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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Parenting alone: What happened to marriage?

Growing up in a two-parent family is an enormous advantage, writes Melissa Kearney in The Two-Parent Privilege. It's the norm for children of college graduates, but less-educated Americans are much less likely to raise their children in a two-parent household.


Social scientists don't want to talk about the steady decline in married parenting, Kearney tells Kevin Mahnken on The 74. They don't want to sound judgmental.


But single parenting is closely linked to childhood poverty, says Kearney, an economist and mother of three. And single parents don't just have a lot less money: They have less time and "emotional bandwith" to deal with parenting challenges. "Married mothers are able to spend more time with their kids because somebody else is helping to do all the other stuff that needs to happen in order to make a household run," she says.


Schools can't replace missing fathers and overwhelmed mothers, says Kearney. “It’s too much to ask teachers to not only do the job they’re trained and paid to do, but also make up for what kids aren’t getting at home. How many more school counselors can we hire, and how much can we pile on top of schools’ mandate, before we decide to take a look at kids’ home lives and think about addressing that directly?”


The George W. Bush administration tried and failed to raise marriage rates in the 2000s, Mahnken notes.

Kearney scoffed at the Healthy Marriage Initiative, but now thinks community programs that strengthen families can be effective. "Low-income, unmarried couples who have enrolled voluntarily in these programs . . . talk about wanting a stable marriage," she says. "They don’t want to be doing this alone."


Lifting the earning power of disadvantaged men to make them more “marriageable,” could have an impact, writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. Liberals should be supporting "strengthened labor unions, community college support, skills training initiatives such as high school career academies and groups that provide technical training like Per Scholas."

Two-parent households seem to benefit not just their own kids but the neighborhood as well. Harvard’s Opportunity Insights group found that upward mobility was more likely for Black boys in neighborhoods with a higher share of Black dads living with their children. . . . The study found that 62 percent of white children live in low-poverty areas with fathers present in most homes, while only 4 percent of Black children do.

"Only 38 percent of Black children live with married parents," Kristof writes.


Thirty years ago, I went to a conference for journalists on childhood poverty. All this is not new.

7 תגובות


אורח
09 באוק׳ 2023

I think it’s likely that the “two-parent privilege” is a correlation, not causation and that those parents are different in some significant ways from those who do not marry and raise their kids together. I certainly don’t think educational level or income explains the effect; as married parenthood used to be the norm (widowhood aside; which does not have the same negatives as the never-married) at all educational/income levels and across races.

That said, I do encourage the practice and feel that single parenthood, and the factors that go with/into it, is a handicap that makes it more difficult for both parent and kids to thrive.

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אורח
08 באוק׳ 2023

It’s also how society has told many women “you don’t need a man” to have a great life. I know someone who just had a baby through in vitro and didn’t have a man in her life.


Also people have started attacking “trad wife” who just want to help her husband and stay home and have kids.


Women are 50% more likely to go to college and wont take a spouse who is beneath them. So where is a guy to turn to if he wants a wife and kids? Many guys have said fuck that and stay single and do what they want.

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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
08 באוק׳ 2023

Clearly, on average, the two family household is going to raise more successful children. But it turns out that this advantage is relatively minor compared to the importance of the CULTURE of the family. Logically, an important factor in black child upbringing is the very high percent of black males raised without a father. 64% of black kids are raised in single parent households. But so are 42% of Hispanic kids. 15% of Asian kids are raised in single parent homes.


But blacks have a violent crime rate several times higher than Hispanics -- and over TWENTY TIMES HIGHER than Asians.


This huge difference in violent crime rates between races indicates that it's not primarily the single parent status that…

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
09 באוק׳ 2023
בתשובה לפוסט של

Richard, you should see the work of Stephan & Abigail Thernstrom. I found their "No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning" to be very persuasive, and gave a copy to Dick Riordan, who had already hosted the two in his living room by the time I gave him the book.

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אורח
08 באוק׳ 2023

There was a meme going around. A guy did something nice for a neighbor and when done, she said "Oh thank you. I could marry you". The gentleman remarked in his telling about how you try to do something nice for someone and they threaten to ruin you life.


The facts are, 70% of divorces are initiated by the woman, 90% if she's college-edumedicated. So the break up of the family lies a bit on the one side. Making disadvantaged men more "marriageable" does nothing to lower the risk that 5, 10 years later, he'll lose his home, half his assets and even access to his children in divorce. A good number of men "delete themselves" after they are den…


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אורח
08 באוק׳ 2023
בתשובה לפוסט של

College educated women are the most likely to get married and the least likely to get divorced. A good line that the Washington Post had decades ago after interviewing a large number of teen girls in a halfway house environment was the issue of too few dads versus too many dads. Black girls suffer from having no relationship with dads. Teen girls had the issue of too many dads where the mother had been married and divorced multiple times with the resulting step siblings, half siblings, and missing former step fathers. See JD Vance's book for a discrimination of how this affects males.

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