Category Archives: Family

Sex, Discourse, and Harvard

When I arrived at Harvard, I did not appreciate the need for a group known as True Love Revolution. Yet, I did not know what it represented or the important role it served on campus by endorsing premarital abstinence and sexual integrity, upholding the institution of marriage and the family, and advocating true feminism. The group, which was formed in 2006, introduced a view regarding sex-related issues that often goes unheard. While these topics are incredibly salient in college, I was amazed by how often they are presented in a way that ignored the moral dimension of human sexuality.  This concern stimulated my interest in the group and motivates my involvement today.

This semester, the True Love Revolution seeks to continue the conversation, but we have renamed ourselves The Harvard College Anscombe Society. We have named ourselves after Elizabeth Anscombe, a Cambridge professor and celebrated British philosopher of the 20th century. In her work, Anscombe defended many principles shared by our organization, including chastity and the importance of marriage and the family. Inspired by her intellectually rigorous support for the group’s beliefs and by her witness to those values as a wife and mother, our group has renamed itself in her honor. The Anscombe Society joins other universities such as Princeton, Providence College, University of Texas, University of Pittsburgh, and Stanford in honoring Anscombe’s legacy. Although our group’s platform remains unchanged, our new name highlights the philosophical foundation and intellectual mission of our group.

Over the past six years, we have noticed that too often, “consent” is upheld as the only standard for determining what behavior is acceptable.  There is very little discussion of whether or not any choices are morally good or right, depriving students of an important lens by which to judge their own behavior. Thus the rejection of the notion that our sexual choices have a significant moral component seriously harms our peers. We believe that the views we espouse are not only morally true in the abstract, but also better choices for a healthy and fulfilling life. Thus, we have taken our role in presenting our views seriously, through such means as guest speakerseditorials, and debates. We have also found creative ways to spread our message, such as the Valentine’s Day campaign in which the True Love Revolution distributed chocolate kisses to freshmen with a note that said, “Why wait? Because you’re worth it.”  This semester, we have invited Karin Agness, the president and founder of the Network of Enlightened Women and the director of academic programs at the American Enterprise Institute, to discuss true feminism.

The Anscombe Society remains a secular organization that looks to what sociology, psychology, medicine, philosophy, and human experience suggest are the best ways to acheive the good of the person and the common good in the realm of sexuality. We seek to continue a tradition of stimulating campus and national discourse on a conscientious view of sexuality that strengthens marriages, fortifies civil society, and contests the merits of a hyper-sexualized culture.  We are excited to find support among national leaders, our faculty, and students, and we urge our classmates to think deeply about these issues and to subject the prevailing orthodoxies of our society to real scrutiny.

Luciana E. Milano ’14 is a government concentrator living in Pforzheimer House. She is President of The Harvard College Anscombe Society. This article was originally published in the HarvardCrimson. 


True Love Revolution officially renamed The Harvard College Anscombe Society

True Love Revolution is officially renamed The Harvard College Anscombe Society. We have renamed ourselves after Elizabeth Anscombe, a Cambridge professor and celebrated British philosopher of the 20th century. In her work, Anscombe defended many principles shared by our organization, including chastity and the importance of marriage and the family. Inspired by her intellectually rigorous support for our group’s beliefs and by her witness to those values as a wife and mother, we have renamed our organization in her honor. Our mission remains unchanged, but we think that this new name will be very important in continuing to build our club and further its mission on campus.

Parenting in a Hypersexualized World

The average age at which young people first have sex is 17 years old. This is usually before they even graduate high school. In our hyper-sexualized American society, kids are being exposed to objectification of sex and the body through a number of outlets, such as advertising, pop culture, and even the clothes and toys being marketed to young children. By the time they reach middle school, a lot of them are desensitized to the sexualization all around them. Kids who are still young enough to require parental permission to go on a school field trip are considering themselves old enough to have sex.

