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  1. #1
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    Marriage better for children

    Even amongst those who have abandoned traditional notions of family and marriage, few would disagree that divorce has a negative impact on children. However, I have found that these same "progressive" people hold that there is little difference between a married couple and a father and mother who are simply in a "committed relationship" and cohabiting. A point I have often seen made against those of us who hold to such archaic notions that children do best with married parents.

    A study I have just ran across shows otherwise:

    Controlling for background differences, children living with a stepfather spent 4.8 fewer hours, children living with an unmarried biological father spent 3.7 fewer hours, and children living with a cohabiting father spent 3.6 fewer hours engaged with their residential father than children living with two married biological parents. All three groups spent significantly less time with fathers than children of married biological fathers, and the latter three groups are not statistically different from each other. On available time, the difference in father time between children in married biological and married nonbiological (stepfather) families is a significant 4.6 hours, whereas neither the unmarried biological or unmarried nonbiological father’s time differs from that of the married biological father. Examining other types of involvement, children participate in significantly fewer activities with stepfathers and partners of their mother than biological fathers. Similarly, stepfathers and mothers’ cohabiting partners rate themselves lower on warmth. The warmth of unmarried biological fathers also differs from that of married biological fathers in the two-parent, two-child subsample. The results so far do not clearly support either the biological or sociological perspectives, although the results are most consistent with the argument that the biological relationship with the child determines fathering patterns. Married nonbiological fathers (stepfathers) spent less time with their stepchildren than married biological fathers on all the parenting measures. Unmarried nonbiological fathers spent less time with their residential children in activities and are less warm than unmarried biological fathers. The differences by marital status in the expected direction are, first, unmarried biological fathers spend significantly less time engaged than married biological fathers with their children, and, second, they are less warm. Surprisingly, married stepfathers are less available than unmarried partners to their partners’ children. This may reflect the fact that cohabiting fathers’ available time may be inflated by the inclusion of time of other nonrelatives.


    ~SANDRA L. HOFFERTH and KERMYT G. ANDERSON (2003) Are All Dads Equal? Biology Versus Marriage as a Basis for Paternal Investment MARRIAGE AND FAMILY

    So of the factors studied: time spent with the father, available time, and warmth, by far Married biological fathers outscored all others, including cohabiting biological parents. What is interesting, as noted in the paper is that stepfathers have less "available time." This is significant enough that it can account for a lot of the lack of time spent with the child. On the other hand a cohabiting biological father may have the same available time as a married biological father, but that cohabiting father still spends a lot less time and is less warm towards the child.

    According to the popular myth, it shouldn't make a difference. Its not a matter of biology, both are the biological parents and both are present in the home.

    As the involvement of the father in a child's life has been shown time and again to have vast effects on the welfare, development, and emotional well-being of the child, then children with MARRIED parents clearly offer a greater advantage over their peers with unmarried cohabiting biological parents.

    Therefore, the traditional institution of marriage proffers the best environment for children and therefore should be supported socially against alternative lifestyles.
    I typically cite original research papers and reviews that are available only to a personal or institutional subscriptional. If you wish a PDF copy of the papers I cite, send me a request.

  2. #2
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    But with all of these statistical studies, I have to wonder if they aren't putting the cart before the horse.

    For instance, if a certain guy is not as involved in his relationship with his live-in girlfriend and her children as the average married man might be with his wife and step-children, then he's also not as inclined to get married.

    It's not the lack of marriage that leads to lack of involvement but the lack of involvement that leads to lack of marriage. And therefore the solution (assuming there even needs to be one) is not marriage but more involvement (which isn't going to automatically happen if they are married if the guys doesn't feel strongly enough to get married in the first place).

  3. #3
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    I agree with mican.

    A person who decides to get formally married is likely to be someone who has a stronger take on family values than someone who chooses a de facto relationship instead. If such a person were to be forced to get married or if they got married for purely financial reasons (as opposed to appreciating the meaning of the "family unit") then this wouldn't magically make them a warmer parent who'd spend more time with the kids. Would it?
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

    "If you could rationalize with Religious people there would be no more Religious people" -Gregory House

  4. #4
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Married nonbiological fathers (stepfathers) spent less time with their stepchildren than married biological fathers on all the parenting measures.

    Surprisingly, married stepfathers are less available than unmarried partners to their partners’ children.

