Do married couples really make better parents?

Feb 8 • Featured, Uncategorized • 1164 Views • 16 Comments on Do married couples really make better parents?

Today, Iain Duncan Smith is going to make a speech where he declares that ‘stable families tend to be associated with better outcomes for children.’

What he means is that he believes that it is better for children to be raised in homes where the parents are married, rather than by single parents or couples who have chosen not to marry. Ultimately those who haven’t married will be penalised in terms of tax and benefits.

Personally I find the notion that married parents provide more stable family environments antiquated and laughable. I came from a perfectly nice, middle class ‘broken home’ – in that my parents separated when I was 15; and to be honest, my sister and I were happier when they split up, because the rows stopped. I know lots of married couples whose children would be better off if their parents separated.

In one family, I can see the kids flinch when their mum and dad, who have been married for over 10 years, start to bicker. That makes me incredibly sad, but it also confirms my belief that a piece of paper and wedding bands do not make you better at raising children.

Ultimately, it is the values you are instilled with that shape you as an individual. Children need support and guidance whether their parents are married, living together or single.

written by Liz Jarvis


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16 Responses to Do married couples really make better parents?

  1. sara says:

    As a child of a broken home and a married for 12 years mum I have seen both sides. Me and hubby work as a team (well try to) and show our kids that we love each other. Not sure that "marriage" is the key to it all but it has sealed out commitment. My parents married 16 years and argued every day and it was hell! So its about team work more than the institution.

  2. Sarah Goodwin says:

    This is a real favorite of mine. I cannot believe that anyone today believes a piece of paper makes a couple commit better or somehow more properly. I have been with my partner for 18 years we have seen friends in ugly divorces and have been through tough times ourselves. But we are commited, we love each other and marriage would not change a thing. Besides i quite enjoy telling people we are not married and seeing the suprised look on their face.

  3. Michelle says:

    I come from a separated family and it was far better emotionally after my parents separated because they had an unhappy marriage. An unhappy marriage damages te children far more than being brought up by a single parent family that I do believe that a happily married couple is far better for the children. I am in a position to offer my children more opportunities than my mother was able and that is no disrespect to her it just wasn’t an option. I finished 6th form with 6 good a levels and an a/s level (never managed to get the a2 part of maths) but I got these whilst working two jobs ar 16. When I finished i had amazing offers to go to university but it was not an option, I needed to work to help support the rest of the family. As a two parent family we are changing the options we had so our children have more options open to them

  4. Hannah says:

    I get really angry about how the government views married couples. I’ve been with my partner for nine years and we have a toddler together. We might get married in the future, we might not. But it’s not something that will change our relationship in anyway – we’ve already committed by buying a house and having a child together, so in our minds we are as committed as we can be. Our daughter has an incredibly stable, loving family life – what difference would a ring and a party make to that? It does infuriate me that we’re a committed, stable couple but we’re branded less adequate parents than married couples, many of whom have been together for shorter periods and are yet to go through life’s ups and downs together. Plus, as you point out, we get fewer tax benefits. I know many other couples like us and I think it’s time these old-fashioned attitudes were revised.

  5. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    Absolutely. The government are living on cloud cuckoo land. They need to wake up and bring the country into the 21st century and leave Margaret Thatcher behind. My sister got married "because" she wanted to start a family. Her now-ex-husband is catholic and insisted on being married if they were to have children. She was against it but went along with it and ended up resenting him, leaving him when their daughter was 2. I wonder if these views, respecfully religious, are being influenced on our neanderthal government. Amy’s biological father and I didn’t marry. We weren’t really happy but we didn’t see the point in a piece of paper. I married my husband because I wanted to, not because I thought it would be better for claiming benefits and sponging off the state, which is, in effect, what this government is encouraging the country to do. While in another breath, making cuts like there’s no tomorrow, increasing unemployment, making it more and more difficult for people to live a normal life. They are causing more damage to this country than they realise and this is just another idiotic idea that will send the country further down the spiral of debt, unemployment and, in the long run, divorced couples. CJ xx

  6. Bumbling says:

    I come from a very happily married background. It was a great way to be brought up. I think marriage can be a great institution, when it’s used appropriately. I don’t think it’s the be all and end all… Unfortunately Moo won’t have the same advantage, if it is that, as her dad and I have recently separated. What she will have is adults who love her and who give her consistent messages. In her case, it’s her mum and dad, and her grandparents and aunts and uncles. For others it may not be this full complement. But so long as there are adults to love and care and act in the best interests of the children, they’ll be OK. The problem with all the stats etc is that they don’t show the full picture – the full socio-economic background of each of those families. There are many things that affect a child’s outcome. Marriage is a minor element of that.

