Time to consider the value of traditional American families

The Pew Research Institute reports that the number of U.S. kids living in a home with married, heterosexual parents in their first marriage, has declined from 73 percent in the 1960s to 46 percent in 2014.

Family at sunset - Image: courtesy http://pexels.com/ / pixabay.com under CCOLicense
Family at sunset - Image: courtesy http://pexels.com/ / pixabay.com under CCOLicense

PHILADELPHIA, June 30, 2016 — Following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning his executive orders on amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, President Obama remarked, “We have to decide whether we actually value families and keep them together for the sake of all of our communities.”

It is unclear when the issue of family values in America became important to the Obama Administration. It is clear that as president, Obama has presided over a steady decline of the traditional family and to this end he has not said much, let alone attempted an executive overreach to implement policies which might address the problem.

The Pew Research Institute reports that the number of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age, living in a home with married, heterosexual parents in their first marriage, has declined from 73 percent in the 1960s to 46 percent in 2014.

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The breakup of traditional American families should be of paramount concern to someone who wants to keep families together in order to maintain healthy communities. Decades of research conclude that children who are raised by their married, biological parents enjoy better physical, cognitive, and emotional outcomes on average than children who are raised in other circumstances.

Dr. David Ribar of The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne in Australia has aggregated much of the research since the 1960s on this topic in his paper, “Why Marriage Matters”. Regarding outcomes for children raised outside of the traditional, nuclear family he says, “there have been negative associations in each of the decades; most of these have been consistent.”

Ribar examined children’s physical, cognitive and emotional development across numerous family scenarios including “A Lone Mother”, “A Father Living Apart”, “A Coresident Father,” and other complex arrangements which he describes as, “situations in which a child lives with someone other than just his/her parent and his/her parent’s partner.”

Across all cases, barring conflict or violence in the home, children who grow up in a household with their married, biological parents seem to enjoy benefits that other children do not. To reach his conclusions, Ribar used a theoretical economic model that shows how families produce child well being, and then he illustrated how the circumstances created by marriage may optimize outcomes within the model.

Aside from the benefits of married parents, children who enjoy the added benefits of low-conflict, married parents receive a further gain when they are raised by their biological parents. There is a significant gain to having both a fixed and stable mother and father present throughout the child’s life.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Brenda Hunter, an expert on infant attachment and the author of numerous books on motherhood, parenting and the family says, “A child needs a mother and a father. They do different things for the child. Cross-culturally, all around the world its the same; mothers nurture babies and fathers play with babies. A child especially needs a nurturing figure in the first few years of life.”

Dr. Hunter believes that consistent love and care from a child’s mother during early childhood development translates into children learning to behave as healthy adults and form their own stable relationships. She cites attachment theory as a basis for her beliefs saying, “Babies are born programmed to fall in love with their mothers, not other caregivers.” She adds, “Multiple caregivers are harmful to babies and transient caregivers are harmful to babies.”

She advises mothers to stay home with their children for at least the first 12 months to enhance this stable bond, if possible. She says, “Mothers’ lifestyles may have changed but baby’s needs have remained the same.”

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Dr. Gabriella Gobbi of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre produced research in 2013 which suggests deficits in children raised without a father. Using California mice, which like humans raise their pups as monogamous parents, she showed that the absence of a father during critical growth periods led to impaired social and behavioral abilities as adults.

The mice raised without a father exhibited abnormal social interactions and were also more aggressive. Interestingly, the female mice seemed to fare worse than the male mice when deprived of their biological fathers.

Gobbi, who is also a psychiatrist at the health center said that the findings are analogous to what they find among human children raised without fathers, including increased risk for deviant behavior like drug abuse. She adds that girls also fare worse than boys in studies performed with humans.

Considering the startling statistics available on the breakup of the traditional American family and the research which supports it posing a potential threat to our communities the question becomes, Why did Obama fail to adequately address keeping families together for the sake of communities, until it concerned non-citizens? He was elected to govern over the welfare of Americans not illegal immigrants.

Dr. Hunter comments, “We are doing massive experiments with raising kids in this culture from daycare to varied familial constellations.”

Perhaps that is it. Just like his controversial policies with the military and attempts to mandate public schools to let little boys and girls into each other’s bathrooms, Obama never addressed the importance of keeping traditional American families together here at home, because it is another opportunity for him to oversee a social experiment performed on his own subjects, not someone else’s.


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