    ~SANDRA L. HOFFERTH and KERMYT G. ANDERSON (2003) Are All Dads Equal? Biology Versus Marriage as a Basis for Paternal Investment MARRIAGE AND FAMILY

    Interesting study, but there are always exceptions to the rule, and I would just like to say that the above conclusions about married stepfathers just don't apply to my second husband.

    He has been more of a dad to my 2 children than my first husband, their biological father, ever was.

    I divorced my children's bio father because he was extremely physically abusive and a chronic alcoholic.
    He never seemed to have much time for his children.

    I wanted a better life for me and for my children, and I found something special with my second husband.

    My kids don't think of him as a stepfather.
    They think of him only as their dad, because he is the only true "dad" they have ever known.

    Just my two cents....
    "As long as I have a voice, I will speak for those who have none".

  5. #5
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Define a "stepfather". Is a father who adopts a kid and raises the kid from infancy, lumped together with the father who marries the kid's mother after the kid is twelve years old?
    Trendem

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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    Is a father who adopts a kid and raises the kid from infancy, lumped together with the father who marries the kid's mother after the kid is twelve years old?
    I guess that someone who is called a "stepfather" could fit either definition.
    "As long as I have a voice, I will speak for those who have none".

  7. #7
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarlett44 View Post
    I guess that someone who is called a "stepfather" could fit either definition.
    If so, then the study is flawed because if fails to distinguish between fathers who deliberately adopt a child and raise it from infancy, and fathers who incidentally have a child thrust upon them due to their marriage to the mother. Surely there will be a difference in their attitudes towards the child.

    Since the study (from what I can see) does not control for this factor, it does not pose an argument against gay couples adopting children. In fact, it only goes to show that we should grant gay couples full marriage instead of mere "civil unions", in order to foster closer ties between fathers and child.
    Trendem

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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    A person who decides to get formally married is likely to be someone who has a stronger take on family values than someone who chooses a de facto relationship instead.
    And it's not necessarily even that. Perhaps the person has very strong family values but his relationship just isn't quite strong enough for him to be as involved as he might be if he felt differently. Or maybe it's just early in the relationship and in another year he will be both more involved with the family and also tie the knot but in the meantime he's both unmarried and not as involved as he will be in the future.

  9. #9
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    And it's not necessarily even that. Perhaps the person has very strong family values but his relationship just isn't quite strong enough for him to be as involved as he might be if he felt differently. Or maybe it's just early in the relationship and in another year he will be both more involved with the family and also tie the knot but in the meantime he's both unmarried and not as involved as he will be in the future.
    Sure. Both hypotheses (yours and mine) explain the correlation between marriage and closeness to children without having to infer a causative relationship from marriage to closeness to children.

    Sure, there may be people who simply don't feel strong about the particular relationship and that's why they neither tie the knot nor spend much time with the kids. And sure, there may be those who don't feel strong about a family as a union (which includes being close to kids) and therefore neither tie the knot nor spend much time with the kids.
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

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  10. #10
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem
    If so, then the study is flawed because if fails to distinguish between fathers who deliberately adopt a child and raise it from infancy, and fathers who incidentally have a child thrust upon them due to their marriage to the mother. Surely there will be a difference in their attitudes towards the child.

    Since the study (from what I can see) does not control for this factor, it does not pose an argument against gay couples adopting children. In fact, it only goes to show that we should grant gay couples full marriage instead of mere "civil unions", in order to foster closer ties between fathers and child.
    1) I think you are trying to redefine the term stepfather. Can you name any instance or valid example where stepfather is used in situations other than marriage? I have never heard anyone use it to describe adoption, nor is this how it is defined in the study. Stepfather is used in this study to describe situations where the parent has married a woman that already has children.

    2) The study does not include adopted children, period. This does not make it flawed. Because adoption is not a factor in any of the families studied, you can still make direct comparisons between the different classes without bothering in this factor. In fact, where you to include this factor, since none of the families have adopted children, it would contribute nothing to the observed differences.

    3) The issue of "stepfathers" is perhaps the most uninteresting aspect of this study. Other studies have compared biological parents to stepparents through marriage and shown similar results, that is nothing new. The most interesting aspect is the comparison of married biological versus non-married biological.

