This is a Child: Conservatives Must Re-learn the Fundamentals of the Family (2023)

Editors’ Note: The following is a transcript of remarks originally given in Miami at theNational Conservatism Conferencein September 2022.

In 1961 the Green Bay Packers squandered a fourth-quarter lead and lost the NFL championship. The following year the players gathered at training camp, demoralised but ready to master new strategies and plays.

Instead, their coach, Vince Lombardi, walked into the locker room holding up a pigskin and began,

“Gentlemen, this is a football.”

Something had gone very wrong for his team to have lost what should’ve been an easy victory. Lombardi concluded that his players had forgotten the fundamentals of the game. So that season he started from scratch, as if these 38 elite players were blank slates, and rebuilt the team’s knowledge of the basics – how to block, tackle, pass – from the ground up.

Similarly, the Western world lost what should’ve been an obvious win: the battle of marriage. We fumbled because we took our eyes off the ball and got distracted by religious liberty questions, the self-interest of adults, and accusations of being on the wrong side of history.

Just like the Packers of 1961, conservatives must recover the fundamentals of the family. So, let’s start with the basics.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a child.”

A child is created when the gametes of one man and the gametes of one woman fuse to create her new, unique human life. Not only are this one man and one woman required for her life to begin, but they are also critical for her life to thrive. When one or both are absent, her body, mind and heart suffer.

Follow the Science

The loss of a child’s father affects children at a cellular level. Fatherless boys especially have shorter telomeres, the end caps of their chromosomes. Losing a father to death or abandonment literally shortens this child’s lifespan. Daughters raised apart from their biological father begin menstruating, on average, one year earlier than their girlfriends being raised by their own fathers. The loss of a father alters children’s physical bodies.

This is a child. As she grows, she deserves to be safe and loved. After decades of research, social scientists on the Left and Right have discovered the conditions that make it most likely she will be, namely being raised by the one man and one woman who gave her life. The data reveal that biological parents advantage children in ways that unrelated adults do not.

Statistically, step-parents invest less time, money, and care into children’s upbringing. In blended families, biological children are 15% more likely to have regular medical checkups, 22% more likely to be buckled in the car, have 5% more money spent on their food, and are more likely to attend college. Step-parents save less money for children’s education and bequeath less to them when they die.

Thankfully there are heroic step-parents who step up to fill the gap of a negligent biological parent. They deserve our recognition and support. But overall, the presence of an unrelated adult in a child’s home diminishes child outcomes. That is especially true when the unrelated adult is a man. If this child is living with her mother’s cohabiting boyfriend, she is 11 times more likely to be sexually, physically, or emotionally abused.

Researchers Martin Daly and Margot Wilsonfoundchildren were 120 times more likely to be beaten to death by a mother’s boyfriend or a step-father than their own dad. Sociologist Bradford Wilcoxnotes,

“One of the most dangerous places for a child in America to find himself in is a home that includes an unrelated male.”

The risk that unrelated adults pose to children is the very reason why adoptive parents like me were subjected to rigorous screenings and background checks prior to having a child placed in our home. Biology affords a level of protection to this child that a romantic interest in her mother or father simply does not.

This is a child. The man and woman who made this child are the safest, most invested adults in her life. Being raised by those two adults is her best shot at being safe and loved.

The man and woman who made her are also the only two humans on the planet that provide her with something she seeks: her biological identity. Children struggle to answer the question “Who am I?” when they don’t know “Whose am I?”

This is a child. If she is raised by the two adults who gave her life, she will also developmentally benefit from the perfect gender balance in her home. Mum’s higher oxytocin levels optimise nurturing and bonding in her first three years. Dad’s increased testosterone transforms a laundry basket into a roller coaster ride. Her fine motor skills will be honed while chopping carrots with mum, her gross motor skills while racing down the street with dad.

Her female parent naturally simplifies her language when talking to this child: “Did you get a boo-boo?” Her male parent expands her cognitive development by talking to her like he talks to everyone else: “Dang baby, that’s a gnarly road rash.” One parent’s default attitude is safety—“Be careful on the monkey bars!” The other naturally pushes her limits: “You can make it next time if you get a running start.”

This is a child. The one man and woman who made her also give her the distinct love she hungers for. Kids don’t just want to be loved in the abstract. They seek both maternal love and paternal love. Take it from the kids who had two mums or two dads.


