The Home Front

Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

Selling the Rewards of Parenthood: Couples Ain’t Buying


For all the hue and cry about overpopulation it is becoming clear that there is a baby bust in our country (and across most of the globe). Several factors seem to be contributing to this trend. Nearly one out of five American women never have children. College-educated women are increasingly delaying marriage and motherhood for financial reasons — and it’s paying off.  

College-educated women are reaping most of the benefits of later marriage: They can enjoy the greater economic security that comes with marrying later, while still being able to have children in the relatively stable context of marriage. Women with lower education levels get a much smaller economic bump for marrying later and are less likely to to be married when they have their first child.

And couples are delaying marriage and children for fear of repeating the cycle of divorce that their parents endured, as well as because of crushing college-loan debt. The acceptance of cohabitation has led to about 70 percent of twenty-somethings choosing that lifestyle over marriage, despite the proof that children fare better with married parents. 

But it seems we need to challenge the current conventional wisdom on encouraging parenthood. Those efforts usually begin with providing paid maternity leave and childcare subsidies. Many are opposed to providing these benefits because of fears about their impact on business — and subsequently the job market. Such fears are not unfounded. And it may take years for businesses — and society at large — to reap the positive aspects these policies would bestow. It’s hard to think long-term. Yet, as Jonathan V. Last — author of What to Expect When No One’s Expecting – points out, a strategy to get a higher birth rate has to go even beyond just those kinds of benefits. If that’s all it took, countries like France and Sweden with very generous policies would be having baby booms – they’re not.
Senator Mike Lee and others have talked about giving significant tax breaks for parents raising children, and that approach seems to sit well with young people. Who wouldn’t want to get some of their hard-earned money back to spend as they see fit for their children?

But Last believes we have to go even further. We need to challenge other instilled beliefs that young people have concerning parenthood. For one, they think the government will take care of them in their old age, so that particular perk of parenthood means nothing to them. And the cost of housing in dense urban areas discourages them from having larger families, and so policies supporting telecommuting and other ways to encourage suburban living are needed.

And not only are young couples delaying family life because of their own college debt, they fear the cost of sending several children to college. Last believes we need to totally change the higher-education system.

If college were another industry, everyone would be campaigning for reform. Instead, politicians are trying to push every kid in America into the current exorbitantly expensive system. How could we get college costs under control? For one, we could begin to eliminate college’s role as a credentialing machine by allowing employers to give their own tests to prospective workers. Alternately, we could encourage the university system to be more responsive to market forces by creating a no-frills, federal degree-granting body that awards certificates to students who pass exams in a given subject.

Encouraging married couples to have more children is a complicated issue that has no easy answers. But we should not be apathetic about the issue of our current fertility level. Our country’s future — and the direction it will take on so many levels — is at stake.

Thoughts on the Rise of Single Parenthood


Back in May there was a lot of talk about a Pew Research Center report that indicated that women were the main breadwinners in nearly 40 percent of households. But a new piece over at AEI points out that this was due in great part to the rise in the number of single moms. 

Sixty percent of “breadwinner-mom” families are really just single-mom families. In fact, single moms account for precisely one-quarter of U.S. households.

…the biggest story here isn’t the rise of female earners, exactly, even though that’s a distinct and powerful trend. This is really a story about a more astonishing fact: Single parents have more than tripled as a share of American households since 1960.

Single parent households exist in a different socioeconomic pool than married households. Single mothers earn incomes that place them well below married mothers in the income ladder. According to Pew, married mothers earned a median family income of $80,000 in 2011, almost four times more than families led by a single mom.

The article then goes on to discuss how the single moms earn far less than their married peers, and how poor child-care options contribute to their earning less and having fewer job and advanced-schooling opportunities.  

A follow-up piece raised other questions including whether the rise in single mothers could be attributed to the rise in women’s roles in the workplace — they earn enough themselves and don’t need to be married — and whether the U.S. government should provide child-care subsidies and paid leaves, like the other top economic leaders in the world.

Unpaid maternity leave can have significantly adverse impacts on single parents in particular who are dependent on their incomes to sustain their family…  Thus allowing for paid maternity leave would enable them to seek good quality care for themselves and for their child during the maternity leave, rather than forcing them to make a choice between their career and their children for the sake of meeting financial needs.

