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Are The Kids Really All Right?

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An overview of current research on mom/dad families as compared to same-sex homes.

There has been quite a bit dust kicked up lately about whether boys and girls really need mothers and fathers. We have this silly Annette Benning/Julianne Moore movie of the two quirky lesbians raising two emerging adult children, then Judge Vaugh Walker in striking down California’s Prop 8 pronounces with absolute confidence that “studies…show conclusively that having parents of different genders is irrelevant to child outcomes” and now Hollywood starlet turned child development specialist Jennifer Anniston says women “don’t have to fiddle with a man to have that child.” Anyone over 12 want to field that one?

And much of the mainstream media – who get paid to ask the tough questions – just seems to take it all in without the slightest question. But is human biology and experience changing right under our feet? Is it really true that mothers and fathers are really merely optional and only sentimental for children? If these folks are to be believed, mothering and father really ends in any practical sense at egg or sperm donation, thus reducing men and woman as parents to their reproductive material.

But rest assure, if you want to base your conclusions in such matters on biological, social science, psychological and even anthropological research, nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s take a brief tour through some of the highlights of this literature.

           I.  Lesbian Parenting Studies Ignore the Larger Body of Research

First, the existing research on kids being raised in same-sex homes centers solely on lesbian headed homes and this research is plagued by serious methodological problems which we address next. But none of the lesbian studies published to date make any reference or use of the immense body of existing research conducted over the last three decades on how family change and formation impacts the vast array of child outcomes.

The leading and non-partisan child advocacy organization, Child Trends, examining the question of how family structure impacts child wellbeing, concludes:

An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage… Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seem to support child development.Kristin Anderson Moore, et al., “Marriage From a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do about It?” Child Trends Research Brief, June 2002, p. 1-2. (emphasis in original)

The more center-left Center for Law and Social Policy examined the same question on family status and child wellbeing, including same-sex families.  They report:

Over the past 20 years, a body of research has developed on how changes in patterns of family structure affect children. Most researchers now agree that together these studies support the notion that, on average, children do better when raised by two married, biological parents who have low-conflict relationships. Mary Parke, “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?” Center for Law and Social Policy Policy Brief, May 2003, p. 1.

A diverse team of family scholars working collectively from the Universities of Texas, Virginia, Minnesota, Chicago, Maryland, Washington, California at Berkeley, and Rutgers University recently reviewed the existing literature and report  that children who live with their married parents live longer, healthier lives, both physically and mentally, do better in school, are more likely to graduate and attend college.  They are less likely to live in poverty, be in trouble with the law, drink or do drugs, be violent or sexually active, or be victims of sexual or physical violence.  These children are also more likely to have successful marriage when they are older compared to children who don’t live with both married, biological parents.W. Bradford Wilcox, et al., Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition: Twenty Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences, (New York: Institute for American Values, 2005).

            II.  Current Research on Same-Sex Parenting is Too Weak To Draw Reliable Conclusions

William Meezan and Jonathan Rauch, two strong supporters of same-sex marriage, have provided perhaps the most recent review of the research on how same-sex parenting could impact children.  In their fair and careful article — published jointly by Princeton University and the Brookings Institute — they could only recommend four studies out of the total body of current research examining same-sex parenting as “methodologically rigorous.”  Elsewhere in their article, they conclude, “In other words, virtually no empirical evidence exists on how same-sex parents’ marriage might affect their children.”William Meezan and Jonathan Rauch, “Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Parenting, and America’s Children,” in The Future of Children 15 (2005): 104, 105, 107.

The research published since their review of the literature has not improved the situation at all really. As stated earlier, nearly all the research published to date on same-sex child-rearing is conducted on lesbian homes of largely white, middle-class moms in larger urban areas, using mothers who have volunteered to participate in such studies or were gained through their use of sperm banks.Timothy J. Biblarz and Judith Stacey, “How Does The Gender of Parents Matter?” Journal of Marriage and Family 72 (2010): 3-22, p.6, 10; Nanette Gartrell and Henny Bos, “US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents,” Pediatrics, 126 (2010) 1-9.

