Putting a name with a fact

I sit here with my cat on my lap trying to write my first MMJ blog entry. Though Shelby didn’t name me specifically, I am the hesitant blogger of the MMJ staff. I am also the oldest MMJ staff member. Perhaps there is a correlation. Someday I’ll look up age and comfort as it relates to blogging, because I am intrigued by stats and profiles of people and how things are measured and connected. This, I’m told, bores most people so I’ll try to keep my facts and figures and research collection to a minimum. Still, I have to tell you I am continually amazed by what the research tell us about the importance of healthy marriages on individuals, the workforce, the community, and, most especially, children.

 I remember going to a conference where stats were being spewed on the dramatic impact of divorce and single parenthood on children. Serious, serious issues like: 

  • the enormous percentage of prisoners who were not raised by both parents,
  • the growing number of children who are not completing high school (huge connection here between parents relationship and children’s success),
  • the child abuse and childhood poverty rate, which increases exponentially when the children’s parents aren’t married. 

 As I listened to the presentation, I was writing facts and figures down, troubled but fascinated by what the research was revealing. I listened intently and had pages of notes with numbers and charts — very clinical, sterile information. Then, one statement was made that captivated me so completely and knocked the wind right out of me: 

Everything bad that can happen to a kid is much more likely to happen if his parents aren’t married. 

Boom there it is — all the stats, all the figures, all the tragedy summed up in one sentence. I think this hits me so hard, because I know this kid, and I bet you do too. He is the kid you know who never quite got over his parent’s divorce, she is the kid terrified to commit to a real relationship, he is the kid who dropped out of school, she is the kid who parties hard to forget, he is the kid who just found out his girlfriend is pregnant.

Are these things and bad choices all his parent’s fault? No. Does this only happen to children of divorce or whose parents never married? No, again. But is a child (no matter what age) going to face a rougher road because his parents aren’t together? Almost always, yes. 

And the final proof, which doesn’t require much in-depth research at all: ask any child if his or her parent’s marriage (or divorce) matters to them and I predict the answer will be “yes.”

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