But would providing paid maternity leave and child-care subsidies encourage promiscuity amongst single women and condone raising children outside the institution of marriage? It sometimes seems that conservative values are at cross purposes with showing support for single mothers. Can’t we strive for more stability in families while still recognizing that we need to assist the currently rising numbers of women who are carrying the burden of raising children alone? (Especially when 30 percent of them are living in poverty.)

While we should encourage young women to delay parenthood until they are married — because children fare much better with two parents in the household – the fact remains that many get pregnant while single. To be truly supportive of those young women who want to choose life, but are not in a position to get married (by their own choice or the father’s), we should be prepared to show them that motherhood is not a dead end.

While encouraging them to do the best they can — and prodding reluctant fathers to take responsibility — we should also make them feel that they will not be left to their own devices in a crisis. Private services (faith-based or otherwise) are certainly great options that deserve our support, but we should also see to it that government services are not denigrated under the rationale that single mothers ”choose” to raise their children on their own. We should not throw the babies — or their moms — out with the budget-cutting bathwater.


Another Hate-Crime Hoax? The Left Tells Stories Too Bad to Be True


We thought we knew this tragic story.

It was late and Matthew Shepard, a young gay college student in Wyoming, needed a ride home. He left the Fireside Lounge with two strangers who offered a lift. Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were not Good Samaritans, however. They took Shepard to a remote outskirt of Laramie, tied him to a fence post and pistol-whipped him so many times that the cyclist who found him the next day mistook him for a scarecrow.

The media told Shepard’s story repeatedly, explaining the two murderers had gone into a homophobia-induced rage when Shepard came onto them. JoAnn Wypijewski described the immediate aftermath of the murder in Harper’s Magazine, “Press crews who had never before and have not since lingered over gruesome murders of homosexuals came out in force, reporting their brush with a bigotry so poisonous it could scarcely be imagined.”

Groups like GLAAD moved in and defined the narrative: This is what happens when homosexuality isn’t fully embraced as part of mainstream society. In fact, as Breitbart’s Austin Ruse writes, this attack had enormous cultural consequences:

Almost immediately Shepard became a secular saint, and his killing became a kind of gay Passion Play where he suffered and died for the cause of homosexuality against the growing homophobia and hatred of gay America.

Indeed, a Mathew Shepard industry grew rapidly, with plays and foundations along with state and even national hate-crimes legislation named for him. Rock stars wrote songs about him, including Elton John and Melissa Etheridge. Lady Gaga performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” and changed the lyrics to include Shepard.

Even before Shepard died, two of his friends were peddling the narrative that he died at the hands of vicious homophobes. Within days, the gay establishment latched onto what would drive the hate-crimes story for years to come; even now, the Laramie Project, a stage play about the killing, is performed all over the country. Indeed, it will be performed next week at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.

But what if everything we knew about the Matthew Shepard story was a lie?

A new book — written by an award-winning gay journalist – shows that Matthew wasn’t killed by men deranged by homophobia. In the most recent edition of Rare, I write about how the deceptive reporting and spin on this boy’s tragic death should be a shocking, eye-opening lesson for all of us. 

Texas High-School Text Book Redefines the Second Amendment


Sean Getts, a dad in Denton, Texas, was surprised to open his daughter’s AP United States history book and find it had rewritten the Second Amendment. He snapped a photo and posted it to Facebook with this caption:

Looks like I’ll be educating the school system.

The book, which is apparently used at Guyer High School in Denton, describes the Second Amendment as guaranteeing that “the people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.”

However, the text of the actual Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The photo went viral, and parents who wanted to discuss the textbook with the school administrators started to organize.

In the past 200 years, the Constitution has been amended 27 times. But who needs Article V, if text book publishers can just change parts of it to reflect their personal preferences?

On the Education Front


Georgetown study determines the highest paying college majors.

One hundred apps and games designed to help kids with special needs.

Good nutrition, exercise, and hydration can boost your child’s brain power.

A school in Austin, TX, is teaching kids as young as three to use power tools.

To teach their iPad-addicted kids a lesson, a couple bans all pre-1986 technology.

A good site for obtaining lesson plans and materials to homeschool special needs children.

A questionnaire available online helps determine if your child is on the autism spectrum.



On Leveling the Playing Field for Female Graduate Students


Earlier this month, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece on Harvard Business School’s attempt last school year to address the difficulties that female students faced. The results of the experiment were mixed, to say the least.

[The students] had been unwitting guinea pigs in what would have once sounded like a far-fetched feminist fantasy: What if Harvard Business School gave itself a gender makeover, changing its curriculum, rules and social rituals to foster female success?

The country’s premier business training ground was trying to solve a seemingly intractable problem. Year after year, women who had arrived with the same test scores and grades as men fell behind. Attracting and retaining female professors was a losing battle; from 2006 to 2007, a third of the female junior faculty left.

…many Wall Street-hardened women confided that Harvard was worse than any trading floor, with first-year students divided into sections that took all their classes together and often developed the overheated dynamics of reality shows. Some male students, many with finance backgrounds, commandeered classroom discussions and hazed female students and younger faculty members…

The school had a many-pronged approach that included stenographers in classrooms, additional support forums for female students and professors, and discouraging the alcohol-infused parties. While the faculty and female students felt there was more than a little progress made, not surprisingly, there was some backlash and resentment amongst the students.

A few day’s later there was this response to the article from Megan McArdle, a graduate of the business school at the University of Chicago. She starts out comparing her own academic experience to the picture presented in the article, and goes on to comment about what she and fellow graduates have experienced as they chose a post-graduate career path. She is skeptical about the effectiveness of the HBS experiment. 

Overall, I’m less sanguine about these sorts of efforts than the folks running HBS seem to be. Not because I think that sexism is a done problem, mind you. Women do get penalized in all sorts of ways for being assertive, and in a system that rewards assertiveness, they start out with a big handicap. But I’m skeptical that Harvard really found a way to conquer this problem. At one point, Harvard sends everyone to mandatory discussions about sexual harassment, after a female student complains about getting groped in a bar. These sorts of sessions have been common since I was in college, and in my observation, they’re next to useless; mostly, they give administrators and student coordinators the pleasant feeling of having “done something” about a problem. The students who are already politically engaged on the issue find them very invigorating, but everyone else finds them somewhere between tedious and bullying, because while we talk a lot about having a “conversation” about issues like sexism, it’s not much of a conversation when one side risks offending powerful professors and administrators if it speaks frankly.

Though I, myself, give HBS a little more credit for trying – allowing for a learning curve in that first year — both pieces are an interesting look at the challenges young women face in choosing a career path. 



A Royal Boost for Artists with Down Syndrome


The royal family is bringing the talents of the disabled into the limelight.

Duke and Duchess William and Kate are purchasing a painting from an established British artist for Prince George’s nursery. That wouldn’t be such headline-making news except the very talented artist, Tazia Fawley, happens to have Down syndrome. This could be an amazing thing for kids and adults with DS, and other special needs.

Tazia’s been painting for ten years, mainly landscapes and seascapes. She is a member of Heart and Sold, a charity supporting and showcasing artists with Down syndrome. Fawley had painted the acrylic Rupert Flies Over the Clifton Suspension Bridge several years ago. The director of the nonprofit sent a letter to St. James Palace asking whether the royal couple would like the painting to honor the new baby. Yes, they did.

Here is the artist at work in a studio she shares with her mother.


And here is the piece she created.


In other news about children with Down Syndrome, a free (donations optional) online event will be held on October 21 and November 30 that “offers parents and early years professionals guidance about speech development for children with Down syndrome and how DSE’s See and Learn programmes can be used to teach early sound discrimination and speech production skills.” Find more info here


Untreated Abuse and Neglect Can Have Lifelong Effects


A dire report was covered in the Washington Post yesterday:

In the first major study of child abuse and neglect in 20 years, researchers with the National Academy of Sciences reported Thursday that the damaging consequences of abuse can not only reshape a child’s brain but also last a lifetime.

Untreated, the effects of child abuse and neglect, the researchers found, can profoundly influence victims’ physical and mental health, their ability to control emotions and impulses, their achievement in school, and the relationships they form as children and as adults. The researchers recommended an “immediate, coordinated” national strategy to better understand, treat and prevent child abuse and neglect, noting that each year, abuse and neglect costs an estimated $80 billion in the direct costs of hospitalization, law enforcement and child welfare and the indirect costs of special education, juvenile and adult criminal justice, adult homelessness, and lost work productivity.

The good news was that physical and sexual child abuse has declined in the past 20 years, and neglect has held steady. But emotional and psychological abuse, which can cause the most serious long-lasting ­effects, have increased. And as in many things, the ways that states deal with abuse vary, so it may be hard to coordinate efforts. But the researchers think there is reason for hope.

“The effects seen on abused children’s brain and behavioral development are not static,” said committee member Mary Dozier, chairman of child development at the University of Delaware. “If we can intervene and change a child’s environment, we actually see plasticity in the brain. So, we see negative changes when a child is abused, but we also see positive brain changes when the abuse ends and they are more supported. Interventions can be very effective.”