This whole scenario isn’t new, though. It didn’t pop up all of a sudden as the 21st century moved in. Rather, it is the result of gradual societal change over the last 50 years. In this article from The Wall Street Journal, writer Jennifer Moses looks at the way girls and young women dress as a reflection of larger social and moral values. Perhaps most interesting, though, is the way she discusses how this is all a product of the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Parents who had the freedom to engage in what they considered to be sex without consequences are raising children who eagerly partake in that lifestyle, encouraged by their peers and the media. Even if parents regret their own choices, and want their children to be free from that suffering, feel they have no place to correct their kids and establish moral guidelines that they need. As a result, young privileged women who can have whatever they want are nonetheless growing up with the idea that their femininity and even their personhood only go so far as their sexuality.

As Ms. Moses points out, this doesn’t signal a call to restore antiquated standards of femininity or to make sex taboo. Rather, it should signal a call to parents, and all those who are hoping to become parents, to break this cycle of the hook-up culture. They have the responsibility to guard their children, especially their daughters, from the mindset that women are only worth as much as their body. Parents have the ability to instill in their children a sense of self-confidence and self-worth, starting at a young age. By providing a strong alternative to mainstream values of sexuality and forming a network of support as their children grow up, they have the chance to create a change in the way society values sex.


Investing in Future Relationships

For a while now, there has been a lot of discussion of what the actual benefits are for remaining abstinent. What is there to gain by waiting? According to a study by Dean Busby, a professor at the Brigham Young University School of Family Life, the decision to refrain from premarital sex can provide a boost to the chances of a good marriage.

In the recently published study, researchers at Brigham Young University took a look at some of the factors that affect the success of a relationship, particularly the effects of premarital sex on future marital satisfaction. The timing for introducing sex into the relationship seems to have a lasting impact on the outcome of the relationship, with the general trend being that couples who wait longer seem to have stronger relationships. The study used data collected in a survey to try to gain a quantitative assessment of people’s behaviors and if that relates to the strengths of their marriages.

Although there are numerous possible explanations for these results, it would seem that this study highlights the crucial role that communication and emotional and mental compatibility play in a relationship. Sexual compatibility is of significant value in a marriage, but is not of itself enough to sustain a marriage. A healthy, happy marriage needs to be grounded in communication and openness between spouses, and some researchers believe that by postponing sex couples are giving themselves the opportunity to develop their relationship in these other fields. This seems to pay off later on, when the relationship has to withstand the difficulties that people confront throughout life. By giving their marriage a solid emotional foundation, couples seem to be investing in both the physical, sexual part of their relationship and their overall future satisfaction.


Lesbian Parenting Study in Pediatrics

After reading many media references to a spring study that concluded that lesbian mothers are the best mothers, I’d like to respond to this “US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-year-old Adolescents” study that was published in Pediatrics. I don’t aim to deem it valid or invalid, nor am I deeply concerned about the study’s funding source, but I’ve read through it, and here are my thoughts.

The results are self-reported by the mothers. For example, there are no objective academic measurements or whatnot; the children do well because their mothers rate them well in social, school/academic, social problems, rule-breaking, aggressiveness, and externalizing problem behavior. We have absolutely no way to determine if study participants are rating their children fairly, which is massively problematic. It is made even more problematic because the mothers are not randomly selected, instead they are volunteers, and volunteers on the higher education and socioeconomic groups, who are quite likely to be politically motivated by participating in this study. Or rather, those who would volunteer for a politically significant study are those who know themselves to be good parents and know they could answer in the affirmative. And of course they do answer in the affirmative, and their answers are never cross-checked (like with school reports).

The median income of the lesbian mother group is $85,000, which introduces factors like resources and socioeconomic status that are just not mentioned, not to mention controlled for. Likewise, the sample size of 78 children is unfortunate. The study does not tell us how the control group of mothers and children are selected, which is strange for any study and should have been teased out in peer reviews. We simply have no idea if these children are representative (or have the same social status, have the same education opportunities, etc.).

