Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Dads and the Kids: The Untold Story

by Susan Dutton Freund Executive Director of

Did you see the headline yesterday? Unmarried mothers gave birth to four out of every 10 babies born in the United States in 2007, a share that is increasing rapidly both here and abroad, according to government figures released Wednesday.( ABC news video report )

We at thinkmarriage have been citing this statistic for some time now. Although the numbers didn’t catch us by surprise, we were struck by what was not said in the ABC news report more than by what was said.

Sharon Alfonsi did an admirable job of explaining who these unwed mothers increasingly are (women in their 20’s and 30’s) and that these women are in some type of relationship. The report was vague about the teen birth rate, saying “it has remained steady, or declined” while showing a chart that called the age 15-19 category “unchanged” since 2002. Ms. Alfonsi also reported that “about half” are living with the fathers and showed a brief clip from Sociologist Kelly Musick at Cornell University discussing how similar these families are to married parent families.

Here are some things we at thinkmarriage also know about these statistics, and we would like to tell, in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story".

About the Teens - The teen pregnancy rate dropped 38 percent from 1990 to 2004, according to a CDC study released in April. In recent years there has been a slight uptick.

About the Fathers – We’d like to know why no men were asked their opinion about marriage and the future of the children they are equally giving life to? The Fragile Families Study shows that, while 80% of the parents are romantically involved at the time of birth, only 39% will be by the time the child reaches the age of 5, and only 16% will be married. Take special note of the table graph from the Fragile Families Study that tells the tale of who wins and who loses as a result.

About the Families – Despite what Prof. Musick says, cohabiting families do not look like married families. The research has very clearly shown that on all measures of child wellbeing – academic achievement, mental health, risk of abuse, physical healthy– children of married parents fare better than children living with their own two biological parents who are cohabiting.

Women and men who are married show the same benefits to health and well being compared to cohabiting adults.

So now you know the rest of the story; and more good reasons for all of us to be marriage champions.

No comments: