Many people believe that parents should be married. Raising kids together is such a big commitment, it stands to reason that you had best be committed to each other before you launch into that high-stress period of your lives. Traditionally, kids follow marriage, and a lot of people still feel that’s the best, maybe even only, way to do it.
Yet over 40 percent of kids today are born to unmarried mothers. Clearly, plenty of people feel fine about having babies out of wedlock. Lots of kids are being raised in loving homes by parents who, for whatever reason, haven’t gotten married. Maybe they don’t want to. Maybe they haven’t done it yet. Maybe they’re a same-sex couple and can’t marry in their home state. Maybe they’re single parent households. There are as many reasons as there are families.
Are kids born out of wedlock missing out on something?
A new British study says no.
A British think tank has analyzed data from the country’s Millenium Cohort Study, and found that marriage confers “little if any benefit” on children. A first pass at the data suggests that kids with married parents fare better, but they say closer analysis proves this isn’t the case. From the Guardian:
By examining data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a sample of children born in the UK in the early 2000s, the institute shows that children born out of wedlock are behind in cognitive development at three, five and seven-years-old but this is because “cohabiting parents tend to have lower educational qualifications than married parents”. The same pattern is observed with “socio-emotional” development.
They say it’s the parents’ educational background that matters most to a child’s success and well-being, not whether or not the parents are married. This echoes long-standing research on child development that shows strong correlation between parents’ – especially mother’s – educational achievements and the kids’ development. Marriage only appears to benefit kids because people with more education are more likely to get married.
What do you think? Are you married? Do you think being married is important for parents?
This father couldn’t be happier that his single-parenting days are over.