

I once spent three years teaching in the room next door to a woman who, after we’d spent all that time sharing and discussing many of the same students, made a startling observation that, although it contradicted her own political beliefs, she said she could no longer deny. After yet another female student from a broken home had made huge mistakes due to her low self esteem, the other teacher said, “I’m going to lose my feminist credentials for this, but the fact is that girls need affirmation from men. All these sad girls we see wasting their lives are doing it because their fathers aren’t there for them. If girls don’t get attention and affection from their fathers, they’ll just go out and get it from some guy at school.”

Of course, there are also girls who ruin their lives with sex or drugs despite having great fathers, but she was right: the vast majority of girls with social, emotional, or academic problems got that way lamenting the lack of adequate attention from a male.  I suppose this is just one more example of the damage wrought by our easy divorce culture, but certainly one of the most tragic.  The correlation between a strong father-daughter relationship and her success is well established. Does this influence how much extra positive regard I try to give to my own girls at home? Yes it does.

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10 comments on “Politically Incorrect Thought of the Day

  1. From personal experience, your statement is SO true. I often think about all the time I wasted looking for love from the guys all around me in high school. All while putting my education on the back burner. It is so sad! Adam and I are now doing all we can to foster strong and loving relationship at home so that are children won’t feel the need to look elsewhere for it, especially between Adam and our daughter.

  2. I think the real issue is that children, both male and female, benefit from having both male and female parental examples in their lives, period. In circumstances where that isn’t available, it isn’t impossible to raise a child who is confident in themselves, but it is a lot more difficult. A major effort has to be made to provide positive and consistent female or male role models in cases where those are lacking. I’m not suggesting that can replace a parent, but there are situations where people have to adapt out of necessity.

    I think the broader issue is that kids, regardless of gender, suffer when both parents are not involved in raising them. You don’t have to look far to see similar behavioral patterns in males. For that matter, I have seen the same effects on both genders in situations where kids live in a two parent home, but the parents are largely self-absorbed and apathetic. Kids need parental feedback. Sadly, they will act in certain ways just to get that attention, even if it is negative attention.

  3. Just this week I was thinking how important it is to have parents who are engaged in their children’s lives.

    I have a homestudy seminary student who as yet has not completed a single lesson. Her mother is harassing me because she wants her daughter to graduate from seminary. However, she has no idea how much work her daughter has done. She never checks her daughter’s work. She didn’t even know that her daughter has no chance of graduating because she didn’t complete seminary her sophomore year.

    Dad’s no better. He had totally given up on this poor girl. When I told him that she hadn’t done any work, he merely shrugged his shoulders.

    This girl’s MO is to put it off, then at the last minute turn in marginal work and expect the seminary teachers to take pity on her and give her credit. Well, as we learned in seminary this year, mercy cannot rob justice.

    I feel for the parents. They want their daughter to have some sort of religious instruction. But they are putting it all on me.

    So, my thoughts this week were, that if these parents are as disengaged wrt to everything else as they are with seminary, it explains her out of control behavior. It explains her goth brother too. Is anyone goth any more?

  4. Thanks for the feedback, Heather, Lisa, Mom, and Floyd.

    Floyd, you feel for the parents, and I feel for you. I’ve also seen a lot of families lose children spiritually because they expected the Church to raise their kids, maybe because that’s how they were raised themselves and they think they turned out good enough. Church leaders have strenuously opposed that view, though I guess not enough of us are hearing it:

    “Do not make the Church the cornerstone of your hope for your children. In doing so, there would be much risk. You have the responsibility to teach them correct principles, with the Church assisting.” Elder Gene R. Cook, Raising Up A Family To The Lord, page 26.