Read more here.


Encouraging Boys to Be Emotionally Engaged


Rosalind Wiseman, the author of Queen Bees and Wannabees (the inspiration for the movie Mean Girls), has now written a book that explores the emotional lives of boys. In an interview with The Atlantic she explains that boys are less understood than girls and that this leads to adults assuming that they are behaving badly and then reinforcing bad behavior. 

We have a very hard time seeing the signs of how and when boys want to talk to us. We also have a hard time–even though we think we don’t–acknowledging that boys have deep emotional lives. We believe that because we can’t see it, it’s not there.

. . .We box boys in. We’re not aware of it. Boys say it’s good to have a female friend — if something bad happens with a girl, or if you break up with your girlfriend, it’s much easier to talk to a girl about it than even your closest male friends. I just talked to a high school boy about how important it is to have girls that are friends. He broke up with his girlfriend . . . his heart was broken and he didn’t know what to do . . . he wanted to talk to his closest friends, but they just wanted to talk about hooking up. They didn’t talk about their relationship problems. So he made evening plans to go to dinner with a very close female friend.

His mom thought he didn’t care about his girlfriend, that he wanted a hookup. So she reinforced the stereotype about guys just going after sex. Even his own mother doesn’t realize that her son needs a strong relationship with a girl . . . to bare his soul, to get relationship advice. We are allowing these stereotypes to shape the way we look at boys and their relationships with other people.

Wiseman also addresses the roles that fathers and schools play, as well as how boys really feel about the “hook-up” culture and more. Read the full interview here


On Taking Your Kids to the 9/11 Memorials


We live 50 miles outside D.C., but we haven’t gone to the Pentagon Memorial yet. Our oldest daughter lives in NYC, but we haven’t been to Ground Zero with her siblings. I am a founding donor for the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, but we haven’t made the trek there either. This piece by Judy Berna from Wired has strengthened my resolve that we need to rectify this sooner rather than later.

Our children have seen all three crash sites from 9/11 and have clear memories of seeing the bombing site in Oklahoma City. It’s not that we have a morbid fascination with tragedy. I take my children to these sites so they can feel history. I spent my childhood reading history in books and never really connecting it to the outside world. My husband and I wanted our children to hear about something that happened in our country and say, “I know about that. I saw that monument. I stood by that fountain. I rubbed a name off that long black wall. I gazed over that field with my family. I know about that.”

…It’s important that we remember. Not to dredge up the horrible acts that caused our grief. But to never forget the people whose lives were cut short, and the families whose dinner tables will never again be complete. Don’t forget to tell your children the stories, this week, and for years to come. It’s their history too. Take them to the walls. Walk them through the gardens. Let them touch the cold steel monuments. They need to understand how important it is, how incredibly important it is, that we never forget. And that through all tragedy, life goes on.



My husband and sons, looking out over the crash site in Shanksville, PA. Talking about what happened.

Judy Berna’s husband with three of their children at the field in Shanksville.

Animated Video Explains the Events of 9/11 to Children


My son is six years old, and when I asked him if he knew what “9/11″ referred to, he didn’t know. I simply told him that very bad people flew airplanes into two buildings and killed about 3,000 people. He understood that it was very serious, but he didn’t ask much more, so I left it at that.

I found a video that I think I may show him next year. If you have a child age seven or so or older, it could be worthwhile. I think it is thoughtfully and sensitively done. 




A Home-Schooled Teen Speaks Out


In a Wall Street Journal article called “I’m Homeschooled – Hold the Pity, Please,” high-school sophomore Veronica Andreades shatters the stereotypes of home-schooled kids.

I’ve gotten used to seeing pained or perplexed reactions when I talk about going to school in my apartment, as if I’m this nerdy, introverted alien. The truth is that my parents wanted to give me the freedom to pursue my passions so I’d be better prepared for college and career.

Considering how often people mourn the failure of the U.S. school system, it’s remarkable that so many still recoil from the thought of learning at home. They might be surprised to learn that children receiving an education from their parents generally score higher than students in regular school. A 2009 study by the National Home Education Research Institute tracked nearly 12,000 home-schoolers and found that they score an average of 34 to 39 points higher than the average public-school student on standardized tests.

The articulate young woman goes on to dismiss the notions that home-schooled children are not socialized.

