ERICKSON: Breaking up families

May 31, 2013 

Forty percent of American households are now headed by women as primary or sole bread winners. This is a dramatic shift in societal stability.

According to the Washington Post’s report on the Pew Research Center survey, “The share of married mothers who out-earn their husbands has nearly quadrupled, from 4 percent in 1960 to 15 percent in 2011. The share of single mothers who are sole providers for their families has tripled, from 7 to 25 percent over the same period.”

In a nation that is only just beginning a debate among feminists about when to have children and whether to have children and what to do once a family is started, it is somewhat refreshing to read the other data points from Pew. “Three-fourths of those surveyed say these mothers make raising children harder, and half worry that it’s bad for marriages. About half of those surveyed felt it was better if mothers stayed home with young children. In contrast, 8 percent thought it was better if fathers did.”

This recognition should give us hope. While feminists and those fixated on women and gender studies will roll their eyes and burn their bras in protest, the simple fact American feminists miss is that three quarters of the American public understands that yes, Virginia, there are traditional family roles. We, as a society, have disrupted those traditional roles to our peril. The decline of the two parent nuclear household, which society developed over a period of several thousand years as the most stable way to raise families, is collapsing.

Frankly, our government -- both political parties so Republicans, don’t cast your eye at the Democrats when your party helped it along -- has economically disincentivized marriage and children.

A single mom of two children making $29,000 a year and taking government benefits would have to earn $60,000 a year to offset the loss of government benefits. Add a husband and suddenly the burden of benefit losses becomes more extraordinary.

Likewise, a married couple today, by virtue of being married, faces a more complex income tax regime. The very nature of nurturing children means society should be incentivizing the two parent nuclear household, but instead, we have already moved on to gay marriage, premised, in part, on the fact that we should not deny gays a high divorce rate just like heterosexual couples.

No one in the gay marriage debate, however, has a good answer for one question: which is more dispensable -- a mother or a father? Almost all the studies showing it does not matter, have, not surprisingly, focused on highly educated, high income white lesbian couples. The most comprehensive study, which included men and minorities, paints a deeply disturbing picture of where society is headed.

The children of gay marriage have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, criminal history and sexual promiscuity leading to adverse health consequences. What is even more troubling is that children of single mothers statistically have the same problems.

None of this is to devalue or insult a single mother who works her rear end off to provide a loving and safe home for children. But it is a fact that a two parent, heterosexual nuclear household with a father as the primary breadwinner is not some conservative plot to return to the 1950s, but is in reality, the most stable environment to raise a child.

Three-quarters of Americans recognize moms as primary breadwinners makes raising children harder. But saying it enrages all of America’s loudest voices.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.

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