Sunday, January 04, 2009

"Start Your Family" released


Since we last posted here, we've added another baby to our family and two books to our shelf. Actually, we've added many, many books. But two in particular stand out -- the ones we wrote. The first one, Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, made it's debut last January (2008) and has been encouraging single women to pray boldly, seek out mentors and, among other things, live like they're planning to marry.

The newest release, Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies, will hopefully be of special interest to readers of this blog.

Starting a family is a soul-shaping, world-altering experience. Unfortunately, in a culture of competing values and protracted timelines, couples are increasingly backing their way into parenting or missing it altogether. By the time the average couple tries to have kids, they are often beyond their late twenties and surprised to learn they're sliding past the peak of their fertile years.

Start Your Family encourages couples to be intentional about their timeline in the early years of marriage and to trust God to help them boldly launch their families. Responding to the most common doubts and hurdles, we offer biblical inspiration for the questions, "Why have kids?," "When is the best time to start?" and "How can we fit kids into our lives?"

The books explain our move away from Why Family, to the book blog sites. Please join us there. For single women, and others interested in helping them marry well, it's www.helpgetmarried.com.

For couples considering babies, and their community of support, it's www.startyourfamily.com.

Drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's Nearly a Year!

It's hard to believe next week will mark a year since we starting blogging at Boundless. Blogging for the Boundless Line has been a trememdous experience. Thanks to all the readers here who started reading us there. And thanks to all the participants, that's the best part. We've had over 14,000 contributions since we opened up comments on the blog.

If you haven't visited the blog, please take a minute to read today's posts and leave us a message.

Thanks,
Steve and Candice

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New Blog on Boundless.org

Not sure if you heard the news, but Boundless.org launched it's blog, The Line, today. We hope you'll take a minute to check it out. And if it looks like our activity on this blog is a little light in the near future, that's because we're contributing over on The Line. We'll still post here: there are some things that just fit better on whyfamily.

Hopefully we'll see you in both places.

Steve and Candice

Friday, August 25, 2006

It's Not About the Career

Michael Noer is either an incredibly courageous journalist, or an incredibly stupid one.

His article this week in Forbes has raised quite a stir. (Incidentally, after day one, a counter-point was added to the website, written by one of his co-workers.) Entitled, "Don't Marry Career Women," the article shows extensive research that supports the idea that a career woman may be a less ideal choice for a spouse if what you're after is faithfulness in your marriage and a happy mother for your children.

All furor aside, I think he missed a vital point. Whether a woman has a career is not the issue. Her priorities are.

I'm concerned about the implications for single Christian career women who exude so much confidence and self-actualization and independence that they leave single Christian men with little to offer them. If a 25 year old career gal earns enough to pay her way, she doesn't need a provider. If she's fit and strong and maybe a black belt to boot, she doesn't need a protector. There's a strong cult of independence, so strong in fact, that I worry it will render a lot of single Christian women unable, or unwilling, to ever become interdependent enough to want or even be capable of Christian marriage.

I'm not saying the single gal should limit herself to knitting and waiting for prince charming, but what her attitude says about her priorities goes a long way toward determining if she'll ever be getting married or forever staying single.

Does she want marriage? Does she want children? Is she open to or planning on quitting her high-powered job to raise her family when they arrive? Then she should make sure that part of her is as obvious as the driven-career woman part.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Simple fixes to the fertility gap?

Ten years ago, Candice and I were sitting in a public policy class at Regent University taught by Dr. Hubert Morken. As he addressed a variety of policy challenges, Candice asked a favorite question of hers: "What's the solution?" Dr. Morken's answer caught everyone off guard: "Get married and make babies." His point seemed so crude, but he insisted that regardless of what's going on in the public debate, the people who are having children and raising them consistent with their values tend to have the most impact on future debates. Over the last week, the Wall Street Journal ran two articles reinforcing Dr. Morken's point--specfically the impact of people not having babies.

The first article ("Cash Incentives Aren't Enough to Lift Fertility") covers the impact on the international marketplace. Numerous countries once caught up in concerns about a population boom are now facing the reality of a population bust. Worried they will have a shrinking labor force and consumer base, many are offering cash incentives for their citizens to have more babies. Those incentives, however, haven't created the desired effect and many of those same countries are now looking at the option of loosening their immigration controls--a tactic they know will change the face of their countries.

The second article ("The Fertility Gap") looks at the impact of baby-making on the ballot box. Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University writes, "liberals have a big baby problem" and he isn't talking about infant obesity. He points out a fertility gap of 41% between liberals and conservatives and estimates that by 2020, the current fertility trends alone will push conservatives into the majority in California where liberals currently dominate. He states that all their MTV-esque get-out-the-vote efforts have been in vain because "liberals have been quite successful controlling overpopulation--in the Democratic Party." He ends saying, "Democrat politicians may have no more babies left to kiss."

