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Friday, June 18, 2004

From the Common Sense Ain't Department.

With Father's Day looming, Maggie Gallagher again explains what should be obvious--families need involved dads, and are happier when he is there, doing his job.

The best dads? Evangelical Protestants:

Policy analysts will and should weigh proposals about how to boost the earning power of poor husbands and fathers. But in his new book, "Soft Patriarchs, New Men" (University of Chicago Press), Brad Wilcox, a rising star in the sociology of religion, lays out a different part of the answer. Religion makes men better husbands and fathers.

He finds that "churchgoing family men -- especially conservative Protestant family men -- are more progressive than their peers: They spend more time with their children; they are more likely to hug and praise their children; their wives report higher levels of satisfaction with the appreciation, affection and understanding they receive from their husbands, and they spend more time socializing with their wives." They also have the lowest rates of domestic violence toward their wives than any other group.

Why? One reason is that, in its fight with modernity, conservative Protestantism has invested the roles of husband and father with unusual moral and religious importance: Men are supposed to model for their children the love of God, for their wives, the love of Jesus Christ. Men who recognize a critical "masculine" role in family life are probably freer to enter into stereotypically "feminine" realms, such as emotionally expressive family life. If you want to turn men into good family men, you have to tell them that men matter to women and children.

Make a note: it comes as a result of following the biblical model and fighting "modernity"--not conversing with it, embracing it or flat-out capitulating to it. I think I have a suggestion for a book to pass out at the Pre-Cana classes.

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