Comments for en-gb 30 Fri 22 May 2015 21:32:23 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at negrounder It is quite instructive to read the comments and to note that most people dont seem to have read the precise text of the blog - rather they have reacted to an emotional take on it.Quite ok for individuals - which of us does not? But not ok for policy makers.For me, the interesting statistic is the length of time on aveage a child will be with a lone parent when born to married couple v cohabiting couple v single parent. Now it could be that this is entirely due to confounding factors, but unless it were well proven, it would be unwise I think for a govt to rely on this notion.Unless there is good evidence elsewhere, the resonable person would have to hazard a guess that it is partly confouding (income or other social disadvantages) and partly causal (it really is better for kids, on average, to have married parents).I also dont see anything wrong with policy makers trying to help in a number of ways. I.E. trying to reduce any confounding factors need not preclude support for marriage itself. Mon 13 Oct 2008 16:51:09 GMT+1 GordonBrownsux Births outside marriage, why does this usually mean young mums and no fathers. Is a council flat worth going through all of this trauma for? Society today appears to encourage a sloppy and disposable attitude to sex, and this would also include any children born. We must start to teach our young to respect themselves and not condone lax morals by financially supporting them. If you have children you should pay for them, not the state, reducing benefits and entitlements would be a first step in reducing this problem. Fri 10 Oct 2008 14:26:13 GMT+1 e-welthorpe The marital status of parents is an irrelevence, as is the gender, race, able-bodiedness, sexual orientation and so forth. The quality of a parent-child relationship is all that matters.How offensive that children have been ostracised and have even been given a pejorative name, vis. 'bastard' by sanctimonious religious fools over the centuries, purely for social control/power reasons. Such as it is, it is a shining example of a disrespectfulness which a caring parent would steer a child away from. Mon 06 Oct 2008 10:35:42 GMT+1 busby2 redjsteelI take it that you regard "moral" arguments and words like "commitment" with derision. How sad.And if the child does not belong to the family, it stands to reason that you must believe that the child must belong to the state. How very fascist and totalitarian of you!The strength of the family IS important. It is the backbone of society and very important for our freedom and rights. And marriage, with its higher level of commitment to one another in raising a family, is a far stronger bond than simply co-habiting. If that wasn't the case there would be no difference in the percentage of children of married couples and co-habiting couples that live with both parents throughout their childhood. Wed 01 Oct 2008 19:11:53 GMT+1 redjsteel Quite interesting seeing "moral" arguments mixed with the good old family assets in many of the postings. Like "commitment" (as an argument for the superiority of marriage). Commitment to what? Mutual growth or the growth (of the bank account) in the Mutual?Anyway, I was rather surprised that not even the most liberal posters raised the most fundamental and highly questionable assumption in the article, that in some way the child belongs to the family, that is, he or she is a property of the family...Well, that's certainly the logic of the monogamous family, in which both the wife and the child are the property of the husband (hence the banking law until quite recently discussed them in the same chapter) and hence derives from the heritence law (well behaved wife and child who does not divert from father's basic principles). It is rather sad to see it being used against co-habiting partners and, a real twist of the logic, using the upbringing of the child within the inevitably restricted values and ethics of the "family" as morally superior than, let's say the kindergarten. Tue 30 Sep 2008 18:59:50 GMT+1 Englishxpat And in case anyone objects to my mentioning God in my comment, I'd like to point out that I'm NOT talking about religion, of whichever kind, which is all about institutionalised control and a system of hierarchical power, which tends to enslave people to guilt and shame and wants their money in return. :) Tue 30 Sep 2008 14:43:18 GMT+1 Englishxpat Yet another set of statistics to justify the criticism and elimination of the institution of marriage, which is an institution given by God, (in my opinion) to protect children, amongst other reasons.MARRIAGE ITSELF IS NOT THE PROBLEM; human selfishness is. We can all recount stories of marriages which failed and those that didn't. My mother always said that marriage was hard work, but if you take the 'I' out of sin, then you have a recipe for a good marriage. My parents have been happily married for 45 years, and they're not perfect. They have three children, all of whom had universtity educations and who all have intact marriages although we're not perfect either. I have been married for18 years in spite of the fact that my husband and I have different nationalities and in some ways, think very differently; inspite of hard times, including four miscarriages. We were, however, brought up to put other people before ourselves and I learned later, when I had a personal revelation of Jesus, that loving others before oneself is a decision of the will; it is possible to decide to put the other person first, even if one's feelings are hurt. Knowing the love of Jesus makes all the difference. You can forgive and be forgiven and walk on every day without holding on to pain. Divorce is a tragic reality, but it doesn't negate the validity of marriage; it just proves how selfish we human beings are and how desperately we need to turn round to God, be forgiven, and start a new life with His power inside to make anything in this fallen world possible. Tue 30 Sep 2008 14:26:46 GMT+1 Black_And_Proud I wonder if there has been any research into the relative tendencies of single parents and the children of single parents to post on blog sites?Good parents will raise good children, bad parents will not. Mon 29 Sep 2008 21:18:13 GMT+1 Have your say Rejected we live in a world full of lies and broken promises, and thats just from our leaders. stats generally can be made to show what ever 'truth' u want to see, i'm sure single parent families can affect the children but too link children born out of wedlock too single parent families is just wrong, my two children live with both their parents who arn't married, and i'm sure there are many more families like mine. Mon 29 Sep 2008 17:32:19 GMT+1 sludgepump I looked for the words affection and loyalty in all these comments - in vain. Mon 29 Sep 2008 17:12:08 GMT+1 wushuwonder Saying that the number of births out of wedlock is a cause for concern is a bit of a generalisation isn't it? There are thousands of people who, like me and my partner, don't see the need to get a certificate to prove that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. How can buying a marriage certificate make your relationship better??The issue is not whether or not people are married but people's attitude to marriage.My partner commented to some younger (early 20s) colleagues how sad it was about some celebrity couple splitting up and their response was 'what's the problem? they've done seven years!' The next generation are no longer wondering if they will get married but how many times. Is that still better than not doing it atall? I think this report needs to be a little more specific. Mon 29 Sep 2008 14:13:51 GMT+1 Loving_Pappa I noticed it creeping in from one or two but Ludvig had to make a meal of it. NO religion should be involved here. We are talking about parents - single or not. There is NO God sitting visibly at my breakfast table or anyone elses for that matter. Religion is and should always be a private matter between yourself and your own beliefs. CHILDREN especially needed to be left out of that loop and decide for themsleves later. And before you start to scream at me, please respect - a child dies because its parents will not accept a blood transfusion(JW religion) - an underaged child is "Flogging" himself with knifes attached whip to the delight of his Muslim father. An underaged girl is raped by a drunken idiot or even a rapist, and cant have an abortion (Catholic) .. A priest goes to jail in Wales because he is a self confessed pervert who likes to see children as young as 6 years being defiled,,, do I need to go on>?Keep to the SUBJECT and leave religion out, it has an ugly head in too many areas.Call me what you like - but I am very honest and that is how I will bring up my daughter - to be honest and to have her eyes OPEN not blinkered and with lies and fairy stories Mon 29 Sep 2008 13:39:37 GMT+1 Rapedwife None of the articles in promotion of children within wedlock, and the Conservatives' support for the married couple refer to the cost on society and children of parents whose relationships are violent. Battered wives have enough problems leaving their abusive husbands without being economically and socially discriminated against for doing so. Mon 29 Sep 2008 12:50:15 GMT+1 mappex This post has been Removed Mon 29 Sep 2008 10:55:58 GMT+1 LudwigMyburgh I am a proud South African (Afrikaner), which is proud on my language, culture and cultural heritage and can look the world straight in the eyes without shame! I am one of those South African that refuse to flee from my home country like a cowardly dog with its tail between its legs due to political, affirmative action or economical factors. I love my country, the people and our lovely natural heritage and furthermore, I am part of the solution not the problem.My point is I have bad news for people fleeing from their problems, because their problems will