Of course we can’t be complete models of truth if we aren’t there as whole families for our kids. There is good reason Jesus said about marriage, “let no one split apart what God has joined together” (Mark 10:9). Broken homes have had such a devastating effect on everyone involved.
Listen to American writer and social critic Caitlin Flanagan as she quotes sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin.
What is significant about contemporary American families, compared with those of other nations, is their combination of “frequent marriage, frequent divorce” and the high number of “short-term co-habiting relationships.” Taken together, these forces “create a great turbulence in American family life, a family flux, a coming and going of partners on a scale seen nowhere else. There are more partners in the personal lives of Americans than in the lives of people of any other Western country.”…
How much does this matter? More than words can say. There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage. It hurts children, it reduces mothers’ financial security, and it has landed with particular devastation on those who can bear it least: the nation’s underclass.*
Flanagan goes on to talk about the need of both a mother’s love and a father’s love to mature in a healthy manner.
Few things hamper a child as much as not having a father at home. “As a feminist, I didn’t want to believe it,” says Maria Kefalas, a sociologist who studies marriage and family issues and co-authored a seminal book on low-income mothers called Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage. “Women always tell me, ‘I can be a mother and a father to a child,’ but it’s not true.” Growing up without a father has a deep psychological effect on a child. **
Columbia University did an extensive study on how a two-parent biological family and a single-parent family headed by a mother affects a teen’s involvement in drugs, alcohol, and violence. They reported that a child raised by a single-parent mother is 30% more likely to get involved in drugs, alcohol and violence. Yet a child raised in a two-parent biological home where there is a fair to poor relationship with the father, that child is less than 6% likely to get into drugs, alcohol and violence.***
Relationships within the family with both mom and especially the dad makes all the difference in the world to how a child acts out.
After the tragic shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 a major study was done. Educators wanted to see if there was a way to detect a profile of potential shooters based on the previous 15 school shooters. The study released was called The Classroom Avenger Profile. Three markers were identified:
- Every single shooter was Caucasian;
- They were middle class; and
- All had fathers that were either absent, distant or uninvolved in the parenting****
Many expected The Classroom Avenger Profile to identify youth from the inner city—“the hood” who were steeped in poverty. But that wasn’t the case. The profile of the “avenger shooters” was white, middle class, and without a healthy relationship with a father.
- Bonus Chapter from Straight Talk with your kids about sex
- * Caitlin Flanagan, “Why Marriage Matters,” Time magazine, July 13, 2009, 47.
- ** Ibid., 47.
- *** (Endnote provided by Josh)
- **** (Endnote provided by Josh)