A recent report by Maria Shriver on the status of women in America calls on the government to provide more day care, require more flex time, and grow programs across the board to accommodate the needs of what she calls, “A Woman’s Nation.” The report celebrates the economic success and power of women over the last few decades, yet totally fails to acknowledge that the family unit has disintegrated during those exact same years. Shriver misses what should be the central goal of any effort to help women and families: How can we as a society restore our belief in, and national commitment to, marriage?
Look at just how far the American family has disintegrated: In 1950 for every 100 babies that were born, 12 were born to a broken family; they were either born out of wedlock or to a family that would soon suffer divorce. Fast forward to the 21st century and we find a gross tragedy: For every 100 babies that are born in America, 60 are born to a broken family.
Divorce and out-of-wedlock births are wreaking havoc on both individuals and our nation. Single motherhood is the greatest source of poverty in the nation, driving moms away from the growing children who need them and into jobs. Divorce causes our sons and daughters to be raised by someone else while single moms and dads work more hours to maintain to separate households. As adults have focused on our selfish desires to be independent of an enduring commitment to a spouse, we have created an entire generation of children who are suffering from brokenness. Yet, you read very little about the tragic outcomes.
Noted family researcher Dr. Pat Fagan, a senior fellow with the Family Research Council, has reported, “The children of parents who reject each other suffer: in deep emotional pain, ill health, depression, anxiety, even shortened lifespan; more drop out of school, fewer go to college, they earn less income, they develop more addiction to drugs and alcohol, and they engage in increased violence or suffer it within their own homes.”
Unless we restore marriage as our national foundation we will not save this country.
Being part of an intact family unit with a mother and father who are fully committed to each other is the single greatest indicator of success in every area of life. The social science data is clear: women, men and children are all better off emotionally, psychologically, and physically in an intact family unit.
A growing economy will not save us. Women’s advancement in the workplace and in education will not save us. Greater flex hours will not save us. All of those things are wonderful advancements that contribute to a better society. But if we continue to destroy and “reinvent” the basic building block of every single civil society since the beginning of time – the family unit – we will fail as a nation.
John Podesta, said in his preface to the Shriver report, “…our policy landscape remains stuck in an idealized past, where the typical family was composed of a married-for-life couple…”
The reason that a family composed of a “married-for-life” couple is idealized, is because it is the ideal basis for a family. So why aren’t we doing everything possible to promote the ideal, rather than spending so much time, effort and money treating the natural consequences of failed families?
While we bind up the wounds of children and broken families, we must be working on the cure. Start by focusing on your own marriage, and then help others understand the beautiful treasure that is “marriage.” You can learn more about how to do both at www.FamilyLife.com.