November 25, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Having announced her antipathy for marriage and then attempted to back it up by resort to weasel words and straw-man arguments, Ellen Friedrichs stumbles on (Everyday Feminism, 11/19/16). Her next crutch is the often debunked and obviously fallacious claim that children of single parents don’t suffer the many deficits they do because of the lack of two parents, but the lack of money.
Of course poverty is a real problem for anyone and there’s no doubt that children who live in poverty tend to exhibit many of the same problems as kid of single parents. To an inquiring mind, that might suggest something, but Friedrichs’ is anything but an inquiring mind. Like so many who oppose kids having real relationships with their fathers, Friedrichs long ago decided on her narrative and she’s not about to let facts change it.
Does it occur to her that many, many of the poor are poor because they’re single? Maybe it’s the simple arithmetic required to grasp the concept that threw Friedrichs. Who knows? But whatever the case, it’s easy enough for the rest of us to understand that two adults living together typically live better than one.
That’s because just about anyone can earn more than the incremental cost of his/her presence in the household. If a woman lives alone, it costs her X to make ends meet. If another adult comes to live with her, their combined cost of living isn’t 2X, but something significantly less. That incremental cost isn’t much, and it’s far less than essentially anyone working full time earns. In short, two people living together are far less likely to live in poverty than is a single person.
Unsurprisingly, facts bear this out. Single mothers are the most likely of all people in American society to live in poverty. A whopping 33% of single mothers do so, which for the most part means their kids do too. The Census Bureau reports that single mothers earn just $23,000 per year on average. Single fathers do better, bringing in about $36,000 per year on average.
Tellingly, both those figures are well below the median for men and women generally. For women of marital age, the median income is about $40,000 per year and for men, it’s a little over $50,000 as of 2014. In short, single parents, be they male or female tend to earn well below the median for their sex. There are numerous reasons for that, but one is that caring alone for children demands time and effort that saps a parent’s earning ability.
To be blunt, single parenthood and poverty are much the same phenomenon. And even if Friedrichs were correct to claim that poverty is the only problem suffered by single parents, the quickest and easiest way to solve it is to add an adult to the family. Typically, that’s done by marriage.
Now, I’m sure it would be expecting too much to ask Friedrichs to read a book on her chosen subject, but if she were so inclined, she could look at Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur’s Growing Up with a Single Parent. It describes not only that children of single parents tend to do worse than those with two, but how that plays out. The lack of money is naturally a big part of the problem, but there are others. For one thing, fathers and mothers tend to parent differently and the synergy of the two is important for child well-being. Plus, removing one parent denies the child not only his/her parent, but that parent’s extended family plus all their connections to the wider world. That loss of what McLanahan and Sandefur call “social capital” shorts the child for life.
Friedrichs’ antipathy for marriage is to a great extent an antipathy for men. Does she notice her own misandry and, yes, racism? I doubt it. Here’s a quotation she cites with approval:
Women in [poor] communities view commitment to a man who runs up the credit card bill, cycles in and out of jobs, or deals drugs on the side as more of a threat than an asset to the ability to care for children.”
If that’s what you think of poor men, then avoiding them makes sense. But is that really a fair description of them? And is it the real reason poor women, particularly poor black women don’t marry?
Alas for Friedrichs, to learn the answers to those questions requires more reading, a task she’s plainly not up to. But the massive database known as the Fragile Families and Child Well-being study demonstrates the exact opposite about most poor men. Kathryn Edin, among others, has done yeoman duty in revealing the true motivations of those men. It turns out that even the poorest and least educated among them passionately want a relationship with their children and to provide for them. One of the main obstacles to their doing so is their child’s mother who often marginalizes him in his child’s life. The Responsible Fatherhood survey of fatherhood programs I reported on here, here and here reveal the same.
Besides, over 70% of black children are born to single mothers. Does Friedrichs really believe that 70% of black men of reproductive age are people who “run[s] up the credit card bill, cycle[s] in and out of jobs, or deal[s] drugs on the side.” If so, how does she explain the fact that such a description is (a) factually incorrect and (b) shockingly racist?
Needless to say, she doesn’t.
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#marriage, #fathers, #poverty, #misandry, #racism