The 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity tells how social and economic factors relate to the success of individuals, families, opportunity, and freedom. Through charts that track changes, and commentary that explains the trends, the Index shows the current state of some key features of American society and tells whether specific indicators are improving or getting off track.
>>>>>Click HERE to access The 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity on line.
Wisconsin Family Action also recently released the new publication, Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition, which is the only document of its kind, giving statistical overview of Wisconsin, her values, and the impact on traditional families. We trust that public officials, educators at all levels, business leaders, pastors, ministry leaders, and lay citizens will find this Wisconsin Cultural Indicators 2014 Edition instructive and helpful as they make decisions affecting Wisconsin’s future.
>>>>>Access YOUR copy of Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition, HERE
This week, President Obama signed an executive order that will force federal employers to hire homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders against their religious tenets and excludes religious exemption.
WFA president Julaine Appling responds, “So this man who would be king once again takes matters into his own hands and tramples on the constitution. This time our religious freedom is very much at stake. Our founders called religious liberty “the first freedom” because it is foundational to our other freedoms. Christians should be alarmed and on high alert. Churches and Christian ministries are in the crosshairs.”
>>>>>Julaine was a guest on Q90FM’s Stand Up for the Truth program this week to discuss this issue. Listen to the podcast HERE.
The story could be repeated countless times. Cindy—not her real name—was born to a single mom in Milwaukee; no father in her life. Her mom could have chosen abortion; fortunately she made the right choice and chose life. Mom struggled to make ends meet but was dealing with her own issues in addition to rearing a child by herself. Her grandmother became the strongest and most reliable influence in Cindy’s life—taking her to church, praying with her, in general being there for her. Eventually Cindy wound up in the foster care system and experienced some pretty rough knocks in her teen years and early twenties. Life was rough. She saw a lot of the seamy side of it.
It took some time, but by God’s grace, Cindy was spared some of the worst things that can happen as a result of an upbringing such as hers. She got a college education, found a good job, and took on adult responsibilities. In a recent conversation with her, Cindy said in a completely unsolicited comment, “You know, I think if I had had a father in my life, things would have been different.”
Cindy knows, intuitively or otherwise, that being born to a single mom with no father around put her in a dangerous situation and at a distinct disadvantage to actually grow up and thrive. Today, nearly 40% of babies born in Wisconsin are born to single mothers. In Milwaukee, that number skyrockets to over 80%.
Cindy happens to be biracial but really her race is immaterial. Family matters regardless of one’s race. Children of any race or ethnicity do better when they are brought up by their married moms and dads. Thousands of research studies confirm this. Experience confirms it. But yet we pay little to no attention to this incredible truth.
Our state legislature still is unwilling to grapple with this situation in any kind of meaningful way. Unwed childbirth and divorce, which is nearly as harmful to children as being born to a single mom, cost our state over $737 million each year. I hear every day from sitting officials and candidates that the only issue worth talking about and the only one anyone is interested in is the economy and jobs. Well, how about we deal in some significant way with that $737 million number? How about weaning women off taxpayer-funded handouts that encourage them to keep having children without being married to the father of their children?
How about providing real incentives for men to marry the mothers of their children and to be around for the children they bring into being? How about modifying our divorce laws so that couples with minor children, in marriages where adultery, abuse, and abandonment are absent, are required to attend classes that show the effect of divorce on their children and extending the waiting period before such a divorce is finalized?
How about honestly and aggressively promoting marriage by championing it instead of dismissing it or worse redefining it to ensure that legally some children will never have both a mother and a father?
After all, judges keep telling us that all children need is people who “love” them and provide for them—whatever that may mean to any particular judge. Federal judges around the country have determined they know better than the experts in this area and have decreed children don’t need both their mother and father—they just need people…two men or two women—it’s all the same. Two men or two women can give a child everything he or she needs to grow up to be well-adjusted, healthy, productive, contributing citizens. If nothing else, that’s a denial of reality.
