Tuesday, April 7, 2015
The decline of intact families. . . a sad prophecy
Fifty years ago this month, Moynihan, then a 37-year-old social scientist working in the Labor Department, wrote a report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” that was leaked in July. The crisis he discerned was that 23.6 percent of African American births were to unmarried women. Among the “tangle” of pathologies he associated with the absence of fathers was a continually renewed cohort of inadequately socialized adolescent males. This meant dangerous neighborhoods and schools where disciplining displaced teaching. He would later write: “A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority . . . that community asks for and gets chaos.”
Academic sensitivity enforcers and race-mongers denounced him as a racist who was “blaming the victim.” Today, 72 percent of African American children are born to single women, 48 percent of first births of all races and ethnicities are to unmarried women, and more than 3 million mothers under 30 are not living with the fathers of their children.
Read the Washington Post story recalling Pat Moynihan here...Will is correct. We have lied to ourselves and the sad truth is that now the problems of African Americans have become the problems of all of us. At the time Moynihan decried the decline of the African American family, 1 of every 4 births to that segment of our population was to an unwed mother. Now that statistic has tripled and half of all first births of all races is to an unwed mother. Intact families have become not merely a minority but an unusual option among the myriad of shapes for American families. Diversity glories in this idea of choice but in this case the children are suffering. The children are not only suffering during their childhood years but their whole adult lives are dramatically impacted by this phenomenon.
The breakdown of the family has become pandemic and it is not an African American problem but one shared by all ethnicities. Churches have reacted by strengthening the ministries provided to families but it does not replace a home in which mom and dad are both there for their children. The great lie that unhappy parents is worse on children than divorce has propagated the false notice that divorce is not bad but better than the other alternatives. As important as it is for churches to serve the families as they find them, nothing can replace the intact family. Churches have to learn to regain their voices when it comes to the sad state of broken families and wounded children. The strength of a nation lies in proportion to the weakness of its most fragile family. Churches must do more than survey the ruins and figure out how to help; churches need to take the lead in reestablishing the intact family as more than an oddity but the goal of everyone, for the sake of parents and for the good of their children!