As for home-schoolers’ supposed deficit in socialization, research also shows that teenagers studying at the kitchen table can be more socially adept than their peers in the classroom. In a 2012 report on the social development of home-schoolers [it said]: “Many of these home-schooled children surpass their public school counterparts in all areas of development and are successful in college and in careers.” Contrary to the stereotype, I am regularly in social situations – like the locker room at the dance academy or the karate studio I go to in the East Village.

Read more here.


The Decision Whether to Have Children Cannot Be Made Rationally


This is a great message for all the young women and men out there weighing the reasons for and against having children: The decision cannot be made rationally.

Philosophy Prof. L.A. Paul argues that there is no rational way to decide to have children—or not to have them. How do we make a rational decision? The classic answer is that we imagine the outcomes of different courses of action. Then we consider both the value and the probability of each outcome. Finally, we choose the option with the highest “utilities,” as the economists say. Does the glow of a baby’s smile outweigh all those sleepless nights?

…But Prof. Paul thinks there’s a catch. The trouble is that, notoriously, there is no way to really know what having a child is like until you actually have one. You might get hints from watching other people’s children. But that overwhelming feeling of love for this one particular baby just isn’t something you can understand beforehand. You may not even like other kids much and yet discover that you love your own child more than anything. Of course, you also can’t really understand the crushing responsibility beforehand, either. So, Prof. Paul says, you just can’t make the decision rationally.

The author of this Wall Street Journal piece adds that a decision to have or not have children is also about choosing what kind of person you want to become – and that the way being a parent will change a person is also something you can’t know fully until it happens.

Overall, I think it’s a lesson we can pass on to our children. If they are ever faced with the decision — most notably, if they ever face an “unplanned” crisis — rationalizations can’t make it for them. But it is quite reasonable to believe that choosing life has rewards they will never regret. 



NYT: Abortion Should Be Safe, Legal, and Romantic?


The New York Times has broken new ground in their “Vows” section:

While millions of Americans go off to church on Sunday mornings, a segment of our liberal elite has a different tradition. For them, Sunday mornings are designed for a hot cup of coffee and a leisurely read of the New York Times Style section. The “Vows” columns are some of the most popular reads because they give insight into the weddings of America’s most prominent people. The details of the relationships are analyzed with great fervor, which caused Sarah Jessica Parker’s character on Sex and the City to refer to it as “the single woman’s sports pages.”

And it’s not just women. Wedding Crunchers, an analytics website exclusively dedicated to New York Times “Vows” columns, compiled more than 60,000 New York Times wedding announcements from 1981 through 2013 to create a searchable database of words used in the announcements — all to see what our nation’s “elite” are really like. For example, you can search for “Harvard,” “Andover,” and “investment banker” to see the how many times these have been mentioned on the pages of the Gray Lady. It’s enough to make your reception in the multi-purpose room of the local church seem a little less glamorous.

However, one word that has come up only four times since 1981 is “abortion.” The first three mentions refer to weddings of activists in abortion-related causes. The fourth, however, charted new territory in the New York Times’ dedication to promoting the grisly act.

Taking Their Very Sweet Time” covered the wedding of Miami Heat basketball player Udonis Haslem and Faith Rein. It began with the usual relationship details: They met fourteen years ago during college. Both were athletes. He was from the “wrong side of the tracks,” which made him question if it could work out. This is when the New York Times‘ promotion of abortion went to a new level.

The Times decided to portray Faith’s decision to abort their first child as a bonding moment for the couple. Something so seemingly innocuous as a wedding announcement turns out to reveal all too much about the Left’s view of life.

Special-Needs Children Are Great Friends for Every Child


A study has shown that special-needs children have a positive influence on other children.

A study of 1520 children ages 7 to 16 found that those who regularly interacted with people with disabilities generally had better attitudes toward people with special needs. They were less fearful of them, too, and more empathetic. Even just observing other people interact with those who had special needs, or observing their friendships, improved children’s attitudes, shows the study by the University of Exeter Medical School in England.

These friendships could majorly benefit children with special needs like my son. They’d feel included instead of ostracized. It could boost their self-esteem, and even help them develop. It would open their worlds. Less obvious, I think, are the potential payoffs for children who don’t have special needs. As study author Megan MacMillan said at the recent British Psychological Society conference, “The effort to improve attitudes is worthwhile, as negative attitudes are often internalized.”

More from this touching testimonial by a mom whose son has cerebral palsy is found here.