Articles like these have to be frustrating to both business-centric conservatives and "get out the vote" social liberals. Because while they make it clear that more babies are needed, that reality flies in the face of the anti-natalism that has become ingrained in social liberals as well as many capitalists who have developed a habit of letting what's best for business trump family interests over the years. The reality is that both of these wings of society are now in a position of wanting to have it both ways. The liberals want to maintain their love affair with abortion, homosexuality and other anti-natal positions while also somehow growing their voter base. Many capitalists on the other hand want to keep growing their labor and consumer base while maintaining their worship of the almighty dollar, even when it means promoting anti-family products like pornography, anti-family work environments where only the single and childless can get ahead and consumptive lifestyles where couples are strapped with debt that make starting a family seem like a fantasy.

At the end of the day, neither financial rewards from capitalists or even extreme get -out-the-vote (by getting pregnant) efforts from liberals can have much effect on a decision as important, intimate and life changing as having a baby. After all, how many liberal couples are going to gaze into each other's eyes and say, "let's make a little voter?" or how many capitalists are going to hop in bed motivated by their desire for a little tax deduction? Parenting requires greater vision than that. The latest reports on the fertility gap show that there are no simple solutions for anti-natalists, while there are suprising results for the men and women who--as Sting so poetically put it--"send their love into the future."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More on Barna's numbers

People who have started looking more closely at Barna's articles (such as Mike Theemling and gortexgrrl) have noticed the same thing we did in our research: Barna doesn't break down gender differences between never married men and women. It would have been helpful if he had. Consequently, we don't know exactly the percentage of never married Christian men vs. the percentage of never married Christian women. In his book Single Focus, Barna offers the percentage of believers among never marrieds, marrieds, divorced and widowed. While he shows a much higher percentage of believers among those who are married or widowed vs. those who have never married, he doesn't divide those marital status categories into gender. That leaves us with his gender gap of 41% to 49% (it isn't broken down by marital status).

Ultimately, this is the primary issue: Barna estimated in 2000 that there were 11 to 13 million more Christian women than Christian men (an estimate he must have arrived at by applying his percentages to Census Bureau data, the same way other statisticians do -- unless he has his own army of headcounters). Nowhere does Barna indicate specifically what several singles writers have implied -- that the gap he is referring to is among never married men and never married women. Until I can track someone down at Barna to see what other information they may have, a reasonable interpretation of what they make available is that the playing field between never married men and never married women is at least mostly level and most likely slightly in favor of men.

-- Steve

I'd like to add that my point in writing the article was not to start a debate about who outnumbers whom, but to clarify that where never marrieds are concerned, the 11-13 million number has absolutely no bearing. It's disingenuous to quote it in the context of a conversation about how many singles aren't getting married and it has the effect of leaving many women feeling unnecessarily depressed.

It is good news for never married women who desire marriage that the 11 million man shortage is a fallacy.

Now that we know there are enough men, or at least nearly enough, we can stop feeling sorry that we live in this generation and start asking the harder questions like what makes for a good potential spouse, where are the good potential spouses to be found, and what part can can I, as a woman, play in God's plan for marriage?

-- Candice

Monday, August 14, 2006

Defending math for more married men

In a recent post, gortexgrrl wrote:
As much as we were due for a break-down of Barna's 11-13 million man shortfall stat in terms of never married, married, divorced, widowed BELIEVERS (not nec. "AT CHURCH"), you can't just splice together two sets of data, willy-nilly, this set from Barna, that set from census, etc. Statistics just don't work that way.

Since I helped Candice process these numbers, I wanted to respond. The first thing I should point out is that it's perfectly fine to apply percentage estimates to Census Bureau population numbers--it happens all the time as polling groups survey small samples and then project their proportions onto the general population. It's exactly what Barna did. Notice the footnote to Barna's study making the claim that there were 11 to 13 million more single women than men:
The research is based upon six telephone surveys among 4,755 adults over the age of 18 who reside in the 48 continental states - 2,439 of the interviews were with women and 2,316 were among men. The estimated sampling error for the survey is +2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
How in the world did Barna determine there was a gap of 11 to 13 million if he only surveyed 4,755 adults? He obviously applied his percentages to the population estimates made available by the Census Bureau.

Because the Census Bureau clearly shows that never married men outnumber never married women in every age category except those over 75, the gap that Barna points out is clearly among widowed and divorced women--supported by the Census Bureau. Barna affirms this point in another article drawing from his singles research in which he says, "Whereas men slightly outnumber women among those who have never been married and divorced women slightly outnumber divorced men, widowed women dwarf widowed men by a 4.3-to-1 ratio."

The bottom line is that anyone who wants to use Barna's research to accurately characterize the reality of how never married men compare to never married women should refer to the quote above instead of trying to guess which women he's referring to when he says that Christian women in general outnumber Christian men in general.

While eHarmony registration and Christian colleges may skew female, their numbers say more about who is seeking out online matching and higher education than it does about the actual breakdown of never married Christian men and women. Courtney Camerin's global perspective, unfortunately, is only anecdotal. At the end of the day, gortexgrrl is right that there still are many churches and other Christian settings where never married women outnumber never married men on a regular basis. However, there is no way you can legitimately interpret Barna's research, or anyone else's, to show that there are more never married Christian women in American than there are never married Christian men.