“From an early age I found myself drawn to my friends’ fathers. I think my [lesbian] parents knew this was necessary for me. My best friend’s dad also probably recognised the role he was fulfilling in my life and did so willingly, something I’m forever grateful for.


“My 5-year-old brain could not understand why I didn’t have the mum that I desperately wanted. I felt the loss. I felt the hole. As I grew, I tried to fill that hole with aunts, my dads’ lesbian friends and teachers. I craved a mother’s love even though I was well-loved by my two gay dads.

The Rights of the Voiceless

This is a child. She comes from one man and one woman. She craves the love of that man and woman. She discovers her identity through that man and woman. Her development is maximised by that man and woman. She is most likely to be safe and loved when raised by that man and woman. And according to biology, natural law, and 192 countries which have ratified the U.N. convention on the rights of the child, she has a rightto that man and woman.

This is a child. She does not blog. She can’t submit amicus briefs. She cannot lobby her congressman. She cannot hire lawyers. She cannot speak at conferences. She cannot defend her own rights. This child is completely dependent on adults coming to her defence. And speaking up on her behalf.

What happened to the 1961 Green Bay Packers? They became the best in the league at the tasks everyone else took for granted. Six months after Lombardi’s “this is a football” speech, the Packers blew out the New York Giants 37-0 in the NFL championship.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you always remember that “this is a child,” you’ll never lose a marriage and family battle again.


Originally published at The American Mind. Photo by Pixabay.


Do children grow up to be like their parents? ›

Children, in general, do tend to grow up to be a lot like their parents. Social scientists and genetic researchers have identified many cycles that loop from one generation to the next. Children who live in homes where parents smoke are more likely to become smokers.

Why do parents love their kids so much? ›

First, it could be biologically driven. When a parent holds their newborn baby, they might experience a flood of hormones that create a strong attachment and bond with their child. This bond may be further reinforced as the parent sees their child grow and develop.

What is the best way to parent a child? ›

9 Steps to More Effective Parenting
  1. Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem. ...
  2. Catch Kids Being Good. ...
  3. Set Limits and Be Consistent With Your Discipline. ...
  4. 4. Make Time for Your Kids. ...
  5. Be a Good Role Model. ...
  6. 6. Make Communication a Priority. ...
  7. Be Flexible and Willing to Adjust Your Parenting Style. ...
  8. Show That Your Love Is Unconditional.

Is there a right way to parent? ›

Good news: There is no one right way to raise a child. Research tells us that to raise a self-reliant child with high self-esteem, it is more effective to be authoritative than authoritarian. You want your child to listen, respect and trust you rather than fear you.

How do I accept my child has grown up? ›

5 Tips for Coping with your Child Growing Up:
  1. Take Small Steps. Growing up doesn't happen all at once. ...
  2. Educate Them. It's easier to let go if you know that you have given your children the tools and knowledge that they need to keep themselves safe. ...
  3. Enjoy a New Relationship. ...
  4. Follow Their Rules. ...
  5. Build a Safe Home Environment.
Nov 12, 2020

Does a child need their mother or father more? ›

Father and mother – children need both of them for healthy development. It is less about gender-specific role models and more about biological sex itself. When mom and dad are equally available, babies prefer... both, Swedish family therapist Jesper Juul says.

Do daughters end up like their mothers? ›

Plastic surgeons used facial imaging and 3D computer modeling to study the aging process and found that daughters' faces tend to follow their mothers in terms of sagging and volume loss, particularly around the corners of their eyes and lower eyelids.

Do most kids have a favorite parent? ›

In fact, it's actually quite common for babies and toddlers to pick a favorite parent or caregiver—and for that preference to switch back and forth over time.

Do parents love their last child more? ›

While the youngest sibling is usually the funniest kid, mom and dad favor the youngest for a reason that might surprise you. According to a new study conducted by Brigham Young University's School of Family Life, the youngest sibling of the family tends to be mom and dad's favorite child because of perception.

Which age is the hardest to parent? ›

Every stage of parenting has its challenges, but one poll reveals what age most parents feel they struggled with the most.

What is the number one rule of parenting? ›

The main thing you can do is apply The Golden Rule of Parenting. Always be the kind of person you want your kids to be. So, if you want your kids to be respectful, considerate, and honest, you have to be respectful, considerate, and honest. And, then you may expect that behavior from your kids.

