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

11 April 2023

4.8 MINS

Editors’ Note: The following is a transcript of remarks originally given in Miami at the National Conservatism Conference in 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 Wilson found children 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 Wilcox notes,

“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.

Theodore shares:

“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.

Samantha remembers:

“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 right to 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.

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  1. Stephen Lewin 12 April 2023 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    This is a woman and man and this is,.etc etc …can be added to school curriculum and every organisations teaching , manual etc erc

  2. Kaylene Emery 12 April 2023 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Like so many, I had no idea that the baby I held in my arms was a child , a real human child ( very long but true story).
    God in His mercy has walked with me and talked with me, explaining it all……without a word of condemnation.
    This alone makes this profound truth bearable , and I am beyond grateful to be on this journey with Him.

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