And an enlightening ”14 Reasons Why People with Down Syndrome are Awesome” can be found here.

Heartbreaking Investigation of ‘Re-Homed’ International Adoptees


Reuters has investigated the practice of “re-homing” children adopted from other countries. What they uncovered is truly devastating. 

America’s underground market for adopted children, a loose Internet network where desperate parents seek new homes for kids they regret adopting.

Through Yahoo and Facebook groups, parents and others advertise the unwanted children and then pass them to strangers with little or no government scrutiny, sometimes illegally, a Reuters investigation has found. It is a largely lawless marketplace. Often, the children are treated as chattel, and the needs of parents are put ahead of the welfare of the orphans they brought to America.

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from a five-year period on one Internet message board, a Yahoo group. On average, a child was advertised for re-homing there once a week. Most of the children ranged in age from 6 to 14 and had been adopted from abroad – from countries such as Russia and China, Ethiopia and Ukraine. The youngest was 10 months old.

Though Yahoo closed down that particular message board, many others still exist. The practice skirts the legal process, and any laws in place are seldom enforced.

While this certainly needed to be exposed, one can only think that it will put further dampers on international adoptions. 

There are five parts to this hard-hitting series. (Part Two thankfully has a FAQ that includes information on where parents who are having a hard time with an adopted child can go for assistance.) Find them here.



A Happy Update


. . . on the newborn miracle baby of Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler. 



Rethinking and Redefining Schools and Teachers


Michael McShane at the American Enterprise Institute is the go-to guy for the latest innovations in classrooms across the U.S. His latest piece discusses the success of hybrid schools that are truly thinking outside the box.

All across the country numerous organizations are rethinking how to deliver instruction and redefining what it means to be a “school” and a “teacher.”

Carpe Diem Public Charter Schools pair in-person and online instruction in an environment that looks unlike any school you’ve ever seen. Students at Carpe Diem spend a large part of their day in a kind of cubicle farm, progressing through customized educational programs on computers. Teachers circulate through the room, tracking student progress and periodically corralling small groups into classrooms that ring the large “learning center” to reinforce topics for students that are struggling or to personalize discussions of subjects like Literature.

The results are staggering.

Test scores were above all state averages, and the schools graduated 91 percent of their students, compared to the state average of  78 percent. And for 15 percent less cost.

The complete story can be found here, and a follow-up Q & A can be found here.


On the Back-to-School Front


Giving students computers does not help them academically.

Scientific American: “Just Thinking about Science Triggers Moral Behavior”

The 50 most expensive private high schools in the U.S.

For “crunchy cons”: A great BPA-free plastic container for school lunches.

Texans urged to get pertussis vaccine after 2,000 cases (two fatal) so far in 2013, more than in the last 50 years.

A prankster impersonates a chemistry professor on first day of class, fools freshmen.

U.C., Irvine offers an online class about lessons learned from The Walking Dead.

Lessons for Teens on Modesty and Respect


A post from a mommy blog by Kim Hall caught fire and made the rounds on social media a couple days ago. Apparently the message to teen girls about posting questionable photos and videos of themselves really hit home.

That [picture] doesn’t reflect who you are at all! We think you are lovely and interesting, and usually very smart. But, we had to cringe and wonder what you were trying to do? Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to say?

. . . I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t quickly un-see it? You don’t want our boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?

Neither do we. We’re all more than that.

The author then explained that she is raising her boys to have a strong moral compass, and encouraged teen girls to be women of character and not settle for anything less than a young man who will respect them.

Well, the next day, media-studies professor Rebecca Hains chimed in with her take. She felt that too much responsibility was placed on the girls and not enough on the boys.

I’m sure that [Hall's] sons’ female friends don’t want to be thought of only in a sexual way, considering that they are complex human beings with a range of feelings, ideas and interests. So why ask these questions? Doing so places the blame for her sons’ thoughts and desires squarely on the shoulders of the teenage girls they know – dodging the fact that boys are responsible for how they choose (yes, choose) to think of the girls in their lives.

…Instead, we must teach our sons compassion. Help them understand that girls’ self-sexualization is prompted by a toxic culture.

We must teach our sons to always respect girls. Help them see them girls as complex human beings, like themselves – never simply as sex objects.

Our boys MUST be taught these lessons…

Though I feel that Hains misconstrues Hall’s post as chastisement instead of encouragement, there are good lessons all around: Young women should be mindful of how they present themselves to the world, and young men should show respect, self-control, and understanding.  





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