Was Moynihan Right?

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What happens to children of unmarried mothers



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SPRING 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 2

This article is part of a new Education Next series on the state of the American family. The full series will appear in our Spring 2015 issue to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 release of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” (generally referred to as the Moynihan Report).

200119436-002In his 1965 report on the black family, Daniel Patrick Moynihan highlighted the rising fraction of black children growing up in households headed by unmarried mothers. He attributed the increase largely to the precarious economic position of black men, many of whom were no longer able to play their traditional role as their family’s primary breadwinner. Moynihan argued that growing up in homes without a male breadwinner reduced black children’s chances of climbing out of poverty, and that the spread of such families would make it hard for blacks to take advantage of the legal and institutional changes flowing from the civil rights revolution.

Moynihan’s claim that growing up in a fatherless family reduced a child’s chances of educational and economic success was furiously denounced when the report appeared in 1965, with many critics calling Moynihan a racist. For the next two decades few scholars chose to investigate the effects of father absence, lest they too be demonized if their findings supported Moynihan’s argument. Fortunately, America’s best-known black sociologist, William Julius Wilson, broke this taboo in 1987, providing a candid assessment of the black family and its problems in The Truly Disadvantaged. Since then, social scientists have accumulated a lot more evidence on the effects of family structure. This article will offer some educated guesses about what that evidence means.

What Has Changed?

Moynihan was clearly prescient in thinking that America’s black families were changing in fundamental ways. In 1965, when Moynihan’s report was released, roughly 25 percent of black children and 5 percent of white children lived in families headed by an unmarried mother. These percentages rose rapidly over the next two decades, reaching about 50 percent among blacks and 15 percent among whites by the early 1980s. After that, the rate of increase among blacks slowed. Fifty-four percent of black children were being raised by an unmarried mother in the early 1990s; about 50 percent were in 2003. The level has remained close to 50 percent since 2003. Among whites, the rate also rose slowly until the mid-1990s but has fluctuated between about 18 and 20 percent since then (see Figure 1).

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As whites constitute a substantial majority of Americans, whites also comprise the largest share of single-mother families. The racial makeup of single-mother families has not changed very much over time. In 1970, 31 percent of single-mother families were black, 68 percent were white, and 1 percent were “other race.” In 2013, the figures were 30 percent black, 62 percent white, and 8 percent “other.”

Readers should bear in mind that the terms “unmarried” and “single” refer to a mother’s marital status, not to whether she lives with a partner. Thus, living with a “single” mother does not necessarily mean that a child is living in a “fatherless household.” Unmarried couples living with children, that is, parents or partners who cohabit, were relatively rare in 1960. They have become increasingly common in the last 20 years. Recent estimates indicate that roughly one-quarter of all children living with an unmarried mother are living with a mother who has a live-in partner. This figure is about 33 percent among white children, 12 percent among black children, and 29 percent among Hispanic children.

Figure 1 shows children’s living arrangements in specific years, but it does not tell us what percentage of children ever live with a single mother while they are growing up. Demographers estimate that more than half of all American children are now likely to live with a single mother at some point before they reach age 18, even though only 24 percent live with a single mother in any one year. The difference between the two estimates reflects the fact that married mothers often separate, divorce, or (less often) become widows, while unmarried mothers often marry or remarry. As a result, many children live with a single mother for only a few years.

The transitory nature of marital status becomes even clearer if we compare the fraction of children born to unmarried mothers in a given year with the fraction living with an unmarried mother in subsequent years. Figure 2 shows trends in the percentage of mothers who were unmarried at the time they gave birth to a child. In 1960, only 5 percent of all births were to unmarried mothers. By 2010, the number was nearly 41 percent. The trend leveled off for all births in 1994 but rose again after 2000, with paths diverging by race and ethnicity.

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By 1990, roughly 70 percent of all black births were to unmarried mothers, and the figure has hovered near 70 percent since that time. Yet in 2013, only about 50 percent of black children under age 18 were living with an unmarried mother. Some of the “missing” 20 percent were living with their fathers, because their mother had married their father after the child was born. But in many cases, the mother had married someone else before her child’s 18th birthday. Although the fraction of children born to unmarried mothers has not risen among blacks since the 1990s, it has continued to increase among whites and Hispanics, nearing 36 percent for whites and topping 50 percent for Hispanics by 2012.

The meaning of single motherhood has also changed since the 1960s. Today’s single mothers are far less likely than their predecessors to have ever been married. In 1960, 95 percent of single mothers had been married at some point in the past. The major sources of single motherhood were separation from a spouse, divorce, and widowhood, in that order. By 2013, only half of all single mothers had ever been married.

