In Life, All Other Child Rearing Factors are Not Equal
Mrs. H said: "There is plenty of research to the contrary mythago. Children statistically fair better in married households than in any other situation."
Yes, if all other factors are made equal then that's what studies show. It's important to keep this "all other things equal" in the back of our minds, or we may make some glaring errors in judgement about how children are best raised.
Marriage may lead to higher family income, better educated parents, double the chance that the child may have health insurance, more likely the residence will be in a location that has better schools and other community resources and so on. A child in this situation is more likely to do well, but this is true because all the factors I listed are much more important than who constitutes the family, and they are more likely in a two person rather than a one person household.
Yet we must appreciate that it is these other, more important, coexisting factors that make the difference, not the two v one parent situation in and of itself. If we don't keep this in mind, then we might make these mistakes:
1. Criticizing a well educated, high income woman who has health insurance and owns a home in a good neighborhood, for being a single mother, when in fact, her child is likely to fair far better than average. If we are concerned about children being raised successfully, we should be saying "Brava! you go girl!" and encouraging other women like her to do likewise.
2. Criticizing gay partners for wanting children. Census figures for 2000 show that gay households, on average, have incomes about $5,000 higher than households in general, and income is the #1 factor in child rearing success. Gays also fair better at #2 which is education level of the parents. Most importantly, gays who want to settle down and have children do so intentional. They wait longer to do so and are in a better financial situation as a result. Don't we wish straight teenagers were more like these gays, instead of making babies in the back seat of the car willy-nilly. Because of these many advantages, children raised by the average gay parents are likely to be more successful than with the typical opposite sex parents.
For example, in combing through the 165,000 records in the national adolescent survey, researchers found 22 children being raised by lesbian couples. They carefully paired these with 22 children being raised by opposite sex parents. In order to make "all other things equal," so they could focus on just the one variable of interest, they ended up having to choose opposite sex parents who were above average in almost every way just so they would be "equal" to these lesbian couples.
So when we make general statements about child rearing, let's be mindful of when "all other things being equal" applies and when it doesn't. Children with a single parent of means and children of SS couples are likely to turn out better than average since, in these cases, all other things are not equal.
Also on Family Scholar's Blog