How do you discipline a child without yelling or hitting? ›

Below are ten alternatives to spanking that you might find helpful.
  1. Give choices. A choice gives some control back to the child on the parents' terms. ...
  2. Take a timeout. ...
  3. Get someone else involved. ...
  4. Teach them what you expect. ...
  5. Recognize their positive behaviors. ...
  6. Timeout. ...
  7. Consequence. ...
  8. Pick your battles.

What is the golden rule as a parent? ›

Parents wanting to help their children grow to be loving and responsible adults can do no better than to remember the Parenting Golden Rule: "Treat your child as you would like to be treated if you were in the same position." It's simple, straightforward, and effective.

How can I be a better parent without yelling? ›

Think of this as your yelling rehab manual, a 10-step guide to gaining control over the outside voice.
  1. Know your triggers. ...
  2. Give kids a warning. ...
  3. Take a time out. ...
  4. Make a Yes List. ...
  5. Teach the lesson later. ...
  6. Know what's considered normal behavior. ...
  7. Be proactive. ...
  8. Adjust your expectations.

What are good parent rules? ›

Examples of common family rules:
  • No hurting. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
  • No interrupting. Wait for your turn to speak.
  • No yelling in the house. Use an inside voice when talking in the house.
  • No climbing or jumping on furniture. Sit on the couch or lie down on the bed.
Nov 5, 2019

What happens when a child grows up unloved? ›

“When a person's first attachment experience is being unloved, this can create difficulty in closeness and intimacy, creating continuous feelings of anxiety and avoidance of creating deep meaningful relationships as an adult,” says Nancy Paloma Collins, LMFT in Newport Beach, California.

When a child feels unloved? ›

When a child is a product of a lack of affection, they develop behaviors and expressions that manifest their pain and unease. The child doesn't understand what's happening to them, especially if they're very small. An unloved child sees the world as a threatening place, like they're all alone.

How do you deal with a child cutting you out of their life? ›

Five Tips When Estranged and Cut Off From Your Child
  1. Get Support. Being cut off by your child, with no ability to understand, communicate and resolve things, is difficult enough. ...
  2. Don't Cut off in Response. ...
  3. Don't Feed the Anger. ...
  4. Listen to Your Child Without Defending Yourself. ...
  5. Focus on Yourself, Not Your Child.

Which parent is more important? ›

Neither parent is more important, and both are vital. What matters most is that both parents show up and stay involved. Both parents are indispensable and hugely important to kids through all stages of life. The true extent depends a great deal on the relationships and the people involved.

Who has the most influence on a child? ›

Common knowledge, parents influence their children's development and personality. Whether we want to admit it or not, parents are a child's most influential role model. As parents, we spend more time with our children than any other adult. We model to our children our values, as well as our likes/dislikes.

Do daughters prefer fathers? ›

Daughters naturally crave connection with their fathers, and they especially cherish emotional and physical affection from their fathers. In fact, according to Meg Meeker's research, when girls and dads have a stronger connection, daughters do better in life on a number of different levels.

Are mothers closer to daughters or sons? ›

As a social psychologist who has focused on research on friendships and dating and marital relationships, the declaration that the mother-daughter relationship was the closest human bond came as a surprise. But these findings are not unique.

Do moms like daughters or sons more? ›

Mothers prefer daughters and fathers prefer sons - but the female bias is stronger, study says. Parents are supposed to love all their children equally - but subconsciously, they may be biased, a new study suggests.

Do mothers prefer daughters or sons? ›

A recent study suggests that mothers tend to prefer daughters and fathers prefer sons. Designed to test the impact of parental resources on offspring sex preferences, the research showed that women prefer and are more likely to invest in their daughters and men in their sons.

What is cold mother syndrome? ›

Emotionally absent or cold mothers can be unresponsive to their children's needs. They may act distracted and uninterested during interactions, or they could actively reject any attempts of the child to get close. They may continue acting this way with adult children.

What is the favorite age of kids? ›

Forty percent of survey participants felt that five was the most fun age. This was thought to be down to improved communication skills and the development of a good sense of humour. The survey also found that parents had the least fun with the 10 to 12 year old children.

Do mothers love their first child more? ›

A recent study has found that it's not the youngest child that's liked the most. It's actually the eldest! While eldest children around the world have had to be the example for their younger siblings and parents being extra strict on them, it looks like there was a good reason.

