Category: Family

How Not to Sacrifice if You’re a Father

Hint: Don’t be Rousseau

unrecognizable man with child on hilltop

I’ve been reading some Nock. Albert Jay Nock, one of the premier American essayists of the early twentieth century and one of the founders of modern conservative/libertarian thought.

A weighty man, that Nock.

But also a disturbing man. In a 1964 biography, Robert M. Crunden said Nock was greatly fond of the ladies. Nock was also greatly fond of being absent from his wife. He apparently deserted her after she bore him two children.

Let me qualify this: I don’t know any details about the abandonment. Nock was an extremely private man who took secrecy to new levels. He would, for instance, occasionally bundle up his outgoing mail and ship it from another state, so people wouldn’t know where he was living. Was the abandonment wholesale or more like a divorce with child visitation rights? Nobody seems to know. We know he left his job as an Episcopal minister and family, but we also know his sons knew their father well enough to assist later biographers.

But what I’ve always found fascinating about Nock is this: Only after leaving his wife, children, and conventional job did he climb up the ladder as an intellectual man of letters, joining the staff of the popular magazine, American Magazine, at age 39.

It kind of reminds me of Jean Rousseau, who orphaned five children so he could continue as Europe’s leading man of … Read the rest

You’re Not a Lunatic? Thank Your Daddy.

What do the violent extremes on the Left and the Right have in common?

They tend to come from fatherless or divorced homes.

That’s Mary Eberstadt’s observation in “The Fury of the Fatherless” in the current issue of First Things.

She recites the well-known statistical facts about fatherlessness in the inner-cities (65% of blacks are born into fatherless homes) and that “absent fathers predict higher rates of truancy, psychiatric problems, criminality, promiscuity, drug use, rape, domestic violence, and other less-than-optimal outcomes.”

She then points out that the BLM movement itself seems almost intuitively drawn to promote a society without fathers.

The BLM website at one point declared: “We disrupt the Western-­prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

Eberstadt: “Note the missing noun: fathers. It is as if fathers—as distinct from “parents”—had ceased to exist. And indeed, for at least some of the people drawn to BLM’s ideology, fathers have ceased to exist. In this sense, BLM is a direct heir of the founding document of identity politics, the Cohambee River Collective Statement put forward by black feminists in 1977. That manifesto spoke of women and children only—never of fathers, brothers, or sons.”

Alt-Right Daddy Problems

She also points to anecdotal evidence that it’s not just a … Read the rest

We’re Going to Kill Ourselves to Death!

The world isn’t going to overpopulate itself to extinction. In fact, just the opposite is going to occur, according to a new book.

Malthus is one of the mental diseases that just won’t go away. He planted the idea that people are overpopulating the earth. Paul Ehrlich then took it to the paradoxical level and declared we would overpopulate ourselves to extinction.

It hasn’t happened, of course. For the past 100 years, “responsible” adults have limited the size of their families for the sake of world peace, order, goodness, and sanity.

It had nothing to do with preserving their bank accounts and time and wife’s body. It’d odd. We can’t get fellow Catholics to sacrifice their Netflix account for the sake of sending a message against sexualizing children or mocking Christ during Lent, but for a long time, they’ve been willing to sacrifice having children for the sake of the world order.

Well, a new book is coming out that claims Malthus, Ehrlich, and all those (oh so) self-sacrificing Americans who refuse to have more than 1.7 kids have been wrong.

The modern litany: “Despite technologies, regulations, and policies to make humanity less of a strain on the earth, people just won’t stop reproducing. By 2050 there will be 9 billion carbon-burningplastic-pollutingcalorie-consuming people on the planet. By 2100, that number will balloon to 11 billion, pushing society into a Soylent Read the rest


As I mentioned yesterday, I was in charge of prom preparations on Saturday. I’m not much of a photographer, but I took my role seriously and did a pretty good job with my iPhone. Here are pictures of my second son right before heading out to pick up his date. I should’ve taken him outside, but we were a bit rushed. I think this is evidence that you don’t need to pay a professional prom photographer to get first-rate pics of your kid on his big day. Enjoy.

