Politics and the Church – Extrication From the Shoal Waters [Part 10]

Last week having looked at the out-of-wedlock/single-parent families, this week we will look at children of divorced parents and children of incarcerated parents.

Another fairly recent public policy change is that of no-fault divorce.  After two adults have made a lifelong commitment to each other, either can walk away from the marriage for any cause, even no cause at all.  In 80% of the cases of no-fault divorces involving one spouse abandoning the relationship, the other wants to keep it alive.  Once again the government makes it easy to be irresponsible and non-com! mittal [DivorceRoom.com, “No Fault Divorce Statistics”, www.divorceroom.com/no-fault-divorce/no-fault-divorce-statistics.html; August 4, 2014].  As a consequence of these “modern” laws (largely in place since the early 1980’s) divorces have soared [Ted Gest, “Divorce:How the Game is Played Now”, US News and World Report, November 21, 1983, pgs. 39-42].  Now to take a look at the second category of “family”: children from divorced homes.

+   Children from divorced homes experience lower scores in school, higher absenteeism, and a dropout rate of 31%, compared to only 13% for children from intact homes [W. Bradford Wilcox, “The Evolution of Divorce”, National Affairs 1 (Fall 2009)].

+   Children of divorce are 50% more likely to develop health problems [Institute for American Values, “The Marriage Movement”].

+   Children of divorce suffer higher rate of depression, addiction, and arrest [Chuck Donovan, “Marriage, Parentage, and the Constitution of the Family”, The Heritage Foundation, January 27, 2010].

+   Eleven percent of boys from divorced parents end up in prison before they are age thirty-two, compared to only 5% of boys from intact families [Wilcox, “The Evolution of Divorce”].

+   Thirty-three percent of girls of divorced parents become teen mothers, compared to only 11% of girls from intact families [Ibid].

+   Divorced women as well as daughters of the divorced have higher incidents of poverty…30% of single-mother compared to 6% of married couples with children [FamilyFacts.org, “Marriage and Poverty”, http://www.familyfacts.org/briefs/8/marriage-and-poverty…August 4, 2014].

+   Adult children of divorce tend to have: lower paying jobs and less college than their parents; vulnerability to drugs and alcohol; fear about commitment and divorce; and negative memories of the legal system that forced custody and visitation [Linda Mintle, “A Child-Focused Divorce? Nice Idea, Wrong Solution”, CBN.com, September 8, 2011].

+   Adult children of divorce are 89% more likely to divorce than those raised in intact families [Wilcox, “The Evolution of Divorce”].

+   Seventy-nine percent of the children of married parents felt emotionally safe when growing up, while only 44% of children of divorced parents felt the same [Elizabeth Marquardt, “The Children Left Behind”, Los Angeles Times, November 15, 2005].

+   The lifespan for children of divorce averages five years less than those who grew up in intact families [Cathy Meyer, “No-Fault Divorce Laws: The Impact of No-Fault Divorce on Our Children”, Divorced Women Online, March 22, 2011].

Disrupting the traditional combination of a father and a mother in the home harms children…with the exception of a home where abuse occurs.  A judge made a comment about no-fault divorce, “It is easier to divorce my wife of 26 years than to fire someone I hired a week ago.  The person I hire has more legal clout to sue me than my wife of 26 years” [Randall Hekman as quoted by Michael McManus, “From the Detroit News: Another View”, Retrouvaille.org…August 4, 2014].  Significantly, the divorce rate has fallen from its high of about 50% in 1980 to around 40% today [Wilcox, “The Evolution of Divorce”].  Much of this,though, cannot be attributed to increased attitude toward commitment, but to the growing practice of cohabitation which increased tenfold between 1960 and 2000 [US Census Bureau, “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2000”, as quoted by Unmarried Equality, “Statistics” ].  For adults who experienced divorce as children, 61% more than likely agree that it is a good idea to live together before getting married [Wilcox, “The Evolution of Divorce”].  Sadly divorce takes a toll not only! on the lives of those who experience it, but also on future generations.  Any wonder our ‘charts’…Judeo/Christian foundations…are being questioned?   The very principles that will make this nation strong are being not only questioned but weakened by a secular government that is too cowardly to stress commitment and responsibility.  In many cases family destruction is being supported and encouraged by government policies.

Well due to my ‘verboseness’  I will wait until next week to discuss the third family group…children in families where either one or both parents are incarcerated.  Many of the government policies prevent these parents from ever recovering and getting ‘back on their feet’.  Children are either relegated to a life of poverty, a ward of the welfare ‘state’, or passage from home to home.  Any wonder some of our youth are so confused?

– Bob Munsey

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