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Family Update, Online!

Volume 04  Issue 21 27 May 2003
Topic: Memorial Day

Family Fact: Arlington

Family Quote: Gettysburg

Family Research Abstract: Bank on It

Family Fact of the Week: Arlington TOP of PAGE

There are an average of 23 funerals every workday, Monday through Friday, at Arlington National Cemetery.  There are over 260,000 people  buried at Arlington, including ten soldiers from the Revolutionary War.

(Source: Arlington National Cemetery, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/.)

Family Quote of the Week: Gettysburg TOP of PAGE

"We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot  hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The  world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be  dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated  to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last  full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a  new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

(Source:  Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; cf. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/gadd/.) 

For More Information TOP of PAGE

The Howard Center and The World Congress of Families stock a number of pro-family books, including The Family: America's Hope, with essays by John A. Howard and Harold O. J. Brown, among others. Please visit:

    The Howard Center Bookstore   

 Call: 1-815-964-5819    USA: 1-800-461-3113    Fax: 1-815-965-1826    Contact: Bookstore 

934 North Main Street Rockford, Illinois 61103

Family Research Abstract of the Week: Bank on It TOP of PAGE

"Social Capital"-a theoretical conceptualization that defines strong social ties and healthy social habits as a sort of social wealth-is  providing researchers with an investigative lens through which to see more clearly why the family matters. In a recent attempt to expand the  meaning of "social capital" as "a theoretical metaphor," researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Tulane University  found themselves again and again confronting the centrality of family bonds in fostering "constructive, goal-oriented" behavior among young  people.

By drawing on data collected in 1995 by the National Opinion Research Center, the authors of the new study examine how well various measures  of social capital predict "desirable outcomes for young people." The researchers' statistical tests highlight the importance of "the depth  and intensity of ties between parents and children." Deep and intense parent-child ties, it turns out, grow out of a kind of  "intergenerational closure" that depends upon "family socioeconomic status, two-parent family structure, and organizational involvement on  the part of both parents and children."

The importance of family structure stands out in zero-order correlations linking the two-parent family not only to desirable child outcomes  (such as higher grades in school, stronger belief in hard work, and stronger desire for higher education), but also to healthy social  patterns thought to incubate such desirable outcomes. These healthy patterns include those which make parents more involved in their  children's lives, more trusting in and understanding of their children, more likely to be acquainted with their neighbors, more likely to  belong to civic and school organizations, more likely to know the parents of their children's friends, and more likely to get their children  involved in religion.

In contrast, single-parent family structure predicts not only less desirable child outcomes (i.e., lower grades in school, weaker belief in  hard work, and weaker desire for higher education), but also a tangle of social patterns suspected of independently retarding such outcomes.  That is, compared to married parents, solo parents are less involved in their children's lives, less trusting of and less understanding of  their children, know fewer of their neighbors, belong to fewer civic and school organizations, know fewer of their children's friends'  parents, and less often bring their children to church or synagogue.

The UCLA and Tulane scholars stress that a number of the social handicaps of single-parent homes persist even in sophisticated multivariate  statistical models that take into account difference in economic and demographic background. Thus, "children in single-parent families  engage in fewer activities with their parents, even after [researchers] control for economic circumstances." Likewise, "single-parent family  structure is associated with fewer links between parents and the social circles of children," even when background differences in households  are taken into account. The researchers also adduce evidence that "the negative association between single-parent family structure and  school performance" reflects, at least in part, the way "single parents ... tend to be less involved in [civic and school] organizations"  and the way single-parent behavior results in "a lack of intergenerational closure in single-parent families."

Although the researchers regard their findings as relevant for all Americans, they see them as particularly meaningful for one struggling  minority group: "The prevalence of single-parent families among black students does statistically explain part of the negative association  between being black and school outcomes, a finding that is consistent with the social capital process."

(Source: Carl L. Bankston III and Min Zhou, "Social Capital as Process: The Meanings and Problems of a Theoretical Metaphor," Sociological  Inquiry 72[2002]: 285-317.)


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