But most interesting to me as a reader of sociological papers, the mothers do not report that their children do significantly differently when the two lesbian mothers split up. This has hardly ever, ever been seen in any longitudinal data of families, as children with one parent do worse than children with two in any representative study. So this finding alone hints that the study may have some fundamental methodological issues. Also, there are no differences reported in girls and boys, which again, is not replicated in other data and implies that parents may not be properly rating their own children, which is natural, as it’s intrinsically biased to rate your own children and your own parenting.

Now, could lesbians be excellent parents? Absolutely. I’m just not at all convinced by this study, and I would suggest that they certainly can be excellent mothers; they just can’t be fathers too.

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The Social Costs of Pornography

Do you know about the Witherspoon Institute’s The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations?

It might not be the most spirited of holiday presents, but we’d encourage you to check out the project’s site. The project began with a conference at Princeton hosted in 2008 by the Witherspoon Institute that sought to gather leading experts in several fields, including economics, psychology, sociology, and law, to present a rigorously argued overview of pornography in today’s society.

The debate regarding porn use is one that has massive consequences for the mental, emotional, and physical health of families and individuals. As Jean Bethke Elshtain (Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago, and Thomas and Dorothy Leavy Chair in the Foundations of American Freedom, Georgetown University) puts it,

I used to be much more of a “live and let live” person on this issue, years ago, in part because some of those who pushed for the censorship of pornography were so authoritarian. But the new technology has sent me in another direction…. I hope the analyses, the data, the arguments, and the images that flow forth from the pages of The Social Costs of Pornography will assist the reader in the future to avoid the pitfalls of unrestrained libertarianism, on the one hand, and unrestrained, top-down censoriousness, on the other. The “moral” need not be the cramped and cribbed “moralistic.” The point to be considered is: What sort of community is this? Is it reasonably decent and kind? Is it a fit place for human habitation, especially for the young? What happens to the most vulnerable among us? How do we ill-dignify the human body, and how do we forestall such affronts? These questions are not easy, but this learned volume helps push the debate forward in discerning ways.

These questions – “What sort of community is this? Is it reasonably decent and kind? Is it a fit place for human habitation, especially for the young? What happens to the most vulnerable among us? How do we ill-dignify the human body, and how do we forestall such affronts?” – are largely the topic of Harvard’s anti-porn week in February.

If you’d like to help organize anti-porn week in February, contact us at

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What is Marriage?

New Article on the Nature of Marriage and the Answers to the Nation’s most pressing Marriage Questions Published in our very own Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy

Public Discourse, the Witherspoon Institute, and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy released a major new article by Prof. Robert George, Sherif Girgis, and Public Discourse editor Ryan T. Anderson, in which the authors argue that society has strong reasons to recognize opposite-sex unions but not same-sex unions as civil marriages.

To give you an idea of the ground they cover, the table of contents can be found below.



PART ONE ……………………………………………………………………..248

A. Equality, Justice, and the Heart of the Debate …………………………………………..248

B. Real Marriage Is-And Is Only-The Union of Husband and Wife…………………..252

1. Comprehensive Union ………………………253

2. Special Link to Children ……………………255

3. Marital Norms…………………………………..259

C. How Would Gay Civil Marriage Affect You or Your Marriage? ………………..260

1. Weakening Marriage …………………………260

2. Obscuring the Value of Opposite-Sex Parenting As an Ideal ………………………..262

3. Threatening Moral and Religious Freedom ……………………………………………263

D. If Not Same-Sex Couples, Why Infertile Ones? ………………………………..265

1. Still Real Marriages……………………………266

2. Still in the Public Interest…………………..268

E. Challenges for Revisionists ……………………..269

1. The State Has an Interest in Regulating Some Relationships? ……….269

2. Only if They Are Romantic?………………271

3. Only if They Are Monogamous? ……….272

F. Isn’t Marriage Just Whatever We Say It Is? ……………………………………………274

PART TWO. …………………………………………………………………….275

A. Why Not Spread Traditional Norms to the Gay Community? ………………………….275

B. What About Partners’ Concrete Needs?……………………………………..280

C. Doesn’t the Conjugal Conception of Marriage Sacrifice Some People’s Fulfillment for Others’? …………….281

D. Isn’t It Only Natural? ………………………………284

E. Doesn’t Traditional Marriage Law Impose Controversial Moral and Religious Views on Everyone?………………………….285


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“The State of Our Unions” Released

