Traditional Family and Your Children
By Raymond Shipley
Mom, Dad and the kids. Family. At least that has been the traditional view of family for quite some time. The nuclear family has been seen as the building block of our society, and rightfully so. But things have changed dramatically since the 1960s, and much to our society's detriment. Specifically, illegitimate birth rates have gone up from around 5% in the 1960s to over 40% today, and despite arguments to the contrary the science is clear on the negative impact this has on a child's development.
Growing up in a household with married parents is also essential to normal development. Illegitimacy, being related to delayed development in early childhood, has many associated risks to the child as they grow older. Children born to unwed mothers tend to be shorter and have smaller heads, and cognitive development is lessened as well. Hyperactivity in children, especially boys, has been linked to this cognitive setback, and this lack in ability to control activity levels is often an indication of learning problems that will arise later in the child's development.
Having married parents is also related to academic achievement, with a study from the University of Illinois showing the longer a child spends in a single-parent family the less education is attained at all income levels of the parent. For the individual this reduces potential employment and income possibilities, but on a national level it has a detrimental effect on the economy as a whole. Living in a single-parent home during pre-school years has the most affect, likely due to daycare being primarily responsible for the raising of the child while the parent is at work. Again, boys seem to be more affected than girls. According to Barbara Dafoe Whitehead at the Manhattan-based Institute for American Values, "33 percent of two-parent elementary school students are ranked as high achievers, as compared with 17 percent of single-parent students. The children in single-parent families are more likely to be truant or to have disciplinary action taken against them." She goes on to say, "Even after controlling for race, income and religion, scholars find significant difference in educational attainment between children who grow up in intact families and children who do not." Moreover, married parents tend to have higher expectations of their children, even when the children have the same intelligence and performance abilities.
In addition to all this, having married parents has a profound affect on the behavior of children, and this impact can, and often is, permanent. Children born out-of-wedlock are typically more likely to suffer from emotional and behavioral problems, physical abuse, exposure to drugs and alcohol, aggression, criminality, poor academic performance, poor impulse control and a weaker sense of right and wrong. About a third of children born to unmarried mothers or parents that separate become part of two-parent families within five years; however, this isn't without its own issues, and these children tend to have even more difficulties than their single-parent peers. "In general the evidence suggests that remarriage neither reproduces nor restores the intact family structure, even when it brings in more income and a second adult...Other difficulties seem to offset the advantages of extra income and an extra pair of hands...Step-families disrupt established loyalties, create new uncertainties, provoke deep anxieties, and sometimes threaten a child's physical as well as emotional security," says Whitehead.
It is integral to the individual and society as a whole to keep and defend the traditional family. No other structure has been proven to be more beneficial, and myriad individual and social woes are attributed to its downfall. Respect for oneself and others, especially romantic life-partners, is an absolute must. It is past time individuals stopped seeing themselves as independent of the whole and realize our sense of duty to ourselves, our families and the world.