Family, Main, News, Studies, z59
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Children do better when parents are married versus living together

Children need married parents to thrive Credit: buck82/Flickr/Creative Commons

Children need married parents to thrive Credit: buck82/Flickr/Creative Commons

A recent study by the Institute for Family Studies found that children raised in a family where parents marry have the best chance of success. The study reported in The Federalist analyzed data from 100 countries.

The study found that where there is no marriage commitment — this included situations where both of the child’s biological parents were living together — there was a greater chance the child would face a union transition. This takes place when parents end their relationship and start a new sexual relationship.

These types of transition create a major time of instability for children often resulting in emotional and behavioral problems, educational difficulties and even a higher risk of death for the child.

The report stated that “[C]ohabitation continues to confer a stability disadvantage on individual children even as cohabitation has become more normative.”

The report disputes those who suggest that because of the rise in rates cohabitation it should be looked upon as the new form of marriage.

Writing for The Federalist, Holly Scheer said:

“Couples who commit to one another before having a biological child usually have a deeper commitment than those who partner in the wake of getting pregnant.”

Marriage increases the chance of a relationship remaining intact resulting in better results for the children.

The study also showed that the problem of union transition was highest in single-parent families where by the age of 12, a child is 900% more likely to have experienced a new parent.

The study found that the safest and most stable environment involved a family where the child was conceived after marriage.

Despite the staggering amount of evidence showing that children thrive better in a marriage situation, the number of people choosing not to marry is increasing. The number of unmarried women who were living with the father of the child versus being married when the child was born increased from 8% in 1970 to 28% in early 2000s.

The study also found that education had no impact on union stability. Children from educated co-habiting or single parents experienced much more union transition than children with married parents.

Living in a stable home environment is  a vital aid for a child to successfully navigate the teen years.  Previous studies have revealed the devastating impact that single parenthood and/or divorce can have on teens, this includes:

  • Increased alcohol usage –A Scottish study showed that girls age 18 were twice as likely to be classified as heavy drinkers (17.8%) if they were from single-parent families compared to just 9.2% for girls from intact families.
  • Increased trouble with the law — A study by England’s Youth Justice Board found that children aged 11 to 16, were 25% more likely to have a run in with the law than children from intact families. A second study showed that a boy’s chances of being classified a “persistent” offender increased by 60% if he was from a single-parent family.
  • Increase drug usage — One study found after factoring out other contributing issues such as finances being from a single-parent family increased a child’s chance of drug usage by 50%.
  • Increased educational problems — One study showed that children from single-parent families are twice as likely to have dropped out of school by age 16 than children from intact families. A second study revealed that boys from single-parent families were 270% more likely to skip classes than boys from families with both biological parents.
  • Increased emotional issues — A study out of the US found that children from divorced families had increased problems with both aggressive behavior and depression.

If cohabitation becomes the new norm for society, it will bring with it new and unprecedented social problems.


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