There is a pop-culture and media narrative espousing an ideology that any family arrangement other than a married man and women with the same biological children are equal to or more advantageous than the traditional family. Analysis and studies reveal that the potential for exposure to domestic violence is greatly decreased in a traditional family. Children living with cohabiting or married parents in which one parent is a step parent, also have a higher risk of experiencing abuse and witnessing domestic violence.
Hollywood portrays it, television reinforces it, and the educational system solidifies in American Children; this notion that all family arrangements are equal and worthy. But when it comes to domestic violence and child abuse, anything other than the traditional, married, biological parents living together puts children at high risk.
Children living with both married biological parents experience a very low rate of exposure to violence compared to those not living with both parents (Zill). The rate of exposure to violence domestic violence is seven times high among child living with a divorced or separated mother (Zill). We could easily slip into believing the popular narrative that was exemplified in the popular 1980’s sitcom Murphy Brown; that a college-educated single mother can and will do every bit a good job at child rearing as an in-tact family, but research does not bear that to be true. Usdansky says that “of the more than one million women who give birth out of wedlock annually, only one in five has attended college, and fewer than on in twenty has a college degree Usdansky). In Nicholas Zill’s research, children living with never-married mothers witnessed domestic violence at a rate six times higher than the rate for children in intact families (Zill). In Nicholas Zill’s study, data reveals that “a child’s family structure was a better predictor of witnessing family violence than was her parent’s eduction, family income, poverty status, or race (Zill). This type of data is a bit of a thorn in the side to those who would champion that lack of access to education, poverty rate, and other social problems are the indicators or root causes of violence and discord in society.
And for children living with step parents, a Canadian study indicates they are 40 times more likely to become child abuse victims than children living with two biological married parent (Daly). For children under 3 years of age, the potential for experience abuse is even higher. Daly states that “for children under 3 years of age, the risk in a stepparent-plus-natural-parent household was estimated to be 6.9 times that in a two-natural-parent household” (Daly).
To begin to tackle the problem of child abuse and neglect, as well as the related and subsequent social problems, we must, and in spite of the accusations of bigotry and intolerance, begin to advocate for the intact, traditional family with a biological father and mother, parenting their biological children, in a long lasting, stable, loving, and nurturing household.
As Christians, we must remember the conversation Jesus had with some Pharisees who advocated for divorce and remarriage among God’s people.
Matthew 19:1-9, KJV
1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Seeing how degenerated our society has become, some would ask, where can we even begin? Begin at home, begin with yourself. Begin by changing your own thinking. Not thinking about prejudicing or judging others, but judging ourselves; does my activity support the Biblical view of the Sanctity of Marriage? does what I laugh at, do the movies I watch, does my advise to others, support the Sanctity of Marriage?
We must hear the words of Jesus as the words of a loving God, telling His people the way of peace and love, and true fulfillment, and then, believe and follow.
Daly, Martin & Margo Wilson, Child Abuse and Other Risks of Not Living with Both Parents.
Department of Psychology, McMaster University. http://courses.washington.edu/evpsych/
D&W-child-abuse-ESB1985.pdf. Web 5Jul 2016
Usdansky, Margaret & Sara McLanahan. Looking for Murphy Brown: An Analysis of College-
Educated, Single Mothers. Conference Papers – American Sociological Association. 2003
Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, p1-26. 26p
Zill, Nicholas. Kids of Single Parents More Likely to Witness Domestic Violence. Family
witness-domestic-violence/. 2013. Web 5Jul 2016