The Tale of Two Families

Lisa May Executive Director, Live the Life South Florida

I was recently blessed to share the mission and history of Live the Life South Florida with a group of people outside of Florida. A wise man approached me afterward and said, “Good job, but remember, you tell them, and then you tell them again.” I laughed and thought, how very true. Studies suggest that repeated statements are perceived as more truthful than statements made less frequently. In simple terms: Frequency breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds trust. Not only do consumers remember an account that gets repeated, but they are also more likely to believe it, and think it is the popular opinion. Whether it’s print or digital platforms, the advertising world says people need to see or hear something seven times before it sticks.

According to a Gallup poll released in 2019, 41 percent of Americans trust the mass media to report the news “fully, accurately and fairly.” As recently as 2017, 9 out of 10 Americans don’t fact check what’s being said. I wonder if the 59% of Americans who don’t trust mass media, fact check what’s being reported, or do we just pick and choose what we believe based on the network and who agrees with us. With that said, I was recently having a conversation about the national protest expressing outrage of injustices and our need and demand for change. My colleague shared that a leading organization in the headline news didn’t believe in the Western prescribed nuclear family’s necessity. I was so dumbfounded that I decided I needed to “fact check” rather than believe based on my personal relationship with the individual. This is what I found under the “About” – What We Believe – organizational tab. 

“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.” The verb “disrupt” and adjective “comfortable” is much of the reason we’re facing today’s challenges. Our families have been “disrupted,” and there’s nothing “comfortable” about caring for our children. As a single parent, I can personally testify that it is the very tragedy that has propagated so many of the national and global atrocities we’re faced with today. I agree that changes have to be made, and laws need to be enforced for everyone’s protection, but OUR brokenness is at the root of THE brokenness.

So, as the wise man said, “tell them and tell them again.” Live the Life exists to strengthen marriages and families through healthy relationship education beginning in middle school through senior adults. Why? Because the nuclear family structure DISRUPTS poverty, child abuse, domestic violence, addictions, crime, poor physical health, fatherlessness, poor mental health, illiteracy and unemployment. A healthy nuclear family provides us attention, acceptance, appreciation, approval, affection, respect, encouragement, support, security and COMFORT. Again, research supports the Word of God. The nuclear family/marriage is the lifestyle that God ordained in Genesis through Revelations. It is the mechanism to help us overcome our broken relationships. It’s good for us as individuals. It’s best for our children. It’s better for our communities, our nation, our world and our witness.

The information below outlines the Tale of Two Families with all the references to “FACT CHECK.”

 

A Tale of Two Families – What Does Research Tell Us?

 

Married Families

Marriage inequality should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t. Marriage drops the probability of child poverty by 82%.(i)

 

Children living in nuclear families are less likely to be poorly behaved or to have severe emotional or behavioral difficulties than children living in nonnuclear families.(iii)

 

Children living in married families are healthier, more likely to have access to health care, and less likely to have learning disabilities or ADHD than children living in broken families.(v)

 

Adolescent drug use is lowest in intact married families.(vii)

 

In the longest study of the link between health and marital happiness conducted to date, researchers studied 1,681 individuals over two decades and found a direct correlation between a happy marriage and good physical health. Being happily married leads to a healthier life. Regardless of the length of time a couple has been married, there is a clear connection between physical well-being and wedded bliss.(ix)

 

Married peers were 1/3 less likely to report being victims of relationship violence. Married peers were also 50% less likely to report perpetrating relationship violence.(xiii)

 

Researchers concluded from a 7-year longitudinal study that marriage boosted the mental health and emotional well-being of young adults. Married adults experienced sharp drops in their level of depression.(xv)

 

Married people are less likely to get cancer and have better odds of surviving cancer than single, separated or divorced people. Unmarried patients are at significantly higher risk of under-treatment and death resulting from cancer.(xvii)

 

Children in families with their married biological parents have higher reading achievement scores than peers living with cohabiting parents or in stepfamilies.(xix)

 

Unmarried Families

 

Nearly 37% of single mothers with children were poor, compared to only 6.4% of married couples with children. Single parent families with children are almost 6 times more likely to be poor than married couples.(ii)

 

Family fragmentation costs U.S. taxpayers at least $112 billion every year, and more than $1 trillion each decade. The cost to Florida taxpayers is $1.95 Billion every year.(iv)

 

The trend toward single-parent families is probably the most important of the recent family trends that have affected children and adolescents. Children in such families have negative life outcomes at two to three times the rate of children in married, two-parent families.(vi)

