Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hollywood, Marriage, Motherhood, and 39%. . . .

This morning, The Today Show ran a very interesting story on the new trend in Hollywood. . . single motherhood. . . flaunted. The story not only looked at how attitudes in Hollywood are changing, but about how what's happening in Hollywood might be changing our attitudes. The clip includes a discussion on culture that's worth your time, and might be worth talking about with your kids in the context of your home or youth group. Topics include the function of culture, celebrities as role models, fathering, parenting, divorce, and single motherhood. At one point, we're told that 39% of Americans now believe that marriage is becoming obsolete. That's where we're headed folks. And we should be talking about it.

Here's the link to the clip. I apologize that it's just a link. I've tried to embed the clip here on the blog, but it keeps embedding a clip about a gorilla! Ok, that might be interesting, but I'm not sure what the gorilla clip has to do with youth culture.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/41291979#41291979

9 comments:

Kate and Brad Aldrich said...

Walt,
Thank for the post! I wanted to make sure that you had seen the "behind the scenes" details about the very poor Pew research report that this story is giving light to again. I won't take the credit here Lamar Tyler uncovered this in www.blackandmarriedwithkids.com

"In an effort to capture the experiences and attitudes of those living in both traditional and less traditional family arrangements, the survey included oversamples of three key groups: (1) adults who are divorced or separated and have at least one child younger than age 18; (2) adults who are living with a partner and have at least one child younger than age 18; (3) adults who have never been married and are not currently living with a partner and have at least one child younger than age 18."

So basically the research shows the attitudes on marriage for people who have had a bad experience with it! looking at that lenses it is amazing that only 40% said it was obsolete! That is the real story here! Even in these difficult and painful situations, 60% of people still find hope and purpose in marriage!

Sara said...

Wow, thank you for sharing...how sobering! first, i am really glad that the women on the Today Show are looking at this from an angle that emphasizes the dangers of "single-mothered as glamorous"...as a new Mom myself, i can testify to how difficult and un-glamorous it is to raise a child, and that is WITH a supportive husband! and the Today Show hostesses are correct - the Hollywood stars have plenty of others around them to help raise their children while they go work out at the gym, get their hair done, and work on their next film. second, while i am also glad that women in Hollywood are not ashamed of showing off their baby bellies, i think it is truly disappointing that they make it look like a fashion trend at the same time :/ i watched a movie based on a true story a few weeks ago about 5-6 girls in a high-school who made a "pact" to get pregnant together by their boyfriends, and they were completely clueless as to what they had done. it was sad, but again, sobering, as to what is going on with the youth of today. just something else we need to be aware of when working with teens! again, thank you for sharing!

Walt Mueller said...

Stephanie. . . I accidentally deleted your comment. . . could you please resend it? Sorry!

Stephanie said...

KATE and BRAD ALDRICH. I totally agree with Walt. While you see 60% of people not seeing marriage as obsolete as the glass being ½ full, Walt and I see it as ½ empty. Unfortunately we’re talking marriage here, and not the percentage of people liking, or disliking, a new TV sitcom. 60% is NOT a good percentage when realizing the implication involves such a serious matter as raising children. In fact, isn’t 60% considered failing in most educational settings? Isn’t looking at 60% as the glass being ½ full the equivalent of hiding our heads in the sand, the epitome of wearing rose-colored glasses? Your tone seems to be that this is nothing to be alarmed about or addressed. With all due respect, I now review your other comments.

You state, “...the very poor Pew research report...” That is an egregiously false characterization. The Pew Research Center (PRC) does not do poor research. They are one of the most respected and renowned research organizations in the world.

You justify your accusation of “very poor… research” in two ways. The first is your statement, “So basically the research shows the attitude on marriage for people who have had a bad experience with it.” That is a mendacious misrepresentation. This was an exhaustive, multi-category survey, interviews of 2,691 adults, resulting in 11 different key findings, published in a 109-page document. The category that shows 39% of adults think that marriage is becoming obsolete consisted of the RANDOM selection of participants – NOT people who had a “bad experience with it”.

The second way you justify “very poor… research” is to make reference to a Lamar Tyler’s criticism of this study. I thoroughly reviewed his critique and his referencing this survey as being “flawed”.