    4) Gay couple adoption is a bit off-topic to tell the truth. This studies examines heterosexual situations. No conclusions regarding gay adoption can be drawn from it. And frankly, I think you are trying to head that direction simply to avoid the direct implications of the study.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarlett
    Interesting study, but there are always exceptions to the rule, and I would just like to say that the above conclusions about married stepfathers just don't apply to my second husband.

    He has been more of a dad to my 2 children than my first husband, their biological father, ever was.

    I divorced my children's bio father because he was extremely physically abusive and a chronic alcoholic.
    He never seemed to have much time for his children.

    I wanted a better life for me and for my children, and I found something special with my second husband.

    My kids don't think of him as a stepfather.
    They think of him only as their dad, because he is the only true "dad" they have ever known.

    Just my two cents....
    Yes, we all know exceptions. We can also all think of situations (far more than cases like yours) where divorce and remarriage has been an absolute hell for the children, rather than improve anything.

    But exceptions do not make the rule and as a whole, stepfathers are less loving and spend less time with their stepchildren than their biological equivalents. That part of this study is not all that novel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mican
    But with all of these statistical studies, I have to wonder if they aren't putting the cart before the horse.

    For instance, if a certain guy is not as involved in his relationship with his live-in girlfriend and her children as the average married man might be with his wife and step-children, then he's also not as inclined to get married.

    It's not the lack of marriage that leads to lack of involvement but the lack of involvement that leads to lack of marriage. And therefore the solution (assuming there even needs to be one) is not marriage but more involvement (which isn't going to automatically happen if they are married if the guys doesn't feel strongly enough to get married in the first place).
    With all these attempts to reason away the more obvious and simple conclusion one has to wonder if you don't like the outcome?

    While you pose a valid hypothesis, you are wrong in accusing the study of putting the cart before the horse.

    1) The studies primary hypothesis was to look at the effects of biology on fatherly warmth and involvement. The observed differences between married and unmarried biological parents was not an expected outcome. This study also adjusted for other factors such as income and demographics and yet the trend was the same.

    2) Your hypothesis is not supported by other studies, particularly those of Frank Frustenberg and Andrew Cherlin, who have studied the behavior of fathers, particularly after a divorce. Their results showed that after the dissolution of a marriage, that the fathers not only became less involved in their child's life, but their behavior switched from being one of a "father" to that of a close relative. These fathers no longer really saw themselves as fathers or behaved as fathers. To put it in the words of these two researchers men "see parenting and marriage as part of the same bargain-a package deal." Rather than "a lack of involvement" in the first place, as you put it, being the driving factor, the institution of marriage is the driving factor. This is because marriage, being an actual social institution, appears to force obligations and responsibility onto the father that they otherwise do not feel as obliged to carry out when not bound by marriage. Studies have shown that marriage provides stability between a couple that is not found in other relationship arrangements:

    These parent-child interactions may express real differences in the
    relationship between the adults. Marriage tends to instill and bring along
    with it certain relational benefits for the adults, like permanence,
    commitment and even sexual fidelity, which redound to the benefit of
    children in the household, as the next subparts demonstrate. This is
    not to say that one could not be monogamous or committed outside
    marriage or that a nonmarital relationship could not last for decades; a
    significant body of empirical evidence, however, suggests that this is not
    as likely to occur.


    and

    For many fathers, the relationship to a child is coterminous with the
    father’s relationship with the child’s mother. To the extent this is true
    for a given cohabiter, he may well expect that when he exits the
    relationship with his partner, he will be terminating or severely
    curtailing the parent-child relationship as well. It would be surprising, in
    fact, if the ongoing nature of the two relationships were not linked for
    cohabiting fathers. Many divorced fathers “neither see nor support their
    children in a systematic way,” and never-married fathers are even less involved as a group. Divorced fathers are, presumably, biological fathers, suggesting that neither biology nor an earlier marriage is sufficient to moor fathers to their children once the adult relationship ends. This places a premium on relationships that are more enduring.


    and again:

    Cohabitants do not make “early and frequent joint investments,” as
    married couples do, meaning that cohabitants have few “sunk costs” in
    the relationship that would make exit less desirable. Cohabitants often
    do not combine resources, choosing instead to maintain separate bank
    accounts and hold property in their separate names. All of this adds
    up to “me and me” rather than “we.” This lack of “we-ness” extends beyond
    the big purchases and life decisions.


