I believe in marriage – between one man and one woman, ideally for a lifetime. One of the greatest plagues on our society has been the breakdown of the family. Without question, children do best when raised in a healthy home by a mother and a father.
Over fifteen percent of Americans live in poverty – and the rate among children exceeds twenty percent. A 2009 study by the Brookings Institution found that Americans who do three things – finish high school, wait to get married until turning 21 and then have children, and work a full-time job, have only a 2 percent chance of winding up in poverty. Further, they have a 74 percent chance of ending up in the middle class. But failing to follow these three norms results in a 76 percent chance of winding up in poverty and only a 7 percent chance of being middle class. Those statistics are sobering.
We spend billions of dollars each year treating poverty’s symptoms/results, while virtually ignoring its root cause. Why? Political correctness? Fear of incorrectly being labeled uninformed? Fear of offending someone? We like the feeling of having our heads in the sand?
What if we started sharing the Brookings Institution’s study – in schools, at church, in our civic groups, etc.? What if every youth in America was required to memorize those statistics (put it on the SOLs)? What if such thinking became so engrained in our culture that almost everyone heeded its warning?
How long can we continue to ignore these facts? We are so afraid to establish standards. But if we keep repeating the same patterns, we obviously get the same results. Something has to change.
Incredibly, for two of the most important roles in our lives – that of spouse and parent – we receive little training. And while it is not the government’s role to provide such training, we need to encourage civic and faith-based organizations to be much, much, much more intentional and proactive in training our children, young adults, and yes, even older adults. As the family goes, so goes America.