Nearly half (46 percent) of American fathers under the age of 45 say they have at least one child who was born out of wedlock. Yes, you read that right – almost half. I was shocked when I read that statistic. When you consider that the share of children in the U.S. born to unwed mothers went from five percent in 1960 to 41 percent in 2008, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Here’s a sampling of some of the statistics that made the news in the recently released Pew Research Center study entitled: “Tale of Two Fathers.”
- Twenty-seven percent of fathers with kids 18 or younger live away from at least one of their children. That number is twice the rate of the number of fathers who lived apart from their children in the 1960s.
- Black and Hispanic fathers were much more likely to have children out of wedlock, at 72 percent and 59 percent respectively. This compares with 37 percent of for white men.
- Education is also a factor with 13 percent of fathers with at least a bachelor’s degree having children outside of marriage, 51 percent of those with high school diplomas, and 65 percent of those who didn’t finish high school fathering children outside of marriage.
- In the age bracket of 20-24, three-fourths of those fathers had children outside of marriage, while in the 35-44 age range, that number stands at 36 percent.
- College-educated men tend to marry and get better jobs and are more involved with their children than less educated men.
- On a positive note, of the married fathers who are involved in their children’s lives, the number of hours a week that these fathers are involved with their children has gone up from 2.6 hours in 1960 to 6.5 hours per week today. But sadly, on average, the number of fathers involved with their children grows smaller with each passing year.
U.S. Pres. Obama has written of not having his father in his life and has stated that it is “a hole in child’s life that no government can fill.” We absolutely agree and so does the empirical data. But why then are there so many people, especially on the political left, intent on encouraging sexual relations outside of marriage, encouraging notoriously unstable cohabiting relationships by implementing policies like domestic partnerships, promoting no-fault divorce, and putting in place policies that effectively dismantle marriage. Why do we continually hear in popular culture and in the media claims that marriage doesn’t matter or that same-sex relationships – “two moms” or “two dads” – work just as well for children as a married mom AND dad. There is such a huge disconnect in all of this!
Fathers matter. Fathers matter… Children need their father married to their mother and they need them to have a long and successful marriage. The dire statistics mentioned above need to be reversed. There are too many children with “holes in their lives” and the government can never create enough social programs to fill the gap. Let’s promote the importance of fathers every day, not just on that special day in June.