The historical shift from formerly married to never-married mothers has meant that single motherhood usually occurs earlier in a child’s life. Mothers who marry and then divorce typically spend a number of years with their husband before separating. Today, many women become single mothers when their first child is born. The shift to never-married motherhood has probably weakened the economic and emotional ties between children and their absent fathers.

A second change is that unmarried motherhood has spread fastest among mothers who have not completed college. Between 1980 and 2010 the fraction of black children living with an unmarried mother rose from 55 to 66 percent (10 points) among those whose mother had not finished high school, from 43 to 50 percent (7 points) among those whose mother had finished high school but not college, and from 23 to 28 percent (5 points) among those whose mother had graduated from a four-year college. Among white children with mothers who had not finished high school, the estimated fraction living with an unmarried mother rose only from 16.9 percent in 1980 to 18.2 percent in 2010, but the 2010 estimate is based on a small sample, and we cannot rule out the possibility that the true increase was considerably larger. The increase was from 10 to 21 percent among white children with mothers who had finished high school but not college, and from 6.7 to 7.3 percent among white children whose mothers had completed college (see Figure 3).

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The fact that single motherhood is increasing faster among women with less than a college degree means that children growing up with a single mother are likely to be doubly disadvantaged. They spend less time and receive less money from their biological fathers than children who live with their fathers. At the same time, the primary breadwinner in the family—the mother—has lower earnings than the typical mother in a married-parent family. The official poverty rate in 2013 among all families with children was 40 percent if the family was headed by an unmarried mother and only 8 percent if the family was headed by a married couple (see Figure 4). Among blacks, the rates were 46 percent in single-mother families and 12 percent in married-parent families. Among Hispanics, the figures were 47 percent and 18 percent, and among whites the rates were 32 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

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The Fragile Family

Recent evidence on the impact of these trends comes from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which is following a cohort of nearly 5,000 children born in large U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000. Roughly three-quarters of these children were born to unmarried parents. Just under 50 percent of the parents are black, while about 35 percent are Hispanic. Researchers interview parents and assess children every few years to learn about family dynamics and gauge the health and well-being of the participants.

The study finds that couples who are cohabiting at the time of the child’s birth split up much sooner than couples who were married. Nearly half of cohabiting parents break up within five years of the child’s birth, compared to only 20 percent of married parents. Once a mother’s relationship with her baby’s father ends, she is likely to form relationships with new partners, and she typically has one or more children with a new partner. Of course, divorced mothers also form new partnerships and often have children with their new partners. But the interval before this occurs is usually longer among divorced mothers than among mothers who are cohabiting or living alone at the time of their child’s birth. Among the latter group, 61 percent live with a new partner and 11 percent live with three or more new partners before the child is five years old. Among mothers who are married at the time of a birth, those proportions are only 8 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

The high rate of partner turnover during a mother’s peak fertility years means not only that her children now experience more changes in the adults with whom they live, but also that they are now more likely to have half siblings, who have different fathers, paternal grandparents, and other relatives. Half siblings and their kin create additional complexity in children’s families. In the Fragile Families study, 60 percent of children born to unmarried mothers had a half sibling by the time they were five years old, and 23 percent had half siblings fathered by two or more different men. Among children born to married mothers, the comparable figures are 18 and 6 percent.

High levels of instability and complexity have important consequences for children’s home environment and the quality of the parenting they receive. Both the departure of a father and the arrival of a mother’s new partner disrupt family routines and are stressful for most children, regardless of whether the father is married to their mother or merely cohabiting with her. A nonresident father may also be less willing to keep paying child support if he believes his payments will be shared with another man’s child. Such problems are magnified in families with several nonresident fathers.

Among fathers in the study who were married to their child’s mother when the child was born but were not living with the child nine years later, three-quarters were still providing some economic support for their child, according to an analysis by Rutgers University professor Lenna Nepomnyaschy. Among fathers who were cohabiting with the mother when their child was born but were living elsewhere nine years later, only 60 percent were providing some economic support, the same as the percentage among fathers who had never lived with their child.

The Effect on Children

Was Moynihan right in suggesting that children whose parents divorce or never marry have more than their share of problems? This question has been hotly debated ever since the publication of Moynihan’s report. On the one hand, growing up without both biological parents is clearly associated with worse average outcomes for children than growing up with them. Specifically, children growing up with a single mother are exposed to more family instability and complexity, they have more behavior problems, and they are less likely to finish high school or attend college than children raised by both of their parents. On the other hand, these differences in children’s behavior and success might well be traceable to differences that would exist even if the biological father were present.