Two studies were published in 2010 in respectable research journals merit close examination. This first study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family belittles the topic itself as a baseless political devise to incite division.

The entrenched conviction that children need both a mother and a father inflames culture wars…Research to date, however, does not support this claim. Contrary to popular belief, studies have not shown that ‘compared to all other family forms, families headed by married, biological parents are best for children.’ Research has not identified gender-exclusive parenting abilities (with the partial exception of lactation). …At this point, no research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child well-being. Timothy J. Biblarz and Judith Stacey, “How Does The Gender of Parents Matter?” Journal of Marriage and Family 72 (2010): 3-22, p. 16, 17.

This study compares the literature on children raised in same-sex homes with a small fraction of the literature of those raised in heterosexual two-parent homes. They admit that the studies on the heterosexual homes are methodologically “relatively stronger” national representative samples, while those on lesbian parenting are “somewhat weaker” snowball samples.Biblarz and Stacey, 2010, p. 6.

This in itself should cause anyone with a cursory knowledge of research methodology to conclude that nearly nothing can be concluded by comparing the two types of samples. Professor Mark Regnarus, a research sociologist at University of Texas at Austin explains the qualitative difference between these two methods:

The bottom line is that snowball samples are nice for undergrads to learn about data collection, but hardly high-quality when you’re a professional sociologist working on a complex research question with significant public ramifications. It’s not fair, not even close, to compare parenting and child outcomes from a national probability sample of hetero parents and a snowball sample of lesbian parents.Correspondence between Dr. Regnarus and the author, August 12, 2010.

The key problem with snowball is you’re more likely to get your friends/peers (who are like you) involved. They won’t therefore be “average” parents which is what the national probability sample delivers and reliable research requires.

But this doesn’t prevent the authors from dampening the claims they say their research uncovered.

             III.  The Biblarz/Stacey Journal of Marriage and Family (2010) Study

Not only does this study claim that children raised by two mothers do just as well as children raised by a mother and father, they go much further. The claim,

In fact, based strictly on the social science, one could argue that two women parent better on average than a man and a woman, or at least a woman and man with a traditional division of labor.Biblarz and Stacey, 2010, p. 17.

Just try to take such a statement seriously. Nature and nature’s God has had us settle for these sub-par mother/family families all these millennia. The authors claim this superior value in lesbian families is because two mothers provide “a double dose of caretaking, communication, and intimacy.”Biblarz and Stacey, 2010, p. 17. Reading it twice doesn’t make it sound any more intelligent.

Greater Volatility Between Two Moms – But this “double-dose” of mother care which is supposedly so good for children can be, the authors admit, toxic to the relationship causing these homes to break-up at disturbingly high rates.

“…a double-dose of maternal investment sometimes fostered jealousy and competition between comothers which the asymmetry of the women’s genetic, reproductive, and breast-feeding ties to their infant could exacerbate.”Biblarz and Stacey, 2010, p. 11.

They cite one major comparative study between hetero and lesbian homes where, in the 5-year period of the study, 6 of the 14 lesbian-mother-headed homes had broken up compared to only 5 of the 38 mom/dad headed homes. This is explained because the “comparatively high standards lesbians bring to their intimate unions correlate with higher dissolution rates.” Biblarz and Stacey, 2010, p. 12. So these moms have trouble maintaining relationships simply because they love too much.

But these scholars fail to make any mention of how the break-up of a parental relationship profoundly impacts children in negative ways.

                IV.  The Gartrell/Bos Pediatrics Study

The second study was appeared June 2010 in the journal Pediatrics – published by the American Academy of Pediatrics – found as well that kids do better with two moms:

“According to their mothers’ reports, the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts in [a] normative sample of American Youth.” Gartrell and Bos, 2010, p. 1. (emphasis added)

And that when their moms broke up, it has no effect on the children whatsoever:

“Within the lesbian family sample, no…differences were found among adolescent offspring…whose mothers were still together and offspring whose mothers had separated.” Gartrell and Bos, 2010, p. 1.

If this data is to be believed, this means that lesbian homes are now the new super-homes for kids!