Lamar shows his lack of knowledge in social surveying methodology. An arena he was woefully equipped to enter. And this is where I must rain on your relished, “gotcha” PRC moment, in accepting Lamar’s proclamation of the survey being “flawed”. Your “behind the scenes” declaration to Walt, that in Lamar’s discovering PRC’s admission of “oversampling” invalidates the results, is blatantly bogus. You quote Lamar’s attempt to invalidate the survey’s results by his quoting of a passage in the survey’s “Methodology” section, where they forthrightly state that “oversampling” was used – there was no hiding it. It was rightfully used to get significantly equal representation in contrasting group attitudes within the “Group Differences” category. It was NOT used in all of the survey categories. The groups they were comparing in the “Group Differences” category were, 1) Traditional Family Arrangements (TFA), and 2) Non-Traditional Family Arrangements (N-TFA). Through their use of the US Census it was rightfully determined that they would need to “oversample” the N-TFA group in order to get a significantly equal representation between the two groups. The US Census showed a significantly higher proportion of TFA over N-TFA in the general population, which would have then skewed the results toward the TFA group, if just a random sampling was utilized.
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I find it disheartening in that it appears you based your slander of this critically esteemed survey, and PRC’s highly trained survey scientists, only on Lamar Tyler’s criticism. It appears that you never even bothered to consult the document published on PRC’s website, which was embedded in Lamar’s article and could have been easily accessed. Did you even read one word of it? In retrospect, who did the “very poor… research”?

My passion comes from a deepening fear of people just taking the word of the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, etc., without researching the facts. Also, I am fully aware of PRC being a subsidiary of Pew Charitable Trusts and I cannot allow this wonderful philanthropic organization to be so unfairly disparaged and so easily dismissed.

Lastly, that is a terrific picture of the two of you. PURE BLISS! Something I definitely aspire to in a future relationship. Congratulations, and may your days together be long!

Brian Pengelly said...

I think this article starts to touch around something i have been pondering alot lately: how do we pass on values in society without using shame and stigma as a primary tool?

The video clips mentions that single mothers used to face tremendous stigma in society, and that has been largely lost over the last years. As in many areas of culture this shift is a mixed bag. Having mentored many young men who grew up in single parent families I have seen first hand that damage that using shame and stigma as social controls has on innocent kids. I have also listened to many young mothers deal ranting with frustration that because they elected to raise their child they were viewed with stigma, but the father who deserted the child faces little to no shame or stigma while dodging responsibility for the child.

This is one of the biggest problems with using social stigma as a means of discouraging behavior: it is imprecise and is often most forcefully used on the most innocent.

Yet the lack of such societal disapproval actually can end up working to encourage or glamorize said behaviors.

A good example of this is a comes from a young woman who was in one of my first youth groups. She became pregnant shortly out of high school, and I helped counsel her through the difficult decision to birth, keep and raise that child. She sacrificed much of her life to see that her son was raised well, and i laboured to make sure the young man had good godly male role models in his life. That young man is now in his late teens, and his mother has become a role model for many in the community.

But not long ago I was listening to the teen and a group of his peers discussing life, relationships and sex. (It is amazing how teens completely forget you are there when you are driving them someplace!) What struck me is that to them growing up in a single parent family is natural. While the young man mentioned that if he ever got a girl pregnant his mother would probably castrate him, he doesn't experience his family as being bad. He has a loving mother and supportive community, and to him what he experiences is normal. His female friends see his mom and the wonderful things that she does and admire her and see themselves as wanting to be like her. Though she would be first to speak and say "Don't walk this road." this message is often lost to the teens who only see the end result rather than the long journey.

Teens seem to powerfully understand shame and stigma and are easily motivated by them. But as a follower of Christ those are not the tools I feel I should be using to build a kingdom of love and forgiveness. However more esoteric motivations are often much harder to use, and take longer to fully develop in the lives of young people...and I have seen many young people only grasp them too late.

So how do we build churches and communities that are marked with grace, but also that help young people strive for what is best for them and for their children?

Tammy Robinson said...

Kate and Brad, in totally setting aside the validity argument of the survey, I don’t understand you saying, “ basically the research shows the attitude on marriage for people who had a bad experience with it”. 2 of the 3 groups you cite have never even been married. And concerning the 1st group of divorcees, just being divorced most definitely does not equate to believing that marriage is becoming obsolete. Many divorcees, myself included, still maintain a very positive view of marriage, but realize we made mistakes. What do you attribute the high rate of remarriages to if you believe that divorcees think marriage is obsolete?

Also, believing that something is becoming obsolete does not necessarily have anything to do with your experience of it. For example, I can believe that eyeglasses are becoming obsolete due to contact lenses and eye surgery, but that does not mean I had a bad experience with eyeglasses. Likewise, one can one believe that marriage is becoming obsolete without having had a bad experience with it.

I don’t understand your reasoning at all. Am I missing something?

Kate and Brad Aldrich said...