follow them wherever they go. That also reflects their level of commitment! If people have problems, deal with it, don’t take the easy way and run away. We are living in a globally ‘quick’ society which I consider as artificial! Just as one can buy ‘quick’ food at various take a way restaurants, road houses and food stores people want quick relationships, a quick marriage, a quick family, achieved quick success, a quick careers, quick money etc. Well all of the above takes time, effort and commitment and in some cases, if not all, emotional strength! I am a graduate Electronic Technologist, and am proud to say I work for one of the biggest respectful military defense aviation companies in the world! During my studies, I have received excellent grades with a sum total of eight distinctions. My degree course is a four year course, when doing it full time. The first three years, I have done full time, whilst the last year I have done part-time over a period of more than three years (two subjects a year) because I have worked full time. The result is I have completed my degree over a sum period of seven and a half years.The point that a wanted to make is as follows:1) There were tough times that were emotionally and physically demanding, but I have learned the meaning of commitment! Commitment means not to run away in tough times taking the easy way out, sometimes you need to compromise your will!2) My studies have taught me about discipline. For instance, I have completed engineering mathematics IV, in order to do calculus and to be good in it one must adhere by the rules of mathematics. It takes some discipline. 3) I you want to achieve success in life stick to the basics. For example if you want to have a successful relationship or marriage, stick to the basics which include mutual love, respect, trust, commitment etc. It turns out my studies have not just taught me stuff about the wonderful world of electronics, science, mathematics and technology but have also taught me about life!I were four when my parents divorced and a child’s identity gets formed in his/her childhood years therefore I believe any child should grow up in a stable environment. An unstable childhood will likely reflect in his/her adulthood years. I am a Christian and love the lord my God! God have laid down the rules for life, He has created us, and He knows what the best is for us. It’s time that people returns to His Word and do what He instruct as to do. People should have the discipline to return to the basic moral values. That takes some commitment!Sex before marriage is wrong; to live like a married couple is wrong if not married just as steal and murder are wrong!To conclude, it is not what is economically feasible, it is about right and wrong. You have the power of choice, you are the architect of you own future! Don’t let your bad decision influence innocent people negatively!Best whishes Ludwig Mon 29 Sep 2008 09:30:58 GMT+1 Paul Surely the argument here is not about "unmarried" parents but rather lone parents.It's always going to be better for a child to have unmarried parents who love each other than married ones who are merely together because they cannot afford the alternative.I grew up with divorced parents, but the fact that they lived apart didn't affect me in the slightest. They got along well and I got to see my dad whenever I liked. And as a bonus, it meant getting extra presents at birthdays and Xmas!As long as the child is loved and cared for, it makes no difference whether it's parents are together or not.Of course these days I suspect the bigger problem is the young age many are becoming parents. Having a child when you are still a child yourself means you are completely unprepared for what that means. If you are still defying your own parents, how can you possibly expect to discipline your own children?"Unmarried" is not the same thing as "irresponsible". Mon 29 Sep 2008 09:18:51 GMT+1 Loving_Pappa I have had three marriages, thankfully only two children. The first from which I had a son, was a disaster. I accept 50% culpability for that, but the sadness was losing my son. My ex married again after less than a year (Do not get the wrong idea about her either please- jumping to the wrong conclusions) - But the results were amazing. My son, now a professor at university, married and with two kids. The down side, my ex hates me, never been in contact, and I have not seen my son since he was 12 years old!! - Four years ago I married my third wife - (and still on excellent terms with the 2nd) - and to my greatest delight she has given me a daughter. Never in the world would I dream of such happiness of being a family with a child. We are poor folk really, but my daughter (now nearly 3) lacks for nothing. She is a joy for both Momma and Pappa.I could not imagine a child being without both, but by the same token, it is a question of either a single Dad or a single Mum doing their best in love, undertsanding, quality time, and teaching them the principals of life. I do not agree that being married is always better for the child. So many marriages are littered with abuse, drugs, alchohol, and others are plagued with parents being too successful to count them as even friends!Parents - single or married, have a n obligation to love, teach, care, and provide for their child. It is a matter of "inborn" breeding and understanding and intelligence. Mon 29 Sep 2008 07:30:50 GMT+1 rational_renter This report, much to the annoyance of supposedly "well adjusted" individuals from single parent families makes perfect sense. The advantages of the nuclear family are obvious and many:1. The children are exposed to role models of both sexes whom parent in different ways but with the common goal of the child's success.2. It is economically and socially advantageous.3. The child isn't envious of other children who have both parents at home.4. The child isn't exposed to the "partners" of the single parent or treated as a step child.So please, save me the liberal half logic and the "well I'm an exception" or "I know a nuclear family that is poorly off". The report is about average families and not the one in your own special little world. Mon 29 Sep 2008 07:15:00 GMT+1 saintMammamia I totally agree with jcbell comments Mon 29 Sep 2008 07:01:20 GMT+1 saintMammamia This is a very interesting topic, nowadays we don't consider religion as part of our day to day life and decisions, to most religions it is a sin to produce child our of wedlock.In todays world, a family does not nessasarily means a mom, a dad and siblings, it can be a single mom or a single dad. But I don't think its right to bring out baby to this world without a solid home = a married parents. If you are in a marriage and it failed or your husband/wife passed away that is something else. But to give birth by choice in becoming a single mother; that I think your biological clock ticking and the need to feel love, insecurity about life and the future.I think anyone be it single mother/father/ guardians can bring up kids well, if they have strong faith, focus and support. But how many single mother out there are100% happy with their life before deciding on being a single mother? I see around me friends get pregnant from a one night stand, a guy they've just dated for 2 months or a trap for the men to marry them. They are desperate; desperate to feel love, desperate to have a sense of purpose, stability, security and being needed and they think a baby will filled that void! Or worst that their biological clock is ticking...and they are only 27!?!I have a friend who was so desperate to have a child, about 9 years ago she gotten herself pregnant with a foreigner, he did not want the baby and he did not want to marry her either. She had no choice but to abort it, she was then in her early 20s and was not able to care for a baby. Now she is 32, she again gotten herself pregnant with another foreigner, but she is lucky because he agreed to marry her and be responsible...the thing is that she has been so desperate to have her own child that she was willing to compromise her own culture and religion to have this child. He actions to have a child out of wedlock has put a lot of stressed on her family and she is the talk of the town. She and the father of the baby are not working. They lived with his parents for 3 months and now living with her parents until Xmas. I think this is an irresponsible action! Mon 29 Sep 2008 06:56:46 GMT+1 bombasticgreentomos As a childless thirty four year old divorcee let me say from personal experience that a marriage is easier to 'get out of' than a mortgage.I am now cohabiting (and sharing a mortgage) and, subject to nature, fully intend bringing a child into the world, without remarrying.From experience, a piece of paper does not guarantee a happy eternity together. Marriage is unfortunately, too often, something that people embark upon to conform to society. Luckily for society, my marriage ended before I took the next step in conforming and brought a child into a loveless marriage.The article appears to try and group children born out of marriage as probable failures for the future! In doing so you have just written off more than HALF the children born in Wales today. Attitudes towards marriage and having children outside of marriage are changing, and so will the statistics in time. We are all aware that statistics should not always be believed.Perhaps the minority should be worried, they are going to grow up without the childhood experiences of the majority ... Sun 28 Sep 2008 22:25:01 GMT+1 jcbell In your article Marriage is referenced as a 'bit of paper stuffed in a drawer.' where did you lose sight of what marriage really is? It is one of the most important of the Holy sacraments. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. A man and a woman, married under God, is the underpinning of society and not something to be lost or belittled.