And then there’s the president who campaigned saying he believed marriage is between one man and one woman, and early in his presidency made a point of saying how important fathers are in the lives of their children. Fast forward several years, and we finally get the truth from this man who would be king: he really believes marriage should be redefined to include at the very least two men and two women because, don’t you know, they are in loving and committed relationships—whatever that may mean. By promoting this marriage de-construction, the president was also essentially saying gender and inborn gender differences are meaningless and that fathers really aren’t all that important.
Cindy would not agree. She knows, from very real personal experience, that her life would have likely been considerably different—and much better—if she had had a father involved in her life. And by the way, God, the creator of male and female and the One Who instituted marriage, doesn’t agree either.
For all the Cindys in Wisconsin, we need to get serious about this marriage thing. Mothers and fathers—men and women–really do matter to children. Woe to Wisconsin if we keep ignoring both research and reality.
The Supreme Court of the United States has been in the news a lot lately with some major decisions regarding the balance of power. But one decision you may not have heard about – a decision to not make a decision – may have the biggest impact on your parental rights.
On Monday – the same day the Court handed down their rulings in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Harris v. Quinn – they also chose to deny cert to (that is, they opted not to review) Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown. In doing so, they left in place a California ban on reparative therapy which treads on parental rights.
Read the rest HERE
WFA president Julaine Appling states, “These laws truly trample on parental rights but then government today seems to think children are their heritage, not the heritage of the Lord given to married moms and dad to love, direct and nurture. We had a similar bill introduced this session in Madison. Fortunately, it went nowhere but I’m sure it will be back. Parents need to stay tuned in and engaged on this important issue.
From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:
Doug, father of four children in our private Christian school, sat across from me in my office early one school day. After very brief pleasantries, Doug sat up straighter in his chair and looked at me and said, “So what do you think are my kids’ God-given strengths and abilities? I want to know if what you see is what we are seeing at home. Our children are God’s gifts to us; we want to be good stewards in every way and help our kids cooperate with God in using the gifts and talents He has given them.”
The question surprised me. I’d never had a parent ask me that. I answered him thoughtfully and carefully, suggesting that he also make sure to talk with their classroom teachers.
As we stood and shook hands later, I candidly told Doug that I had never had a parent ask me that question and that I was impressed. “From my vantage,” I said, “it means you and Gail are truly intentional about how you are raising your children. It’s not often I have the honor of working with parents who take the time to really know their children individually and then purpose to work to build their character individually and to intentionally strengthen the family unit.”
Intentional, purposeful parenting is not easy, but it is absolutely essential if parents want their children to grow up to be all that God intends them to be and if they want their family unit strong and healthy.
Recently, I came across a blog that featured a post entitled “10 Ways to Build a Healthy and Happy Family.” As I read the piece, it seemed to be at least a good starting point for some practical suggestions on intentional and purposeful parenting.
The post is actually practical applications extrapolated from a book by Jim Burns, The 10 Building Blocks for a Solid Family. Wendy Hopler, of Crosswalk.com wrote the blog article from Burns’ book. I think the main points are worth mentioning. It may take a week or two to get to them all, but they are, I believe, important reminders to all families.
The first building block according to Burns and Hopler: “Be there.” It’s so obvious but so important. Someone has said showing up is half of life. For kids, parents showing up is likely almost all of life. Kids know when they aren’t a priority. When parents are really “there”—mentally, emotionally and physically, kids know that, too. They sense interest, involvement, importance. As Hopler says, “nothing can make up for your absence.”
Building block 2 is “express affirmation, warmth and encouragement.” The blog author encourages parents to be wary of “shame-based parenting,” which she contends is performance-oriented and approval focused. Don’t make everything about doing, not doing, or achieving or not achieving. Spend some relaxed time just being with your children, listening, interacting, expressing interest, letting them know you love them for them, not for what they do. This is the kind of investment that lets you learn about them and enables you to direct the child into areas of strength and help him or her on those areas of weakness.
