At a time when a lot of us are gathering with our families, a new study indicates that a majority of those families are fractured:
Only 46 percent of children in the United States will reach age 17 having grown up in a home with biological parents who are married — a figure that has a significant impact on the nation’s graduation, poverty and teenage birth rates, according to a new report, reports Baptist Press.
“We have never faced anything like this in human history,” said the Family Research Council’s Pat Fagan, one of the co-authors of the study.
Compiled by Fagan and psychologist Nicholas Zill and released by the Family Research Council’s Marriage & Religion Research Institute, the data shows that:
— The intact family rate is highest in the Northeast (49.6 percent) and lowest in the South (41.8)
— Minnesota (57) and Utah (56.5) have the highest intact family rate among all 50 states, with Mississippi (34 percent) the lowest.
— Asians (65.8) have the highest rate among ethnic and racial classes, blacks (16.7) the lowest.
The authors call their report the index of family belonging, and they say there is a direct correlation between a low “family belonging” rate, and high poverty and low graduation rates.
UPDATE: A reader sent me the following e-mail, which offers another perspective, along with a response to some comments:
1) The Family Research Council is NOT an unbiased organization, and their data is not peer-reviewed. Their data shouldn’t be trusted, and isn’t taken as credible in most contexts. The group’s existence and funding rest on trotting out such data on a regular basis. (Note – they don’t cite the study that points out that children of lesbian couples tend to fare best overall: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,594090,00.html – are they overlooking that conclusion?)2) Which came first, the stigmatization, or the suffering? If we all treated every family we meet as a Holy Family, asking how to help rather than judging based on family composition, would outcomes be different?
My own subjectivity – I’m one of those ghastly “single parents”. My parochial-school educated son is taking online math through [a university] because he’s blown through his school’s curriculum, and then some. Suggestions that he “can hardly compete with those who have the advantage of two involved parents” simply strain credulity. If I weren’t in a charitable mood, I’d find that assertion infuriating. Instead, I think it’s just silly and untrue. But to the extent he is successful, it’s no thanks to sanctimonious “Christian” attitudes like those expressed here tonight.
The difference? Privilege, to be sure – and yes, social and spiritual support. We’ve experienced nothing but love and acceptance from our family, our parish, his schools, our friends. We single parents – even Catholic ones – support one another, too, across race, class, and gender lines, because all too often we encounter attitudes like the ones here, which get bonus points for being pious, but no, won’t ever “get a more positive reception” because you’re simply focusing on the wrong question. Do you really love these families, these kids? Or do you love your stereotypes and piety more?
If we treated every single family we encountered as Holy – regardless of the composition, regardless of whether the kids were initially “wanted” – how might that change our world? Our Church?
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