CIVITAS is one of the best examples of an organisation which represents the New Right View of the Family, and the decline of the nuclear family and increase the the number of single parent families is one of the social trends it focuses on.
In one of it’s documents, entitled ‘Experiments in Fatherless Living‘ CIVITAS focuses on the consequences of rising number of single parent families for both children and society. Just some of the problems they single out include the fact that:
- Are poorer – one mothers are twice as likely as two-parent families to live in poverty at any one time (69% of lone mothers are in the bottom 40% of household income versus 34% of couples with children).
- Are more likely to have mental health problems – At the age of 33, divorced and never-married
- were 2.5 times more likely than married mothers to experience high levels of psychological distress.
- may have more problems interacting with their children. Young people in lone-parent families were 30% more likely than those in two-parent families to report that their parents rarely or never knewwhere they were
Children from Lone Parent families
- Among children aged five to fifteen years in Great Britain, those from lone-parent families were twice as likely to have a mental health problem as those from intact two-parent families (16% versus 8%).
- Have more trouble in school – After controlling for other demographic factors, children from lone-parent households were 3.3 times more likely to report problems with their academic work, and 50% more likely to report difficulties with teachers
- Analysis of 35 cases of fatal abuse which were the subject of public inquiries between 1968 and 1987 showed a risk for children living with their mother and an unrelated man which was over 70 times higher than it would have been for a child with two married biological parents.
- Are more likely to run away from home – children from lone-parent families are twice as likely to run away from home as those from two-birth-parent families (14% compared to 7%).
Criticisms of the New Right view of single parents
This text, Charles Murray and The Underclass (especially from page 62 – ‘The Focus on Single Mothers’) provides some useful criticisms of the above statistics – As follows:
‘Murray’s thesis may have been exaggerated for effect, so as to get his main point over, but making scapegoats of single mothers for society’s ills does not help us to approach the serious issues raised by the growing proportion of one-parent families.
This growth has to be seen in the context of changes in social attitudes across the wider society. We live in an age when over 90 per cent of those aged between 18 and 34 do not consider pre-marital sex to be particularly wrong, and when divorce and cohabitation are increasing and are being seen as acceptable at all levels of society.
We may want to seek ways to counter these developments at an individual level, but is not easy to see how we can turn back the clock to a less permissive age—short of a massive religious revival or draconian laws which attempt to control private behaviour between adults.’
NB – It’s not just single parents that CIVITAS have got it in for – in their ‘The facts behind cohabitation Fact Sheet‘ they provide more misleading statistics on how marriage is better than cohabitation