Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another benchmark on our march to obscurity

An article just came out listing the latest government figures for childbirth, and it isn't pretty. For every ten births in the United States last year, almost four of them were to an unwed mother. The overall rate for out-of-wedlock births in our country for 2005 was 37%. Unfortunately, the article did not give a racial breakdown, because it is well known that the rate is much higher for certain sub-groups.

My wife and I often observe that our children are a minority: they live with and are being raised by both parents who are married to each other and also have never been previously married. That used to be the norm; now it is quickly becoming the exception. You can't tell me that this massive demographic shift doesn't take its toll on this country's children. Children thirst for stability. When there aren't two parents at home in a committed relationship, the stress on that child can be severe.

As a teacher, when I make phone calls home, I usually have to look up the student's information to look up the number and the name of the parent(s). It has gotten to the point where I am surprised when there are two parents listed, both with the same last name as their child; I don't see it very often. Most of the time, only the mother is listed, and the mother usually has a different last name than the student. Even when a father is listed, the mother and father have a different last name than the student, telling me that the mother divorced or left the biological father and married a new guy.

Are there exceptions to all of this? Can a child have a stable and loving home even in the face of illegitimacy and divorce? Of course. Can a child have a miserable life being raised by both biological parents? Of course. But that is the point; those examples are exceptions. The standard that works best is and shall ever more be, two married biological parents who are committed to each other and to their children. The less stable the household, the more social pathology one sees emanating from the people in those households; from both adults and children.

Some people get defensive when I point this out, but I know the truth can hurt even though it is still the truth. Until this country re-embraces the concept of morality and commitment in the raising of our children, we will continue this downward slide toward barbarism.

Good Day to You, Sir


Anonymous said...

Give him a minute, I'm sure that Howard Davis will have some asinine comment to blurt out before thinking.......

George said...

I know of a child who lives with three different families. We'll just call the kid "Shuffle".

Family #1: Shuffle's mom and her boyfriend. She has a child with this boyfriend. This is her third child with a different man.

Family #2: Shuffle's dad and his mother. Dad was not married to mom, but they had Shuffle. Shuffle's dad is an adolescent in a man's body.

Family #3: Shuffle's sister's dad. Shuffle stays with him because this man has been the only real dad that Shuffle has had, even though there is no legal relationship.

Shuffle also has two other sets of grandparents who have rooms for him, in which he stays occasionally.

Shuffle is very much loved by his families. He has many toys, clothing, and support. But he lacks stability.

There are times when Shuffle will be with family #3 for a few hours and will then be driven several hours to Family #1. In the morning he will picked up by his grandmother from dad #2 and dropped off at school. At the end of his day Shuffle will be dropped off with family #2.

You should see what Christmas looks like!

Now everyone in the families remarks how well Shuffle has adjusted, but I think the consequences will only be seen in the future. How will he organize his family? Will he marry more than once or at all? Will he be able to produce for his children the stability he never had? My prediction: not without difficulty.

Sadly, the way that Shuffle's life is arranged has impacted others in his extended family - I am his uncle (not by any legal means). It is near to impossible to make arrangements for dad #2 to bring both Shuffle and his sister to our house. Dad #2's parents are very involved in Shuffle's (and his sister's) life which restrict some of their time and energy for my children. No more two day mid-week visits for example, because grandma has to pick up Shuffle and take him to the doctor's or to school or what have you.

The fractured family affects so many.

bluejay said...

I find that these dysfunctional children group with each other to be their families and support. Recently two senior girls whose mothers are either in prison or have deserted their children reassured each other that they will take care of the other one and provide a crying shoulder or rides to the mall. At least they have someone.