children are battling rejection as families are increasingly falling apart. A
disturbing 55 percent of American children come from broken homes—and 55
percent of American teenagers’ parents have rejected each other, either through
divorce, separation, or choosing not to marry. So says the Index
of Belonging and Rejection.
Produced by Pat Fagan, Ph.D., of the Marriage and Religion Research
Institute, a project of Family Research Council, the Index defines an
intact family as a biological mother and father remaining legally married to each
other since before or around the time of their child’s birth.
As Fagan sees
it, American society is dysfunctional, characterized by a faulty understanding
of the male-female relationship. The solution, he says, is a compass
correction, learning again how to belong to each other when we have begotten
“If we fail in
this, as a nation we will continue to ‘define deviancy down,’
in the inimitable phrase of Daniel
Patrick Moynihan,” Fagan says. “The merging again of the realities of
father and mother with those of husband and wife will strengthen our children
and lead to immeasurable benefits for children, adults and society. These
include financial, educational, legislative, legal and judicial gains.”
According to the
Index’s analysis of the 2008 American Community Survey,
significant variations in the capacity to belong occur across regions and
within different ethnic groups. For example:
- 62 percent
of Asian-American teenagers live with both married parents.
- 54 percent
of white youth, a slight majority, live with both parents.
- 41 percent
of teenagers from multiracial family backgrounds live in intact families.
- 40 percent
of Hispanic teenagers nationwide live with both parents.
- 24 percent
of American Indian and Alaskan Native adolescents—fewer than one in four—have
lived with both married parents throughout childhood.
- 17 percent
of African-American youth—fewer than one in five—live with both married
differences, the Index varies across regional and socioeconomic lines.
Forty-one percent of adolescents living in the South grow up belonging to an
intact family. What’s more, large urban counties whose populations are less
educated, less affluent and contain high concentrations of minority groups tend
to have lower proportions of two-parent families.
children, communities and the nation as a whole suffer the consequences of the
culture of rejection in American homes,” Fagan says. “Children in broken
homes are more likely to be poor or welfare-dependent. They enjoy less academic
achievement and less social development, have more accidents and injuries, and
have worse mental health and more behavioral problems. These children also have
worse relationships with their parents and are more likely to reject their own
Fagan goes on to
say that the culture of rejection burdens communities with higher levels of
poverty, unemployment, welfare dependency, domestic abuse, child neglect,
delinquency, crime and crime victimization, drug abuse, academic failure and
school dropout, and unmarried teen pregnancy and childbearing.
“The United States experiences increased costs in
education, health care, mental health and the administration of justice,” he
concludes. “Our future as a country depends on the strength of our
families. Such strength is waning, which should give every American pause
for concern and motivation for action.”