Sunday, July 1, 2007

Survey Says?...

Here's an AP story that's just got me utterly confused:

NEW YORK (AP) -- The percentage of Americans who consider children ''very important'' to a successful marriage has dropped sharply since 1990, and more now cite the sharing of household chores as pivotal, according to a sweeping new survey.

Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting found that children had fallen to eighth out of nine on a list of factors that people associate with successful marriages -- well behind ''sharing household chores,'' ''good housing,'' ''adequate income,'' a ''happy sexual relationship'' and ''faithfulness.''

In a 1990 World Values Survey, children ranked third in importance among the same items, with 65 percent saying children were very important to a good marriage. Just 41 percent said so in the new Pew survey.
Chore-sharing was cited as very important by 62 percent of respondents, up from 47 percent in 1990.

The survey also found that, by a margin of nearly 3-to-1, Americans say the main purpose of marriage is the ''mutual happiness and fulfillment'' of adults rather than the ''bearing and raising of children.''

The survey's findings buttress concerns expressed by numerous scholars and family-policy experts, among them Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of
Rutgers University's National Marriage Project.

''The popular culture is increasingly oriented to fulfilling the X-rated fantasies and desires of adults,'' she wrote in a recent report. ''Child-rearing values -- sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity -- seem stale and musty by comparison.''

Virginia Rutter, a sociology professor at Framingham (Mass.) State College and board member of the Council on Contemporary Families, said the shifting views may be linked in part to America's relative lack of family-friendly workplace policies such as paid leave and subsidized child care.

''If we value families ... we need to change the circumstances they live in,'' she said, citing the challenges faced by young, two-earner couples as they ponder having children.

The Pew survey was conducted by telephone from mid-February through mid-March among a random, nationwide sample of 2,020 adults. Its margin of error is 3 percentage points.
Among the scores of questions in the survey, many touched on America's high rate of out-of-wedlock births and of cohabitation outside of marriage. The survey noted that 37 percent of U.S. births in 2005 were to unmarried women, up from 5 percent in 1960, and found that nearly half of all adults in their 30s and 40s had lived with a partner outside of marriage.
According to the survey, 71 percent of Americans say the growth in births to unwed mothers is a ''big problem.'' About the same proportion -- 69 percent -- said a child needs both a mother and a father to grow up happily.

Breaking down the responses, the survey found some predictable patterns --
Republicans and older people were more likely to give conservative answers that Democrats and younger adults. But the patterns in regard to race and ethnicity were more complex.

For example, census statistics show that blacks and Hispanic are more likely than whites to bear children out of wedlock. Yet according to the survey, these minority groups are more inclined than whites to place a high value on the importance of children to a successful marriage.

The survey found that more than 80 percent of white adults have been married, compared with about 70 percent of Hispanics and 54 percent of blacks. Yet blacks were more likely than whites and Hispanics to say that premarital sex is always or almost always morally wrong.
Among those who have ever been married, blacks (38 percent) and whites (34 percent) were more likely than Hispanics (23 percent) to have been divorced.

Delving into one of the nation's most divisive social issues, the survey found that 57 percent of public opposes allowing gays and lesbians to marry. However, opinion was almost evenly divided on support for civil unions that would give same-sex couples many of the same rights as married couples.

Asked about the trend of more same-sex couples raising children, 50 percent said this is bad for society, 11 percent said it is good, and 34 percent said it made little difference.

On the Net:
Pew Research Center:

Y'know, I have to wonder...ummm, I tell ya what, if you all would care to participate, I'd like to hear from you on what you believe some of the problems with this story are. I have a couple of my own ideas about why the survey results came out as they did, but I wonder what your thoughts are. And I can't wait to read 'em.



Edmund Schrag said...

At first, I was thinking, "Yah? So?" But by the end I got the feeling that the author was just saying, "Look, America, your culture is on the outs. Just shut up and accept the inevitable already."

I mean, seriously, what are we supposed to do with this deluge of statistics? Did the author really have a point? It can't be a good news piece, because it's from the AP in New York. And most of he verbiage was very negive.

Call Me Mom said...

"lies, d*mned lies, and statistics"

Looks like the MSM has been doing it's best to pander to the "me" generation one more time.

It's troubling to see the devaluation of children. Children are an investment in the future. They are also hard to have and raise. They are the biggest and best challenge of any lifetime.

Terry Morris said...

Thanks Mom and Edmund for your thoughts. I had hoped to get a few more responses, but it wasn't to be I guess.

My thoughts as I read the story the second time were basically these:

First, anyone who thinks that as a general rule children rank eighth out of nine factors involved in having a successful marriage, must have a very inadequate understanding of what a 'successful marriage' is.

I've said it before, and it bears repeating, if I wanted to make a million dollars, I wouldn't ask a welfare case how to do it. Likewise, I wouldn't ask someone who'd been divorced several times about how to have a successful marriage. Obviously they don't know how! And they ain't learning much by their mistakes.

'Sharing household chores,' 'good housing,''adequate income;' these are ranked among the highest contributing factors to a 'successful marriage?' In other words, people (at least a majority of those polled) now reject the notion that there is a lot of good that results from suffering adversity. No wonder we have such a high divorce rate (re: unsuccessful marriages) in this country. Most of the successful marriages I know of recognize and own that it was through adverse conditions primarily that their marriage bonds were strengthened to the point of inseparability, "till death do they part." All that other...stuff -good housing, and whatnot- came later.

Furthermore, don't these statistics just seem to fly in the face of the traditional marriage vows promised by the two parties to one-another at their marriage ceremonies?

Another thing that concerns me about the 'concerned experts,' is that they falsely assume that the results of the survey are linked in part to a lack of concern for providing 'family-friendly' workplaces that fail to impliment paid leave and subsidized child care to their employees. Here's another prime example of the fallacious reasoning that 'good' external policies lead to good internal qualities.

And I could say much, much more...

Michael Tams said...

Hey, what about me? I'm just a little slow, that's all! Been bogged down, but give me a second to catch up!

Whew! Where were we? Oh, yeah...

We're at a point where the contract (here, marriage) is no longer valued as it was in American society. This is, I assure you, across the board. I've recently had the unpleasant experience of learning first-hand how little people value honesty, their word, or the moral obligations of contracts. No surprise to me that marriage is treated the same way.

We've become a society of people who want to take the easy way out; to take whatever advantage we can, whenever we can. Am I guilty of this too? Sure, I can't imagine that it hasn't even touched my life, although not to the extent that I see it in others.

I was watching TV and one of those "home video" shows was on - this probably goes back a couple years now. Anyway, this couple is exchanging vows, and they get to the point "for richer or for poorer" and they say "for richer, or for still richer" or something like that. You know, I sat back and shook my head. If that's what you think it's going to be like, boy are you going to be disappointed.

And on a personal note, the two children I have are a blessing from God and the best things I have ever done!


Terry Morris said...

MT, thanks for the comments. And I assure you I understand about the lack of time.

Your thoughts about how you've been impacted by this trend personally got me to thinking...

I highly doubt that a single one of us could say in good conscience, and in all honesty, that we've somehow escaped the effects of such an apparently pervasive trend in our society. And if we did make that claim, most of us would simply be lying to ourselves.

I think the more honest assessment of the situation, and our part in it, is that some of us have managed somehow to put a finger on it and are seeking legitimate ways of rectifying the home and in personal ways first.

As far as my children go, and their importance to our successful marriage, I have for a long time now, and forever shall always recur to that verse of Scripture which states:

"Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine; thy children as olive plants 'round about thy table."