First, apparently children raised by two lesbian moms do better than kids in heterosexual parents at receiving the good and avoiding the bad in life. Wow!

Second, even if a child’s two moms split, these kids seem to be completely unaffected, Teflon-like, by this dramatic family change!  This is in dramatic contrast to what mountains of research has consistently found when children’s mothers and fathers end their relationships; the negative impact upon children is significant both in degree and duration.

Are we really to believe that we disadvantage children by giving them fathers as active participants in their lives, rather than minimally as sperm-donors?

More Serious Methodology Problems – The methodological problems in this second study are also clear to the casual reader. In this latest study, the data was collected on only 78 children through the mothers’ self-reporting on their child’s welfare. The study explains it used snowball samples also – mothers recruited by volunteering for the study (rather than randomly selected) via announcements at “lesbian events, women’s bookstores, and in lesbian newspapers throughout metropolitan areas of Boston, Washington DC and San Francisco.”Gartrell and Bos, 2010, p. 3.

So these were mothers from more urban and suburban areas, participants in ideological lesbian-thought culture and therefore, likely highly motivated study participants, evidenced by a remarkable and very uncommon 93% retention rate over the life of the study.

Is it possible these mothers, knowing they were participating in something called the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) could have felt inclined to be overly positive in their self-reporting? That could be one explanation for the startling and incongruent finding that children with lesbian parents face no negative impact when their mothers’ break-up.

These two recent studies cannot be relied for any trustworthy conclusion, and therefore contribute nothing helpful to the current body of weak literature on same-sex parenting.

            V.  Fathers Do Matter

There has been an absolute wealth of research on how important fathers are for healthy child development over the past 40 years.

In an analysis of over 100 studies on parent-child relationships, it was found that having a loving and nurturing father was as important for a child’s happiness, well-being, and social and academic success as having a loving and nurturing mother. These authors explain:

Much of this evidence suggests that the influence of father love on offspring’s development is as a great as and occasionally greater than the influence of mother love. …Overall, father love appears to be as heavily implicated as mother love in offsprings’ psychological well-being and health, as well as in an array of psychological and behavioral problems.Ronald P. Rohner and Robert A. Veneziano, “The Importance of Father Love: History and Contemporary Evidence,” Review of General Psychology 5.4 (2001): 382-405.

Confident Problem Solvers – Another study, published in the journal Child Development, looking at “Fatherhood in the Twenty-First Century” speaks to important and unique contributions fathers make to their children such as encouraging children to become more confident, safe risk-takers, more empathetic and better problem-solvers concludes that father’s “absence from their families will have dire consequences for their children’s development.”Natasha J. Cabrera, et al., Fatherhood in the Twenty-First Century, Child Development 71 (2000): 127-136, p. 133.

Empathy Development – Probably the most sophisticated study on how empathy is developed in children, initiated in the mid-1950s and the conclusions published in 1990 found the strong influence fathers have on children developing a sense of concern and compassion was “quite astonishing.” The research found that the strongest factor in impacting whether or not children demonstrated greater levels of empathic concern in their 30s and beyond was father’s participation in child-care. The study’s authors explain that this factor of paternal child-care was in fact stronger than the three strongest maternal factors combined. The 26-year-long study concludes with the recognition, “These results appear to fit with previous findings indicating that pro-social behaviors such as altruism and generosity in children were related to active involvement in child care by fathers.”Richard Koestner, Carol Franz and Joel Weinberger, “The Family Origins of Empathic Concern: A 26-Year Longitudinal Study,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58 (1990): 709-717, p. 713.

Language and Smarts- Another 2004 study on the effect of father ‘s play involvement on 2- and 3-year olds’ language and cognitive development found “direct and indirect effects of fathering on child development” in these important areas.Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, et al., “Fathers and Mothers Play With Their 2- and 3-Year Olds: Contributions to Language and Cognitive Development,” Child Development 75 (2004) 1806 – 1820, p. 1806.

