February 20th, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Marriage is as important to the future of the nation as climate change and poverty, a senior family lawyer said yesterday.
And about time, I say. Baroness Deech, who is head of the British Bar Standards Board made her remarks at a meeting of the Marriage Foundation headed by Sir Paul Colbert who sits on England’s High Court. Read about it here (Daily Mail, 2/15/13).
She went on to say that there exists a “conspiracy of silence” surrounding the issue of children without fathers.
Baroness Deech said the growing numbers of families without fathers was doing more harm to the next generation than other factors such as smoking, alcohol, poor diet and lack of exercise.
And she warned that a conspiracy of silence surrounded the issue because political leaders were afraid to say married families were better for children than cohabiting families or single parent families…
Children of single mothers have greater problems than those of cohabitee parents, and children of cohabitees have greater problems than those of married parents.
‘Since this is so incontrovertible, why is it so brave, as Sir Humphrey would put it, to tackle the desirability of marriage over cohabitation, both for adults and children?’ Lady Deech asked.
‘The topic has become a no-go area.
‘We live in a world where we are encouraged to take care of our own and our children’s health: we are constantly admonished to take exercise, eat healthily, wear a cycle helmet, study the side of the package, stop smoking, recycle, combat global warming, brush our teeth, control our drinking habits and have health checks.
But when it comes to the one issue that does more harm to the next generation than any of these – the absence of a father in the family – there is a conspiracy of silence.
‘Politicians fear to address it. It is time to place marriage issues up there along with climate change, poverty and peace as a topic pre-eminently relevant to the present and future happiness and health of all people.’…
‘Children deserve natural parents who are prepared to make the act of commitment and aspiration found only in marriage, in order to demonstrate to those children that they intend to be there for them, without question, as they grow up.’
It’s high time we abandoned the notion that children fare just as well with non-biological parents as they do biological ones. Overwhelmingly they don’t. Social science has tracked this for decades now and there is no serious debate about it. Two biological parents are best for kids. Can children reach adulthood in reasonably good shape if they’re raised by a single parent or stepparents? Of course they can, but the odds are much worse for them than for their peers in intact biological families.
And let’s be clear. Having children is a bet against odds. No one knows just how a child, of any age, will turn out, until he/she reaches adulthood, so every responsible adult who decides to have a child, does what he/she can to make those odds better, not worse. Therefore, a responsible pregnant woman doesn’t drink much during pregnancy because of her concern about fetal alcohol syndrome. Is it possible for her to drink and the child be alright? Yes, but responsible mothers either don’t drink at all or keep it to a reasonable minimum.
The same holds true for family structure. Responsible adults who truly want the best for their kids, tend to be married when they have them and stay married if at all possible. Divorce and the loss of a parent (usually the father) harm children. We know this all too well. Children of single mothers tend to fare worse than those of intact families. Decades of research bear this out.
So Lady Deech makes a trenchant point. To paraphrase, divorce and fatherlessness are a public health problem. I’d put it as one of the worst problems we face, as Deech said, right up there with poverty, income inequality and the decline of Americans’ standard of living. Even a casual glance at any of those three reveals a significant element of divorce (and/or unmarried childbearing) and fatherlessness. And that’s not even to mention drug and alcohol abuse, criminality and incarceration, deficits in education, and countless other social ills connected to absent fathers.
And yet, as Deech said, “politicians fear to address it.” Indeed, when the subject of fatherlessness is forced on them, they generally find the nearest foxhole to hide in that’s been dug by intellectually dishonest feminists and financially interested family lawyers. No matter how advisable from the standpoint of child well-being, feminists and family lawyers invariably oppose every single effort to establish shared parenting as the default position in custody cases. Sadly, politicians follow suit.
The failure to call divorce, single motherhood and the separation of children from fathers by the family court system by their proper name – a public health menace – makes a nationwide crisis seem like merely the parochial concern of a few disgruntled dads. In fact, it’s a problem that touches us all in countless ways. Higher taxes, higher incarceration rates, lower economic productivity, poorer school performance and the like aren’t just the problems of the few. They’re the problem of a nation in decline.
Marriage to my mind isn’t particularly important if you don’t intend to have kids. If you do, however, it is. Among other things, our educational system should have classes, beginning in the early grades, that teach kids the value to everyone of intact families the value of fathers to children, the protective influence of fathers to their wives and children, the synergy of mother-father parenting, etc.
We’re light years away from anything that sane, but for now, let’s heed the Baroness’ words. Those elected to office need to start doing their jobs; they need to start actively promoting intact families in every way they can and shared parenting post-divorce. Until they do, they’re rightly called part of a problem that people throughout history would shake their heads at in sorrow and disbelief at our stupidity.