In recent years, researchers have begun to use what they call “quasi-experimental” approaches to estimate the causal impact of growing up apart from one’s biological father. Some studies compare the outcomes of children living in states with liberal versus restrictive divorce laws. Others compare siblings who were different ages in the year when their father moved out. Still others compare the same child before and after the father left the child’s household. One important limitation of these studies is that while they all focus on children who are not living with both of their biological parents, they differ with respect to their comparison group, whether it is children raised by their mother alone, by their mother and a new spouse, or by their mother and a new partner to whom she is not married. Nonetheless, when taken together these studies are beginning to tell a consistent story. A recent review of 45 studies using quasi-experimental methods concluded that growing up apart from one’s father does reduce a child’s life chances in many domains.

The review’s authors examined the effects of a father’s absence on outcomes in four domains: educational attainment, mental health, labor market performance, and family formation. Growing up with only one biological parent reduces a child’s chances of graduating from high school by about 40 percent, which is similar to the effect of having a mother who did not finish high school rather than one who did. The absence of one’s biological father has not been shown to affect a child’s verbal and math test scores, however.  The evidence for other indicators of educational performance, such as high school grades, skipping school, and college aspirations, is mixed, with some studies finding that father absence lowers school attendance and aspirations and others finding no effect. Most studies find larger effects on boys than on girls.

How might we reconcile the fact that a father’s absence affects high school graduation with the lack of evidence that it affects test scores? The answer appears to be that a father’s absence increases antisocial behavior, such as aggression, rule breaking, delinquency, and illegal drug use. These antisocial behaviors affect high school completion independent of a child’s verbal and math scores. Thus it appears that a father’s absence lowers children’s educational attainment not by altering their scores on cognitive tests but by disrupting their social and emotional adjustment and reducing their ability or willingness to exercise self-control. The effects of growing up without both parents on aggression, rule breaking, and delinquency are also larger for boys than for girls. Since these traits predict both college attendance and graduation, the spread of single-parent families over the past few decades may have contributed to the growing gender gap in college attendance and graduation. The gender gap in college completion is much more pronounced among children raised by single mothers than among children raised in two-parent families.

University of Chicago researcher Marianne Bertrand and Jessica Pan of the National University of Singapore investigated several mechanisms that might explain how a father’s absence could affect the educational attainment of sons more than daughters. They found that single mothers spend more time with girls and feel closer to girls than to boys, for example. More important, boys are far more sensitive than girls to parenting practices such as spending time with a child, emotional closeness, and avoiding harsh discipline. These practices, which are much more common in families that include a father, partly explain why boys with absent fathers have more behavior problems and are more likely to be suspended from school. Boys also respond more negatively than girls to having been raised by a teenage mother and to having grown up in a family with below-average income. Single motherhood is highly correlated with both teenage childbearing and low income, so these differences presumably help explain the unusually negative consequences for boys of growing up with a single mother.

There is no strong evidence that single motherhood has different effects on black children than on white children.

There is no strong evidence that single motherhood has different effects on black children than on white children.

When we turn to black-white differences in the effects of single motherhood on children, we might expect the effects to be more negative for black than for white children, particularly for black boys, because single black mothers are younger, less educated, and poorer than single white mothers. Yet the fact that single motherhood has long been more common among blacks than whites could also have helped black families develop better systems for coping with a father’s absence. Consistent with these conflicting hypotheses, there is no strong evidence either that single motherhood has different effects on black children than on white children or that the effects are the same. A few studies find weaker effects for blacks, and other studies find no significant racial difference.

There is consistent evidence that a father’s absence reduces a child’s chances of employment, but the evidence on whether it affects the earnings of those who do find work is inconclusive. Similarly, there is solid evidence that absence of a father during childhood increases the chances that a child will divorce as an adult and that a daughter will have a nonmarital birth. The evidence on whether a father’s absence affects the likelihood that a child will marry is inconclusive.

Is Marriage the Solution?

These findings do not mean that children would necessarily be better-off if their biological parents were married. Children with unmarried mothers are more likely than other children to have a biological father who is in prison, beats his partner, cannot find or keep a steady job, and/or makes his living by selling drugs. None of these characteristics is associated with good outcomes for children. Sara Jaffee, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and her colleagues found that living with a father who engages in high levels of antisocial behavior increases children’s conduct problems. While problems of this kind may sometimes diminish if a mother marries such a father—living with the mother and child may motivate the father to change his behavior, for example—there are also many instances in which that does not happen.

