Building the next generation of leaders for marriage, family, and sexual integrity

Frequently Asked Questions: Family

What do stable, intact families contribute to society?

Because stable, intact families are rooted in stable marriages, they benefit children and society in the same ways that intact marriages do. First, married men and women tend to be happier, healthier and wealthier than their single peers. As for their children, growing up in an intact family is strongly associated with better emotional health and higher levels of education, work, and income among young men and women. Adolescents from intact families are also more likely to delay becoming sexually active, which also means lower levels of teen pregnancy. Stability at home also tends to be associated with less risky behavior overall. Even something as simple as frequently having dinner with one’s family is associated with lower risk for substance abuse among teens. Finally, intact families rooted in stable marriages tend to lead to future stable marriages among the grown children of those unions. In other words, marriage reinforces marriages among the next generation. Individuals thrive when they have the security of a stable, intact family life. And when individuals and their families thrive, society thrives.

What are the leading causes of marital and family instability?

There are various and multiple factors that are associated with marital and family instability. Cohabitation, out of wedlock child bearing, and history of family instability are all associated with later marital instability. A history of multiple sexual partners prior to marriage (other than one’s spouse) is also associated with a greater chance of divorce.

How do multiple sexual partners prior to marriage affect the chances of divorce?

Multiple sexual partners prior to marriage are correlated with an increased risk of divorce. If you want to enjoy a stable, happy marriage, your best bet is to limit sexual activity to your spouse.

With reproductive technologies being what they are, do fathers matter? How do fathers contribute to the development of their sons and daughters?

Fathers and mothers play distinct and essential roles in the lives of their children. Yes, fathers and mothers both matter and they are not interchangeable.

Specifically, paternal involvement makes a positive impact on children at many levels. Children experience better health and higher education levels, and they are less likely to experience poverty, incarceration, criminal behavior, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, and child abuse. Studies show that even the involvement of nonresident fathers benefitted children.

Is it true that 30 is the new 20? Does society expect less of young adults today?

In many respects yes, society does seem to expect less of young adults today. Adulthood and adult responsibilities are largely associated with the responsibilities of family life – caring for a spouse and children, providing for one’s family, and sacrificing one’s own interests and comforts for the sake of others. It naturally follows then that along with delaying marriage until one’s late twenties or early thirties seems to have come the delayed onset of adulthood. The years that men and women spend in college and as young professionals are now often perceived as years of exploration, adventure, and “finding oneself.” Of course, many young men and women do assume the responsibilities and maturity of adulthood at earlier ages, but their experiences are not often reflected in or encouraged by the mass media.

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