This is Jack in the traditional prom pose:

Traditional pose Jack

I call this one “Casual Jack”:

Casual Jack

Texting Jack:

Jack Texting

Coming-out-of-the-bathroom Jack:

Jack Coming Out of the Bathroom

Texting-while-coming-out-of-the-bathroom Jack:

Jack Texting While Coming ouf of the Bathroom

Cleaning Jack:

Jack Cleaning

Showing-empathy-for-those-less-fortunate Jack:

Jack Crippled

Holding-a-dancing-duck Jack:

Jack Dancing Duck

And of course, Gardening Jack:

Jack GardeningRead the rest


Letters to Children: Being in Love

When your mother and I first started falling in love, she was living in Ypsilanti and I was living down the road in Ann Arbor. After dating for about a year, I found myself calling her every day and making plans to see her two, three, four times a week. She was never far from my mind, even when my studies at the University of Michigan were beckoning, and I was constantly trying to think of little ways to make her happy. I would send her letters and flowers; I would take her little presents; I took her out to eat at all kinds of different places. When I later moved to South Bend (to attend law school at Notre Dame), I wrote to her almost every day (by “snail mail”; this was before e-mail existed) and racked up large telephone charges calling her. When we saw each other on the weekends, I was literally nauseous with sadness when it was time to leave.

Those are the actions of a man in the state of “being in love.” It is a wonderful thing.

But we can’t stay in that state. In C.S. Lewis’ words, “Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships?” Now, as it turns out, I did live in that state … Read the rest


Gay Marriage

Insightful piece at Vox Populi on gay marriage. I can’t say I quite agree with it, but the author makes the general point I’ve made over the years: gay marriage is only succeeding because straight people ruined marriage to begin with. Gay marriage is the caboose hitched to the 1930 Lambeth Conference train. Now, I still put gay marriage on a different plane, but that plane’s elevation level is much closer to the contraceptive mindset than to the Catholic marriage mindset. The Vol Populi article puts the two on the same plane, and, though I wouldn’t, the article is compelling. Excerpt:

Same-sex marriage does not redefine marriage. That has already taken place. The institution of marriage has been transformed from a social institution geared toward the bearing and rearing of children to an individualistic institution geared toward personal happiness and fulfillment. Once homophobia started to fade away, and gay people were finally treated with the dignity they deserve, then same-sex marriage – defined in this way – is a completely natural progression.

In other words, we now define marriage in purely Lockean terms, as the unfettered ability of the fully independent individual to choose and exercise power, to be fully in control of his or her possessions and persons. Marriage, in this sense, becomes a natural right and any prohibition against marriage becomes an unjust act of coercion, especially since there

Read the rest


Letters to Children: Marriage

I’m not going to recount the history of marriage, or why it is properly viewed as a sacrament, or anything like that. I’m going to talk about your marriage and how to be happy in your marriage and why it will, naturally, hang together and be a good marriage if you approach it correctly.

The first thing you need to understand about marriage: it’s sacrifice. When you marry, you give up a lot: the ability to choose someone else, a huge chunk of your money, a lot of your time, a host of personal preferences that litter your day. If you don’t understand that marriage is a sacrifice, if that truth doesn’t soak into your bones and shape your whole existence, your marriage will never be really happy.

This is a bizarre fact, incidentally, and some might say it is a cruel hoax by nature. Men and women are instinctively attracted to each other by Eros, a desire to use that other person for one’s sexual enjoyment. The initial attraction is, far from a sacrificing act, a selfish one. But that sexual attraction is what leads people into marriage—which is a sacrificing institution.

But this bizarreness also points to its goodness. I tend to think everything good starts with selfishness and ends in selflessness. When I first started the studies that eventually led me to things like the philosophy of saints … Read the rest


Which Stage is Hardest?

I want to start this month of essays with encouraging words for young parents.

When my children were little (pre-school), things were hectic. The kids were constantly under-foot and took up huge amounts of time.

That was bad enough, but worse, whenever I got exasperated, I could always count on hearing the following observation from an older parent with sadistic tendencies: “Wait until they get older. It gets worse because of all their activities.”

Well, my kids are now older, and I can officially say those older parents were wrong.

I would divide child-rearing into three stages: (1) All kids pre-school age, (2) Some kids school age, others pre-school, (3) All kids in school. Among these three categories, category (2) is the worse because the parent gets the non-stop hassles of pre-schoolers and the time lot devastation of older kids’ activities.

But in this post, I’m only concerned about 1 v. 3, and between those two, 1 is worse.

Stage 3 is where I am now, and make no doubt about it: kids’ activities take up a huge amount of time. Whole chunks of your days and weekends are zapped, especially if your kids are in sporting activities or if you have to drive significant distances.

But stage 1 is still worse for the simple reason that the hassles with pre-schoolers never stop. When you’re in stage 1, the kids pretty … Read the rest