With all the evidence in the massive Swedish report about the importance of having fathers present in the family, we should be very concerned about America’s children. Every year more than one million children are separated from one or the other parent by divorce, and many more are added to that total by unmarried biological parents, with some cohabiting for awhile and then simply deciding to stop living together. In 2006, some 1.6 million births (38.5 percent of all births) were to unmarried mothers. Some of these unmarried mothers will eventually marry the father of their child, but those who do not add to the rising number of children who are being raised without the presence of their biological father.
In fact, the United States leads the world in the percentage of mother-only families. In 2006, about 28 percent of all children were being raised in single-parent families, and children being raised in a mother-only family where the woman has never been married make up over 43 percent of all single-parent children.
The rapidly increasing numbers of single-mother and divorced mom households represent a tidal wave of change, all of it posing an increased risk to the children’s well being.
For centuries, we have viewed marriage as a sacred institution and the foundation for family –– a covenant between a man and a woman and God that is honored by people across the faith traditions. It is also a legal contract carrying both responsibilities and privileges. Marriage between a man and a woman is the essential foundation for “family” –– a group of related individuals bound together by the marriage covenant between a man and a women, birth, blood and/or adoption. Thus, family is a unique relationship characterized by love and commitment, rather than convenience and choice. It is no coincidence that as the nation has changed its definition of marriage and family to eliminate the necessity for fathers, it has also increased the number of vulnerable children.