6 Reasons Kids Do Best When Raised By Married Parents

November 3, 2011

Embracing Life

We’ve had a whirlwind of family weddings and engagements lately. At my nephew’s rehearsal dinner this weekend, my brother-in-law said in his toast, “There is great joy in commitment.”

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So true! But…

Did you know that the U.S. Census Report showed fewer than half the homes in the Twin Cities are headed by married couples? In 2007, nearly four in ten births were to unmarried women, many of them in cohabiting relationships (National Center for Health Statistics). Today the nation’s retreat from marriage and the rise of cohabiting households with children is the biggest threat to the quality and stability of family life.

Wanting to defend marriage, the Archdiocese has decided to educate the youth. It has put together a team consisting of  married couples and priests who will talk to high school students about why marriage matters. My husband and I are part of this crew (Can you hear my knees knocking?) and we believe it’s a great approach to this dilemma. The Archdiocesan initiative has required reading for us speakers, and I wanted to share with you some of the information we’ve learned about why children do best when raised by two married parents:

1) They will be healthier

In one Swedish study, boys who were reared in single-parent homes were more than 50% more likely to die from a range of causes–e.g., suicide, accidents, or addiction–than boys who were reared in two-parent homes. Parental divorce reduces a child’s life expectancy by four years, and there is a higher risk of infant mortality when parents are divorced. Interestingly, higher levels of children’s psychological problems are  associated with cohabitation.

2) Less likely to live in poverty

Most children who are not raised by married parents will live at least one year in dire poverty (Between one-fifth and one-third of divorcing women end up in poverty). On the other hand, married couples appear to share more of their income and other property, and they get more support from friends, civic institutions and extended families. They also receive more wealth transfers from both sets of grandparents than do cohabiting couples (Single mothers almost never receive financial help from the child’s father’s kin). And a fascinating find:  Married fathers increased their assets after babies were born, while single fathers saw their rate of asset accumulation decline. (Many studies show that married men earn 10%-40% more than their single counterparts.)

3) More likely to attend college

Interesting fact: Married couples contribute a median of $1,804 to college, divorced parents–$502, and remarried parents just $500. This could be a reason why children whose parents are married are more apt to go to college and have a lower  unemployment rate. Plus, as adults, they have a higher rate of occupational status and earnings.

4)Less likely to be physically or sexually abused

How many times do you read in the newspaper that a child has been killed by the mother’s live-in boyfriend? Although boyfriends contribute less than 2 percent of nonparental childcare, they commit half of all reported child abuse by nonparents. Studies show that children living in single-mother homes have increased rates of death from intentional injuries.  A study in Missouri found that preschool children were 47.6 times more likely to die in a cohabiting household, compared to preschoolers living in an intact, married household. And sadly, Preschool-aged children living with a stepfather are forty times more likely to be sexually abused than one living with both biological parents.

5) Less likely to use drugs or alcohol

Twice as many young teens living with single-mothers or a stepparent have tried marijuana. Teens living with biological parents are significantly less likely to use illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Why? Studies suggest children living with non-traditional families have more family stress, less monitoring from parents, and weakened attachment to parents–especially fathers.

6) Decreased risk of divorcing when they get married–or becoming unwed parents

Girls raised outside of intact marriages are three times more likely to become unwed mothers. When parents divorce they increase the odds that their children will divorce by at least 50%. So far, research shows that divorce affects three generations.

 

Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, said, “The long-term success and economic prosperity of societies depends upon the health of intact families.” The findings of the social sciences confirm that the best environment for raising children is a stable home provided by the marriage of their parents.

Yes!

I also agree with my brother-in-law; that there is great joy in commitment. And this joy trickles down to the children. A happy marriage is a great gift that parents can give to their kids–it helps the whole family embrace life!

(Compiled using Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [visit http://www.foryourmarriage.org ] & Why Marriage Matters by the Institute for American Values [visit http://www.americanvalues.org ] )

 

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About Kathy Schneeman

After graduating from The College of St. Thomas, I taught at Nativity in St. Paul until our oldest was just about born in the classroom (What a great lesson on life that would have been for my students!) I then became a stay-at-home-mom while teaching religious education classes and working very part time at UST. Recently, I served as the Archdiocese's Life Coordinator in the Office for Marriage, Family and Life until twins arrived (I was almost 43!) When I have a few minutes of quiet time, I like to run, eat chocolates, scones and Mexican food (that's why I run), read, and have a beverage with my husband at night. We have a whopping nine kids (yes...same husband and same wife; we get that question a lot!) and we attend St. Joseph's in West St. Paul--where we first met when we were in grade school.

View all posts by Kathy Schneeman
  • Rkalentz

    If marriage improves children’s lives, this study gives even more reasons the church and all of us should allow and encourage any two consenting adults–whether they be of the same gender or different genders–who love each other, are committed to ch other, model love and want to spend their lives together (and may already be raising children together) to marry.

    • Kathyschneeman

      “R”–Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for reading my story. According to Divine Law, the nature of marriage is defined as a covenant between one man and one woman. This union is best for children and society. The following article is the first in a series about the marriage amendment which is published by The Catholic Spirit (Please read the rest of the series as they are published on line or in the paper in the weeks to come.):

      http://thecatholicspirit.com/columns/faith-in-the-public-arena/why-a-marriage-protection-amendment-why-now/

      This article was just sent to me today from the Archdiocese. It will help answer your query, too:

      http://calcatholic.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?id=719667ca-ed32-4ab5-b9af-666616447565

      • Becky

        I understand the Church’s position and the teaching. I think it’s wrong. And, frankly, most Catholics (when asked by a non-Catholic pollster) agree. It’s like the teachings on birth control: The majority of Catholics are going to basically respond “Ok. Thanks for the info. But we’re going to do it, and we’re coming to communion anyway.”

      • Becky

        Also…trotting out the church’s teachings on this is a strawman and more than a bit of a red herring as a response to my post. The study talked about married parents raising children. It didn’t talk about same sex or opposite sex parents raising children. It just said married. Sort of neuters the church’s argument on how allowing same-sex couples to marry is a detriment to family life.

  • Angiemac70

    As a divorced mom… I couldn’t agree more! Sadly…

    • Kathyschneeman

      Thanks, Angie.