Furthermore, even when a child’s absent father is a model citizen, the mother often has problems that marriage cannot solve. Unmarried mothers have seldom done well in school, many lack even a high school diploma, and few have completed college. If these mothers find work, their earnings are usually lower than those of married mothers who work, and their hours are often long, erratic, or both. Unmarried mothers are also more likely than married mothers to have physical and mental health problems, and probably less likely to have habits or skills that help children escape from poverty. Of course, trying to raise children alone on a tiny budget is likely to exacerbate whatever problems a mother had initially. But marrying the man who fathered her child may magnify a mother’s problems rather than solve them.

What Can Be Done? 

Unmarried parents are not that different from married parents in their behavior. Both groups value marriage, both spend a long time searching for a suitable marriage partner, and both engage in premarital sex and cohabitation. The key difference is that one group often has children while they are searching for a suitable partner, whereas the other group more often has children only after they marry.

Changing this dynamic would require two things. First, we would need to give less-educated women a good reason to postpone motherhood. The women who are currently postponing motherhood are typically investing in education and careers. These women use contraceptive methods that are more reliable, and they use these methods more consistently. Postponing fertility in these ways would also have benefits for women who currently do not do so. They would be more mature when they became mothers, and they would probably do a better job of selecting suitable partners.

Nonetheless, postponing fertility will not solve the problem of nonmarital childbearing unless the economic prospects of the young men who father the children also improve. Women are not likely to marry men whom they view as poor providers, regardless of their own earning capacity. Thus, in addition to encouraging young women to delay motherhood, we also need to improve the economic prospects of their prospective husbands, especially those with no more than a high school diploma. This will not be easy. But it would improve the lives of the men in question, perhaps reduce their level of antisocial behavior, and improve the lives of their children, through all the benefits that flow from a stable home.

Sara McLanahan is professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. Christopher Jencks is professor of social policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.      




Comment on this article
  • Eugene Patrick Devany says:

    Taxes are the root of all evil. Consumption taxes should be the same regardless of the item or service. Consider that a 4% VAT would be sufficient to replace the job killing payroll taxes and encourage full employment and higher salaries in the private sector. Bill Gates understands how payroll tax replacement makes each job less expensive for business and also increases the take home pay of workers who in turn stimulate the economy with spending.

    Jobs for the long term unemployed could be supplied in the nonprofit sector (at a little below private sector rates). This could be achieved by permitting use of the charitable deduction only with charities that agree to put more people to work.

  • henry lasher says:

    I believe that a powerful incentive for not marrying by contemporary American youth is avoidance of the massive medical costs associated with childbirth , costs that are essentially nonexistent and ” free ” to the unwed mother

  • Holly Wood says:

    I’m willing to accept all of this argument, but the “what is to be done” argument is troubling. Mostly, how I see this, in the 50 years since the publication of thus report, we still as a nation find it almost impossible to imagine supporting non-nuclear family households as alternatives. Is single motherhood worse than two-parent childrearing? Probably, but not necessarily for lack of a father. I feel like all children would benefit from more carring, supportive adults in their lives, but culturally and politically, this is rarely something we as sociologists engaged in social policy seem to offer as a critical implication in our analysis of what has been for at least fifty hears a failing institution.

  • Marianne Lombardo says:

    Couldn’t it be possible that there is a hidden bias in societal institutions? Schools that treat students of single mothers differently – more likely to suspend, not be supportive in other ways because there isn’t a father there to be in the “boys club” in sports . . . police that are more likely to charge a kid rather than just return him home for the parents to deal with, etc.
    There is a stigma associated with single mothers – a moral judgement of the superiority of “intact” families and this becomes self-perpetuating in everyday social interactions.

    The stress of being a sole financial and emotional provider for the children, as well as the lack of social supports and capital creates an uneven playing field.

    The answer is to empower single mothers to become advocates for themselves and their children.

  • Paul Everett says:

    What is to be done? A plaintive question, indeed. I believe that we need a massive “Marshall Plan” for our children, beginning before birth. We have models that work all over the country. The Visiting Nurse program is especially effective. We could learn from Norway where constant professional help is given to the expecting mother. Mothers on drugs, alcohol or with poor nutrition cannot produce optimum babies. Look at Thrive by Five.