- Jason, from Scotland, living in USA Sun 28 Sep 2008 20:01:54 GMT+1 GypsyBall "This matters because there is powerful evidence that children growing-up without two parents have worse outcomes as young adults." This would be relevant if the article was titled 'Single parent families - a real cause for concern'. I'm really not impressed by the assumptions made in this article. The article strays from the point and fails to understand essential differences between cohabiting and single parent families - a pretty big mistake, if you ask me. These figures are always presented in a way that is pro-marriage when really, they represent a need for a stable upbringing which DOES NOT necessarily require a piece of paper binding two people by law. Sun 28 Sep 2008 19:09:46 GMT+1 Laban Tall Apologies for repeating myself. I expected my first post to be thrown out, as I'd posted a link which is against the rules.I'll get the hang of this BBC stuff in the end ... but the bottom line of this debate is that Joni Mitchells famous lines :"We don't need no piece of paperfrom the City Hall,Keeping us tied and true"Turn out to be, sadly, nonsense. Sun 28 Sep 2008 17:59:00 GMT+1 Laban Tall There seems to be a lot of confusion on these comments re the statistics.The stats say, overwhelmingly, that being brought up by only one parent is ON AVERAGE bad for children.What they do not say is that ALL the children of single parents suffer, or that single parents are bad people as individuals. There will be cases of good single parents and bad married ones. The stats talk about averages over large numbers. The difference between the two is the difference between social science and anecdote. (I'm the son of a single mother myself btw ...)The stats also say, overwhelmingly, that a child born to cohabiting parents is far less likely to spend the whole of its childhood with both parents than the child born to married parents.What they do not say is that ALL the children of cohabitees suffer parental separation, or that cohabitees are bad people.The effects ? We can't post links, try looking for a paper entitled "Experiments in Living" issued by the think-tank Civitas.Lone mothers (ON AVERAGE - don't take it personally)Are poorerAre more likely to suffer from stress, depression, and other emotional and psychological problemsHave more health problemsMay have more problems interacting with their childrenNon-resident biological fathersAre at risk of losing contact with their childrenAre more likely to have health problems and engage in high-risk behaviourChildren living without their biological fathersAre more likely to live in poverty and deprivationHave more trouble in schoolTend to have more trouble getting along with othersHave higher risk of health problemsAre at greater risk of suffering physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.Are more likely to run away from homeTeenagers living without their biological fathersAre more likely to experience problems with sexual healthAre more likely to become teenage parentsAre more likely to offendAre more likely to smokeAre more likely to drink alcoholAre more likely to take drugsAre more likely to play truant from schoolAre more likely to be excluded from schoolAre more likely to leave school at 16Are more likely to have adjustment problemsYoung adults who grew up not living with their biological fathersAre less likely to attain qualificationsAre more likely to experience unemploymentAre more likely to have low incomesAre more likely be on income supportAre more likely to experience homelessnessAre more likely to be caught offending and go to jailAre more likely to suffer from long term emotional and psychological problemsAre more likely to develop health problemsTend to enter partnerships earlier and more often as a cohabitationAre more likely to divorce or dissolve their cohabiting unionsAre more likely to have children outside marriage or outside any partnership Sun 28 Sep 2008 15:53:55 GMT+1 Laban Tall People are asking about the history. If this link doesn't work : Google "An Economic History of Bastardy in England and Wales"."A remarkable feature of English demographic history is the explosion in childbearing outside marriage during the last quarter of the twentieth century, after 400 years of relative stability. Over the period 1845-1960, the percentage of births outside marriage moved within a small range, averaging about 5% ... After 1960, when the contraceptive pill was introduced, childbearing outside marriage began to climb slowly, and it exploded after 1980, reaching 42% in 2004."There's lots of stuff on the effects of cohabitation and its (statistically significant) consequence, the fatherless family, at Civitas. Google "Civitas experiments in living" (without quotes) statistics are overwhelming : * Lone mothers o Are poorer o Are more likely to suffer from stress, depression, and other emotional and psychological problems o Have more health problems o May have more problems interacting with their children * Non-resident biological fathers o Are at risk of losing contact with their children o Are more likely to have health problems and engage in high-risk behaviour * Children living without their biological fathers o Are more likely to live in poverty and deprivation o Have more trouble in school o Tend to have more trouble getting along with others o Have higher risk of health problems o Are at greater risk of suffering physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. o Are more likely to run away from home * Teenagers living without their biological fathers o Are more likely to experience problems with sexual health o Are more likely to become teenage parents o Are more likely to offend o Are more likely to smoke o Are more likely to drink alcohol o Are more likely to take drugs o Are more likely to play truant from school o Are more likely to be excluded from school o Are more likely to leave school at 16 o Are more likely to have adjustment problems * Young adults who grew up not living with their biological fathers o Are less likely to attain qualifications o Are more likely to experience unemployment o Are more likely to have low incomes o Are more likely be on income support o Are more likely to experience homelessness o Are more likely to be caught offending and go to jail o Are more likely to suffer from long term emotional and psychological problems o Are more likely to develop health problems o Tend to enter partnerships earlier and more often as a cohabitation o Are more likely to divorce or dissolve their cohabiting unions o Are more likely to have children outside marriage or outside any partnership Sun 28 Sep 2008 15:37:14 GMT+1 Snowdon Lily Marriage is a huge commitment and should not be trivialised in any way.Cohabiting is also a commitment - but one that can so easily be walked out on without a second thought, usually leaving the woman quite literally "holding the baby."Nevertheless, I don't advocate staying in a miserable marriage for the sake of the children either. But you know, everyone will have some difficulties in a marriage at some time, quite often to do with children, and the commitment to marriage that was made on the wedding day, does make one pause for thought over whether the relationship is worth fighting for or not.My husband and I went through a very rocky time in the 80s when the children were small. It was for all sorts of reasons, financial, self employment, stress of moving to new home and area and coping with 2 sons under the age of 4.We made it work, because the alternative was too difficult to even attempt at that time - and being married to one another was the glue that kept it together.Now we have been married for nearly 40 years, and most of it happily, especially since we have both retired. Sun 28 Sep 2008 15:31:49 GMT+1 maddddermax Single parent families and kids born to unmarried parents are 2 totally different subjects. This article is nonsense as there seems to be an underlying assumption that couples who have children outside of marriage split up.More nonsense from the BBC; whom I suggest take a step out into the real world. Yes....I mean outside ofLondon. Sun 28 Sep 2008 13:06:33 GMT+1 U12638968 This post has been Removed Sun 28 Sep 2008 12:54:02 GMT+1 U12638968 This post has been Removed Sun 28 Sep 2008 11:38:54 GMT+1 U12638968 This post has been Removed Sun 28 Sep 2008 11:22:03 GMT+1 Laura There seems to be some confusion in this article where children born outside of wedlock seem to be assumed to be living in a one-parent family. This is certainly not the case with many people - myself and my husband included. We're married now but when we had our children we were not. We lived together for 15 years before we finally tied the knot, so according to the stats, our children were no doubt born into a one-parent family which was not true at all, we were both there for them and have been ever since - just not always married.Many of our friends have done it this way too - got married after the children were born, so I think the stats are wrong, I think there are more partnerships out there than the office of births, marriages and deaths (or wherever they get their stats from) would realise. Sun 28 Sep 2008 04:47:18 GMT+1 kiki_2too What does it matter wether or not a child lives with co-habiting parents, married or otherwise?As long as the child is given the love and support that he/she needs to attain the 'standard' set by the government(which is a joke) what does it really matter?Personally speaking the population should be raising concerns with the idiots that initiate a blog in this manner as it is so useless in the sense that the large majority were born with silver spoons in their mouths and have strived for more at the expense and pleasure of the 'lower classes'.I am a single father of my 5 year old son and have been since he was 12 months is the government concerned about me or my child??I strive for the best for my child and always will do but we can only do with what we are provided. Sat 27 Sep 2008 21:13:15 GMT+1 