Friday, May 22, 2009

The Pain in Single Parenting

The Wall Street Journal has another great article on the importance of strong marriages.

Sara McLanahan at Princeton University and her colleagues have found that boys who are raised by single mothers are twice as likely to end up in prison by age 32, that girls who are born outside of marriage are three times as likely to have a teenage pregnancy, and that teens born outside of marriage are about twice as likely to drop out of high school, compared with their peers who are raised in intact, married families.

Moreover, we should take cold comfort from the fact that many of these nonmarital births are, in Ms. Henriquez's words, to "women [who] may be living with a partner." It is true that most of the recent growth in nonmarital childbearing has been driven by births to cohabiting couples. But cohabiting couples are notoriously unstable, in large part because their relationships are not anchored by the legal, social and moral commitments associated with marriage. One study by Pamela Smock at the University of Michigan and Wendy Manning at Bowling Green State University found that 50% of children born to cohabiting parents saw their parents part by age 5, compared with only 15% of children born to married parents.

And as both parents and scholars know, such instability is hard on young children. Not surprisingly, a growing body of research on cohabitation and child well-being indicates that kids who spend time in cohabiting unions are significantly more likely to experience emotional problems, school failure and physical and sexual abuse than children in intact, married homes -- in part because they are much more likely to be exposed to a revolving series of romantic partners, usually unrelated adult males, who do not have their best interests at heart.

For decades I have tried to teach people how to resolve the issues that lead to divorce. We have saved thousands of marriages from destruction. In a few weeks I will release a DVD that outlines the facts about the ways to prevent divorce and produce strong marriages.

Pray for us.

Gary Sweeten

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