Family breakdowns including divorce, unwed mothers, and absentee fathers are costing millions to society according to a new study.
A senior family division judge for England and Wales, Justice Paul Coleridge, accused mothers and fathers who fail to commit to each other of engaging in a game of "pass the partner" that has left millions of children "scarred for life."
Seem dramatic? Maybe so, but it is true. According to the US Census Bureau, 29.1% of women who had a birth in 2004 were not married and that half of such unmarried mothers were living below the poverty level. This compared with 12% of married women at the poverty level. Too often, the failure to commit leaves children without a father, without stability, and without money.
And who picks up the tab? You and me. The societal cost of unwed mothers and divorced families is estimated to cost taxpayers at least $112 billion per year. A 1% reduction in family fragmentation would save taxpayers an estimated $1.1 billion per year.
So what can you do? Lots. Work on your own relationships. If you have children looking at getting married, urge them to go for some pre-marital counseling. There are lots of courses available through continuing education, churches and agencies. Read about relationships, there are many good books that take you step by step in building a long term relationship.
Contact your local and state government to offer incentives to those applying for marriage licenses to obtain pre-marital counseling. Many states are now doing this to decrease the divorce rate. And make it clear to your own children that "drive through relationships" are not what families are all about.
Barbara Bartlein is a relationship expert and author of Why Did I Marry You Anyway? Overcoming the Myths That Hinder a Happy Marriage. For more relationship tips, please visit: Marriage Help.