MONDAY, 22 JUNE 2009

A role the government can’t fill

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Inspiring words from the Commander-in-Chief during a young men’s barbecue at the White House on Friday. Students from local schools came to discuss the importance of fatherhood and taking personal responsibility with President Obama and other famous fathers.

Said the President:

And when fathers are absent -- when they abandon their responsibilities to their children -- we know the damage that that does to our families. Some of you know the statistics: Children who grow up without fathers are more likely to drop out of school and wind up in prison. They’re more likely to have substance abuse problems, run away from home, and become teenage parents themselves.

And I say this as someone who grew up without a father in my own life. I had a heroic mom and wonderful grandparents who helped raise me and my sister, and it's… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 19 JUNE 2009

Internet, the thief of family time

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If anybody doubted it, research by one of America’s leading journalism institutes confirms that the Internet is making inroads into family time. Members are dealing with each other less face-to-face, women in particular are tending to feel ignored at times, and parents worry that their children are spending too much time online.

The University of Southern California Annenberg Centre for the Digital Future surveys 2000 households each year to explore the influence of the Internet and online technology on Americans. The percentage of people who say they spend less time with household members since being connected to the Internet at home nearly tripled from 11 per cent in 2006 to 28 per cent in 2008. Time given to family socialising dropped sharply from an average of 26 hours per month (which seems little enough) dropped to just under 18 hours over the same period and reports of feeling ignored grew… click here to read whole article and make comments



Tiger Woods: ‘Nothing beats fun with the kids’

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Photo: Dom Furore/Woods FamilyWhat is it about golf and fatherhood? Jack Nicklaus was the super dad (of five) of his day. A few years ago it New Zealand whiz-kid Michael Campbell who carried the torch for family life. Now it’s Tiger Woods, poster boy for Father’s Day as he delights in the recent expansion of his family.

“I couldn’t be happier than where I am right now,” Woods told reporters after his second child, Charlie, was born in February. “Having the two kids is just unbelievable, how much fun we are all having, except the sleepless nights -- that can be a little tough at times. But other than that, it’s just been incredible.”

He talks about cutting short his practices to be with Charlie when he wakes up from a nap. He speaks of missing his children terribly when he… click here to read whole article and make comments



Japan’s woman-shy, homebody men

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Image: tokyo-canned-ice.blogspot.comA new breed of Japanese men is provoking a national debate about how the country’s economic stagnation since the early 1990s has altered men’s behaviour, and whether or not it is a bad thing. Known as soushoku danshi, or “grass-eating boys”, the young men in question are notable for their lack of interest in women and consumerism.

They like pottering around the house and going for walks. Some of them spend so much time playing computer games that they prefer the company of cyber women to the real thing.

“In this age of bromance and metrosexuals, why all the fuss?” asks Alexandra Harney, a regular commentator on Japanese television, in an article in Slate:

“The short answer is that grass-eating men are alarming because they are the nexus between two of the biggest challenges facing Japanese society: the declining birth rate and… click here to read whole article and make comments



Dear Dad, it’s been a long time…

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Father’s Day is celebrated this Sunday in the United States but there are a great many families where dad is alienated from mum and/or their children. So the Ruth Institute has come up with a reconciliation proposal for these families, suggesting that “now would be a good time to pick up the phone, or write a short note, opening the door for further communication.”

“America has been in the grip of a gender ideology that says that no matter what the question, the answer is, blame the man,” says Ruth Institute director Jennifer Roback Morse. “In spite of the media attention to ‘deadbeat dads’, many fathers make their child support payments and want to spend more time with their children. Many Americans do not realize how often mothers prevent their children from seeing their fathers.”

While acknowledging that some dads are a real problem, and in some cases… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 15 JUNE 2009

British home-schoolers on notice to register

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In America it is flourishing, in Germany it is banned, and in Britain home schooling is about to come under closer government control to ensure that families are not using home tuition as a cover for abuse. Parents will soon be required to register their child with their local authority, as is standard in many European countries.

Some 20,000 children are already registered as home-educated, but the actual number could be three or four times as high, as parents who have never sent their child to school are not compelled to tell the authorities.

A review by a child protection expert revealed that a very small number of home-educated children had suffered harm. However, education minister Ed Balls says the government is also concerned that the “relatively high proportion of home-educated children who have special educational needs and others who need or want to access services” should be able to… click here to read whole article and make comments



Sense of family obligation healthy for teens

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Children of immigrants often excel as students because their parents have very high expectations of them and make sacrifices to ensure they get the best opportunities. Now a study of Chinese-American youths shows that they have another advantage over their peers: they tend to have better mental health than average in their mid-teens. The reason highlighted by the study is their sense of obligation to their families -- caring for siblings or helping elders, for example.

Researchers surveyed 218 of these young people from age 14 to age 16 and found that those who reported a greater sense of family obligation reported fewer depressive symptoms by the time they were 16.

The authors suggest that a greater sense of family obligation in the early teenage years could provide teenagers with a strong family bond that makes them feel secure even when they move through adolescence and become more… click here to read whole article and make comments



Time to show mercy to young offenders

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The United States House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on a bill that calls for parole reviews for juvenile offenders sentenced to life imprisonment, says a press release from Baylor University. Did you take that in? Currently there are youths in American prisons serving life sentences with no chance of parole. Unbelievable!

Currently, the United States is one of only two countries in the world known to sentence offenders under aged 18 to life without parole. More than 2,500 youth offenders are currently serving such sentences in the U.S., and the estimated rate at which the sentence of life without parole is imposed on children nationwide remains at least three times higher today than it was 15 years ago. Black children are 10 times more likely to receive a life-without-parole sentence than white children.

Baylor law professor Mark Osler will be giving testimony today, urging that… click here to read whole article and make comments



Married, with children, pays

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Money talks at the Economist, and the talk in this item from May, which has just been brought to our attention, is that in most of the developed world it pays to be married with children. That is because most governments offer some form of tax breaks or cash benefits to offset the cost of bringing up children.

In all but one of the 30 OECD countries, a married, one-earner couple with two children takes home more money than a single person with no children on the same annual salary. On that basis, the best countries for families are Ireland or the Czech Republic, where “net” incomes end up higher than gross. Mexico is the only OECD country where married couples with children get no breaks at all.

Lots of comments on this article, including the expected quota of moans about the cost of children, and from pessimists… click here to read whole article and make comments



Wrong girl, Archie!

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Archie Comics Publications IncStunning, heart-breaking news: Archie Andrews is going to get married, and he has chosen the wrong girl. Archie Comics Publications has announced that he will soon pop the question to wealthy beauty Veronica Lodge in the 600th book in the series, due to arrive in September. Betty won’t be the only one crying her eyes out.

So help me, I had no idea the series was still running. I read my older brother’s Archie comics as a kid in 1950s -- and that is where I thought Archie, Ronnie and Betty had stayed. Just think of it; they’ve been teenagers for 68 years, locked in a triangle that Alyssa Rosenberg at The Atlantic reckons should stay eternal:

But Archie could never really choose between Betty and Veronica, not because each was too impossibly perfect to resist, but because each girl was half… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@

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