General Well-Being- In a review of studies on father involvement and child well-being published since 1980, it is explained that 82% of these studies found “significant associations between positive father involvement and offspring well-being…”Paul R. Amato and Fernando Rivera, “Paternal Involvement and Children’s Behavior Problems,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 (1999): 375-384.

Educational Development- Data published in the European Journal of Psychology of Education, in looking that the role fathers and mothers play in the educational developmental of children finds that “fathers in two-parent households indeed affect their children’s development in diverse and significant ways.”Charlie Lewis and Michael E. Lamb, “Fathers’ Influence on Children’s Development: The Evidence from Two-Parent Homes,” European Journal of Psychology of Education 18 (2003) 211-228, p. 220.

Early Infancy Development- Michael Yogman conducted a study of the role fathering plays in overcoming the effects of prematurity in Latino, African-American and other inner-city populations. When he followed up with these preemies at three years of age, Yogman found that kids with highly involved fathers had substantially higher cognitive skills than those children who didn’t have involved fathers. Michael Yogman, et al., “Father Involvement and Cognitive/Behavioral Outcomes of Preterm Infants,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34 (1995): 58-66.

“Children with an involved father are exposed to more varied social experiences and are more intellectually advanced than those who only have regular contact with their mother. Well-fathered children have a greater breadth of positive social experiences than those exclusively reared by mothers.”

Pioneering child development scholar

Henry B. Biller,

Fathers and Families: Paternal Factors in Child Development

             VI.  Brain Research Shows Big Mother/Father Differences

The past two decades have been remarkably rich and fruitful decades in the study of the complexity of the human brain. And the more sophisticated this brain research becomes, the more we continue to learn that men and women are very different in very deep and meaningful ways. Their brains are different from before birth.

One of the first more popular books on the subject is Dr. Anne Moir and David Jessel’s Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men & Women. They explain in the first line of their book that men and woman are indeed different, equal only in their dual membership in humankind warning that “to maintain that they are the same in aptitude, skill or behavior is to build a society based on a biological and scientific lie.” Anne Moir and David Jessel, Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men & Women (New York: Random House, 1991) p. 5.

They wisely warn,

[T]he truth is that virtually every professional scientist and research into the subject has concluded that that brains of men and women are different. There has seldom been a greater divide between what intelligent, enlightened opinion presumes – that men and women have the same brain – and what science knows – that they do not. [So], it is time cease the vain contention that men and women are created the same. They were not, and no amount of idealism or Utopian fantasy can alter the fact. It can only strain the relationships between the sexes. Moir and Jessel, 1991, p. 8, 9.

Other books like Deborah Blum’s Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men & Woman (Penguin, 1997) and Doreen Kimura’s Sex and Cognition, (MIT Press, 2000) delve deep in explaining what science is still discovering in brain, neural and hormonal differences in the genders. Kimura opens her book with a quote by Kenneth H.W. Hilborn, Professor Emeritus at the University of Western Ontario:

When science ignores facts in favour of ideology…it ceases to be science and becomes propaganda for a dogma.

And the most significant recent contribution to this area of knowledge is in the work of Louann Brizendine M.D. a neurobiologist from the University of California, San Francisco. She has written two excellent and well-researched books, The Female Brain (Broadway, 2007, translated into 14 languages)  and her new The Male Brain (Broadway, 2010). In the Female Brain, Brizendine tells the experience of a mom determined to raise her daughter in a gender-neutral way,

One of my patients gave her three-and-a-half old daughter many unisex toys, including a bright red fire truck instead of a doll. She walked into her daughter’s room one afternoon to find her cuddling the truck in a baby blanket, rocking it back and forth saying, “Don’t worry little truckie, everything will be all right.”

Brizendine explains,

This isn’t socialization. This little girl didn’t cuddle her “truckie” because her environment molded her unisex brain. There is no unisex brain. She was born with a female brain, which came complete with its own impulses. Girls arrive already wired as girls, and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are different by the time they are born, and their brains are what drive their impulses, values and their very reality. Louann Brizendine, The Female Mind, (New York: Broadway Books, 2006) p. 12.