    After birth, we need to continue that help using nurses, psychologists, counselors, etc. The first three years are critical because that is where the major dendrite networks of the brain are built as well as the major elements of psychological wholeness from a nurturing environment. This has to continue right on through high school and on into at least the first two years of post secondary education of some kind, including the trades.

    It would cost many billions but it would raise the intelligence capacity of the entire society in one, maximum two, generations. Hundreds of thousands would no longer be in prison and would be living good lives, contributing to society. We could close probably 80% or more of our prisons. Imagine living with very, very low fear.

    Imagine a society where the average IQ was 120 instead of 100. What might that mean? What incredible inventions and creations would emerge? I know this is a BIG DREAM but we need big dreams to inspire us. This would be like going to the moon only it would be for the transformation of our society. We desperately need to be investing our incredible wealth in the right places and children should be numero uno.

  • TruthInAction says:

    Ever the excuses. What a mess this country has. Trillions spent each year for such stuff, yet you ask for more.

    When will folks ‘fess up that pre-marital sex and cohabitation carry risks. Risk it and pay the price. Instead, others are asked to pay the price.

    National government should not be doing this stuff.

    “Life is tough. Being stupid makes it tougher.”

  • Michael Koski says:

    As a child raised by a single mother and a life spent in education, it is a pretty simple explanation. You cannot parent when you are not there. A single parent who is working cannot spend enough time with their children. If the single parent is not working, then the children learn that the parent is not providing for them. It is possible to raise responsible children, but as the data shows, it is pretty rare. However, adults who are less responsible seem more likely to not consider the impact of having a child or raising one, thus extending/expanding the poverty cycle.
    The logistics of parenting just make it very difficult for one person to raise a child unless they have outrageous amounts of money to “buy” a 2nd parent and programs do not replace relationships or personal commitment.

  • […] how dramatically they've occurred over the last half-century is breathtaking. Consider this chart, from Princeton's Sara McLanahan and Harvard's Christopher Jencks. It shows that more than 70 percent of all black children today are born to an unmarried mom, a […]

  • Edgar McGarvey says:

    Yes, unquestionably, Moynihan was right. And while the left-radicals who tried to destroy him thought they were coming to the defense of the victims of slavery and Jim Crow, they weren’t. They were making things worse because they were putting high hopes and grand romantic dreams on a higher plane than hard data and empirical science. True, we haven’t done as badly as the Stalinists and Maoists who killed around 50 million people to no good end at all. Fifty years after Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech more than half of Black Americans live in suburbs (not ghettoes)and the intensely rational, wondrously sly and articulate Barak Obama is running the show. But how many young Black men have suffered for little or no reason?

  • Cheryl Evola says:

    Contraception prevents pregnancies. It seems to me we reward people for bringing children into the world they cannot afford and do not necessarily want except for the government check they will get for the child’s support. Why is this? At the point it becomes have a baby get a check, we have lost the battle for the mother’s and the child’s future. This is a travesty. People do not have the right to have children other’s will need to support. Instead of “have a baby get a check”, we need “do not have a baby get a check”.

  • ThatNerd says:

    I found the article important and relevant. However, I take an issue with the first assertion made towards a potential solution, that unwed mothers need reasons to postpone childbirth. Notice that the rates of unwed motherhood are four times higher for the college-educated African American mother than her white counterpart, and substantially higher even than the white unwed mother with no HS diploma. I find it troubling that the article does not speak to the unequal pressures and access to economic livelihood experienced across racial groups, which are indicated in the data. Even if the actual impacts on children appear to be similar across groups according to the research, clearly the causes and long-term outcomes are disproportionate. Nor does the article speak to deleterious outcomes in our society long-term as these trends continue.

  • Matt B. says:

    Your dismissal of marriage as a possible solution seems too facile. It is based on “instances”—for all you say they could be quite rare—where marriage might not help. Shouldn’t you be looking at averages instead of “instances” when you assess the possible impact of encouraging marriage?

    Also, in the “What’s to be done” section, why don’t you suggest the obvious: that we encourage women to marry before having sex? This would create a “partner selection filter” that increases the likelihood a woman chooses a responsible man, and would elicit a commitment from the father before the child is conceived. It’s really a great system if you think about it! Is your failure to consider this possibility motivated by political correctness, low expectations of peoples’ capacity for self-regulation, or is there some other reason?

    I’m also not confident that contraception is the panacea you suggest. In a contraception-saturated world, men can feel they have a general sexual license, and their incentive to marry is diminished. Meanwhile, women’s desire for children doesn’t go away. The more you push contraception, the more you turn sex into a recreational activity instead of an expression of a life-long commitment. Those ideas have consequences. Marriage is a much better idea, with much better consequences.

