[On 27 June the Dominion Post published the following article in defence of marriage and the family, by Bob McCoskrie, national director of the registered charity – Family First NZ]
On April 29, two billion people worldwide sat in front of their TV screens as they witnessed one of the most public weddings in history – the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
No-one asked why they were getting married, why they didn’t get a civil union instead, or said that the ceremony was pointless and unnecessary. It was simply the dream that many aspire to.
Just 20,900 couples got married in New Zealand last year – an all-time low. This has led to claims that a wedding ring is unnecessary to legitimise parenthood and sexual activity. Put simply: some think marriage doesn’t matter. On that basis, civil unions matter even less – only 273 couples got one last year.
But do declining rates mean that it doesn’t matter? Should we be concerned that marriage rates are at an all-time low? Yes, we should. Marriage matters. The weakening of marriage is one of the most important social issues we are facing.
A 2006 British report said that the breakdown of the traditional married family was at the root of teenagers being involved in violent acts, taking more drugs, drinking more, and having sex at a younger age.
But the report didn’t come from a “Right-wing think-tank’ or lobby group with a “moralist agenda”. It was from Britain’s most prominent and influential Left-leaning policy group – the Institute for Public Policy Research. It contradicted years of ideology that family structure doesn’t matter.
Cohabitation statistics in the 21st century released this year by British social reform organisation the Jubilee Centre found that married couples with children are 10 times more likely to stay together than de facto couples – and marriages last an average of four years longer if partners haven’t lived together before getting married.
According to the study, in 1993 70 per cent of couples who had children after they got married remained married at their child’s 16th birthday – increasing to 75 per cent in 2006. Yet just 36 per cent of cohabiting parents were together for their child’s 16th birthday in 1992 – reducing to just 7 per cent in 2006. This indicates that marriage has become a more stable family background for raising children.
According to Why Marriage Matters – a report co-authored by 13 leading social- science scholars, including Professor William Galston, a domestic policy adviser to the Clinton administration – parental divorce or non-marriage appears to increase children’s risk of school failure, the risk of suicide, psychological distress and, most significantly, delinquent and criminal behaviour.
For full published article go to:
Family First NZ website: www.familyfirst.org.nz