coed14 As a single mother and having just taken one of my three sons to Uni Freshers week, I'm taking no notice of these statistics. Single parents of both sexes are more than capable of breeding and nurturing intelligent weel adjusted law abiding children Sat 27 Sep 2008 17:18:52 GMT+1 little5mudger Since when has the"concept of life-long partnership and stable family life" not applied to cohabiting couples who have made an informed decision not to marry and raise children?I'm unsure how a certificate (creating potential debts resulting in thousands) provides the solution to bringing up a non dysfunctional family?Society has changed since Darwin's theory of evolution, couples no longer need to follow a religion to create intelligent, well grounded children. Sat 27 Sep 2008 15:54:55 GMT+1 SarahCardiff Whatever the implications of single-parenthood to children, I think it's a terribly sad fact that many people today see marriage as a huge emotional and financial commitment.Yet they are very blase about having a baby. In an ideal world all children deserve a stable,loving, family with 2 parents. The next generation needs to be educated that a marriage is not always for life.Raising a child is (or should be!). I believe that if the benefits system was changed (which is currently heavily weighted in favour of single parenthood) the rate of children born outside wedlock would plummet. The benefits system encourages today's broken society.Granted many people from single parent homes do well- many,many more do not. Sat 27 Sep 2008 11:38:21 GMT+1 U12638968 Heaven forbid that we should return to the Victorian ethos of shunning the unmarried mother and her child. The horrors of the Magdelan Convent Homes for Unmarried Mothers wwre places of slavery, cruelty and despair. But a sensible solution must be found for the unfortunate children born to mothers who are really only children themselves. Unmarried motherhood is often a choice made by women who are capable of earning a living to support themselves and their offspring. Whatever one's personal opinions may be, they are unimportant since these women are not being supported by the State and lead independent live. Those who are reliant on the State are another matter. The worst thing that ever happened was when public housing created for working people was filled with teenage mothers. Many of these girls deliberately becoming pregnant to receive their own homes and full benefits. These poor babies grow up, usually, to become the problem children who vandalise estates and are low achievers at school. Nu Labour will do nothing to alter this situation of dependence since thet are a guaranteed core of voters for now and in the future. Fri 26 Sep 2008 22:21:23 GMT+1 robotwarlord Is it not fairly obvious to anyone else that this statistics reflect the nature of people who get married rather than the effect of getting married itself. David Cameron is now going to use this daft evidence to impose some kind of pointless religious based based tax laws on us all just because it will win him a few votes from the dim witted tabloid readers who probably still think knife crime can be solved with cold showers. Fri 26 Sep 2008 22:12:40 GMT+1 Secret Love Ah - that old chestnut - the facts don't suit what I think - the facts must be wrong.A stable relationship is better for children than a dynamic one. Most people would call that common-sense.How can this be expressed in a way that doesn't offend the liberal left ? It doesn't seem possible that people think putting children into day-care from the age of 6 months is going to produce secure, stable citizens, yet that is what most contributers ask us to believe.The breakdown of today's society is telling us something - is the Conservative Party the only group who are listening ? Fri 26 Sep 2008 16:10:49 GMT+1 andrian007 I agree with many of the posters above who say that while statistics prove so, it is unfair to say that people should be encouraged to marry while many children born with single parents have succeeded in life. The problem is not so much whether there are two parents rather than one, but that whether the parent/s realise that raising a child is extremely hard work and that serious commitment is required to raise a child well. Instead of the government changing tax and benefit laws favouring marriage, I would rather have my tax money going into making sure that parent/s-to-be get a few-days "training course" and understand the financial and emotional aspects of raising a child and what it takes to do it well. Most new parents will probably feel patronised, but in the long term this might do some good to British society. Fri 26 Sep 2008 14:32:23 GMT+1 queenofpuddings Ah, so we're back to this hoary old chestnut, are we?All the ills of society are all the fault of nasty old single mothers? No doubt they're milking the benefits system and getting free council housing while decent folk are struggling, too?What a gift to the religious conservatives. Save the family! Ban divorce! Shame the council-estate mums and their little byblows!From my observation the problem is that single parent families are more likely to be poor. They're more likely to live in areas of low opportunity (and where most of the men are a poor prospect as responsible mates). In that situation, who can blame them for choosing to be single?The answer is to make the whole of society fairer, not to froth at the mouth about morality. That is, if the people who produced this "study" are actually concerned about the life opportunities of children, rather than providing a rationale for right-wing knee-twitching.And I agree with the poster who wished he had lived in a single parent home. Growing up with two parents who are unhappy or abusive doesn't do anything for a child's life chances. My therapist has done quite nicely out of it, though. Fri 26 Sep 2008 13:06:16 GMT+1 ristmi 1 – Many people commenting on this blog need to read a little more closely! Mark Easton, it seems, has been very careful to avoid ‘causation’ throughout the article, instead referring to other opinions or interpretations (e.g., Professor John Ermisch and Professor Jacqueline Scott) and using terms like ‘translate’ (e.g., “… [this] translates into lower grades, worse job prospects and poorer health”) instead of ‘cause’. 2 – The pleural of anecdote is not data. 3 – I see plenty of people implying that ‘nuclear marriage’ and ‘life outcome’ are autocorrelated (as opposed to the former causing the latter… or is it the latter causing the former?!), but no suggestion of a cause driving this autocorrelated behavior. A lot of experts with no insights, huh!4 – For this to be a blog, surely Mark Easton should have addressed some of the issues since he posted the article almost 48 hours ago. Otherwise, this is just an article with a section for comments… Fri 26 Sep 2008 12:19:20 GMT+1 DisgustedOfMitcham2 Oh dear, I would have expected better of the BBC. This article, as many other contributors have already noticed, is based on a schoolboy error in statistics: correlation does not imply causation.It may well be true that outcomes are, on average, better for children of married parents than for children of unmarried parents. Does that mean children would do better if more people chose to get married? Absolutely not.Consider this: statistics show that children born to fathers who wear silk ties do better at school and end up in higher paid jobs than children born to fathers who don't wear silk ties (well, I don't actually know of any such statistics, but I'm absolutely confident that they would show that if anyone bothered to record them). Does that mean that issuing all fathers with silk ties would be helpful? That's really no different from the arguments about marriage. Fri 26 Sep 2008 11:46:30 GMT+1 CarolineOfBrunswick People cohabitating are more likely to split up than people who are married! I can't wait for the research to find out the correlation between housing tenure and how long people live in the same place, the impact of fixed term contracts on how long people stay in jobs, and how much people on pay-as-you-go mobile phones use them.Will the Conservatives be propsing tax-breaks for dining tables? Fri 26 Sep 2008 11:41:41 GMT+1 alextfish Relationships across our society are breaking down, as the Relationships Foundation's studies continue to demonstrate. It's not good to force couples to stay together if the relationship is abusive, but it's also not good for couples to take on a long-term responsibility - like a child or a marriage - without giving it the thought, preparation and commitment it deserves.What we need is for individuals to take responsibility for their relationships - with partner, children, and extended family. I do believe that marriage is a better setting to bring up a child, because there's a greater permanence (even in today's divorce-when-I-change-my-clothes culture), and more chance of the couple being genuinely committed to stand by their love for each other and work through their difficulties.Marrying someone is a great commitment, and it's not something to be entered into lightly. It is (or should be) a promise to continue to work at your love so that when troubles come, you keep communicating and get through them. And that's the kind of relationship that provides a good place for a kid to grow up. (And I do appreciate that non-marriage relationships can have that kind of commitment, but most couples with that depth of relationship will get married.) Fri 26 Sep 2008 10:48:30 GMT+1 tarquin 43 - I feel that until the UK Government does something about teenage pregnancies i.e puts their foot down about giving free housing and benifits to young mothers that have never worked, and have no intention to ever work it will never change.