  • Troy Johnson says:

    If all groups have unwed births at a higher rate than Black people did when the Moynihan report was released 50 years ago, what does that tell us about prospects for our country over the next 50 years?

    The cultural problems that plagued Black people 50 years ago have only gotten worse. However, we were the canaries in the coal mine, the problems are truly one of class and all people are effected.

    Moynihan’s report was interpreted to reveal a “Black” problem, but what it really exposed was the adverse impact on the victims of Black people living in a hostile society.

    Black people, today, are still victimized by failed schools, hyper-incarceration, terrible employment opportunities, etc. However, we see increasingly more white people are being victimized by the same cultural problems as well.

    You simply can’t have a society where everything favors the wealthy while poor people and working class people are pummeled into the ground. The vast and expanding wealth gap is another reflection of our cultural problems.

  • […] Wilson, an eminent black sociologist.” Kristof lifted that description from this recent article by McLanahan and Jencks (which he cites elsewhere in the column). They […]

  • […] of his claim that single-parent households lead to poor outcomes for low-income children is “an essay by Sara McLanahan of Princeton and Christopher Jencks of Harvard” in the March issue of […]

  • Greg says:

    Like with many things, the obvious and hoped for conclusions are not always the correct ones; and the reality of many forcing functions is that they can be complex and BOTH quantitative and qualitative. That usually means that solutioning and even understanding the stats requires a more integrative thinking approach.

    One aspect that I believe is afoot within the data and I often wonder about is motivation, and the qualitative affects that the examples and observed “models” of behavior and societal reality are having. That is, what is the impact on the kids and their choice that perpetuate the trends and as they ALSO experience and digest the single parent home conditions. The “adult modelling” that is coming from business and political leaders, sports figures, coaches, entertainment, clergy and their fathers and mothers in our popular culture–not to mention the always influential forces of geopolitical and economic events and circumstances that fosters worry and fatalism about the “system”.

    As a parent, and despite a concern and considerable focus on working with kids to dissuade and balance these concerns with alternative idea, I have observed a tremendous undertow of apathy and jadedness. I blame myself in the case of my own children for apparently believing that there is little reason to want to compete, strive and “get ahead”, right down to “why even go to college?” even though my kids have parents who went to college.

    In addition, are the raw realities in regards to divorce and the way divorced parents interact over the finances, parental time, personal and compete in regards to familial culture and influence on the kids.

    Anyone who has been divorced can attest to the magnitude and impact of this on kids, even if most of us are not sure how it has and is affecting our kids’ choices other than what the statistics show from researchers like Gottman and others. http://bit.ly/gottman-video

    My central points are three:

    1. I believe our habits and behaviors around the family unit and divorce are crucial areas on which to focus attention in regards to this single mother – single parent issue and only more so in demographic areas that are showing more risk than others. All demographics are showing the trend.

    2. I believe our behavior and habits regarding the pre-eminence of money and wealth, media celebrity and how we embrace popular culture as it relates to money are also areas of important concern and focus. We tend to become what we see, based on what we believe about what we see. We tend to build beliefs based on what we see people do and then act to model and practice ourselves.

    3. I believe that how we educate and mentor children through their elementary and junior and senior high school are critical issues so that they act and model and practice behaviors that build healthy competing beliefs and as research shows gives broad experiences that help brain development establishing a broader array of possibilities.

    The recent death of Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, is a timely reminder of the power in a very progressive and intensified focus on EDUCATION system, and what is possible to achieve over a 30-50 year period. It is also a reminder about how woefully and systemically broken the educational system is in North America – and how tied and embracing education is to “pop” culture. And it seems obvious that everyone in the system is part of who is holding back radical redesign, to and including the teaching community itself and parents who are embroiled in the increasingly competitive and money dominated inter-family arena.

    IT SEEMS THAT CHANGE MUST START WITH ME… and US.

    In the end, I believe the changes that are needed for my kids’s kids must ultimately starts with me, with us.

    Higher standards of belief and behavior for ourselves as parents, and holding our educational system to a higher academic and less popular standard. Supporting leaders who are making real change not capitalizing on popular trends. And, spending what dollars we have in a more political way, which increasingly will matter and be possible as consumer technology begins to allow us to aggregate our spending in intelligent and directed ways.

    Inequality is a very real issue. The question is does it help define a solution, or just get us talking once again about agonizing systems without talking about solution paths and concrete areas to work at and change.

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