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The turning

The decline of stable families leads to an increase in social problems.
Megan Wallgren, FamilyShare Modified: August 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm •  Published: August 27, 2014
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It has been said that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. A decline in the stability of family life and an increase in single parenting over the last several decades has contributed to a variety of societal problems.

Family advocates Richard and Linda Eyre say about the decline of traditional family life, "Centering on the young, and ranging from teen pregnancy to drugs and alcohol and from crime to violence and abuse, this curse produces poverty and isolation, bloats our welfare and justice systems, and imposes oppressive taxes to pay for for ineffective "finger-in-the-dike" government solutions."

A study by The Heritage Foundation found high-crime neighborhoods are characterized by high concentrations of families abandoned by fathers. A state-by-state analysis showed that a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime. This is something we should all be concerned about.

In their new book, The Turning, the Eyres outline seven critical roles families play in a good society.

1. Procreation

Almost half of first babies in the US are born to unwed mothers. Researchers have determined there is a 13 percent chance that married couples with a child will split within the first five years of the child's life. If the couple is unmarried but living together, the chance they will break up increases to 39 percent.

These children are more likely to face poverty, suffer abuse, experience unstable living arrangements, have low educational attainment, have lower occupational status, and have troubled relationships in the future according to childtrends.org.

Being born in a stable family relationship with married and committed parents can set up a child on a trajectory for success.

2. Learning committment and cooperation

Living together in a household and working toward common goals as a family are essential to developing children into productive adults. Family can be seen as a microcosm of society. Everyone has jobs, and your fulfillment of those things affects those around you. Kids learn their choices are never made in isolation and learn to care for the larger group. In this way, they learn to be better members of society in the future.

3. Nurturing children

No one loves a child like the parent. While there are instances of abuse by parents, mostly parents are willing to go to bat for their kids more than any other group of adults. Teachers and other caregivers are focused on 20 to 30 kids at a time, parents are focused on just a few. A parent is concerned about a child's success and well being in all aspects of life, while a coach or mentor may just be concerned with the areas they have focus and expertise in. While other adults come into a child's life for a time, a parent is there for the long haul.

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