 

A child who is not living with his or her own two married parents is at greater risk for child abuse.(viii)

 

Divorce is correlated with more truancy, decreased ability to form successful social relationships and solve conflicts, and more frequent involvement in crime and drug abuse. This increases a child’s likelihood of being at-risk for gang influence and involvement.(x) Boys reared in single-mother or cohabitating households are 2 times more likely to commit a crime that leads to incarceration.(xi) Adolescents in single-parent families are more likely to engage in use of illegal drugs.(xii)

 

Women ages 13-19 that have ever lived with a single, solo parent have a greater risk of having a premarital pregnancy then young women who have never lived with a single, solo parent.(xiv)

 

The best predictor of father presence is marital status; when a father’s romantic relationship with the child’s mother ends, more likely than not, so does father involvement with their children.(xvi)

 

Children living with divorced single parents or in stepfamilies at age 14 had lower levels of education attainment, lower annual earnings, and less prestigious occupations at age 26.(xviii)

 

Divorced and unmarried men have mortality rates up to 250% higher than married men. Divorced men are more likely to partake in risky activities such as abusing alcohol and drugs.(xx)

 

The information above was compiled from a variety of studies referenced below. Lisa May is Executive Director of Live the Life South Florida. She can be reached at [email protected] or by mail at 5110 N. Federal Hwy. Suite 102, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308

 

i U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2006-2008

ii U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2006-2008

iii Blackwell DL. Family structure and children’s health in the United States: Findings from the National Health Interview Survey, 2001–2007. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(246), 2010.

iv Scafidi, Benjamin.  The Taxpayer Cost of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing:  First-Ever Estimates for the Nation and All Fifty States.  (2008). New York:  Georgia Family Council and Institute for American Values

v Blackwell DL. Family structure and children’s health in the United States: Findings from the National Health Interview Survey, 2001–2007. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(246), 2010.

vi Mary Parke, Are Married Parents Really Better for Children? (Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy, 2003); and W. Bradford Wilcox et al., Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences (New York: Insti¬tute for American Values, 2011).

vii Hoffman, John P. and Robert A. Johnson, “A National Portrait of Family Structure and Adolescent Drug Use,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 60, No. 3 (1998), pp. 633-645

viii Why Marriage Matters, Second Edition:  Twenty-Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences.  Institute for American Values (2005), pp. 31.

ix Miller, Hollist, Olsen , Law, “Marital Quality and Health Over 20 Years: A Growth Curve Analysis,” Journal of Marriage and Family, Volume 75, Issue 3, pages 667–680, June 2013

x Esbensen, Finn-Aage. “Preventing Adolescent Gang Involvement”, U.S. Department of Justice, Juvenile Justice Bulletin, September 2000.

xi Harper, Cynthia and Sara McLanahan, “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration,” Journal of Research on Adolescence 14, no. 3 (2004):  369-397.  

xii Breivik, K. and D. Olweus. “Adolescent’s Adjustment in Four Post-Divorce Family Structures: Single Mother, Stepfather, Joint Physical Custody and Single Father Families.” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage.  Vol. 44, number 3/4 , 2006, pp.  99-124.

xiii Brown, Susan L. and Jennifer Roebuck Bulanda.  “Relationship Violence in Young Adulthood:  A Comparison of Daters, Cohabitors, and Marrieds.”  Social Science Research, vol. 37, 2008, pps. 73-87.

xiv Crowder, K. and J. Teachman.  “Do residential conditions explain the relationship between living arrangements and adolescent behavior?”  Journal of Marriage and Family, vol. 66, 2004.  

xv Roberts, Waite and Wilcox, Marriage and Mental Health in Adults and Children, Institute for American Values, 2007

xvi “Divorce Dads, and the Well-Being of Children”.  Institute for American Values, Center for Marriage and Families, Research Brief 23, July 2008.

xvii Aizer, Chen,  McCarthy, et al, Marital Status and Survival in Patients With Cancer, Journal of Clinical Oncology, September 2013

xviii Sung, Yongmin.  “Stable Postdivorce Family Structures During Late Adolescence and Socioeconomic Consequences in Adulthood”.  Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 70, Number 1.  February, 2008, pps. 129-143.

xix Artis, Julie.  “Maternal Cohabitation and Child Well-Being Among Kindergarten Children”.  Journal of Marriage and Family.  Vol. 69, Feb. 2007. pp. 222-236.  

xx Felix, Robinson, and Jarzynka, Journal of Men’s Health, Septefmber 2013, 10(1): 3-7

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