Who is the most important person in a child's life? ›

From the start of a child's life, the mother is the most important figure of attachment. The relationship between a parent and child is a vital part of their physical and emotional development. When parents are not around or don't spend time with kids it can lead to poor emotional development and behaviors.

Which child is the smartest? ›

You've probably heard it before and brushed it off if you're a second, third or fourth+ child - but it's true: the eldest sibling is the smartest, according to research. And there's not just one reason for it.

Which child is the most successful? ›

First-born kids tend to be leaders, like CEOS and founders, and are more likely to achieve traditional success. Middle-born children often embody a mix of the traits of older and younger siblings, and they're very relationship-focused.

What is the hardest age for a girl? ›

The onset of adolescence, generally between 12 and 14, is the hardest age for a teenage girl. The hormones of puberty cause her to feel her emotions more intensely but she has not yet developed the reasoning skills to know how to handle them.

What is the ideal mom age? ›

Both genders are most likely to approve of women becoming mothers between the ages of 26 and 30 (89% of men/92% of women) and for men to become fathers at 31 to 35 (89%/93%).

Is 40 too old to be a parent? ›

More women than ever are choosing to become first-time moms at 40 and beyond. We've been hearing for years that 40 is the new 30, and the increase in women having their first pregnancy over 40 shows that 40 isn't too late for women who want to become mothers.

What is the 80 20 rule parenting? ›

Giving 20 percent of your attention will lead to 80 percent of quality time spent with your children. Your children crave your attention—not all of it; just 20 percent. Your attention is split into multiple areas: work, your marriage, your kids, your side hustle.

What is the most strict parenting style? ›

Authoritarian parenting is an extremely strict parenting style. It places high expectations on children with little responsiveness. As an authoritarian parent, you focus more on obedience, discipline, control rather than nurturing your child.

What is the 30 70 rule parenting? ›

A 70/30 child custody schedule has your child live with one parent for 70 percent of the time and the other parent for 30 percent of the time. Many parents choose this type of schedule, and it might work well for you, depending on your situation.

How do you punish a child for bad behavior? ›

Calmly and firmly explain the consequences if they don't behave. For example, tell her that if she does not pick up her toys, you will put them away for the rest of the day. Be prepared to follow through right away. Don't give in by giving them back after a few minutes.

Should you ignore a child hitting? ›

Dangerous and destructive behaviors should not be ignored. For example, if your child is hurting herself, hurting others, or destroying objects, she should not be ignored. These misbehaviors should be stopped immediately. Other discipline and consequences such as time-out should be used.

What is the grand mother rule? ›

What is THE GRANDMA RULE®? The message of THE GRANDMA RULE is simple: To treat everyone the way you would want your own Grandma to be treated.

What is rule 34 parent and child? ›

Rule 34 of the Rules of the Court requires all parents of minor children who are ending their marriages or legally separating to complete a court approved divorce seminar before parental rights will be allocated.

What is the no contact rule with parents? ›

“No contact” means no communication or interaction whatsoever with the toxic parent or parents. Some adult children choose to bow out of the relationship with their parents temporarily until one or more ultimatums are fulfilled, and they feel safe restarting communications.

Why does my child only listen when I yell? ›

They've been trained to. If your child won't listen it's because they have been trained that their parents don't really mean what they says unless they're yelling. So they tune you out or don't act until you get frustrated enough that you start yelling.

Can yelling at a child cause anxiety? ›

According to this study shared by BetterHelp, the long-term psychological effects of yelling at a child include: Increased Anxiety. Low Self-esteem. A negative view of self.

How do you discipline a child who doesn't care about consequences? ›

Here are 10 tips for how to give consequences that work—even when kids say they don't care.
  1. Use Consequences That Have Meaning. ...
  2. Don't Try to Appeal to His Emotions with Speeches. ...
  3. Make Consequences Black and White. ...
  4. Talk to Your Child About Effective Problem-Solving. ...
  5. Don't Get Sucked into an Argument over Consequences.

