Intact Families Disappear For Teens
Special Report - December 16, 2010
More than half of American teenagers are growing up in broken families in a nation where the intact married family is fast becoming the “exception, rather than the rule,” according to a new report released yesterday by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at the Family Research Council. The “U.S. Index of Belonging and Rejection,” which was compiled and written by MARRI Director, Patrick Fagan, Ph.D., measures the proportion of children growing up in intact families at the national, state and local levels. The findings are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey (ACS), which collects information on family relationships, parental marital status, and relationships between parents and children.
According to Fagan, “America’s family culture has become a culture of rejection.” For example, the report shows that in 2008, only 45 percent of American teenagers (ages 15 to 17) live in families with both their biological married parents, while 55 percent of American teens “lived in families where their biological parents have rejected each other” (this includes single parent families, step-parent families, cohabiting parent families, and foster care or adoptive families). “Increased rates of divorce and childbearing outside of marriage have turned growing up in a stable, two-parent family into an exception, rather than the rule, for young Americans,” Fagan explains.
The report notes that the South is the “least family-friendly environment for children” among the four regions measured, with a 41 percent index of belonging (or 41 percent of teens in intact families), compared to 50.4 percent in the Northeast. Married two-parent families are the norm in 11 states, according to the report, including Utah, Nebraska and New Hampshire. “In the majority of Southern states, fewer than 40 percent of teenagers live with both married parents,” the report states, noting that in some Southern states, such as Mississippi, only one-third of teens live in intact families. In North Carolina, less than half, or 42 percent, of teenagers live with two married parents.
Fagan writes that the culture of rejection is rooted in gender dysfunction.
“Two opposing dynamicsbelonging and rejectionare at play among American men and women. When rejection triumphs and a father and mother reject one another, they are prohibited from living in harmony in a setting of belonging, a necessity for raising the children they bring into the world,” Fagan explains. “The rejection of father and mother by one another seems to be a private act but it has very public consequences.”
According to Fagan, these consequences include: 1) the loss of a “birthright” for children (i.e., the marriage of their parents), which children need to thrive, and 2) a community that must bear the heavy burden of “raising children who are weakened by their parents’ breakup.” Fagan concludes that the solution to returning America to a culture of belonging where the husband and wife relationship is restored is first of all relationalmen and women must relearn how to “belong” to one another. He argues that this will be achieved not so much by government, although government has a role to play, but through the institutions of family, religion (the church) and education (including schools and the media)... the “prime shapers of relationships.”
Educated Favor Marriage More - December 9, 2010
The Lifelong Harms of Divorce on Children - FNC - Fall 2010
Tracking the Importance of Family and Faith - FNC - Spring 2010
Why Families Matter - Findings - November 2005
Too Many Fatherless Children - Findings - June 1999
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