Friday, October 15, 2004

Family at risk

It was a good two days of plenary sessions and workshops at the recently concluded Asia Pacific Family Dialogue. The formal dinner on Monday to launch proceedings looked promising but ended up a letdown. Besides the usual speeches (Dato’ Sharizat came out tops against a UN executive, and Qatar’s permanent rep to the UN) and performances (one involving children and another, a ghastly nondescript ‘tribal’ dance item), diners fed on shrimp salad and then frozen peach ice-cream before the main course was served at 10.30pm. Even then, our table didn’t get anything and not wanting to wait, we left to have char koay teow somewhere nearer home.

Aside from that, I’m just glad to be a part of the event as appointed rapporteur (nice term for note taker) at 3 sessions and a round-table discussion. I’m also glad to have been reminded once again how vitally important the family is and how urgent it is to nurture fathers, mothers and their children - individually and relationally. Here are a few findings I took home with me:
+Children missing out on secure attachments (with their parents) develop into problematic youths and have been found to be more vulnerable to emotional distress

+Father care is important to child development and the continuing health of the entire family. Anti-social behaviour in children is more prevalent in fatherless households

+Core values picked up by children in the early years have been found to remain throughout adulthood, eg, religious values, political convictions, relational attitudes

+Because of the plasticity of our brain, negative behaviour in children arising from wrong parenting styles is reversible once remedial steps are taken

+Fathers who wash dishes at home have been found to live longer, statistically (haha)

+The Baptist denomination has the highest divorce rates among Christian denominations in the US

+There is statistical correlation between cohabitation and divorce, and incidences of depression (more in women), instability, and violence in these relationships

+Children from single-parent families or divorced families have been found to suffer inordinately more emotional and behavioural problems, which subsequently affect their academic performances as well
Obviously I am quoting generally off my head, but the wealth of statistical data and research on family health and child development have confirmed what we already suspect: the family is in decline. The increasing rate of divorces, illegitimacy, single-parent families, fatherless or absentee fathers in households, etc, paints a devastating portrait of modern civilization and the future of nation states.

One may point to feminism, secularism, even education, but some social scientists and researchers are already saying the underlying factor behind much of the problems is the pursuit of self-fulfillment and egalitarianism instead of fulfillment of duty. I know that sounds like a simplistic response to a very complex situation, but the world is not friendly to the family these days, and that puts a lot of stress on the health of our children. I think it's all the more reason why homeschooling makes good sense, and I am glad to be among those who have chosen the road less traveled.


Petra said...

So - why does cohabitation lead to a bigger chance of divorce? A lot of my friends believe it's the best thing for my marriage and I don't know all that facts.

David BC Tan said...

hi petra, it's true that you're more likely to hear people approve of cohabitation than disapprove these days. I know when statistics get quoted correlation and causation get murky. I'll post an update on the topic soon.