What this growing body of research teaches us is that, in human experience and cultures, there really is something distinct and important called womanhood. There is also something important and distinct called manhood. And the two, as two halves of humanity, have much in common. But they also have much that is different, and so in important ways. And Alice Rossi told the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in 1983 in her Presidential Address to their annual convention:

“Men bring their maleness to parenting, as women bring their femaleness.”Alice S. Rossi, “Gender and Parenthood,” American Sociological Review, 49 (1984):1-19, p. 10. Rossi’s article was the American Sociological Association 1983 Presidential Address delivered in Detroit, MI, September 1983.

And children have always needed the parenting of both, and they always will.

            VII.  Anthropology

Anthropology, the study of how humans develop, form and live their lives together has long examined how family forms develop in various cultures throughout history. They find that motherhood and fatherhood – the participation of married male and female parents in the lives of their children – are parts of all human cultures, primitive and developed, ancient and modern.

In her book, Male and Female, anthropologist Margaret Mead explains the fundamental nature of husbandry and fatherhood in human cultures. She explains,

When we survey all known human societies, we find everywhere some form of the family, some set of permanent arrangements by which males assist females in caring for children while they are young… In every known human society, everywhere in the world, the young male learns that when he grows up, one of the things he must do in order to be a full member of society is to provide food for some female and her young. [E]very know human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men.Margaret Mead, Male and Female: A Study for the Sexes in a Changing World, (New York: William Morrow & Company, 1949), p. 188, 189.

Celebrated anthropologist Ward H. Goodenough, in his Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures at the University of Rochester, explained:

“Thus seen, marriage is a contractual union of a man and a woman and involves sexual privilege, economic cooperation, cohabitation, the production of children, and responsibility for the children’s care, socialization, and education. Marriage…a union of a man and woman in which they are the jural father and mother of the children.. [M]arriage establishes the jural basis for a group consisting of a man, a woman, and their children…”Ward Hunt Goodenough, Description and Comparison in Cultural Anthropology, (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co., 1970), p. 4.

“All known human societies recognize the existence of the sexual pair-bond and give it formal sanction in the form of marriage. With only a handful of exceptions presently to be examined, married pairs are not only expected to copulate with each other, but to cooperate in the raising of offspring and to extend to each other material help. …[M]arriage is nevertheless the cultural codification of a biological program.”Pierre L. van den Berghe, Human Family Systems: An Evolutionary View, (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1979, 1990) pp. 45, 46.

Donald Brown, a leading anthropologist in the area of human universals, found:

The universality of kinship terminologies provides a further case of cultural reflection or recognition of cultural fact. A kinship terminology is…found among every people, in which domain most or all terms are translatable by the terms required for sexual reproduction, or combinations of them: father, mother, son, daughter… Accordingly, the father and mother of an individual are normally husband and wife.Donald Brown, Human Universals, (Boston: McGraw Hill, 1991), p. 93.

              VIII.  Conclusion

It is either dishonest or badly uninformed to say that married mothers and fathers don’t matter for children. The emerging research lesbian do not prove this in any way. The social sciences and the brain research shows that men and women are different in very meaningful and profound ways. And these differences are not only needed in creating new life, but raising that new life to healthy maturity as young men and women.

And this is also shown in the rich and diverse experience of human cultures throughout history. Husbands and wives becoming mothers and fathers and raising their children in committed marital relationships transcends culture, race and religion. It is a human ideal.

And those intellectual, legal and political activists who seek to explain it away have only their wishes and twisting of fact and experience to stand on.

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Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution.  Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships  where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast. 

Defending Your Marriage

Is your marriage under attack? Sometimes it can feel like the world is trying to tear your marriage apart. Internal conflicts or external pressures might make you wonder if something sinister is going on. How can you tell if you’re facing spiritual opposition? And what can you do about it? Tim Muehlhoff provides a straightforward resource for protecting your marriage from the threats of the evil one. He looks at what Scripture says about spiritual warfare and how our everyday struggles have deeper spiritual realities. And he provides practical steps for guarding our marriages with the whole armor of God.

