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Study: Children from intact, married, families do better in school

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave a pattern for humanity to follow in order to build a successful society. It was simply this, create families.

And God was very specific on what this detailed, it occurs when a man leaves his father and mother, and marries a woman starting their own family:

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 NIV)

And if we break from this pattern, with such things as polygamy, divorce, single-parent homes, not only will families suffer, but so will the children, and ultimately so does society.

With a fallen world, I realize that things happen that are beyond our control, nevertheless this is the pattern that God set at the very beginning for success.

And a recent study by the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) has come to a similar conclusion. It found that children do better in school when they are living in a home with both biological parents.

Researchers Nicholas Zill, a psychologist with IFS, and University of Virginia professor Brad Wilcox, concluded this after comparing data from the National Household Education Surveys conducted in 1996 and 2019, the Christian Post reports.

As part of their research, Zill and Wilcox studied several factors, including:

  • The number of interviews parents had with teachers.
  • Did children repeat grades?
  • Was a child suspended or expelled, and if so, how many times?
  • Were teachers contacting parents, about late or incomplete homework? and
  • How many times, did teachers contact parents about the child’s behaviour?

First, the researchers noticed that between 1996 and 2019, there was an overall improvement in these areas:

  • Teachers contacting parents about homework fell from 21.9% in 1996 to 17.4% in 2019;
  • Contact about a child’s behavior, dropped from 27% in 1996 to 21.6% in 2019, and
  • The number of kids who repeated grades decreased from 12.9% to 6% over the same period, and
  • The number of students expelled or suspended similarly fell from 8.8% to 9.4%.

While there were overall improvements between 1996 and 2019, the researchers noticed that children from non-intact families went against this trend and saw increases in problems in all four areas.

After allowing for differences in other factors such as parental income and education, Wilcox and Zill reported, “students from non-intact families continue to have nearly triple the risk of suspension and double the risk of grade repetition as students from intact, biological families.”

The study also found that the parents of children in non-intact families were two-times more likely to be contacted by teachers about behavior, and 1.63 times more likely to be contacted about homework.

This is not the first study to report these concerning trends, as others have reported similar results:

  • American researchers found between 20% and 25% of the children in divorced families showed prolonged symptoms of depression, antisocial behavior, risk-taking or irresponsibility. This compared to only 10% in intact families. [For Better or Worse: Divorce Reconsidered by M. Hetherington: W.W. Norton, New York, 2002]
  • A Great Britain study revealed that 16% of children (5 to 15 years) in single-parent families demonstrated mental health difficulties, compared to only 8% in intact families — a 200% increase. [Mental health of children and adolescents in Great Britain by H. Meltzer, The Stationery Office: London, 2000]
  • Children of divorced parents have increased chances of poorer test scores in areas of math, reading and thinking skills. [Parental divorce and the life chances of children by J. Elliott and M. Richards, Family Law, 1991 / The Influence of family type on children’s behaviour and development at five years by J. Wadsworth, I. Burnell, B. Taylor and N. Butler, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry:1985]
  • A study out of Britain revealed that children in single-parent families are over twice as likely (2.5 times) to be either “sometimes or often unhappy” and were “3.3 times as likely to score poorly” on self-esteem tests. Note: researchers accounted for other contributing factors. [The Exeter Family Study: Family breakdown and its impact on children by M. Cockett and J. Tripp 1994]
  • Children of single-parent families report difficulties with friends three times more than those in two-parent families. [The Exeter Family Study: Family breakdown and its impact on children by M. Cockett and J. Tripp 1994]

As we watch what many are describing as a breakdown in society, it’s not happening because of the lack of diversity or equality, the root of the problem is found in the fracturing that is taking place in the family.

READ: Success in school more favorable for students who live with married, biological parents: study

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