We can help to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for kids.
Many children are exposed to abuse, neglect and family dysfunction which experts often refer to as toxic stress. But why can one child who encounters toxic stress move beyond it and lead a healthy life while another cannot?
That’s the question researchers set out to answer in one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being. The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente, is called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study.
Originally, the study included more than 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization members from Southern California who received physical exams. The members completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences (abuse, neglect and family dysfunction including divorce, incarceration, substance abuse and mental health issues) and current health status and behaviors.
Researchers found that the effects of adverse childhood experiences hinder the formation of stable and healthy adult relationships.
Plus, those experiences increase the risk for:
Experiencing substance abuse;
Conversely, healthy relationships in the home, school and community nurture a child’s physical and emotional growth. In short, children need these types of relationships from birth forward in order to thrive and become productive adults.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a staggering 50 percent of the 73 million children living in the United States will experience violence, abuse, crime and psychological trauma before they turn 18.
The National Survey of Children’s Health, conducted by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, surveyed parents of 95,677 children age 17 and under. It asked whether their child had ever seen or heard “any parents, guardians or any other adults in the home slap, hit, kick, punch or beat each other up.” The exposure rate for children living with their two married biological parents was 19 out of every 1,000 children. For children living with a divorced or separated mother, the rate of exposure was seven times higher (144 children per 1,000). These comparisons are adjusted for differences across age, sex, race, family income, poverty status and parent’s education level.
In 2012, Tennessee conducted its own ACEs survey through the CDC to see how adverse childhood experiences affected the state’s general population. It found that about 42 percent of residents experienced two or more ACEs. And, 1 in 5 Tennesseeans has experienced at least three categories of ACEs. Emotional abuse, substance abuse and parental separation or divorce are the most common adverse experiences statewide.
There are many opportunities to learn about adverse childhood experiences and their impact on education, the workplace and our community.
In addition to learning how to help create safe and stable homes for children and recognize the signs of ACEs in adults, it’s crucial to discover how to promote healing for those who have been exposed to toxic stress.
Tennessee is launching one of the first comprehensive public policy shifts focused on prevention because preventing ACEs in young children before they experience ongoing “toxic stress” can actually lower taxpayer and community costs. Learning about the impact of ACEs can greatly benefit families, companies, nonprofits, agencies and other community and religious organizations.
Since we are all responsible for the well-being of our community’s children, we can promote healthy child development together. For starters, we can help to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments that kids need.
Healthy marriages benefit children and society as a whole.
Popular shows like Married by America or The Bachelor might lead you to believe that marriage, which has been declining for 30 years, is making a comeback. But look closely at these shows: their focus is more on romantic relationships and lavish weddings. Is the point of marriage only about fulfilling our emotional needs, or is it something more?
According to Dr. David Popenoe, co-director of Rutgers’ National Marriage Project, marriage means much more than that.
“What people seem to have forgotten is one very important element or purpose of marriage,” said Popenoe. “Throughout history, marriage has been viewed as a child-rearing institution. As a society, we, like other modern societies, are drifting ever further from that understanding. While Americans aspire to marriage, they are evermore inclined to see it as an intimate relationship between adults rather than as a necessary social arrangement for rearing children.
“There is a robust body of research that indicates that children raised with their two, married biological parents (mother and father), who are in a low-conflict relationship, on the whole do much better in life than children raised in other family forms. To the degree that we as a society want our children to do well in life, we should be very concerned with what is happening to marriage.”
Popenoe believes that the stakes are high, and that it’s worth a good fight to correct the current situation. He says the weakening of marriage has contributed to a new kind of child poverty: a poverty of connectedness.
Four decades of persistently high levels of marital disruption and non-marriage have taken a toll on children’s primary sources of emotional nurturance and security. Parent-child, especially father-child ties, have become more fragile, inconsistent and distant. Children’s emotional lives have become more turbulent, insecure and anxiety-filled as a result.