Effective Habits to Embrace in Parenting

To be an effective parent, you must be a leader in your child’s life, guiding with a gentle hand and setting a solid example. Dr. Randy Schroeder provides the insight you need to be a leader-parent. As he explores the foundational Rs—relationship, routines, responsibilities, and rules—you’ll better understand the role you play in your child’s life. You’ll learn great phrases to employ such as “Either/Or/You Decide” and “When You/Then You”. While there is no perfect parent, this nuts-and-bolts material will equip you to lead your child in a loving, confident manner.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder has spent more than four decades writing, counseling, speaking, and teaching. For nearly 25 years, he was Vice President of Student Personnel Services, Dean of Students, and a professor of pastoral counseling at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. He’s also led a successful counseling practice helping individuals, couples, and families to thrive in their lives and relationships.

Cover image of Dr. Randall Schroeder's book "Simple Habits for Effective Parenting"

Simple Habits for Effective Parenting

Effective parenting is now within your grasp! With this inspiring how-to comprehensive book, achieve extraordinary results in raising a child to be self-assured, self-reliant, and responsible! You will be able to successfully lead and lovingly encourage your child toward a Godly life!

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 1

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 2

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage - Part 2

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 2

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 2

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

As a spouse, you have three roles to play—a friend, a partner, and a lover. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Pastor Kevin A. Thompson explores those different roles and challenges you to live them out by investing emotionally, physically, and mentally in your relationship. As friends, he suggests we learn to play and laugh together. As partners, he equips us with solid ways to handle conflict and communication. As lovers, he offers some thoughts on how to bring back the sizzle. He shares five keys to saving your marriage: humility, respect, mercy, communication, and resilience. You’ll be encouraged to intentionally invest in your marriage.

Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

Kevin A. Thompson (MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is lead pastor at Community Bible Church, a growing multi-site church with four locations in western Arkansas. Every year he meets with nearly one hundred couples with a range of needs, from pre-marital counseling to navigating the most serious betrayals. A marriage and parenting conference speaker, he and his wife, Jenny, have two children and live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He blogs at kevinathompson.com.

Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Cherishing Your Spouse Every Day

Do you love your spouse, or do you truly cherish them? Gary Thomas encourages couples to make a daily effort to go beyond the ‘duty’ of love, and combat the natural inclination to drift apart, by choosing to see the best in their spouse.

Mr. Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas is an international speaker and best-selling, award-winning author whose books include Married SexSacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting. He has also written numerous articles for several prominent national magazines. Gary and his wife, Lisa, reside in Texas and have three children. You can learn more about Gary by visiting his website, www.garythomas.com.

cherish front cover

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

“Most marriages survive by gritting teeth and holding on. But marriages can and will not only survive but thrive when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another.” Those are the powerful words of bestselling author Gary Thomas in his newest book–Cherish. And in a world desperate for marriage redemption, it is needed now more than ever. Thomas shows that although there are a countless number of marriages consisting of two people just going through the motions, there are real ways this pattern can be reversed: when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another in proven, loving, and everyday actions and words.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 1

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

How a Former Abortion Doctor Became Pro-Life

As an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood, Dr. Patti Giebink believed she was helping women. Later, she began reading scripture and God gradually changed her heart on the abortion issue. Patti tells the story of her long journey from abortion doctor to pro-life and encourages listeners to share the message of life with compassion.

Headshot image of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Patti Giebink

Mrs. Patti Giebink

Dr. Patti Giebink is an OB-GYN who serves on the board of the Alpha Center, a well-known pregnancy center located in Sioux Falls, S.D. She also travels intermittently to work in mission hospitals in Pakistan and other countries. After completing her medical training, Dr. Giebink worked for Planned Parenthood from 1995-1997, during which she was the only abortion-provider in the state of South Dakota. She eventually experienced a radical change of heart on the issue of abortion after receiving God’s grace, forgiveness, and love, and she is now a passionate advocate for the pro-life movement.

Cover image of the book "Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life"

Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life

Unexpected Choice is told from the perspective of a doctor who actually performed abortions through Planned Parenthood. The book chronicles her journey from being a pro-choice physician to someone speaking on behalf of the pro-life movement.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.