Are single-parent families just as good for children as two-parent families? Some of the headlines recently in newspapers and newsmagazines seem to say so. But all you have to do is look back at academic studies to see that, in nearly every case, two parents are better than one.
One older family study deserves renewed attention. Dr. Patrick Fagan, using data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, found two important factors. Children who grow up in an intact family and attend religious services do better than children who do not.
There is a significant discrepancy between children who grew up in intact, two-parent families and those who came from broken homes. They also found a similar discrepancy between those who attend religious services weekly and those who worship less frequently. They found that children in the former groups were five times less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to have behavior problems at home and school, and more likely to be cooperative and understanding of others’ feelings.
They also found that these differences held true even after controlling for family income and poverty as well as for the parents’ education level, race, and ethnicity. In essence, the study suggests that the best prescription for society is a stable family and family worship. In this environment, children thrive emotionally and achieve academically.
In a sense, this study is the flip side of studies that were published years ago about the impact of divorce on children. In my book, Christian Ethics in Plain Language, I document the three E’s of the negative impact of divorce (emotional impact, educational impact, and economic impact). Whether you look at these positive studies or the earlier negative studies, you can see the importance of family and worship.