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Intact Families

Extended family
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Penna Dexternever miss viewpoints

A new study about the state of the family leads to an unexpected conclusion. Researchers Wendy Wang and Bradford Wilcox studied trends in progressive California because, they write, “California has been at the vanguard of family change in America.” The study is titled: “State of Contradiction: Progressive Family Culture, Traditional Family Structure in California.”

Their surprising conclusion: California has “a higher share of stable, married families than the nation as a whole.” Drs. Wang and Wilcox found that 67% of “California parents are in intact marriages, compared to 63% of American parents.” 

The study also confirmed what other research shows about the marriages of better-educated couples. In California, 80% of parents with college degrees are in intact marriages compared with 61% of parents who are not college-educated. In some of the wealthiest zip codes in the state, the divorce rate is effectively zero. 

California elites, in Silicon Valley and neighborhoods surrounding Hollywood, are famously supportive of and even celebrate all kinds of lifestyles and family structures. Yet most understand that stable marriages foster stable families, financial security and flourishing children.

The Atlantic recently published a chronicle of the nuclear family in America by New York Times columnist David Brooks in which he points out that across the country, “Among the highly-educated, family patterns are almost as they were in the 1950s; among the less fortunate, family life is often in utter chaos.” 

In his piece, entitled “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake,” he makes a convincing case that, as the extended family plays a smaller and smaller role in American life, the nuclear family becomes more “fragile. Better-educated and wealthier families can “buy” the help extended families used to provide. 

Perhaps. But it’s also true that the Bible’s design for marriage with a mom and a dad raising their biological kids works. Better-educated parents, even if they’re progressives who think alternative families are fine for others, have somehow figured that out.

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