Building block 3 is “build healthy morals and values.” This requires much prayer, study and wisdom in order to know what is going on in the culture that is influencing your children and then seeking God’s will for how to, on purpose and with intention, help each of your children—individually and collectively as a family—deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. It means making tough decisions about television, movies, the Internet, video games, and events and it also means having difficult decisions about personal purity. Parents need to come up with a personalized game-plan for each of their children. All children won’t struggle with the same areas, but all children must know what God says about what is good for them and what is bad for them.
We’ll get to the other building blocks in future commentaries. But these 3 get us started and allow for careful examination of your parenting. Are you being intentional and purposeful? Are you being personal in how you parent? No matter how much time and energy it requires, I can guarantee you this is an investment with returns so high they cannot even be calculated.
Fatherlessness: A Crisis of the Highest Magnitude in Our Culture
I probably ought to do this commentary on marriage in Wisconsin. Maybe I should address some of the amazing statements Judge Barbara Crabb made in her ruling that ignored the votes of 1.6 million Wisconsin citizens and overturned the marriage protection amendment. Or maybe I should address the judge’s apparent desire to delay clarifying her order and issuing a stay so that all persons of the same-sex who wanted to could get marriage licenses in the seven-day window her disregard for the rule of law opened. But I’m going to resist the pull to do any of that.
Instead I’m going to talk about fathers—yes, I know Fathers’ Day was this past Sunday. No matter.
Now, I can’t resist the obvious here. In declaring Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment unconstitutional, Judge Crabb basically said children do not need both a mother and a father to grow up to be productive, healthy, contributing citizens. Yes, that’s exactly what legalizing same-sex marriage does. It purposefully and legally deprives a child of either a mother or a father.
This I know. Children need their fathers. Late last month, Wisconsin Family Council released our new publication, Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition. A couple of weeks ago in this commentary, I discussed some of the data in this document. I noted that written all over it is the impact of fatherlessness on our families, communities and state. When fathers are not in the homes, children are subjected to an unbelievable host of problems. It’s a miracle when a child is in a single-mother home and isn’t profoundly affected by many of these ills.
So here are some of the problems single-mother children are much more likely to experience over children who live with their married moms and dads. They are more likely to experience poverty, to experience truancy, to drop out of school, to live dependent on government, to get in trouble with the law, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to be sexually active before marriage, to have health issues, to be subjected to physical and sexual abuse—and the list goes on.
I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say fathers are pretty much irreplaceable in the lives of their children. More and more research is showing what we should know by experience and common sense that fathers don’t parent like mothers. That they are typically the parent that lays out the boundaries, encourages some risk taking, provides a very real sense of comfort and security, toughens up boys and protects girls, comes at life and parenting from a more logical than emotional approach. All of this balances the incredible, also-irreplaceable contributions from a mother. God, the designer of male and female and marriage, gave to both of them all that they need, in a complementary way, so that they can together provide exactly what children need.
Fatherlessness is a crisis of the highest magnitude in our culture. I am haunted by the closing verses of the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 4:5 and 6. The prophet Malachi writes: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
That verse tells me, sadly, that fatherlessness is not new—and that it takes work and determination for fathers to stay connected to their children. Apparently God thinks that a strong father-child relationship is important, even if federal judges don’t. He tells us that if the hearts of the fathers and children aren’t turned towards one another, He, Almighty God, was going to smite the earth with a curse. His plan is for men and women to marry, generally to have children, and to together bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When society skips the marriage part of God’s plan but still has babies or breaks this lifelong commitment by divorce, we reap the natural consequences of our choices. The problem is the children are the ones who suffer first, most and longest.
In a time when judges and liberals are bent on destroying God’s plan for marriage and family, we as Christians must hold God’s standard high and we must certainly rally around fathers and fatherhood—for the sake of the children. May we seek, like Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.