Marriage covers a multitude of pathologies

by La Shawn Barber
Posted on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, at 3:47 pm

The findings are well known at this point. Children living with their married, biological parents are at lower risk of such social pathologies as poverty, delinquency, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, drug use, and criminality. These children also perform better in school.

Kay S. Hymowitz, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, drilled down deeper in her book Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age (2006). While less-educated women are having children out of wedlock, better-educated women are continuing to marry before having children. These women tend to be dedicated to what Hymowitz calls "The Mission," "the careful nurturing of their children's cognitive, emotional, social development," to prepare them to do well in school, go to college, marry, and have children. Which type of mother do you think has a better chance of fulfilling The Mission?

In an article published last Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, Hymowitz elaborated on the havoc unmarried motherhood has wreaked. Unlike other Western countries where marriage has been downgraded, the United States has taken it to a different level. She wrote, "The embrace of 'lone motherhood'-women bringing up kids with no dad around-has been an American specialty."

Does marriage cover a multitude of pathologies? Hymowitz cited research that showed the increase in child poverty since the 1970s would disappear if parents still married at 1970s rates. Research also indicated that marriage was more important than job skills or education in avoiding poverty.

Unmarried motherhood also affects low- and unskilled fathers. "Knowing that women are now expected to be able to raise children on their own," Hymowitz wrote, "unskilled men lose much of the incentive to work, especially at the sometimes disagreeable jobs that tend to be the ones they can get. Scholars consistently find that unmarried men work fewer hours, make less money, and get fewer promotions than do married men."

If only people thought deeply before engaging in sex outside marriage. It's one thing for the individual to choose to suffer the morning-after consequences of his own actions, but it's quite another to bring them on the resulting children. In my perspective, the most devastating consequence for these children is being raised without an emotionally invested father around to love them, support them, guide them, and protect them.

Will marriage achieve a Great Awakening? Probably not. Now that Daddy Government has replaced biological fathers, why bother with marriage? There's an entire generation of people for whom marriage is a novelty or an anomaly, especially among blacks. In some cities, as high as 80 percent of black babies are born to unmarried women. Marriage is glaringly uncommon, and The Mission is absent in such communities. Family instability caused by the choices of individuals is a much more pressing issue for these children than discrimination, bias, or other politically correct explanations.

The needs of children haven't changed, and neither has the old avoid-poverty formula: graduate high school, get a full-time job before marrying, and don't have babies until after you're married.

La Shawn Barber

La Shawn is a former WORLD columnist.

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