--I often think about this - and yes while there are people out there who abuse the system, there are also decent people out there who have been put into very hard situations and need a hand, I know some of them and how they try to get off handouts and support themselves, because at the end of the day they, like me, think it's wrong to live off handouts if they don't need tobut how do you remove those vicky pollard types who enrage us so? at the end of the day both types are on a government form that says - "2 kids, no job etc" - meanwhile in the tabloid one would be a hero and one would be a villain, unless we want the government going around to each person and passing a judgement i don't see how you can remove a benefit that helps people without hurting the people who actually need it Fri 26 Sep 2008 10:45:31 GMT+1 watersummergirl hi, i have moved to the Uk 3 years ago and i have been with my partner who is British(i am Romanian) for 2 years.we have a 16 month old son and would like one day to be able to afford a nice small wedding and to make our family whole.unfortunatley with all the different laws about imigration changing as often as the wind we can only wait to see what the future brings at the moment i am a full time mum to our 2 boys(he has a son from a previous relation) and i am not allowed to work here until i become a citizen or something like that i was raised by my grandma as my mum had to work full time to support me and my sister .we never met our father as he killed himself soon after the birth of my sister i never had a father figure in my house and was always surrounded by women but i finished highschool and came here to try and get a better life and make something out myself now that i am a mum i want to offer my kids everything i never had, a proper family, food on the table and a good educationmy partner is the only one who works ,so we cant afford a weeding ,as me being a foreigner the expenses grow much more and that is only on paperworkif the goverment willl help the genuine couples that want to form a family and raise their children together more couples will have children in a proper familyat the moment is so much easier to just co-habbit with the partner ...many other reasons can be named not just the money or the true love for having a family Fri 26 Sep 2008 10:27:32 GMT+1 watersummergirl i am a Romanian woman living here in the Uk and i live with my partner whom is British we have a son together who is now 16 months old. Fri 26 Sep 2008 10:11:59 GMT+1 kamekathee Up until recent times the marriage contract included the legal responsibility of the husband to "keep" the wife and children. If he failed he could be brought to court.This is a major factor, for good or ill, of the demise of the marriage contract. It doesn't mean very much any more. Fri 26 Sep 2008 10:09:10 GMT+1 AgrivatedCM I do feel that growing up in a home with a single parent in a relaxed and caring environment is far better than being subject to arguments and constant friction between two adults who probably should never have been married in the first place.In todays economy, middle class / working people are generaly putting off having children untill their careers and lives are established by which time it could prove too late to have children of their own. Whereas people living off the governent that can afford large families.I feel that until the UK Government does something about teenage pregnancies i.e puts their foot down about giving free housing and benifits to young mothers that have never worked, and have no intention to ever work it will never change.If young / teenage girls fall pregnant, it should be up to their parents or families to support them. I feel this would prove to be the best contraceptive ever!Maybe having older and more responsiable parents, will inject some family values back into society. Fri 26 Sep 2008 10:08:18 GMT+1 Howardddddddd Marriage is not the formula for success in their offspring. It is the parent(s)' capability to ...erm, parent. If you have a mother and father who believe in a strong work ethic, responsibility, good manners etc. then their children will more than likely be fine examples to society. Whereas a narrow minded, regularly drunk couple with insular views will raise up children who will cause damage to society... e.g. the hoodies in my local area, most have parents who live together/married. The difference being, they too acted like their kids when they were young.@Joan Olivares What an utterly condescending tone to take. I have seen more marriages broken up by women over THEIR affairs, than men. Of course custody is awarded to women usually, severely limited fathers to their children. So it's not so much "men abandoning children" as "women telling telling their children than he abandoned them, whilst limiting his access through court orders but still accepting child payments for 18 years".As for redkate's personal example, it was all to do with timing... her first relationship of cohabitation built up a strong foundation, but without any true commitments (mortgage, kids) - that gave her the option to choose a newer (better?) man before the big gamble. No doubt she would have been "very happy together" with the cohabitee if she gambled with the major commitments beforehand. Fri 26 Sep 2008 02:12:57 GMT+1 redkate98 When I was younger, I thought marriage a waste of time and money - meaningless bit of paper. I was co-habiting with a man and we thought we'd be together forever anyway. It was only when we started (after 7 years together) thinking of buying a house and having kids that I realised we'd just stayed together through inertia, and I really did not want to live with him forever. Luckily I got out in time. When I met my future husband, I almost immediately had a strong desire to marry him, which rather surprised me (and him!). Luckily he accepted, and 11 years later (10 married) we have 3 children, and are very happy together. I think the important thing about marriage as opposed to co-habiting, is that it forces you to think about the long term before you do the mortgage and kids thing (hopefully). I think many co-habitees slide into parenthood, often by accident, or someone's ticking clock, without having considered the long term. Parenting is not an easy task. If I did not have my husband to call upon when I'm sick or just plain fed up with three small rascals, I'd go mad. I can't imagine being able to manage this on my own, and hats off to those who do, and get a good result as many have attested to in these comments.As to the comment from microRaconteur:"Choose to commit for as long as you want to - but be free to get out when you need to - and if the female half of the partnership wants children - they should go into it with their eyes open"What a cop-out! A real man takes responsibility for his progeny. How shallow to flit from relationship to relationship, never committing to anyone. Men who think they can just walk away from their families are the real problem. Grow up. Thu 25 Sep 2008 23:11:05 GMT+1 SuperJulianR As several posts indicate, the potentially disasterous financial consequences of divorce are having an effect on the statistics. Those who are already married are incentivised to stay together - whether they are happy or not - because the cost of divorce may be ruinous (one wonders on what particular planet a judge lives, if he can award maintenace of £50,000 a year for the upkeep of horses by a (childless) woman).On the other hand, a couple who are not yet married must fear the consequences of getting married and are thus less likely to choose to get married in the first place, however committed they may feel - especially where one party is better off than the other.It is therefore unsurprising that figures for both marriage and divorce are falling - the law of unintended consequences.Question is, though, whether it is right for the state or the judiciary to coerce people to stay in an unhappy relationship, whether married or not. In my view there is nothing more 'nanny state' than a government that seeks to interefere in private domestic relationships by promoting marriage or otherwise. Thu 25 Sep 2008 18:00:04 GMT+1 busby2 manchester_mum wrote:"I am an unmarried mother of one and pregnant for the second time. I am 38 and have been with my partner for 5 years. We are in a strong relationship but don't intend to marry".Why? Aren't you intending to stay together? And if you are, what is wrong with making a public commitment to that effect?manchester_mum went on to write "All the statistics seem to be based on parents who aren't together - what about couples like ourselves?"The answer to your question is in Mark Easton's blog. He wrote "Only 35% of children brought up by unmarried parents will live with both parents throughout their childhood. For those with married parents the figures rises to 70%".The fact is that married couples are, on average, probably more committed to one another than co-habiting couples. If that wasn't the case there would not be any difference between the percentage of children living with both parents throughout their childhood.By the way getting married is very cheap. Marriage only becomes expensive because it has become very fashionable to spend ridiculous amounts on a wedding. This manufactured and unnecessary cost has in itself become a barrier to couples getting married. Thu 25 Sep 2008 17:13:01 GMT+1 Phil_Bloggs We look at the decline of the nuclear family as a sad thing yet the nuclear family itself is fairly new. The extended family where children would be exposed to the influence of a much broader group of family members clearly has a big advantage over the nuclear family where only two adults provide the stable environment they grow up in. That is if we conclude that being a child of a lone parent is itself the only factor in determining its chances in later life.Being a lone parent puts you at a major social disadvantage. There are no short term fixes for this. We adopted a liberal philosophy and this is just one bill to pay.As someone once said 'If you want to influence a child then its best to start 100 years before he is born'. Thu 25 Sep 2008 