The Hazards of Headline News
Here’s an insidious little headline: Money, Not Marriage, Makes Parents Better.
Family structure, family meals, limiting television, extracurriculars. No worries. None of it makes much of a difference. Your child’s success or failure in life will have more to do with how much money you have. If it’s in LiveScience, it must be true. No?
Apples and Oranges
Thanks to the U.S. Census Bureau for using our tax dollars to produce such a sinister study. Maybe their next project will offer similarly insightful results. How about something like this: Wings, Not Landing Gear, Make Air Travel Safer.
Well, sure, up to a point. But what does one really have to do with the other?
Needless to say, families struggling in poverty are going to have a harder time. But much of their struggle may stem from the causes that lead to poverty as much or more than poverty itself. (LiveScience finally did concede the point, buried in the last two paragraphs, that two-parent families are more than twice as likely to be living over the poverty line.
Looking for Inspiration
Instead of trying to further discredit and erode the contribution of the nuclear family to the security of our children and the stability of our society, should we not promote the extraordinary accomplishments of parents who rose to meet their challenges and found ways of compensating for the bad hands they had been dealt? Can we hear the story of Sonya Carson too many times? Can we not continue to be inspired by the poor, illiterate, single mother who saved her sons from gang-violence and raised one of the premier neurosurgeons and political personalities in the country?
Perhaps more important, what is the source of the cultural inertia that seems committed to the disintegration of established cultural values? Has common sense become so uncommon that we really can’t recognize how children will inevitably benefit from the sense of safety and succor that are far more likely to characterize a home built upon commitment, discipline, and responsibility?
True, not every married couple produces a perfect home. But few things are perfect in life. Don’t we want to give our children every possible advantage, rather than try to convince parents that their child’s fate is largely out of their hands or – even worse – that it can only be bought like any other commodity? And if we keep finding these reports before our eyes, how long before we start believing them ourselves?
So when reading the headlines or watching the news, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- What is the agenda behind the story? Almost nothing in the news is free from editorializing today.
- Is the source credible? Experts are not experts in all fields.
- Are the results credible? Parents’ intuition about childrasing may be more reality-based than "research studies" administered by men in lab coats.
- Are you getting the whole story? Watch for details that are missing or buried.
- Are results presented as either/or? Few issues come down to a single factor.
After all, statistically, airplanes tend not to stay in service very long without both wings and landing gear.