Family Ties
They bind us together and help us flourish.

Mitch Pearlstein, founder and president of the Center for the American Experiment



And whether it’s due to ADHD as strictly defined, or another state of mind that has fewer, if any, explanatory pages in any psychiatric or psychological textbook, a sizable number of children growing up in single-parent families have an extra hard time concentrating on their school work as well as on other things in their lives, in substantial measure because of tensions at home.

Do I recognize that such contentions invite any number of objections, the most agitated ones grounded in allegations that I am just making excuses? Keenly, I do. But I can’t recall any educator, or anyone else for that matter, ever disagreeing when I’ve expanded on the case with the care and nuance it demands. As Professor Yogi Berra would say, they all have observed a lot by just watching.

: What is the most encouraging fact about the state of the family in the U.S.? Please tell me there is something.

PEARLSTEIN: Short and sweet: For all the lousy data, it’s easy to lose sight of what a glorious institution marriage is for all those who are lucky and blessed to be in a good one (like me). 

: Could the pastoral work in prisons by Prison Fellowship and others do some of the most important, under-appreciated cultural work there is?

: That’s true without question, and my happy sense is that fewer obstructionists now see groups such as Prison Fellowship, founded by Chuck Colson, as representing mortal assaults to the wall separating church from state and cell.

: You once asked Bill Bennett, when he was education secretary, “How does one go about changing the very culture?” And he said, as you relay, that one should “say what was true in his heart and say it over and over and over again.” But what does that mean in a culture with changing assumptions about truth?

: When has the United States ever had locked-in-place cultural assumptions about truth? The best we can do is the best we can do, animated by courage and alive to grace.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.