The past two weeks have produced a boomlet in scholarly and journalistic revelations of facts that establish heavy disadvantages afflicting children not raised by two parents, who are more prevalent in the United States than any other nation.
This is a controversial topic and has all kinds of links to debates about religion, morality and culture.
Consider this from a lengthy New York Times op-ed Sept. 20, with this explosive headline: “The Explosive Rise of Single-Parent Families Is Not a Good Thing.”
The evidence is overwhelming: Children from single-parent homes have more behavioral problems, are more likely to get in trouble in school or with the law, achieve lower levels of education and tend to earn lower incomes in adulthood. Boys from homes without dads present are particularly prone to getting in trouble. …
This article, by University of Maryland economist Melissa S. Kearney, was based on her new book “The Two-Parent Privilege: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind” (University of Chicago Press). The Religion Guy has yet to read this book, which has won media praise as “important,” “compelling” and “a great service,” with a “top scholar” offering “reams of evidence.”
By coincidence, the same day the book was released, University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox and three Institute for Family Studies colleagues posted a piece (.pdf here) headlined “Do Two Parents Matter More Than Ever?” Their answer: Yes. It’s the latest such documentation from the Institute and the university’s National Marriage Project, which Wilcox directs. (Note: these social scientists are not saying spouses should remain in physically or emotionally dangerous marriages.)
These writings do not center on religious arguments or sources, but Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other clergy, and members of their congregations, will respond: “Duh!” The obvious influence of religious involvement, teaching and role modeling in fostering stable two-parent marriages and helping youths’ life outcomes is too often ignored, not to mention whether religions’ decline worsens Americans’ growing loneliness epidemic.
This leaves a huge hole for journalists to fill as they cover this important new conversation.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof boldly addressed (behind paywall) a major aspect of what’s been going on here. He says liberal academics and media have ignored vital facts lest they seem “patronizing” toward hard-pressed single moms or alternative family configurations, or “racist” due to bleak statistics for many African-Americans.
Kearney agrees on this wariness. So does Black Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley, who (behind paywall) accuses liberals of “intellectual cowardice” and ignoring eight prior books that made a similar case.
Kristof contends that “you can’t have a serious conversation about poverty” if the startling increase in single-parent households is ignored.” Yes, many single moms raise happy and successful children, but they beat considerable odds.