Walt, Stephanie, and Tammy,
This is Brad, I apologize if my comments brought controversy. I apparently was not clear about my point of view or about my disappointment with the pew research study. If would allow me to clarify. I have read the study result and found them interesting. The problem I had was in the application of the data. That has been started by the Pew research foundation, but the central problem is actually in the media. The problem is a simple problem of attribution. When doing any study, especially survey study, great care must be taken in attributing the results to populations that were not sufficiently studied. This dilemma has been discussed frequently in scientific studies, which are frequently done on a university campus. When a specific population has been researched it is not appropriate to then attribute the results of the research to a population beyond that research. This occurred with the Pew Research study in question. This was only partly the fault of Pew, but has been continued and multiplied in the media. As the clip that Walt shared exemplifies the media has used this study to encourage the destruction of marriage.
In my earlier comment I in no way intended to indicated that “non-tradition” families are any less valid, important, or “right”. Only that they were the focus of the study and the media has twisted the to say that all of America feels this way. On the contrary, I think it astounding that people who have been so hurt still find value and worth in the institution of marriage. I think this speaks to the heart of our condition as humans, that we seek connection and long for oneness.
Stephanie you said “My passion comes from a deepening fear of people just taking the word of the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, etc., without researching the facts.” I very much agree with this assessment. I loathe the fearmongers who only strive to seek and show the negative being done. I want to support only that which is building towards better. I don’t see the purpose in spreading fear without offering hope as well. This is something that Walt and CPYU do very well. There is much that can bring fear about adolescent culture, my wife and I have always appreciated Walt’s ability to find the positive even in the midst of things that could bring about only fear.
As confusing as my comments were my goal in making them was only to express hope. I apologize if that did not come across that way.

Kate and Brad Aldrich said...

Hope you don’t mind me saying a few things Walt . . . This is Kate of “Brad and Kate”, I just wanted to chime in on the conversation going on here! First a side note: I have been a supporter and fan of Walt Mueller and CPYU since my first year at Eastern University’s Youth Ministry program, where Duffy introduced us to Walt and his amazing ministry! As always Walt, I thank you and your staff for all that you are doing to change teens lives as well as inform parents, youth workers and anyone who will listen about youth culture today!
Brad and I think open dialogue is an awesome thing and blogging has been a tool to open up dialogue! There are many lives and hearts being changed through blogging! That being said, it is my understanding that as followers of Christ we are to dialogue and even disagree in a grace filled manor! We are to be as Christ was! We can disagree, we can even get heated, but when we are name calling to people that we have never met and are not looking at them in the face, then in my opinion we need to check ourselves! Just because we do not have to look at one another as we disagree, does not mean we can treat them without dignity and respect! Remember you are attacking actual people, they have faces, families and feelings! Jesus never shied away from bringing the truth to the forefront, but he ALWAYS did so with grace and love!
I do not know the two who have openly spoken against my husbands remarks, but I can assure you, you did not fully read what he said and you did not understand his full meaning! My husband is a champion for marriages! For seeing them restored to the hope of Christ’s plan for them! Whether the research is valid or not, whether the media has skewed it or not, I know my husbands heart and it is to see more marriages restored, to encourage our future generations that a solid marriage is a blessing beyond words! Research of not, marriages are in trouble!! We believe this and my husbands remarks in no way were disagreeing with this or with Walt for that matter!
Also to the two who have spoken with such vexation, I know without a doubt if you are reading Walt’s blog then you are pretty smart people! Your thoughts, agreements and disagreements on these subjects really do interest me, as that is how we learn from one another and broaden our horizons, but when they are presented in a way with, what feels like pure venom, they lose their platform!
Even though I feel Brad’s remarks were greatly misunderstood, we welcome people to openly challenge us and dialogue with us! Just as Abraham Lincoln developed his team of advisors with both supporters and those who apposed him; so too we like to have both those who agree with us and those who do not, so that we can better see the whole picture! You may disagree with my thoughts in this very comment, and that is ok! I would just ask that you use respectful terms when referring to those whom you have never met and to whom you do not have to speak to face to face!
Also, (to the one writer) thanks for the compliment on our picture, though I find it hard to believe you were being genuine! And yes, we do have a marriage filled with bliss, because we have Christ as our center! We are in no way perfect, but we are seeking to live our lives and our marriage as Christ has called us to! Thanks Walt! Kate

Stephanie said...

Kate, I was genuine, I meant every single word of my last paragraph.

And you are so right, Jesus would not have presented my feelings so strongly. Thanks for the lesson. My sincere apology to both of you.