Families Remain the Best Environment for Kids

Studies Support Marriage, and Time With Parents

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NEW YORK, MAY 12, 2001 (Zenit.org).- In yet another sign of contemporary anti-family sentiments, a New York school has banned the celebration of Mother´s Day, apparently after complaints by male homosexual couples who feared their children would feel left out.

Writing for National Review Online on May 8, Jonah Goldberg, an ex-student of the institution in question, the reform Jewish Rodeph Sholom Day School, quoted a circular written by Cindi Samson, director of the school´s lower elementary division.

«[F]amilies in our society are now diverse and varied,» explained Samson. «We are a school with many different family makeups, and we need to recognize the emotional well-being of all the children in our school.»

Goldberg explained that Rodeph Sholom is a liberal day-school, where tuition starts at $15,000 for pre-kindergarten and where the parents are «overwhelmingly Upper West Side Manhattan Jewish liberals.» What ever happened to the Old Testament imperative to honor thy father and mother? asked Goldberg.

Another National Review article, by Stanley Kurtz, noted that once homosexual «marriage» becomes a reality, «more and more of the taken-for-granted underpinnings of our world will come under attack: monogamy, the very existence of marriage as a privileged state, and of course, the differences between mothers and fathers.»

It is simply not possible to create complete equivalence between homosexuality and heterosexuality without undermining the family, concluded Kurtz.

Children need their parents

Recent studies support the importance of family life. Researchers found that children who spend most of their time in day care are three times as likely to exhibit behavioral problems in kindergarten as those who are cared for primarily by their mothers, the New York Times reported April 19.

The study examined more than 1,100 children in 10 U.S. cities in a variety of settings, from care with relatives and nannies, to preschool and large day-care centers.

Research showed a direct correlation between time spent in day care and traits like aggression, defiance and disobedience. Two of the lead researchers said the findings held true regardless of the type or quality of care, the sex of the child, the family´s socioeconomic status or whether mothers themselves provided sensitive care.

Jay Belsky, one of the study´s principal investigators, said children who spent more than 30 hours a week in day care «are more demanding, more noncompliant and they are more aggressive.» He added, «They scored higher on things like ´gets in lots of fights,´ cruelty, bullying, meanness, as well as talking too much.»

The report sparked off a debate, with some questioning the validity of the findings, and others suggesting that higher-quality day care would solve any problems. According to the Times, 13 million preschoolers are in day care in the United States, while nearly 30% of all American children are in care centers.

Importance of family life

On a more positive note, a British study has demonstrated that married couples are happier than singles. In contrast to the notion that most unattached adults enjoy carefree, fun-filled lives, a study found that the majority of singles lead mundane lives in which drinking, dating and recreation play only a minor part, the Telegraph reported March 4.

This is particularly the case as they become older. One in four of «midlife» singles — those 35 and older — admitted that they have not had a relationship in the past five years.

The report, by Emma Besbrode, was based on a study of 1,175 single people and nearly 2,000 couples. Even though single people did not have to cope with the pressures of raising young children, the research found that they were less happy than couples with family commitments.

Only 49% of older singles said that they felt happier than they were five years ago, compared with 61% of couples. Nearly one in three said that they were less happy, compared with just 18% of their peers who were living with a partner.

Younger singles were also less likely than couples to say they were happier than five years ago, although the difference is less marked. Besbrode commented: «There is a view that marriage and relationships are stressful, not least because of the demands of raising a family, and that those who are single enjoy a better life. But this research doesn´t support that.»

Family life was also defended in a March 25 article in the Observer newspaper. The authors, Bob Rowthorn and Paul Ormerod, were described as «an ex-Communist and former radical Labor councilor» who have ditched their 1960s roots to champion marriage as the best way to raise a family.

They pointed out that during the last three decades the marriage skeptics have held almost all of the intellectual and political high ground. For these skeptics, family structure is simply one more aspect of «lifestyle choice,» and marriage holds no particular status.

The article, however, affirms: «It is now clear that children brought up in a stable, two-parent family as a rule do better than in other family types. This is true for almost every indicator used to measure their personal development.» On every measure of achievement and emotional condition, children living with their married parents usually do better than other children, they observed.

And as for the parents themselves, Rowthorn and Ormerod argue that on average, married people are physically healthier and have lower mortality rates than single, cohabiting, divorced or separated people. The former live more regular and secure lives, and engage in less substance abuse and other harmful activities, and they also suffer from less anxiety, depression and other mental ailments. These findings apply to both sexes.

Serious violence among married couples is uncommon, while violence of all kinds is much less frequent than among cohabiting couples. And for children, both physical and sexual abuse are much less frequent for those who live with their married, biological parents than in other kinds of family setup.

The article explained that children are far more at risk in stepfamilies. And as for informal unions it is well known that these are more unstable since many of them involve no lifelong commitment and the option of breaking up is consciously preserved.

The scientific evidence in favor of marriage as an institution is now overwhelming, concluded the Observer article: «There can be no doubt that, generally, marriage is superior to other family types.»

Unfortunately it seems this news has not penetrated some sectors of New York. The cancellation of Mother´s Day in just one school is of course a small matter in itself, but is nevertheless indicative of attitudes in liberal and intellectual circles.

A great deal of today´s social problems can be traced to the breakdown in family life and no amount of government welfare programs or politically correct education can substitute for the family. The defense of the family is important, because it is one of the basic building blocks of society.

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