The book, Take Back Your Family: A Challenge To America's Parents, by the stars of MTV's Run's House is an excellent tribute to marriage and family and a highly worthwhile read.
This article was published August 10th, 2008 in the New York Post by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.
If I do say so myself, I am the perfect person to review Take Back Your Family: A Challenge to America's Parents, by Rev. Run and Justine Simmons. I am a complete media naif. I don’t own a TV. I have never seen MTV’s Run’s House. I’ve never seen Justine’s Brown Sugar jewelry line, or the Pastry shoe line founded by daughters Angela and Vanessa. I’ve never seen either Angela’s magazine Run Down, or Vanessa’s performance on The Guiding Light. The family’s larger-than-life presence in the rap music world, (Rev. Run, his brother Russell, and now his son JoJo are all hip hop recording artists) is lost on me. My personal theme song is "White and Nerdy" by Weird Al Yankovic.
But I am qualified to judge a book on marriage and family. I am the Founder and President of The Ruth Institute, a non-profit educational organization promoting marriage as a fundamental, gender-based institution of society. I have a doctorate in economics. I can judge this book on its own merits, without being unduly influenced by the family’s media presence.
It's a good book. You should read it.
Reverend Run and Justine take a stand for some radically counter-cultural ideas that happen to be correct. Let me mention just three areas where hard data support the Simmons’ common sense down-to-earth approach.
First, while this book is ostensibly about parenting, the Simmons’ opening salvo is that their marriage comes first. As the Rev. puts it, “Everything worthwhile I have is a by-product of my union with my wife.” Rev. and Justine believe parents need to nurture their relationship with each other and not allow their kids to absorb so much time, attention and energy, that the spousal relationship suffers. Nerd Alert: research shows that marriage builds wealth, and that happy marriages build happy kids.
Their second politically incorrect idea is that gender roles are legitimate, necessary and helpful. Rev. Run says, “All the decisions that get made in Run’s House, both large and small, are collaborations.” Yet, they agree, without apology, that everything works best when one person has the final say. “Run has the final say at Run’s House.”
They recognize the counter-cultural nature of their stance and rush to the others’ defense. Rev. recognizes that male leadership of the household isn’t necessarily appealing to men. He pointedly observes that too few MEN, especially African-American men, step up and take this responsibility for their families. Justine points out, “Just because I’m a powerful, independent woman doesn’t mean I want some sucker husband.”
For both of them, mutual respect is the key. Justine puts it this way, “Just like I wouldn’t want my kids to grow up around a woman who’s constantly undercutting her husband, I wouldn’t want them around a father who disrespects his wife by treating her like a maid.” Justine’s sentiments echo the results of survey data gathered by University of Virginia Sociologist and fellow marriage-nerd Brad Wilcox. The happiest wives are those who feel their husbands appreciate their contributions to the household.
Third, and probably most importantly, the Simmons’ unapologetic support of marriage is a stinging rebuke to those avant garde types who claim that matrimony is out-dated, fathers are disposable and marriage is for white people. In my humble opinion, those in the media, the academy and government who lead the charge against life-long married love have a lot to answer for.
Like many African-Americans, the Simmons’ don’t give a hoot about being politically correct. Another Nerd Alert: Survey data shows that some 95% of African-Americans support traditional marriage.
Rev. Run and Justine Simmons are doing a great public service by giving people hope that they can build a happy family. Through projects like Take Back Your Family and Run’s House, they are doing their part to make marriage cool.
On behalf of Marriage Nerds everywhere, I thank them.