    “I hope we will always remember that the Church is a support to the family. The Church does not and must not seek to displace the family, but is organized to help create and nurture righteous families as well as righteous individuals.” President Spencer W. Kimball, “Rendering Service To Others,” April 1981 General Conference

    “I think some parents may not understand that even when they feel secure in their own minds regarding matters of personal testimony, they can nevertheless make that faith too difficult for their children to detect. We can be reasonably active, meeting-going Latter-day Saints, but if we do not live lives of gospel integrity and convey to our children powerful heartfelt convictions regarding the truthfulness of the Restoration and the divine guidance of the Church from the First Vision to this very hour, then those children may, to our regret but not surprise, turn out not to be visibly active, meeting-going Latter-day Saints or sometimes anything close to it.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Prayer For The Children,” April 2003 General Conference

    And Mom, I agree with everything you said, but I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that we now know how especially important it is to a girl’s development to have a strong bond with her father. Here’s one quick example:

    “•For teenage girls, but not for boys, higher quality father-daughter relationships, but not mother-daughter relationships, tended to postpone sex­ual activity. This connection appeared to be explained by the observation that adolescent girls who have better relationships with their fathers also have fewer dating relationships, associate more guilt with having sex, and share more meals with their parents relative to peers who reported lower quality father-daughter rela­tionships.” –Research cited in this article at Heritage.org.

    A large body of research shows the same kind of thing.

  5. Thanks for the additional article for reference. I think if an equivalent study were done with boys, I still think the absence of a father would prove to be just as critical. :-)

  6. Having spent 350 hours in therapy over 3 1/2 years because of either not getting attention and getting the wrong kind when I did, I can say, that most child development experts second the observation that children need the parent of the opposite sex to give them attention. Mothers often give boys even too much attention — or at least pampering — but father is too often absent from a daughter’s life, even if he’s nominally there.

    But your quip about political correctness is a strawman that bothers me more and more. The Rush Limbaugh -type political correctness rhetoric is just a caricature of some extreme feminist and gay-rights &c activist fringes. One could create the same kind of caricature of knee-jerk reactionaries, who just want to have everything back to how they were in the good ol’ days, when women, children and blacks knew their place (and Jews got gassed or worse). Both caricatures have a grain of truth, but are not so accurate, when you look a little closer.

    In other words, I’m for a measure of political correctness — where it means that we don’t call blacks with the N word again (not to mention not lynching them); we don’t call people with trouble moving around “cripples” and we don’t leave them without services, because they can’t get into buildings with their wheelchairs; just to mention two examples (or was that three?) — and I find your teacher friends comments and yours not incorrect at all.

  7. Velska, thanks again. Your comments about political stereotypes are off, though–my references are to liberal ideologies that are deeply entrenched in our public dialogue these days, and often by policy and law (see Reason’s recent piece, “PC Never Died“), whereas your version of a balanced opposite–a racist, sexist old-schol WASP–certainly doesn’t exist now, and mostly never did.

    For example, consider the civil rights movement. A handful of liberal heroes overcame right-wing establishment opposition, yes? Not really. A higher percentage of Republicans in Congree voted for it than Democrats: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964. As for that reference to the Holocaust, the Nazis–National Socialists–were an extreme left-wing group, grown out of the eugenics movement popularized by progressive liberals early in the 20th century. And contrary to popular belief, Rush Limbaugh has never said anything even remotely racist. During the media coverage of his bid to buy a sports team, the only negative quotes anyone could come up with were all fake.

    I appreciate your thoughtful dissent, but sometimes one side of a political discussion really is more mature than another–don’t be so quick to bash those “hateful, petty conservatives” based on media caricatures. They’re the straw man here.

  8. Thanks, I realized long ago, that talking of extreme stereotypes is misleading. Just like the lynch-mob WASP racists aren’t more than a few cranks, the baby-killing taxing-and-spending gay-loving liberals are actually not a real thing.

    Extremes in the right and left actually approach each other. They bend towards totalitarian control and manipulation.

    Nazi movement’s biggest motivator was their eugenics and opposition of communism. Slogans usually mislead us.

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