And cohabitation harms children, according to a study released on the 16th of the month. Here’s a direct link to the pdf.
Today, the rise of cohabiting households with children is the largest unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children’s family lives. In fact, because of the growing prevalence of cohabitation, which has risen fourteen-fold since 1970, today’s children are much more likely to spend time in a cohabiting household than they are to see their parents divorce.
Here are the study’s findings:
– Children are less likely to thrive in cohabiting households, compared to intact, married families.
– Family instability is generally bad for children.
– The growing instability of American family life also means that contemporary adults and children are more likely to live in what scholars call “complex households,”
There’s much more in the report which everyone should read, and take quite seriously.
There’s an interesting op-ed in The Telegraph maintaining exactly that.
… many children brought up by unmarried parents do just as well at school and in later life as those in married households. But it is nevertheless the case that cohabiting parents are more likely to split up, and it is family breakdown that has the biggest impact on children and on incomes. Since 1980, the number of lone-parent families has doubled to two million and the overall cost to the taxpayer of the benefits they receive has soared to £24 billion a year. Yet, over the same period, divorce rates have hardly changed. Whereas married parents account for 54 per cent of all births, married parents who split up account for only 20 per cent of lone parenthood. So the increase in single parenthood has nothing to do with more marriages failing, but rather with fewer marriages starting.
In other words, the lesson to policy makers from the IFS report is not to give up on marriage – but to make greater efforts to encourage it.
Not to mention the overarching theological reasons for marriage, family, community, and society… it’s nice to see someone somewhere saying that marriage is valuable.
Stephen cites an excellent article which describes the why, so I want simply to offer a snippet from it in hopes that you’ll go read the whole thing:
Did you ever notice that there is a different tone and feel to a wedding and the celebration that follows when a couple has been living together prior to taking their vows? Something is missing. Oh, it’s not the guests, the music, the cake, or the decorations. There is always plenty of that to go around. But something is lacking. I will go so far as to say that there is a special look that is absent in the way a co-habitating bride and groom even look at each other. There is no anticipation and no excitement of a new ‘beginning.’ Cohabitation makes a mockery of a sacred vow and sacrament, and leaves the bride and groom without that tangible sense of the life-long vocation and commitment that they are entering into.
Go read the rest. I happen to agree. Sure, cohabitation is common, even among ‘nominal Christians’ (Christians in name only) but that doesn’t make it right. In fact, it just makes it more tragic.