    and

    The greater permanence that marriage signifies may improve the quality
    of the adult relationship in ways that benefit children in the household.
    Relational contract theory predicts that parties to longer-term relationships
    do not engage in sharp bargaining or tit-for-tat reciprocity, spiking each
    other for every perceived fault.146 Expectations of permanence and stability shape the interactions between adults in ways that should not be surprising. Brines and Joyner note:

    When couples choose to cohabit, the choice signals uncertainty and a short-term time horizon, prescribing a cautious approach to the relationship that might produce patterns of sharp bargaining between partners. On the other hand, when high expectations of permanence accompany the decision to share a household . . .these expectations encourage early and frequent joint investments.

    Cohabiting relationships differ from marital ones in other ways that
    harden the interactions between the adults. For instance, the norm and
    expectation in cohabiting relationships is one of “equal power-sharing,”
    unlike marriage where spouses generally arrive at an unequal division of
    labor. In intimate relationships, “[e]quality is a costly principle to
    maintain, in part because it requires frequent monitoring of each partner’s
    holdings,” a phenomenon the child may witness and be impacted by.
    Marriage may exert more direct effects on parenting as well.
    Investment in children may follow legal obligation. Thompson,
    McLanahan and Curtin explain that “[s]tepparents have stronger legal
    and normative obligations to children than do cohabiting partners, and
    are therefore more likely to invest time and energy in the parental
    role.” Alternatively, marriage may carry expectations of shared parenting
    that mere co-residence does not. As Manning and Lamb speculate, “[t]he
    act of remarriage may carry with it a more pronounced expectation of
    stepfather involvement (for example, spending time with stepchildren
    and contributing financially to their upbringing) that has positive
    consequences for child well-being.”

    It may be that marital fathers are willing to invest more heavily in their
    “children” than nonmarital ones because norms of fidelity in the marital
    relationship are stronger, warranting their certainty that any investment
    they make is really in their biological child. A cohabiting “biological”
    father may simply not be as confident that a child is really his, as he might be in a marital relationship, and discount his investment accordingly.
    Greater uncertainty among cohabitants would be warranted since
    expectations of sexual fidelity are considerably weaker for cohabiting
    couples. Alternatively, marriage may simply bring with it a defined set
    of parenting norms that cohabitants, lacking these, must develop on a
    blank slate for themselves. Parenting in cohabiting relationships is a
    relatively recent phenomenon, so norms have not evolved to guide the
    couples in the relationship. Hao and Guihua suggest that when parent-
    figures lack clear rules on how to supervise children, this in turn weakens
    parental control, leading to juvenile delinquency and behavioral problems
    among cohabiting children. While a lack of expectations about a
    cohabitant’s parenting role may jeopardize positive outcomes for the
    child, lowered expectations may also do so. Cohabiting couples may
    affirmatively expect the biological parent’s partner to be less involved, as
    stepfathers and stepmothers often do. Of course, although a lack of
    norms may explain the outcome differences observed by Manning and
    Lamb, it cannot readily explain investment differences reported by
    Hofferth and Anderson. Hofferth and Anderson studied biological parents
    who never married. The norms of investment in biological children are well-established.


    ~ROBIN FRETWELL WILSON (2005) Evaluating Marriage: Does Marriage Matter to the Nurturing of Children?

    This last one was a review of multiple studies, from which it becomes quite clear that their is a distinct difference in the well-being and parenting of children in married families and simply cohabiting families. What also becomes apparent is that marriage clearly forces different norms and behaviors upon those who are married that carry on into how they raise their children.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus
    A person who decides to get formally married is likely to be someone who has a stronger take on family values than someone who chooses a de facto relationship instead. If such a person were to be forced to get married or if they got married for purely financial reasons (as opposed to appreciating the meaning of the "family unit") then this wouldn't magically make them a warmer parent who'd spend more time with the kids. Would it?
    Read my reply to Mican. Also, I have a question for you. Do you agree or disagree that there are societal norms and expectations for marriage and married families? Don't you think that societal norms, pressures, and traditions will create a sense of obligation for a married couple and reinforce those values, making the married couple more likely to live those values than the cohabiting couple?