16:40:48 GMT+1 YOOKSAN22 There are other problems too, because most illegals cannot marry without approval certificate from home office they are giving birth without marrying and these babies are counted as children born out of wedlock. Thu 25 Sep 2008 15:33:59 GMT+1 Ernie I have yet to be convinced that marriage is the factor keeping couples together.What evidence is there to say that a cohabiting couple, cajoled into marriage by tax benefits etc. would stay together any longer than they do without the certificate?Maybe the problem here is people are having children when they aren's suited to each other in the long term.Maybe the "problem" is that people are splitting up when before they would have stuck together because of societal pressure. And who's to say that children in those families would do any better if mum and dad stayed together but hated each other, compared to families where each parent was free to pursue their own happiness?This is not as simple as the statistics say. Thu 25 Sep 2008 14:38:57 GMT+1 tarquin as 3 Nicola points out - this is about correlation and causalityif you accept that children from a married couple do better, then does that mean marriage = better?look at who is getting married, probably the most stable relationships result in a marriage, and perhaps marriage is becoming a more 'middle-class' (or higher socio-economic whatnot) pursuit - so it is perhaps more likely that the worst off will be in the single/cohabiting block anyway - making them get married would have zilch effect - this is just me making assumptions as an example, but these stats need much further scrutiny and as usual are being presented in such a way to further one cause in fact, marriage has decreased - but has the overall performance measured decreased too? because it should've, to at least present a rationale for claiming marriage is intrinsically beneficial Thu 25 Sep 2008 13:53:29 GMT+1 fivish This post has been Removed Thu 25 Sep 2008 13:36:33 GMT+1 Ted The postings on this Blog describe some tremndous examples of Adults and Children succeeding in spite of the most difficult circumstances. This is fact not patronising. There are also example of the nuclear family not working in particular circumstances. There will always be a range of experiences both reinforcing and also contradicting any social norm or set of collected data.What is then very difficult is to discuss the issue dispationateley and without allowing ones own particular personal experiences to dominate ones thoughts.Plainly the statement that "the nuclear family harbours all sorts of abuses" is a good but sad example of this.Sharing your life with another person and bringing up children in a stable and loving long term relationship has to be a common sense ideal for the benefit of both the individual and the children. There will always be exception that work and dont work.To argue against this and to treat partners as items of clothing that can be discarded as the mood changes is to argue personal freedom at the expense of social responsibility. We are fixated on freedom/liberty and liberal values - but what have we lost? Care of others. caring for/about our extended families, our children, our friends and neighbours and those we just meet in the street. Self is all that matters - apart from benefits of course. Thu 25 Sep 2008 13:30:48 GMT+1 manchester_mum I am an unmarried mother of one and pregnant for the second time. I am 38 and have been with my partner for 5 years. We are in a strong relationship but don't intend to marry.All the statistics seem to be based on parents who aren't together - what about couples like ourselves? Thu 25 Sep 2008 13:16:22 GMT+1 Katerlina I agree that the research should be paired with socio-economic indicators. I am pregnant and my partner and I have yet to get married. We probably will - except it's an expensive business, and bringing up baby has become the financial priority for now. I am liberal and non-religious, so don't feel that marriage will make my man and I approach our relationship that differently. I think the difference is that we are older, 'higher' educated, both from 'middle-class' backgrounds and have good jobs. I suspect that the majority making up these 'statistics' are from so-called 'working class' backgrounds and socio-economic circumstances, and are considerably younger. Two parents are probably - in most circumstances (not mine, thanks) better than one, but when it comes down to it - money and opportunity are what makes the real differences. Thu 25 Sep 2008 13:07:13 GMT+1 Th1nk-about-it This study backs other statistics I've seen showing that children born to married parents have the best outcomes (health, education, comfortable adult life), while those of single parents have the worst and those born to cohabiting couples fall in the middle. Of course there are many exceptions, but overall I have to accept it seems to make sense - even though it doesn't support my own previous opinions. I would have thought kids were better off born to single mothers, because fathers so often leave, which is a bereavement for the child. But I suppose children born to single mothers have that experience many times if the mother has a series of men in her life. Maybe the children learn to disconnect their emotions - not a good thing.It's also important to distinguish the extended family from the nuclear family here. A child with a single parent in a supportive extended family may have a good life. But unfortunately, the extended family barely exists any more. Thu 25 Sep 2008 12:33:12 GMT+1 microRaconteur At the end of the day - women decide whether or not to have children - men can't have them - its a simple as that.So its up to the female half of the partnership to decide whether she has the capability and financial resources to parent however many children she decides to have, in some cases for the first 25 years of their lives.Whether married, co-habiting or single - she must make this decision on the basis that she could be single for all or part of that time - and if she isn't sure - the answer is simple - don't have children!Whether man or woman, the fact is that fewer of us want to stay with the same partner for life - and its not necessarily a good thing to do. After all, few of us live in the same house or drive the same car, or even keep the same friends all of our lives.I think there are more people stuck in stale marriages because of children or some sort of social pressure than we care to admit.Choose to commit for as long as you want to - but be free to get out when you need to - and if the female half of the partnership wants children - they should go into it with their eyes open Thu 25 Sep 2008 11:44:08 GMT+1 Mike I believe that David Cameron is right to propose encouraging a social "ideal" of married parents bringing up their children through the tax system.While there are many other ways to live the statistics repeatedly prove that this is the most stable and successful model for children and therefore should be encouraged.That is not to say that all single parents are failures or that all married couples are successes in bringing up children, nor does it stop people making whatever life choices they want to make.For too long policy and legislation has actually worked against the "ideal" of two parents of opposite sex bringing up a family and it is time to reverse that. Thu 25 Sep 2008 11:02:23 GMT+1 tarquin 4. fspeirs wrote:I seem to remember reading that the out-of-wedlock birth rate in Edinburgh in the early 1800s was around 50% and that the (Western) nuclear family was a phenomenon of the post-World War II generation.Can anyone substantiate this?---i have no sources available at this time, but as a nineteenth century historian i can say the idea of monogamous relationships came out of the late Victorian period - this is pretty much where all conservative 'tradition' comes from - you look at things like the pomp and ceremony of state funerals, and think they're timeless, they're actually only from around the 1860s onwards (it's the whole empire thing)but anyway, basically as the middle classes swelled as they headed for the 20th century, more and more people tried to emulate upper class society and became very strict on the rules (such as the behaviour of women, the idea that women couldn't work was very much out of this period) - far more so than the old upper classes ever bothered withand through the early twentieth century, as conditions improved for the masses the working classes adopted such 'moral' behaviour - and then the second world war came along and its massive propaganda campaign with happy nuclear families doing their bit in posters, which you may still have an image of, cemented the view of how british life should be - to the extent that war propaganda still resonates in society todaysorry it's very general, it's a blog - but yes, the nuclear family is very much a modern tradition Thu 25 Sep 2008 10:19:59 GMT+1 Artypie My children were both born in wedlock but have had considerable years living with me with no father figure in the home.My son has just gained a first class degree in computer science and can programme in numerous languages. he has a love of classical and japanese music, is in various choirs and has had only one day of illness absence in his school/college life. My daughter has ambitions to be a lawyer.I have always worked and supported the family myself.Just goes to show that over generalisation is a dangerous thing. I find the assumptions in this study patronising and dont see what marital status has to do with anything, rather it is social conditions that causes the results found in this survey. Thu 25 Sep 2008 10:16:22 GMT+1 bluecrashdive 1 in 3 of children from poorer backgrounds have little or no relationship with their father. This is 1 in 4 of all children in the UK.Benefits of all kinds has ensured now that the vast majority of children living in poverty are in 2 parent homes.It makes financial