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Chuck Darrell, Published May 12 2012

Marriage is one dad, one mom

Isn’t it true that children don’t need a mom and a dad – any two loving parents will do?

Ask just about any child who was abandoned by her father or mother if they needed that missing parent, and you will know the answer. It is a truth of human existence that while death and divorce too often prevent it, children do best when they are raised by biological parents.

But what does the science say? A report by Child Trends, a nonpartisan research organization, summarized the scholarly consensus on marriage this way: “Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.”

The evidence linking the health of marriage to the welfare of children is overwhelming.

Children raised in intact, married homes are approximately 30 percent less likely to cut class, be tardy or miss school. They are about twice as likely to graduate from high school, compared to children reared by single parents or stepfamilies.

Children from stable, married families are significantly less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and thoughts of suicide compared to children from divorced homes. A study of the entire population of Swedish children found that children in two-parent homes were about 50 percent less likely to suffer from suicide attempts, alcohol and drug abuse, and serious psychiatric illnesses compared to children reared in single-parent homes.

A major study that analyzed victimization data on more than 11,000 individuals from three urban areas in New York, Florida and Missouri arrived at this conclusion: the proportion of single-parent households in a community predicts rates of violent crime and burglary, but the community’s poverty level does not.

The evidence is clear: Children who are reared by their own married mothers and fathers are much more likely to confront the world with a sense of hope, self-confidence and self-control than children raised without an intact, married family.

This doesn’t mean that children who grow up in non-ideal environments cannot be successful in life. It means that, since growing up in alternative or “broken” homes is more difficult for children, being as successful as children who grow up with a mom and dad is much more challenging.

Since children are future leaders, government has a vested interest in ensuring that, whenever possible, they grow up in the best environment – with their married biological mother and father. This is the main reason why government recognizes marriage: to protect the rights of children generated by marriage – to grow up with the man and woman who brought them into the world.

Join us in standing for the rights of children and vote “yes” on the Marriage Protection Amendment on Nov. 6.

Darrell is communications director of Minnesota for Marriage.

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