(Star-Ledger) Q&A: Why marriage may be the strongest antidote to child poverty

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q. Describe what you call the breakdown of marriage.

A. When the war on poverty began in the mid-'60s, about 7 percent of children were born outside of marriage. Today, that number is 42 percent. To discuss poverty in the United States and to leave out the decline of marriage is sort of like talking about geography and leaving out the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. The breakdown of marriage is the overwhelming reason why child poverty exists.

Q. Are people living together and not getting married?

A. You have a large number of single mothers. Sometimes, they are cohabitating with the father or a series of boyfriends. Those relationships are extremely unstable and won't last. In New Jersey, roughly a third of all the families with children are single-parent families - and three out of four poor families....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPoverty

5 Comments
Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

The Heritage Foundation has been pounding on this point for decades.  Poverty is the tip of the iceberg.  Crime increases because fathers are not around to be role models for sons and daughters.  Fathers-in-sperm-only have higher chances of being into crime.  The social networks of communities break down because the family unit is not intact to hold other families accountable or to take part in civic activity that fosters stable communities.  Government grows to try and be the father surrogate.

It’s more than poverty.  It is the breakdown of stable, growing, nurturing society.  And why are liberals so in favor of it?  Because it means more government, more control, but mostly, more power.

December 2, 8:41 am | [comment link]
2. montanan wrote:

Capt. Father Warren:  I don’t think liberals are in favor of it because it means more government.  They are in favor of it because it appeals to their sense of grace and charity.  Liberals often feels that traditional rules are only in place to favor whichever group has power or majority - and they want to extend empowerment and opportunity to those who are not in that group.  In their view, that often means big government.  Don’t get me wrong - I believe they are most often HUGELY misguided in their means toward that end.  Nevertheless, to assume liberals like big government as an end in itself is, I think, failing to really understand them.

This issue of sex outside of marriage and of single-parent households is a sticky one for us conservatives.  On the one hand, we have to be against it.  It is unscriptural and sinful.  It devalues the relationships God created for it to nurture and sustain.  It is so clearly associated with poverty and a lack of opportunity for the women who are so often victims of it.  On the other hand, if we are to be pro-life, we cannot be anything but supportive in every way for single women who choose to carry a pregnancy out of wedlock.  We must be joyful for their decision to honor God-given life and support those women to reach emotional, relational and economic goals.  We must come alongside them and support their children, giving them opportunity to see stable families and have opportunities to succeed and achieve.

December 2, 1:09 pm | [comment link]
3. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

This is a sticky area to wade into, yet we can’t be timid about it.  And any blanket statement about liberals [as the one I made] will not apply across the board [just has blanket statements about conservatives do not apply across the board].  We cannot be timid because the clear facts are that $14Trillion of welfare spending since the early 1960’s [2011 dollars] has not only not worked, it has created far more misery and social decay than existed before it started.  Yet the authors of those policies claim we need MORE of the same [or, just more].

In fact, I clearly distinguish two types of liberals.  There is the liberal of true compassion, who is frustrated that all wrongs are not righted and sees government as a powerful agent, and the policy of income redistribution as a “permissible” form of stealing, to right wrongs, no matter how misguided that may be.  Then there is the liberal who hijacks that compassionate streak in order to obtain more power and control because they see government as the perfector of mankind and the agent of mankind’s salvation [which IS certainly misguided and downright corrupt].

Having compassion on the single mom who does not resort to abortion is certainly a virtue of Charity that Christians should manifest through their faith.  Just as the bank robber who gives back the money he stole is deserving of such charity.  But, how much better for both of them and society in general if we can bring them into the fold of the Church and show them the true love of Christ from their baptism onward in hopes this will inculcate moral virtues which will save them from the heartaches that otherwise might befall them.

December 2, 5:12 pm | [comment link]
4. montanan wrote:

I’m quite in agreement with you, #3.  Again, it is sticky because we must be against single parenthood as a norm, but at the same time be more inclusive and supportive of such parents and their children than we generally are.  In fact, we must be far more supportive of them than those who advocate for such to be normative, so as to have them drawn to Christ and the Church.  The old “love the sinner, hate the sin” - which we all struggle to achieve when rubber meets road.

December 2, 7:54 pm | [comment link]
5. montanan wrote:

Again, reading the article is interesting.  It is mostly well-presented.  Were I a liberal, I would suggest that it makes a case for greater access to pregnancy termination and harder pushing for birth control use.  He makes the case birth control isn’t the issue because women surveyed rarely list access; a liberal would then say we provide non-access barriers to its use and we should work harder to have women use it.

So ... the answer is that we have to fully go against current societal norms and encourage sex to wait for marriage, while carefully being inclusive and supportive of those who have not attained that goal.

December 2, 8:10 pm | [comment link]
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