The National Marriage Project has just released their periodic “State of Our Unions” study charting the status of marriage in the United States.

The most remarkable finding is that marriage is declining among moderately educated two-parent families, while marriage success is increasing among the more educated.  Some of the predominant findings/charts are below, pulled directly from the study:

  • “Divorce rates are up for moderately educated Americans, relative to those who are highly educated.”
  • “Marital quality is declining for the moderately educated middle but not for their highly educated peers.”
  • “The children of highly educated parents are now more likely than in the recent past to be living with their mother and father, while children with moderately educated parents are far less likely to be living with their mother and father.”

Figure 8. Percentage of 25–60-year-olds Believing Divorce Should be More Difficult to Obtain, by Education and Decade

Percentage of 25-60-year-olds Believing Divorce Should be More Difficult to Obtain, by Education and Decade

Figure 4. Percentage of Women 25–44 Years Old Who Have Ever Cohabited, by Education and Year

Percentage of Women 25-44 Years Old Who Have Ever Cohabited, by Education and Year

Figure 1. Percent Chance of Divorce or Separation Within 10 Years of First Marriage, 15–44 year-old Women, by Education and Year of Marriage

Percent Chance of Divorce or Separation Within 10 Years of First Marriage, 15-44 year-old Women, by Education and Year of Marriage

Ross Douthat of the New York Times commented on the shifting “factions” of the culture war in his article  “The Changing Culture War” (published today). He writes that the study highlights the marital problems arising among the moderately educated class (“the 58 percent of Americans with high school diplomas and often some college education, but no four-year degree”). While social observers divide the culture war into two camps – the working-class conservatives who religiously value marriage and liberal elites who fight for more flexible divorce laws and challenge the importance of stable marriages and traditional sexual norms – it seems that the educated elite now contains a large number of upwardly mobile religious conservatives, and the less educated groups are paying the debt of changing norms regarding sex and the family. While liberal elites challenge the sanctity of marriage and the importance of premarital abstinence and strict divorce laws, they seem to reap the benefits of marriage for themselves and their children, leaving social experimentation to others.

Douthat writes,

This decline is depressing, but it isn’t surprising. We’ve known for a while that America has a marriage gap: college graduates divorce infrequently and bear few children out of wedlock, while in the rest of the country unwed parenthood and family breakdown are becoming a new normal. This gap has been one of the paradoxes of the culture war: highly educated Americans live like Ozzie and Harriet despite being cultural liberals, while middle America hews to traditional values but has trouble living up to them.

But the Marriage Project’s data suggest that this paradox is fading. It’s no longer clear that middle America does hold more conservative views on marriage and family, or that educated Americans are still more likely to be secular and socially liberal.

That division held a generation ago, but now it’s diminishing. In the 1970s, for instance, college-educated Americans overwhelmingly supported liberal divorce laws, while the rest of the country was ambivalent. Likewise, college graduates were much less likely than high school graduates to say that premarital sex was “always wrong.” Flash forward to the 2000s, though, and college graduates have grown more socially conservative on both fronts (50 percent now favor making divorces harder to get, up from 34 percent in the age of key parties), while the least educated Americans have become more permissive.

There has been a similar change in religious practice. In the 1970s, college- educated Americans were slightly less likely to attend church than high school graduates. Today, piety increasingly correlates with education: college graduates are America’s most faithful churchgoers, while religious observance has dropped precipitously among the less-educated.