sense for couples to split.The huge majority of studies (adjusted for poverty) show that children from single parent homes are generally more likely to drink/smoke/take drugs earlier etc teenage pregnancies, multiple partners with different children, have mental illness etc The list goes on.While children from 2 parent families have far greater life chances (even when they are poorer than single parents). Yet this govt continues to encourage single parents. Of course there will be many children from single parents who will say they went to uni, have a good job etc but in reality there are far, far more who will be suffering throughout their lives because they only had one parent. Emotionally, even the so-called successful children of single parents will likely have a host of problems in sustaining a long-term relationship and the cycle of single parenthood will continue which is so abusive generally to children. Thu 25 Sep 2008 10:15:40 GMT+1 ChicaTigress Do they know anything? Since my Dad left my mum, we've gotten a better house, my mum has been able to get a better job in order to provide for myself and my sister, and I have just recieved 4 A-level qualifications, and am working in a 9-5 job, on a good salary, in an office. On the other hand, a friend of mine who was brought up by both her married parents has failed one of her A-levels, (passing the other two) completed less than two weeks work in McDonalds before quitting and has since then failed to even start looking for another job. Doesn't that tell you something? Thu 25 Sep 2008 09:23:08 GMT+1 Eos Are there stats on how many of these couples end up getting married after their child is born? I believe this happens quite a lot. Thu 25 Sep 2008 08:56:48 GMT+1 NutitanicPassenger The terrible financial unfairness of my own divorce makes me bitter and angry and I strongly warn any unmarried men I meet against getting married. ...only recently a judge has made a man pay for the upkeep of his ex wife's pet 'horses'!!Children or not... with the laws the way they are... a man is foolish to get married. Thu 25 Sep 2008 08:38:17 GMT+1 Not_amused At last a bit of research that tells us what most of Britain already knew. Of course, there will always be the individuals that fair well in single-parent familiy situations but that, by and large, is not the norm (as the research shows).Marriage has been undermined in recent years (not least by the Labour government). This has the effect that co-habitation and the single parent are respected and promoted in the society.I'm please with this research. Hopefully this research will be seized upon by politicians (and not just the religous) -- for the long term good of British society. Thu 25 Sep 2008 08:18:19 GMT+1 amayamay People with stable relationships are more likely to get married, but that doesn't mean that marriage provides any kind of glue. The real question is this: what proportion of children are being born into relationships that will prove to be unstable, or more simply, how many parents are splitting up, whether married or not. That would have been easier to measure and avoided using the pretence of caring about the kids to grind this moralistic axe about marriage. Thu 25 Sep 2008 07:44:47 GMT+1 meltonmark Always the rationalisation, attempting to justify that which is plain wicked. Our society is an absolute mess and growing worse each year. When someone produces any evidence to show what that wickedness is doing, out come the rationalisations; and from whom? Why, the wicked of course.The day will come when a husband and wife, walking down the street with their children, will be attacked and ridiculed.And we wonder why our nation is being taken over. Thu 25 Sep 2008 05:45:40 GMT+1 Sheena77 Are there any statistics about the wellbeing and happiness of those 70% of children who spend their childhood years with both parents? Living with both parents isn't always a good thing, especially if they remain in an unhappy, destructive marriage 'for the sake of the children'.And wouldn't the statistics be skewed depending on whether that one-parented child still saw and spent time with the other parent? And if that one-parent-family had support and contact with wider family and friends?I too object to the assumption that I am worse-off because my parents were separated when I was young. They are both much happier now, with long-term partners, and I like to think I am a successful, relatively well-rounded individual! Thu 25 Sep 2008 01:53:32 GMT+1 Elettaria This sounds like we're back to, "Couples should stay together for the sake of the children," to me. Marriage makes it harder to split up, children must have two parents, therefore let's make it as hard as possible for the parents to leave!The most common cause of relationship breakdown is domestic violence. Trust me, witnessing this does not improve the experience of childhood. My mother stayed with my father for about twelve years past the start of the abuse, partly because of all the media and social pressure to stay together for my sake. Those twelve years were accordingly a misery, and I had chronic health problems in childhood from the stress I was picking up from my parents, as did other children of parents in abusive relationships that I know. My father finally kicked my mother down the stairs in front of me and left when I was sixteen, and I cut off contact with him at that point. I've lost all memories of him.Pressuring couples to stay together under the assumption that this is the best thing for their children, no matter what is wrong with their relationship, is a grave error. Yes, childrearing is hard work and it's easier with two to share the load, but that only applies if the two are in a happy, healthy relationship. Meanwhile, cohabiting is an excellent way of making sure that a relationship is solid enough to last the course before committing to marriage. If we're worried about couples having babies before they're all that committed to each other, maybe we should work on the accidental pregnancy rate by improving contraception access and education. Bullying people into marriage when it's not suitable for them will not help anything. Thu 25 Sep 2008 00:05:00 GMT+1 BohemianbabeUK I'm not sure how these stats came about, but I do feel that a part of the whole scenario of bringing up children is based on the capability of the parents. If there is more support available to people to rear a family, and more education available in how to rear children into happy, confident individuals in society, it would suppose it would not matter. But alas the most fundamental time that parents need help with their kids whether a married couple or single parent is when the child is in its teens, and the support there is just not adequate enough for all the moral distractions and temptations kids are exposed to in today's society.Also many young single people with low prospects feel the only way to get their own places/homes is by having a child/children to get out of the family home, via the housing register as housing priority is given to those who have children and this also means time for courting and marriage is not taken as a priority. Women also do not need to rely on a partners wages, therefore the traditional roles have changed. And as the icing on the cake, alot of men and women are put off by marriage because of the financial aspects if there is a divorce. But I remember reading a report on Robert Chester's the Neo-Conventional family now that was an interesting read. But ideally there should be more discussion and guidance for young individuals on their 'life expectations' in the education system. Wed 24 Sep 2008 23:50:29 GMT+1 kassandra08 The study (or the blogger) fails to account for social factors such as lower income, less stable housing, and less support for single parents and their children -- these are the causes of poor educational outcome, not the parent's marital state. If caring were recognised as full-time employment and childcare were truly universal, indicators for the children of single parents would be the same as for co-habiting, civil-partnered or married parents. And as an aside to the conservative/Christians: focus on the nuclear family ignores that a) it is an invention of Victorian culture, and b) that it harbours and facilitates abuse of all kinds. Wed 24 Sep 2008 23:00:35 GMT+1 herbmanbob hmm both sides of the coin for myself and my wife, we celebrated 14 years of marraige yesterday although our eldest is 21. Concepts have changed over the last few years with reguards to the single parent not for the good in many cases through the pressure of political policys making it impossable for a lot of low income familys to survive together.Start at the bottom of the pile with those traped in areas were high unemployment exists and there are a lot of unemployed people living together either as couples or man and wife. The choice to stay together is indeed a very hard one for economic reasons alone, the single mum or dad gets on average 10% less income than the couple in some form of partnership. So right from the outset the concept of the single parent is a good one why keep a partner for £10 extra a week on your benifit when if your both single your income almost doubles. Tax credits did a lot to help support the concept of family through the child credit system but still falls fare short on making a stable economic environment for couples and children. So to be single with children is good.The only thing that saddens me about this is the loss of the family tree, most children now are just branches far from the support of the main trunk. Wed 24 Sep 2008 22:26:19 GMT+1 NassyM Interesting study but it is based on flawed logic that states that if couples who are married are less likely to split up than couples who are not married then clearly marriage must be preventing couples from splitting up. But what if there is some other cause?I think it would be fair to say that there are x number of stable