Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.

Marriage and Family


New Look at Realities of Divorce
"THE correlation with custody is so strong, Dr. Brinig said, that she has changed her view about the best way to preserve marriages and protect children. She previously advocated an end to quick no-fault divorces, but she now believes that the key is to rewrite custody laws. "

The Assault On Marriage And Family

The 30 year assault on marriage and family is unprecedented in human history. Tales of family, honor, country, and duty have been the centerpieces of classical literature from Greek mythology to the Shakespearian tragedies.

In the Greek myths, the Argive warlord Agamemnon, needing favorable winds for the voyage to Troy, yields to the bloodlust of the other Greek kings and to his own thirst for glory by sacrificing his beloved daughter Iphigenia to the goddess Artemis.

The sin confirms Artemis' wrath against the Greeks - and brings lasting horror upon Agamemnon, his wife and his son.

In contrast, the Trojan Hector, Agamemnon's enemy, loves both family and honor with such intensity and balance that when Homer tells of Hector's meeting with his son in The Iliad, it is one of the most beautiful scenes in all of literature.

- adapted from an article appearing in the Detroit News

But in our contemporary wisdom and intellectual, historical revisionism, we have adapted those passe' values to fit the needs of moral relativism and "no-fault" divorce in order to pursue unfettered moments of self-realization.

Contrast the classic view of marriage and family values, a system that has persevered for thousands of years, with what we have now found is being taught our children in the counter-culture's "public school system"

Leading health texts ignore new research

September 27, 1998


The nation's youth also are getting confusing, and sometimes flat wrong, messages from high school textbooks. That's among the conclusions of a new analysis of the six leading health textbooks mandated by 20 states (which means they're probably the ones used in most other states, too).

The news is good and bad, said Paul C. Vitz, a New York University professor, in his report to the nonpartisan Council on Families, called ``The Course of True Love: Marriage in High School Textbooks.'' The good news is that in contrast to an earlier study that showed many college textbooks are ablaze with a roaring bias against marriage, high school textbooks at least treat marriage respectfully. Moreover, they acknowledge at least some short-term problems with divorce and single parenting.

The bad news, though, is truly bad. Often, the texts are wrong about current research on the benefits of marriage and the problems of divorce and single parenting. Some texts present divorce as the equivalent of catching a cold -- the kid quickly gets over it -- when research shows the devastating and lasting impact on children. Omitted, too, is the growing evidence of the benefits of marriage, in employment, income, education, health, sexual fulfillment, community involvement and personal happiness.

``Not one of these textbooks place any serious emphasis on the importance of fathers in the family or on the distinctive contributions that fathers make to their children's well-being,'' the report said. Absent also is research showing how divorce and single-parenthood are factors in school failure, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, poverty and juvenile delinquency.

Some texts are so wrong they couldn't even qualify as hyperbole. One makes a fearsome assertion that ``almost half a million children die each year at the hands of their abusers.'' The report cites Census Bureau figures that in 1993 about 50,000 children died from any cause. The Child Welfare League of America said 45 states reported 977 maltreatment-related fatalities among children under age 18 in 1995.

In addition to such a ``fact-free'' approach, the textbooks exhibit a blatant bias in favor of self-esteem theorems. ``To love yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance,'' one text advises -- a narcissistic insight worthy of Bill Clinton. In most of the texts, self-esteem is considered an absolute goal in itself, a notion that recent research and common sense suggest is mistaken, even harmful. Not given comparable weight is the idea that behavior and standards of conduct should be fashioned in relation to the rights and needs of others.

Perhaps the biggest sin, under current standards, is that the textbooks are boring -- presenting marriage from a one-dimensional, health viewpoint. ``Most of the big, interesting words -- mystery, romance, love, flirtation, jealousy, courtship, passion -- are simply left unexamined, as if they were not relevant, replaced instead by smaller and ultimately sadder words such as dysfunction, self-esteem, responsibility, stress, coping, disease and, most of all, health,'' the report says.