In the midst of materially abundant society, signs of emotional want and deprivation are growing – even among the most economically privileged young. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other psychosocial difficulties are on the rise. Overall, a child’s quality of life was no better in 1998 than in 1975. Children have borne more than their fair share of the burdens associated with the weakening of marriage.
American society today requires ever-higher levels of individual competence and educational achievement for a successful adult life.
To meet these demands, children need strong character, healthy bodies and able minds. Warm, consistent and firm parental attachments help children defer gratification, set and stick to goals, and resist harmful peer pressures. Close parent-child bonds protect teens from emotional distress. But they also protect them from risky behaviors such as early sexual activity, smoking, drinking and drug use. Young adults’ ability to form strong, lasting marriages enhances their own emotional well-being. It also confers psychological benefits on their children as well.
“One of the best things that the society can do for children is to create the conditions for healthy marriages,” Popenoe said. “This does not mean pushing marriage at any cost on everyone. But it does mean increasing the proportion of parental marriages that are low in conflict and high in mutual respect, cooperation and duration. It also means reducing the economic and social obstacles that stand in the way of successful and long-term commitment to marriage.”
The research is encouraging. For the first time in 40 years, the percentage of two-married parent families has slightly increased. Through conflict resolution, mediation, premarital education and communication skills, couples are learning how to have a healthy, long-lasting marriage. While marriage is a covenant between two adults, research shows it is not just for their benefit; it benefits children and society as a whole.
“We go to great lengths to educate our children in hopes that they will have a bright future,” Popenoe said. “Certainly, having a strong marriage and family is every bit as important as having a good education.”
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Whats-the-Point-of-Marriage.png8001200Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-08-16 00:00:002022-08-24 09:17:49What’s The Point of Marriage?
Everyone can help to make sure kids have the role models they need.
Many boys today don’t know what it means to be a man, and it’s often because they don’t have a man in their lives. So many children will go to bed tonight without saying goodnight to their father because he just isn’t there. Dad may work a lot, be deployed, or be distracted and uninvolved. He could be living somewhere else, have another family or not be in the picture at all. Whatever the situation, research shows that having a positive male role model is vital for child development.
Check this out:
Nearly one-fourth of America’s children live in mother-only families.
In our society, emotional and spiritual fatherlessness is becoming the norm. Many of today’s fathers didn’t have positive role models to show them how to be a father, either. As a result, they may be repeating the cycle of the absent father.
Irrefutable research shows that mothers are typically nurturing, soft, gentle, comforting, protective and emotional. Fathers, however, tend to encourage risk-taking and be challenging, prodding, loud, playful and physical. Children need a balance of protection and reasonable risk-taking.
In fact, doing so can help these children without positive male role models in so many ways. For instance, when Dad isn’t around, children are more likely to be involved in criminal activity, sexual activity, do poorer in school and participate in harmful activities.
Studies have shown that a father’s involvement or a positive male role model profoundly affects children. Father-child interaction promotes a child’s physical well-being, perceptual ability and competency for relating with others. Furthermore, these children demonstrate a greater ability to take initiative and evidence self-control.
The good news is that everyone can promote positive male role model involvement!
How can you make a positive difference for these children?
Mom, you can encourage positive male role model involvement in your child’s life.
Non-custodial dad, you can make an effort to visit with your children more often and be intentional about teaching them important life lessons.
Educators can encourage fathers to be more active in the classroom.
Men can influence kids in your community by being the positive male role model they need.
Faith-based institutions and programs can bring fathers together with their children and encourage men to engage children in their sphere of influence.
Business leaders can encourage employee involvement in community efforts with children. For example, you can promote mentoring with organizations like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, youth groups, Boys Club or Girls, Inc.
Every child needs someone who is absolutely crazy about them. What can you do to make sure they what they need?
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Importance_of_Positive_Male_role_models_1400-1.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-08-15 00:00:002022-01-21 10:24:25The Importance of Positive Male Role Models