Letter to the Editor for June 30, 2014
Two-parent family remains best option for society
Sociologist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, “Much of the social history of the Western world … has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” We have inherited from our ancestors something which works: the two-parent family. A man and a woman marry for life and provide a home for their children. It’s not perfect; we humans aren’t perfect. But numerous studies have established that this is the best environment for raising happy, healthy children — it works.
Then a generation ago along came no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution. Both sounded good at the time, but once adopted, they have led to the single-parent family. Single parents want to raise happy, healthy children, of course, and many do. But they are laboring under a handicap. They are trying to do by themselves a job best done by two people.
Mr. Sowell, a black man, was appalled at the destructive effect this change has had upon the people of his race, particularly the young men. Huge numbers of them spend significant amounts of time in jail, and all too many are murdered in gang violence. They make the neighborhoods in which they live hells on earth.
Some claim that this is evidence of racism in our society, but it’s not. The rate of out-of-wedlock births in our inner cities is around 70 percent. The refusal of these young black men to marry the mothers of their children deprives them of the civilizing impact young women can have on them, and significantly increases the odds that their sons will share their unhappy fate. For them, the single-parent family most decidedly does not work.
We whites should not feel complacent. As the rate of our out-of-wedlock births continues to increase, our young men are sharing the same pathologies afflicting young black men. We’re just not as far down that path as they are.
Western civilization has tinkered with the institutions of marriage and of the family, and the results have not been good. But we have not learned from our experience, and continue to replace what works with what sounds good.