Douthat is not the only one who is taking notice of the study; the news media is paying attention. The Huffington Post reports that “while moderately-educated people traditionally mimicked the behavior of the upper class, they are now in the midst of a “historic reversal” insofar as they are mirroring the attitudes and actions of the lower class.” The Washington Times interviewed co-author Professor Wilcox from University of Virginia:

“Middle America has lost its religious edge,” wrote W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, looking at trends over the past 40 years…

Many highly educated Americans might have “progressive views on social issues in general,” said Mr. Wilcox, but “when it comes to their own lives, they are increasingly adopting a marriage mindset and acting and accordingly.”

It is important to note that most Americans do not fall in the most educated group, indicating that the decline in marriage, while not seen among the most educated groups, is not slowing. Progressive attitudes toward marriage, while expressed by the most educated, are lived out be the least. Of course, we’ve seen data in the past, especially from Kathryn Edin’s (et al) Fragile Families study, that shows the decline of marriage in low income communities, but the spread of marital decline to “moderately educated” groups has not been well-identified until now.

These interesting results might make us question how elitist attitudes toward marriage and sex have pervaded the less educated class while not affecting the elites themselves? Since we know that the lack of marriage is highly correlated with poverty, is the failure of marriage in lower educated and low-income areas a self-perpetuating cycle? Children from broken homes are less likely to achieve academic success, have healthy relationships, and otherwise reap the benefits of having a father and mother in the home.

As Douthat concludes, “While college-educated Americans battle over what marriage should mean, much of the country may be abandoning the institution entirely,” we should be wary of the decline of marriage among not only the least advantaged groups, but now also among the in-between group, which has traditionally mirrored the lifestyles of the more educated classes.

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Family Matters

When it comes to the debate over marriage and family in the United States today, much of the focus is on how each spouse could either benefit or suffer from the institution of marriage.

In this op-ed from the Boston Herald, the author illustrates how marriage functions for the benefit of society as a whole by serving as the foundation of the family. Stable families provide ideal conditions in which children can grow up. Data has shown that generally the most stable families are grounded in a healthy relationship between the mother and the father, who are married to each other. The author discusses how separating the institution of marriage from the process of bearing and raising children ignores a whole dimension of marriage, with negative consequences. This illogical departure from reality significantly affects the children themselves, and leads to a general decline of the welfare of society.


Father Absence

Every child in the United States deserves a mother and a father. Currently, father absence affects the lives of 24 million American children.

Unfortunately, circumstances arise that inhibit this, but we must make a demonstrable effort to connect children with their mothers and fathers as we face an overwhelming number of fatherless families, especially in low income communities. Male role models are necessary and often provide children with needed support, but the bottom line is that every child deserves a dad and mom.

President Obama has been a leader in stressing the importance of fatherhood, giving a particularly encouraging speech this summer. The White House posted both the video and the text of his speech online.

We can all agree that we’ve got too many mothers out there forced to do everything all by themselves.  They’re doing a heroic job, often under trying circumstances.  They deserve a lot of credit for that.  But they shouldn’t have to do it alone.  The work of raising our children is the most important job in this country, and it’s all of our responsibilities — mothers and fathers.  (Applause.)

Now, I can’t legislate fatherhood — I can’t force anybody to love a child.  But what we can do is send a clear message to our fathers that there is no excuse for failing to meet their obligations.  What we can do is make it easier for fathers who make responsible choices and harder for those who avoid those choices.  What we can do is come together and support fathers who are willing to step up and be good partners and parents and providers.

And that’s why today we’re launching the next phase of our work to promote responsible fatherhood — a new, nationwide Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative.  This is a call to action with cities and states, with individuals and organizations across the country — from the NFL Players Association to the National PTA, to everyday moms and dads — we’re raising awareness about responsible fatherhood and working to re-engage absent fathers with their families.