  7. Mummy's Little Monkey says:

    I’m not married and have two children to my partner of 10 years, and my kids have turned out just fine. Oi! Put that fire out, and untie your sister now! Sorry about that… where was I?

  8. HerMelness Speaks says:

    Have just read the article. Two points. I wonder where that leaves previously married parents who are left to raise children alone after their spouse dies? Also, quote …"We do a disservice to society if we ignore the evidence which shows that stable families tend to be associated with better outcomes for children.

  9. Lols says:

    This is a really interesting topic! I’m happily married, but one of the main reasons for us marrying when we did, was because we had one child & another on the way. I felt better having a ring on my finger when I took the children out & when I was pregnant. Should that matter? No it shouldn’t, but it seems to in some areas and partly for ‘an easy life’ (rightly or wrongly) we got married. BUT, we would have married at some point anyway. Call me naive & old-fashioned, but I do want to be with my husband for life and I want everyone to know that’s how I feel by marrying him. My parents divorced when I was 16 and I was glad. There is no point in anyone being together who doesn’t want to be, it benefits no-one, least of all any children involved. If people marry, I believe they should do it with the best intentions and because THEY (only they) believe it is the right thing for them. Everyone’s different. I definitely don’t think by being a married parent it should automatically give you more rights, finance or government support. If you’re a parent, you’re a parent – end of, and I don’t like that marriage has become something of a government endorsed business arrangement. In my opinion, being a married or not doesn’t make you a better parent. What makes you a good parent is how you live your life WITH your children. "Stability" can come in all different forms and a marriage does not automatically provide it. What is also particularly annoying about IDS speaking about this now, is that there are surely far more important things the Government should be concentrating on. Being married isn’t going to help my husband get a job when he’s made redundant in March, it isn’t going to help us when our nursery closes at the end of the year, it isn’t going to reduce shopping prices etc etc – and actually these are the things that MATTER to me!

  10. Tara says:

    Utter rot. A piece of paper does not ‘make’ a stable home or a sterling parent. I married my other half after being together for 10 years because we were going to start a family. That was just us; we wanted to do it. Doesn’t change the sort of parents we are though. We’d have been exactly the same if we’d remained unmarried. As as HerMeiness says above, what about those parents who are single through no choice of their own? For me it just shows how completely out of touch the government is with the ‘real’ world. And by the way, some of the comments on that Telegraph piece make me VERY STABBY! "Face it ‘co-habitors’. If you’ve decided to live and have kids together, but you aren’t married, then at least one of you has doubts. You’re lying to yourselves" – *rolls eyes*

  11. Luckylauraq says:

    A happily married couple who love each other, share values, communicate well and have fun together probably do make better parents, but only better than an unhappy married couple who argue, don’t communicate etc. The parenting success does not lie in the possession of a wedding band. I am a married mother of one with number due due in April and I chose to get married because I wanted to share the same surname as my husband and potential children but would have been exactly the same mother had I not.

  12. lexie martin says:

    Well said. I used to go to bed with a pillow over my head so I couldn’t hear my parents arguing. The divorce was a relief, and I now have a great relationship with both of them. I am not married, and yet my partner and I are very much in love and our children are brought up in the same stable and supportive environment they would be were we married. As it happens we plan to get married one day – but it makes no difference to our ability as parents and I for one will be continuing to penalise IDS by never ever voting for him and his backwards party. Lexie

  13. Sharon says:

    If you take the statement you’ve printed in red

  14. Camila says:

    The comments above are very interesting. My parents divorced when I was 9 and I am so glad they did! I am married but does that make me a better parent than my friends that are ‘co-habiting’, ( i love that phrase!) or my single parent friends or my sister? I don’t think so. I think it means I have a bit more help at home with manual diy jobs! A child gains their security, stability and moral guidance from their parents, regardless if there is 1 or 2, hetrosexual couple, same sex couple, married or not. Camila http;//

  15. Jessica says:

    It’s so refreshing to read everyone’s comments here! I get so fed up hearing the "married couples make better parents" rhetoric sometimes. My partner and I are in a loving relationship with one child but we can’t get married as we are gay! And I must say that everyone else treats us like any other family out there…I’m so happy the world is progressing and I really hope our children don’t have to face discrimination in any form – they can feel free to marry (or not) anyone they choose! 🙂

  16. Michelle says:

    I was brought up in a ‘broken home’ and I think the key is stability rather than the amount of parents in the house – my mum was everything we needed and so my upbringing was stable despite the fact my environment was actually very UNstable ie several times of moving homes and schools. Michelle


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