Family Matters

In my last epistle, I focused on the news that today 40% of the breadwinners in families are women. You can argue about whether or not this is a sign of social progress, but there is no disputing the dangers behind what is clearly another very troubling demographic trend: today in the USA 40% of children are born into single parent homes, and for women under 30, that figure jumps to a beyond alarming rate of 50%.

I don’t want to pile on single parents. They are often caught up in circumstances beyond their control and act heroically to care for their children. These people deserve our support and admiration.

But we also can’t ignore what this troubling trend means for these children, for their schools, and for society at large because we know the disturbing social maladies, starting with poverty and poor school performance, that too often correlate with single parent households.

There are no easy answers to any of this, but schools will need to ready themselves to assume an even greater role in what clinicians dryly refer to as “student socialization.” (In other words, schools will need to help “raise” as well as instruct students.) In the future school missions will extend far beyond academics. Because if Fred MacMurray isn’t at home, Ernie and Chip will need him (or her) to be there with us at school.

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4 Responses to “Family Matters”

  1. bardot Says:

    It really has less to do with the number of parents in the household. It has everything to do with the denial of social and financial supports to those in need. It so happens that those most in need are members of single parent families. We are not unable to provide support. We choose to give tax breaks to wealthy families who send their kids to soccer camps and music lessons. The unwanted children are unwanted by society. Their parents mostly love them to bits.

  2. Bardot Says:

    Mental capacity has very little to do with the ability to make an emotional commitment.

    • Jim Power Says:

      I agree, but I don’t think it’s “mental capacity” that, in general, holds children from single parent households back. And as for “emotional commitment,” I don’t think that’s lacking in single parent households, either.

      What’s scary is that we have the stats on the “misery index” that correlates with single parent households, and we seem unable to support parents in these difficult circumstances.

  3. Ian Skaith Says:

    We have a driver’s license, a marriage license; what about a license to have a child issued at a very low cost after some classroom training and interviews with a case worker.The potential parent should be required to meet standards of care. Parenting is not just a matter of financial capacity, it also involves the mental capacity to make the emotional commitment to care for a child. Unwanted children are occupying jail cells all over Canada.

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