Also missing is the idea that someone other than pop psychologists and health advisers have something to say about love and marriage -- painters, sculptors, poets, novelists. Certainly not anyone having anything to do with religion, even though 80 percent of all marriages begin in a house of worship.

Reasonably, the report urges that the textbooks should start to get the facts straight, and ends with a particularly timely recommendation: ``There is a word that describes, much more fully and accurately than `health,' the best of what these textbooks are already seeking to convey to students regarding personal responsibility, teenage sexual abstinence, the importance of marriage and values such as self-control and concern for others. That word is `character.' ''



Trust textbook writers to make even the most passionately interesting topics in life -- love, sex and marriage -- as dull as the fishing channel. That is what the books used in 20 states have accomplished -- according to a study by the New York-based Institute for American Values.

These plodding texts are most often assigned as part of the health curriculum and are usually relied upon by gym teachers who exude discomfort.

"Health education" covers everything from drugs to menstruation to sex. In my elementary school, sex ed began as "Family Living." But by the time we reached high school, it had morphed into "Health." Perhaps by the time my cohort reached high school, the educrats had decided that we were all out there "doing it," and therefore, the best they could hope to do was urge caution.

Sex ed didn't get categorized as health by accident. Advocates of sex ed loved to present their opponents as "repressed" or "inhibited" -- two very bad words in the sex-ed dictionary and in the culture generally. As Wendy Shalit writes in her stimulating new book "A Return to Modesty," the sex-ed culture has stigmatized as "unhealthy" the most natural maidenly instinct: modesty.

The health/sickness dichotomy works fine for questions like smoking, using seat belts and AIDS prevention (sexual abstinence is strongly encouraged in several texts), but the subjects of love and marriage do not lend themselves to those categories. Love and marriage are not simply matters of the body but of the heart and spirit. And the question of whether it is better for a married couple to stay together or get divorced is a moral one, not a matter of safety or health. Yet trapped within the health paradigm, these texts present marriage in clinical or strictly utilitarian terms. It is an impoverished vocabulary that reflects all too well our diminished capacity for true love and commitment.

Some of the information presented in these widely used textbooks is simply false. "Making Life Choices," for example, states that "almost half a million children die each year at the hands of their abusers." Whoa. Only about 50,000 children under the age of 14 die from any cause on a yearly basis. And the number who are murdered by their parents or guardians is about 1,200 -- a staggering number but hardly the epidemic taught in this leading textbook. That alone might be enough to discourage some teenagers from embracing marriage.

There is no question that the authors of these texts were concerned about not hurting the feelings of readers who are children of divorce. Yet by attempting to put the best face on a terrible situation for these children, the books wind up conveying more false information and more false hope. In "Discover: Decisions for Health," kids read about "Consuelo," who had feared that her parents' divorce meant she was losing one parent. Instead, "her father actually spent more time with her following the divorce." Fine talk. But the reality is that in the vast majority of divorces, as Barbara DaFoe Whitehead documents in "The Divorce Culture," children get very little time with their fathers post-divorce and less time with their mothers as well.

And how do these texts recommend that youngsters prepare themselves for happier married lives than their parents achieved? By encouraging the development of self-esteem. In "Making Life Choices," kids learn that "the most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself." Another text advises that "to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." Yet a third encourages the development of self-esteem by planning "a date to take yourself on -- alone."

Nothing but the obtuse worship of pop psychology prevents these books from recommending more substantive roads to self-esteem, like taking time to volunteer for the Boys and Girls Clubs or helping an elderly relative with her shopping. But then, self-esteem really ought not enter into the discussion at all. The very selfishness these books seem to endorse has been championed by our culture for 30 years -- and accounts, in part, for the excessive divorce rate we suffer.

These textbooks didn't create our problems, but uncorrected, they will help perpetuate them.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at

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