As part of this effort, we’ve proposed a new and expanded Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund.  And we plan to seek out and support the very best, most successful initiatives in our states and communities — those that are offering services like job training, or parenting skills classes, domestic violence prevention — all which help provide the kind of network of support for men, particularly those in vulnerable communities.

We’re also going to help dads who get caught up — we want to make sure that they’re caught up on child support payments and that we re-engage them in their children’s lives.  We’re going to support efforts to build healthy relationships between parents as well — because we know that children benefit not just from loving mothers and loving fathers, but from strong and loving marriages as well.  (Applause.)

We’re also launching a new transitional jobs initiative for ex-offenders and low-income, non-custodial fathers –(applause) — because these are men who often face serious barriers to finding work and keeping work.  We’ll help them develop the skills and experience they need to move into full-time, long-term employment, so they can meet their child support obligations and help provide for their families.

We’ve also been surfing the National Fatherhood Initiative website today, which highlights many problematic effects of father absence.

Why Do Dads Matter?

When dad doesn’t get involved, his children are two to three times more likely to:

  • Engage in drugs, alcohol, violent crimes, and other harmful behaviors
  • Drop out of school
  • Live in poverty
  • Face teenage pregnancy
  • Struggle with depression and even commit suicide

Father Factor in Poverty

  • Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. In 2002, 7.8 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 38.4 percent of children in female-householder families.
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Children’s Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2002, P200-547, Table C8. Washington D.C.: GPO, 2003. 

  • During the year before their babies were born, 43% of unmarried mothers received welfare or food stamps, 21% received some type of housing subsidy, and 9% received another type of government transfer (unemployment insurance etc.). For women who have another child, the proportion who receive welfare or food stamps rises to 54%.
    Source: McLanahan, Sara. The Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study: Baseline National Report. Princeton, NJ: Center for Research on Child Well-being, 2003: 13. 

  • A child with a nonresident father is 54 percent more likely to be poorer than his or her father.
    Source: Sorenson, Elaine and Chava Zibman. “Getting to Know Poor Fathers Who Do Not Pay Child Support.” Social Service Review 75 (September 2001): 420-434.
  • When compared by family structure, 45.9% of poor single-parent families reported material hardship compared to 38.6% of poor two parent families. For unpoor families who did not experience material hardship, 23.3% were single-parent families compared to 41.2% of two-parent families.
    Source: Beverly, Sondra G., “Material hardship in the United States: Evidence from the Survey of Income and Program Participation.” Social Work Research 25 (September 2001): 143-151.3

Father Factor in Maternal and Infant Health

  • Infant mortality rates are 1.8 times higher for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers.
    Source: Matthews, T.J., Sally C. Curtin, and Marian F. MacDorman. Infant Mortality Statistics from the 1998 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set. National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 48, No. 12. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2000.
  • Based on birth and death data for 217,798 children born in Georgia in 1989 and 1990, infants without a father’s name on their birth certificate (17.9 percent of the total) were 2.3 times more likely to die in the first year of life compared to infants with a father’s name on their birth certificate.
    Source: Gaudino, Jr., James A., Bill Jenkins, and Foger W. Rochat. “No Fathers’ Names: A Risk Factor for Infant Mortality in the State of Georgia, USA.” Social Science and Medicine 48 (1999): 253-265.
  • Unmarried mothers are less likely to obtain prenatal care and more likely to have a low birth-weight baby. Researchers find that these negative effects persist even when they take into account factors, such as parental education, that often distinguish single-parent from two-parent families.
    Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Report to Congress on Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing. Hyattsville, MD (Sept. 1995): 12.
  • A study of 3,400 middle schoolers indicated that not living with both biological parents quadruples the risk of having an affective disorder.
    Source: Cuffe, Steven P., Robert E. McKeown, Cheryl L. Addy, and Carol Z. Garrison. “Family Psychosocial Risk Factors in a Longitudinal Epidemiological Study of Adolescents.” Journal of American Academic Child Adolescent Psychiatry 44 (February 2005): 121-129.
  • Children who live apart from their fathers are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma and experience an asthma-related emergency even after taking into account demographic and socioeconomic conditions. Unmarried, cohabiting parents and unmarried parents living apart are 1.76 and 2.61 times, respectively, more likely to have their child diagnosed with asthma. Marital disruption after birth is associated with a 6-fold increase in the likelihood a children will require an emergency room visit and 5-fold increase of an asthma-related emergency.
    Source: Harknett, Kristin. Children’s Elevated Risk of Asthma in Unmarried Families: Underlying Structural and Behavioral Mechanisms. Working Paper #2005-01-FF. Princeton, NJ: Center for Research on Child Well-being, 2005: 19-27.

