MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: by Bill MuehlenbergNews Weekly
Why children need a mother and a father
, October 30, 2010
There are many thousands of studies which have appeared over the past four to five decades showing quite clearly how absolutely important biological mothers and fathers are to the well-being of their children. Study after study has shown that no other factor is more vital to the healthy development of children than having a mum and a dad.
It is a full-time job just keeping up with all this social science research. Let me mention one of the most recent studies, this one from the United Kingdom.
A major study of around 14,000 children born in Britain between 2000 and 2002 found that children in single-parent families behave the worse. Kids brought up by one parent were twice as likely to display behaviour problems early on as those raised by both natural parents. (The Telegraph
, UK, October 15).
The research is part of the on-going Millennium Cohort Study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. As Lisa Calderwood from London University's Institute of Education explained: "Living apart from natural fathers can be associated with poverty and negative outcomes for children."
This study simply reflects the findings of so many previous studies. By every indicator, children do better when raised by their own biological parents. No other family structure comes close in terms of positive outcomes. Yet the radicals and social engineers want to pretend this research simply does not exist.
However, the massive amount of data is far too solid and substantial to simply wish away. Whole books have been written just seeking to summarise the huge amount of social science on this issue. I too have been collecting and summarising the data over the years. Here is just a small sampling of previous research findings.
As far as problematic behaviour goes, many others studies have found the same results. Drug involvement is one such negative behaviour. A New Zealand study of nearly 1,000 children, observed over a period of 15 years, found that children who have watched their parents separate are more likely to use illegal drugs than those whose parents stay together.
Fathers play a particularly important role in prevention of drug use. A UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) study concluded that, although "mothers are more active than fathers in helping youngsters with personal problems ... with regard to youthful drug-users, [the] father's involvement is more important".
Among the homes with strict fathers, only 18 per cent used alcohol or drugs at all. In contrast, among mother-dominated homes, 35 per cent had children who used drugs frequently.
Criminal involvement is another area where the role of both parents becomes so vital. A longitudinal study of 512 Australian children found that there are more offenders coming from families of cohabiting than married couples, and there are proportionally more offenders who become recidivists coming from families of cohabiting than married couples.
The Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, which compared crime rates with out-of-wedlock birth rates, found that the "percentage of ex-nuptial births correlates significantly with both serious and violent crime at both one and two decades time lapse".
Or consider a major study which analysed victimisation data on over 11,000 individuals from three urban areas in New York, Florida and Missouri. The researchers arrived at this startling conclusion: the proportion of single-parent households in a community predicts its rates of violent crime and burglary, but the community's poverty level does not. Neither poverty nor race seems to account very much for the crime rate, compared to the proportion of single-parent families.
Mental health problems also worsen when children are not raised by their mother and father. A study of the preschool children admitted to two New Orleans hospitals as psychiatric patients over a 34-month period found that nearly 80 per cent came from fatherless homes.
A Canadian study of teenagers discharged from psychiatric hospitals found that only 16 per cent were living with both parents when they were admitted. From nations as diverse as Finland and South Africa, a number of studies have reported that anywhere from 50 to 80 per cent of psychiatric patients come from broken homes.
Another study found that children in stepfamilies typically experience far less favourable emotional lives compared to children in intact families. Their study concluded: "Children in stepfamilies had more behaviour problems, less prosocial behavior, and more life stress than children in nuclear families."
Problems with sexuality are also compounded. Children from mother-only families are more likely to marry early and have children early, both in and out of wedlock, and are more likely to divorce. Also, the age at the first marriage will be lower for the children of divorced parents who marry, when sex, age and maternal education are controlled.
Studies from many different cultures have found that girls raised without fathers are more like to be sexually active, and to start early sexual activity. Father-deprived girls "show precocious sexual interest, derogation of masculinity and males, and poor ability to maintain sexual and emotional adjustment with one male".
As an example, a British study by Kathleen Kiernan found that girls brought up by lone parents were twice as likely to leave home by the age of 18 as the daughters of intact homes; were three times as likely to be cohabiting by the age of 20; and almost three times as likely to have a birth out of wedlock.
This is just a tiny fraction of the available evidence, looking at just a few key social indicators. Other areas can also be mentioned, such as educational performance, the likelihood of committing suicide, and so on. In every key area, children suffer and are worse off when not raised by their own mother and father.
Yet feminists, homosexual activists and other social engineers keep telling us that family structure has absolutely nothing to do with the well-being of children. There are only two reasons they might say this: they are either woefully ignorant about a half century of social science research, or they are simply lying big time in order to push their activist agendas.
For the sake of our children, we should tell these radicals to back off. This is unlikely, however; so we must remain vigilant, and continue to promote the truth of this research in the public arena.Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.comReference
Graeme Paton, "Children in single parent families 'worse behaved'", The Telegraph
(UK), October 15, 2010.