The good news? Divorce is down -- in fact, it's practically at pre-divorce revolution levels. The bad news? Family instability for children in the U.S. as a whole continues to increase because more children are being born outside of marriage -- especially to cohabiting couples. But cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage. And the risk to children is greater when one of the partners is not the biological parent of the children.
And yet there is no discussion among leading opinion makers and policy makers on the role cohabitation is playing in children's lives. Children today are more likely to be exposed to a cohabiting union than to a parental divorce.
At the Institute for American Values, however, we are having the discussion about the harmful effects of cohabitation and inserting it into the public domain. As a part of the release of the third edition of Why Marriage Matters, for example, our Center for Public Conversation hosted an important event, titled The Goods of Marriage, moderated by Jonathan Rauch and featured a panel of marriage scholars consisting of W. Bradford Wilcox, Elizabeth Marquardt, and Amy L. Wax.
Our work changes minds. During The Goods of Marriage conversation, sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, the lead author of Why Marriage Matters stated:
"The good news in this report [Why Marriage Matters] is that divorce has come down to almost pre-divorce revolution levels. . . . In part it's a consequence of the work that we've all been doing over the last thirty years in terms of trying to educate the public about the importance of two parents, the importance of marriage. That message has penetrated into the consciousness of some portion of the broader public. The challenge before us now is to educate the public about the ways in which cohabitation poses risks to kids."
Today, I am asking you to support the Institute for American Values at the $25, $50, $100 -- or any level. Your gift will help us continue to:
- make public arguments about the most important issues confronting the family, marriage, and children;
- help us improve the civility and seriousness of our national conversation; and
- help us more broadly disseminate the Institute's flagship reports, studies, and ideas.
Many thanks for your support.
P.S. Center for Public Conversation events are videotaped and are available for viewing at: http://www.centerforpublicconversation.org/events/index.php