Father Factor in Education

  • Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
    Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics. Survey on Child Health. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1993.
  • Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of a student getting mostly A’s. This was true for fathers in biological parent families, for stepfathers, and for fathers heading single-parent families.
    Source: Nord, Christine Winquist, and Jerry West. Fathers’ and Mothers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools by Family Type and Resident Status. (NCES 2001-032). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2001.
  • Students living in father-absent homes are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school; 10 percent of children living with both parents have ever repeated a grade, compared to 20 percent of children in stepfather families and 18 percent in mother-only families.
    Source: Nord, Christine Winquist, and Jerry West. Fathers’ and Mothers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools by Family Type and Resident Status. (NCES 2001-032). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2001.

Father Factor in Child Abuse

  • Compared to living with both parents, living in a single-parent home doubles the risk that a child will suffer physical, emotional, or educational neglect.
    Source: America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. Table SPECIAL1. Washington, D.C.: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 1997.
  • The overall rate of child abuse and neglect in single-parent households is 27.3 children per 1,000, whereas the rate of overall maltreatment in two-parent households is 15.5 per 1,000.
    Source: America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. Table SPECIAL1. Washington, D.C.: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 1997.

Father Factor in Teen Pregnancy

  • Being raised by a single mother raises the risk of teen pregnancy, marrying with less than a high school degree, and forming a marriage where both partners have less than a high school degree.
    Source: Teachman, Jay D. “The Childhood Living Arrangements of Children and the Characteristics of Their Marriages.” Journal of Family Issues 25 (January 2004): 86-111. 

  • Separation or frequent changes increase a woman’s risk of early menarche, sexual activity and pregnancy. Women whose parents separated between birth and six years old experienced twice the risk of early menstruation, more than four times the risk of early sexual intercourse, and two and a half times higher risk of early pregnancy when compared to women in intact families. The longer a woman lived with both parents, the lower her risk of early reproductive development. Women who experienced three or more changes in her family environment exhibited similar risks but were five times more likely to have an early pregnancy.
    Source: Quinlan, Robert J. “Father absence, parental care, and female reproductive development.” Evolution and Human Behavior 24 (November 2003): 376-390. 

  • Researchers using a pool from both the U.S. and New Zealand found strong evidence that father absence has an effect on early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. Teens without fathers were twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to get pregnant as an adolescent.
    Source: Ellis, Bruce J., John E. Bates, Kenneth A. Dodge, David M. Ferguson, L. John Horwood, Gregory S. Pettit, and Lianne Woodward. “Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy.” Child Development 74 (May/June 2003): 801-821.

Father Factor in Crime

  • A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency.
    Source: Bush, Connee, Ronald L. Mullis, and Ann K. Mullis. “Differences in Empathy Between Offender and Nonoffender Youth.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 29 (August 2000): 467-478.
  • Adolescents, particularly boys, in single-parent families were at higher risk of status, property and person delinquencies. Moreover, students attending schools with a high proportion of children of single parents are also at risk.
    Source: Anderson, Amy L. “Individual and contextual influences on delinquency: the role of the single-parent family.” Journal of Criminal Justice 30 (November 2002): 575-587.
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