What should a parent not do? ›

10 Things Parents Should NEVER Do
  • Ignore their brain. Their brain controls everything they do—how they think, behave, and relate to others. ...
  • Rarely spend quality time with them. ...
  • Be a poor listener. ...
  • Use name-calling. ...
  • Be overly permissive. ...
  • Fail to supervise them. ...
  • Do as I say, not as I do. ...
  • Only notice what they do wrong.
May 2, 2019

What are the five duties to parents? ›

These include:
  • to protect your child from harm.
  • to provide your child with food, clothing and a place to live.
  • to financially support your child.
  • to provide safety, supervision and control.
  • to provide medical care.
  • to provide an education.
Sep 22, 2020

What are 3 responsibilities parents have? ›

What are Parental Responsibilities? A parent in the United States must meet their child's basic needs. This means that they give their child medical care, housing, education, and food. In addition, parents are expected to meet a child's emotional and physical needs.

Why do we grow up to be like our parents? ›

Family scripts are the shared expectation of how life should be. Family life is essentially a rehearsal for the next generation. Each generation is another piece in a long chain of life we inherit and pass on to our children. The way families transmit their traditions and behaviors is through family scripts.

Are we destined to be like our parents? ›

In other words, it's inevitable that we will try to be like our parents. Mel Magazine quoted Diane Barth, a New York-based psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, saying, “Almost all children sound and act like their parents at some time and in some way.

At what age do kids like their parents again? ›

For long-suffering parents everywhere it is news to cherish – your teenage children will eventually . . . one day. . . just about . . .

What age do children start looking like their parents? ›

The good news is, you're not alone. No one can avoid looking like their parents. Not even celebrities. A poll by parenting website Netmums found 32 is the definitive age when people say you turn into your parents.

Can growing up without parents affect you? ›

Previous research has suggested that long term separation, from parents or parent, has the following adverse effects: depression, loneliness, anxiety, anger, behavioral problems at school, low academic achievement motivation, lack of self-esteem, misbehavior, truancy, and stealing.

How family affect your personality? ›

They shape our worldviews and influence our decisions and actions. Self-esteem: Our family plays a crucial role in building our self-esteem. Positive reinforcement, encouragement, and support from our family can help us to develop a strong sense of self-worth.

How parents affect your personality? ›

As a parent, you influence your child's basic values, like religious values, and issues related to their future, like educational choices. And the stronger your relationship with your child, the more influence you'll have, because your child will be more likely to seek your guidance and value your opinion and support.

Do people end up with someone like their parents? ›

When looking for their next romantic partners, most people would think they'd like to avoid someone who is just like their ex. But new social science research suggests that the majority of us actually do the exact opposite - or will even look for someone who reminds us of our parents.

Do we inherit habits from our parents? ›

Diving a little deeper into the biological realm, she explains that we don't inherit behavior or personality, but rather we inherit genes. And these genes contain information that produces proteins — which can form in many combinations, all affecting our behavior.

Do children naturally love their parents? ›

As it turns out, babies are hardwired to love you! And there's plenty you can do to help that parent-child bond grow in the beginning stages of early childhood development. Experts share what you can do to help your baby learn to love earlier—and develop a stronger bond with you.

What is the toughest age of a child? ›

These findings may seem surprising if you've never had an 8-year-old, but there are some reasons a child's eighth year can be especially challenging from a parent's perspective. Eight-year-olds can be stubborn, slamming doors and rolling their eyes, in their attempts to establish their independence and individuality.

What age is the most fun to parent? ›

The Best And Hardest Ages

Forty percent of survey participants felt that five was the most fun age. This was thought to be down to improved communication skills and the development of a good sense of humour. The survey also found that parents had the least fun with the 10 to 12 year old children.

What is the hardest stage to parent? ›

For some parents, infancy is the hardest. For others, it's toddlerhood. Some parents feel that the preschool years present special challenges.

What genes are inherited from father only? ›

All men inherit a Y chromosome from their father, which means all traits that are only found on the Y chromosome come from dad, not mom. The Supporting Evidence: Y-linked traits follow a clear paternal lineage.

What do daughters inherit from their fathers? ›

Personality Traits

For example, if the father is an independent thinker or risk-taker, it's likely his daughter will have some of those same qualities. Other personality traits such as intelligence, empathy, creativity, and leadership skills can also be inherited from the father.

What is the first born daughter syndrome? ›

This is eldest daughter syndrome: the unofficial, unpaid role of managing the family dynamic, foisted upon women from a young age because they have the emotional intelligence and age advantage — or rather, disadvantage.


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