relationships and x number of unstable ones. Could it not be the case that out of the stable relationships ,a greater proportition decide to get married? Getting married would then be an indicator of stability but would not be the lone indicator ie there are other factors that might determine a stable relationship?The problem with modern life is that we are all to eager to look at statistics and try to make a story out of them when really there is no story to be made. Wed 24 Sep 2008 21:46:35 GMT+1 NZOZcouk I'm with Nicola Hale.Further, the difference between cohabiting and marriage is a bit disingenuous.Marriage as something different from cohabiting is a purely artificial distinction. Historically cohabiting was marriage. Indeed, the euphemism of ‘clandestine marriages’ dictated that if you broke it, it was yours so to speak. However, due to the Industrial Revolution, the population became less settled and men and women could move away with little chance of being found and it was felt by the government that some record should be made of all marriages and ordered the church to cooperate in what now would be called a private finance initiative. So we got the Hardwiche or First Marriage Act in, I seem to remember, 1753.This required that all marriages, for a fee, should be performed in or recorded by the CoE. However, many couples preferred not to swell the coffers of the church and stuck with common law. As the populace became richer more could afford the church service although registry office weddings increased in popularity. With the increase in the licensed venues churches have become less popular.I would suggest that, with the reversal of the Industrial Revolution and a government obsessed with controlling its citizens by records, the requirement for some form of official documentation has gone. Given that for thousands of years there was no requirement for marriage lines once two people desired to live together, the headline statistic of half babies being born outside of wedlock is misleading. Indeed the word wedlock itself is a clue to this as its origin predates the First Marriage Act by some centuries.Two people living together are married in all essentials. Wed 24 Sep 2008 21:21:38 GMT+1 l00py It's quite strange being apprehensive posting in support of marriage. Has it become politically incorrect to be an advocate of marriage?It's not that single parenting, or co-habitation is bad as others here have already pointed out. But what I find a bit depressing is that the concept of life-long partnership and stable family life is no longer treated as an ideal.I'm not sure I like the idea of tax breaks for families but I do like the principle of celebrating and promoting marriage and family. Wed 24 Sep 2008 21:16:01 GMT+1 deepintheheartof At 7:05pm on 24 Sep 2008, fspeirs wrote:I seem to remember reading that the out-of-wedlock birth rate in Edinburgh in the early 1800s was around 50% and that the (Western) nuclear family was a phenomenon of the post-World War II generation. Can anyone substantiate this?I don't know about Edinburgh but was taught in a US sociology class that the nuclear family was aptly named as emerging with the economic boom of the post war period and the rise of the suburbs, urban housing projects and welfare for single mothers, and the interstate highway system to easily hit the road. Until then the extended family was the norm. The author on disturbed sleep said that historically we were never meant to sleep together but in fact historically you had to be wealthy to have the space for single beds, let alone the heating to sleep alone in the winter. Children born out of wedlock were added to the group, sometimes by adoption and sometimes not. This is the pattern we see with most of our poorer immigrants before they have the money to be as isolated and self-absorbed as we are. There's nothing so conducive to learning how to cooperate and work through problems as an extended family. If you can just take off, you don't try very hard. We are seeing the results of that. Wed 24 Sep 2008 20:51:19 GMT+1 alphaHebrides It's hard to square averaged statistics with personal experiences - that's what averages are for! The problem is that politicians seem to make policy on the basis of anecdotes, not statistics; and in so doing, stigmatise those who are facing trying personal circumstances.As a working single parent (I own a successful small business, which I started up when I was deserted by my ex-husband) I spend inordinate amounts of time worrying that my children will be less successful or happy than their nuclear-family-parented friends. I neither sought to be a single parent nor wish to remain one, but have little choice over the matter.I wish the public debate about marriage, parenting and families would move on from hand-wringing about failure in often unwished-for circumstances and focus more on how all parents can improve the life chances of their children. Wed 24 Sep 2008 20:10:08 GMT+1 tanlin Hardly surprising!Anyone with any money would be mad to get married, when if they get divorced they can potentially -lose half the money the wealth they had before they got married,plus half the wealth they may have inherited whilst they were married,Plus half of what they saved whilst they were married.Did Paul McCartney get a fair deal? Wed 24 Sep 2008 20:08:06 GMT+1 Joan Olivares This post has been Removed Wed 24 Sep 2008 19:50:42 GMT+1 Incognitoscenti Heard the one about shark attacks and ice-cream sales? Wed 24 Sep 2008 19:04:27 GMT+1 samaeth As people have said there seems to be a lot of generalisation in this report, and no consideration of other factors. I also was brought up in a single parent family. I gained excellent grades, 3 A levels, a degree, MSC, and have a full time high level job. My mother worked incredibly hard to support me, and quite frankly I think I would not have achieved all that I have if she had remained with my father. The comments of Professor Scott are ludicrous - single parent families are less likely to have sit down family meals with their kids? Crazy. I and most of the other single parent kids I knew all had a strong tradition of family mealtimes. More so in fact than many of the traditional "nuclear" families. I came out of the experience far closer to my mother than many of my two-parent friends, and with a healthy respect for the benefits of hard work. Wed 24 Sep 2008 18:41:40 GMT+1 fspeirs I seem to remember reading that the out-of-wedlock birth rate in Edinburgh in the early 1800s was around 50% and that the (Western) nuclear family was a phenomenon of the post-World War II generation. Can anyone substantiate this? Wed 24 Sep 2008 18:05:37 GMT+1 NicolaHale There is a contradiction between your last two paragraphs and it stems from a failing of the rest of the article. Correlation does not imply causation, and you paint a misleading or at least incomplete picture by not mentioning any of the potential confounding factors. Surely there is a correlation between rates of birth in/out of marriage and socio-ecomomic status? Is the important correlation for poor life indicators with 'time spent with a single parent', or 'time spent away from parents' - single parents may be forced by economic circumstances to work and so spend less time with their children. You acknowledge that many non-nuclear families can work well but you have insulted them in the paragraph "The experience of the babies... indicates that being brought up by a lone mum or dad ... translates into lower grades..." by not emphasising that these are average trends and tendencies, not determinants. Surely we need to focus on the specific pressures that (SOME) single parents face which translate into these problems. The nuclear family 'working best' is not an inviolable necessity but true only within specific social and cultural contexts. It remains for debate as to whether it is better (and more cost-effective) to support single parent families or to support the institution of marriage. I hope you agree with that.. but by not addressing these subtleties you play into the hands of the Conservatives' fuzzy logic. Sorry for the rant, I know you have the best of intentions and are probably just passing on what the ESRC say (I'll take a look at their data now!). I really do appreciate your blogging. Wed 24 Sep 2008 16:58:49 GMT+1 Anne Sullivan I know quite a few women that deliberately chose to become single parents and I could never understand that decision. Parenting is incredibly difficult work and it is much easier with 2 people.Besides which, like it or not, men and women do not parent in the same way and children (boys and girls) learn different things from them. Many single parents have been successful in making sure their children are exposed to role models of the opposite sex, but I would think that would normally be much easier within the household than having to go outside of it.As for economic incentives to encourage marriage, I can't see that being terribly useful. Marriage is a huge emotional and psychological commitment -- I don't think there are very many people that consider economics as a major factor in that decision. Wed 24 Sep 2008 16:43:16 GMT+1 tarquin the stats don't lie I guess, (actually, they probably do) but speaking as a child born out of wedlock, one of 30% of my age group apparently, do you really think promoting marriage when many of those at my age, now thinking about the future, are particularly warm to the idea of marriage? I had a single unmarried mother, i've come out the other end with a degree from a good uni, meanwhile, one of my friends on the same course as me, from a married parentage, had worse grades, worse health and has domestic problems at home - it's anecdotal evidence, but there are plenty of people out there, like me, who came from a single parent or unmarried couple who have done fine and particularly resent being called a 'problem' within Britain by groups like the tories Wed 24 Sep 2008 15:53:54 GMT+1