Half of American Children Aren’t in a Traditional Family


Half of American Children Aren’t in a Traditional Family

But a child’s success is linked to growing up with married parents.

Only half of America’s children are being raised by their biological married parents, according to the Institute for Family Studies (ifs). The ifs analyzed the 2016 results of the National Household Education Surveys Program, published February 9, which revealed the family situations of 17-to-18-year-olds.

Fifty percent of these students lived with married parents. Nearly 30 percent lived in single-parent homes, with their biological mother (23 percent) or father (6 percent). Another 15 percent lived in nontraditional two-parent families, such as one biological parent and a stepparent (11 percent), cohabiting birth parents (2 percent), heterosexual adoptive couple (1 percent), and same-sex couple (1 percent). The remaining 6 percent lived with neither birth parent.

The ifs drew attention to the data because other studies show the importance of being raised in a stable, loving home by two married parents. As their report noted:

Is growing up with married birth parents advantageous for a young person’s school success and later life chances? There is abundant evidence that it is. As shown in numerous analytic studies, students with stably-married parents are more likely to do well in school and less likely to cut classes, repeat grades, be suspended or expelled, or drop out. And significant advantages persist after controlling for related factors like parent education level, family income and poverty status, student race and ethnicity, parent involvement, and teacher or school quality. Rich or poor, this is a type of advantage which parents from all social classes can bestow upon their children: the privilege of a growing up in a stable, married two-parent family.

Today in America, only about 1 in 2 children enjoy this privilege. Because the type of family in which children are raised matters a great deal to their well-being and future success, we should seek ways to enable less-educated and less-affluent parents to raise their children together in a stable family.

Why does a stable marriage help make children successful? Because marriage is more than a social institution that evolved over time. It was created by God. He designed it to be a stable institution to raise children—and to accomplish so much more.

This is why the decline in marriage is so worrying. It is the decline of an institution at the foundation of national success. So much of the decline of modern Western society can be traced back to the breakdown of the family. Previous studies revealed that a third of American children are growing up without their biological father. Our article “Why the Trumpet Watches Moral Decline in Britain and America” states:

People can argue that these children are no worse off. But the facts prove otherwise. Children who grow up without a father figure are four times likelier to be poor, nine times likelier to drop out of school, 11 times likelier to commit violent crimes, and 20 times likelier to be arrested. There is a direct link between the fracturing of families and major societal problems. It is no coincidence that the per capita rate of violent crime has doubled in the United States since 1960, and the percentage of Americans living in a home that receives some form of means-tested welfare has also doubled.

The truth is, our nation needs marriage and children need married parents. To learn more about where marriage came from and why it is so essential for society, read our free booklet Why Marriage—Soon Obsolete?, by Herbert W. Armstrong.