Decades of research have taught the social scientists what is good for children -- children, on average, do best physically, emotionally, educationally, and financially with a married father and mother under the same roof.
In 2010, Citizen Link, associated with Focus on the Family, assembled all the reputable research, and announced "30 years of research tells us a child deserves a mother and a father":
30 Years of Research that Tell Us, ‘A Child Deserves a Mother and a Father’
by Jenny Tyree, CitizenLink, June 17, 2010
It’s more than an opinion. Following is documentation for just a handful of the studies that support the conclusion that children do best with their biological, married mother and father.
Nobody to our knowledge has actually counted all the studies supporting the value of married mother/father headed families. They are too numerous to count and there are few topics within the social sciences that enjoy more numerous and diverse published research documentation from the world’s leading scholars than how married mothers and fathers impact child well-being.
Below we offer just a sampling of conclusions by various, universally recognized scholars and child-advocacy organizations on what the research says about which family form best contributes to healthy child development.
• James Q. Wilson, one of the world’s brightest and most well-respected social scientists, wrote a very important article on the importance of marriage recently. He says:
Almost everyone – a few retrograde scholars excepted – agrees that children in mother-only homes suffer harmful consequences: the best studies show that these youngsters are more likely than those in [mother/father] families to be suspended from school, have emotional problems, become delinquent, suffer from abuse and take drugs.
He explains that some of the difference in these children, perhaps half, can be explained by the economic difference of living without a father. But, he explains, “The rest of the difference is explained by a mother living without a husband.”
Two leading mainstream child-advocacy organizations recently sought to understand which family form best elevated child well-being outcomes. Their conclusions found that married mothers and fathers in low conflict marriages accomplished this important task best.
• The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), found:
Most researchers now agree that…studies support the notion that, on average, children do best when raised by their two married biological parents… Research indicates that, on average, children who grow up in families with both their biological parents in a low-conflict marriage are better off in a number of ways than children who grow up in single-, step or cohabiting-parent households.
This paper can be found at: http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/states/0086.pdf
• In addition, Child Trends concludes:
An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage… Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seem to support child development. (Emphasis in original)
This paper can be found at: http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/MarriageRB602.pdf (new link)
• A diverse team of family scholars working collectively from the Universities of Texas, Virginia, Minnesota, Chicago, Maryland, Washington, UC Berkeley, and Rutgers University recently reported on the multiple benefits for children who live with their own married parents. In this family structure children,
• Sociologist Paul Amato, writing in a study published jointly by Princeton University and the Brookings Institute, explains,
Specifically, compared with children who grow up in stable, two-parent families, children born outside marriage reach adulthood with less education, earn less income, have lower occupational status, are more likely to be idle (that is, not employed and not in school), are more likely to have a non-marital birth (among daughters), have more troubled marriages, experience higher rates of divorce, and report more symptoms of depression… Research clearly demonstrates that children growing up with two continuously married parents are less likely than other children to experience a wide range of cognitive, emotional, and social problems, not only during childhood, but also in adulthood.
This paper can be found at: http://futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=37&articleid=107§ionid=691 (new link)
• Sara McLanahan of Princeton University, one of the world’s leading scholars on how family form impacts child well-being, explains from her extensive investigations:
If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children’s basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent family ideal. Such a design, in theory, would not only ensure that children had access to the time and money of two adults, it would provide a system of checks and balances that promote quality parenting. The fact that both adults have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child.
The research is clear, if we are concerned about elevating the well-being and life opportunities for children, we must be concerned about the health and strength of the two-parent family.
From the article, see "a sampling of the mountain of diverse studies and books that support the value of the two-parent married family"
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Boys being hurt by fatherless homes
In 2013, the "center-left” policy research organization Third Way released its findings that American women were outdistancing men in college degrees and working income. The common denominator holding back boys? Fatherless homes.
Study of Men’s Falling Income Cites Single Parents
Binyamin Appelbaum, New York Times, March 20, 2013 article link
The decline of two-parent households may be a significant reason for the divergent fortunes of male workers, whose earnings generally declined in recent decades, and female workers, whose earnings generally increased, a prominent labor economist argues in a new survey of existing research.
David H. Autor, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that the difference between men and women, at least in part, may have roots in childhood. Only 63 percent of children lived in a household with two parents in 2010, down from 82 percent in 1970. The single parents raising the rest of those children are predominantly female. And there is growing evidence that sons raised by single mothers “appear to fare particularly poorly,” Professor Autor wrote in an analysis for Third Way, a center-left policy research organization.
In this telling, the economic struggles of male workers are both a cause and an effect of the breakdown of traditional households. Men who are less successful are less attractive as partners, so some women are choosing to raise children by themselves, in turn often producing sons who are less successful and attractive as partners.
“A vicious cycle may ensue,” wrote Professor Autor and his co-author, Melanie Wasserman, a graduate student, “with the poor economic prospects of less educated males creating differentially large disadvantages for their sons, thus potentially reinforcing the development of the gender gap in the next generation.”
Women leaving men behind in higher education and working incomes: Source: New York Times
Professor Autor’s own explanation builds on existing research showing that income inequality has soared, stretching the gap between rich and poor, and that a smaller share of Americans are making the climb. The children of lower-income parents are ever more likely to become, in turn, the parents of lower-income children.
Moreover, a growing share of lower-income children are raised by their mother but not their father, and research shows that those children are at a particular disadvantage.
Professor Autor said in an interview that he was intrigued by evidence suggesting the consequences were larger for boys than girls, including one study finding that single mothers spent an hour less per week with their sons than with their daughters. Another study of households where the father had less education, or was absent entirely, found the female children were 10 to 14 percent more likely to complete college. A third study of single-parent homes found boys were less likely than girls to enroll in college.
“It’s very clear that kids from single-parent households fare worse in terms of years of education,” he said. “The gender difference, the idea that boys do even worse again, is less clear cut. We’re pointing this out as an important hypothesis that needs further exploration. But there’s intriguing evidence in that direction.”
Conservatives have long argued that society should encourage stable parental relationships. A recent report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia concluded that promoting marriage is the best way “to make family life more stable for children whose parents don’t enjoy the benefit of a college education.”
• live longer, healthier lives both physically and mentally.
• do better in school.
• are more likely to graduate and attend college.
• are less likely to live in poverty.
• are less likely to be in trouble with the law.
• are less likely to drink or do drugs.
• are less likely to be violent or sexually active.
• are less likely to be victims of sexual or physical violence.
• are more likely to have successful marriage when they are older.
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