    Because when you look at the collection of studies done on this, that appears to be the case. Marriage does change the equation and changes the perspectives and obligations of the father.
    I typically cite original research papers and reviews that are available only to a personal or institutional subscriptional. If you wish a PDF copy of the papers I cite, send me a request.

  11. #11
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Oh yes, I almost forgot. Mican and Allocutus, I would ask, nay challenge you both to provide supporting evidence for your hypothesis. I typically try to provide the best supporting evidence that I can find for my arguments, going straight to the literature only to have people ignore that and toss in stuff without supporting evidence. Its a bit of an annoyance. So if you would please try to provide equivalent evidence that supports your argument or shows mine to be wrong, that would be appreciated.
    I typically cite original research papers and reviews that are available only to a personal or institutional subscriptional. If you wish a PDF copy of the papers I cite, send me a request.

  12. #12
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Read my reply to Mican. Also, I have a question for you. Do you agree or disagree that there are societal norms and expectations for marriage and married families?
    A social obligation spend more time with the kids than you did when lived together with them but weren't married? No, I don't think I agree.

    Don't you think that societal norms, pressures, and traditions will create a sense of obligation for a married couple and reinforce those values, making the married couple more likely to live those values than the cohabiting couple?
    Again, from my observation I don't think there are such pressures.

    Because when you look at the collection of studies done on this, that appears to be the case. Marriage does change the equation and changes the perspectives and obligations of the father.
    Ok, let's assume that you're right.

    Would you say that a decision to get married is a blind decision to sign a piece of paper? Or would you say that it's a conscious decision to get into a specific type of relationship while knowing the responsibilities and pressures involved? If it's the former then we're talking about a person who doesn't care about the pressures anyway. To them it's just a piece of paper. If we're talking about the latter then the person, before signing that piece of paper, has already decided that he/she wants to have this very type of relationship and be subjected to these pressures and expectations. Thus, marriage is a statement of your feelings and of your intentions.

    If we accept the above then it's not marriage that causes people to be close but it's their decision to be close that makes them want to get married. Let's give people some credit here, Chad. Let's agree they're smart enough to have some idea what they're getting into.
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

    "If you could rationalize with Religious people there would be no more Religious people" -Gregory House

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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Oh yes, I almost forgot. Mican and Allocutus, I would ask, nay challenge you both to provide supporting evidence for your hypothesis. I typically try to provide the best supporting evidence that I can find for my arguments, going straight to the literature only to have people ignore that and toss in stuff without supporting evidence. Its a bit of an annoyance. So if you would please try to provide equivalent evidence that supports your argument or shows mine to be wrong, that would be appreciated.
    Well you see, the onus is on you. You're presenting the study. It's very late here in Melbourne now and I've skimmed through the study a couple of times (can't say I've read it with extreme care). If I'm missing something then I apologise and I'm sure you'll correct me (gently please! LOL).

    But from what I see, there's no evidence of causation; only of correlation. In other words, the study doesn't say whether it's marriage that makes fathers get warmer OR whether it's being warm that makes them want to get married. It does talk about social pressures and joint investements etc but I don't know how much of that is speculative rhetoric and how much is actual studies. Also, even considering social pressures, we should really think that people know what they get into when they get married (as per my argument above). If I don't want to share my finances and buy a house together with a woman, I won't be likely to want to marry her. This means I'm not all that close to her and I possibly won't be all that close to the kids. This goes hand-in-hand with the study's conclusions and yet doesn't actually support any causation FROM marriage TO closeness (as it could well be the other way around).

    It would be interesting to study the relationships of people who get married due to some external pressures in the first place. Eg, people who get married for convenience only or for financial partnership only or because they were "coerced" by their parents (pregnancy?). If in those situations the father is closer to his children than an unmarried but cohabitating father then this might be a little more indicative of marriage actually having some impact.

    Another study might be to look at people who cohabited for a period of time and then got married. Did that bring them closer to their children? Of course, for this to be valid we'd have to make sure that the reason why they suddenly made that step wasn't because they had become closer in the first place. Perhaps people who delayed getting married due to financial reasons might be a good sample.

    But the bottom line (here I am waffling again!) is that I don't really have to show any empirical support for my hypothesis. It's enough that your study (as far as I can see) doens't support causation in any particular direction and that I have provided a plausible alternative where the correlation would exist without the causation.

    nb. If we can agree that a lesbian is 85% less likely (speculating here, to make a point) to have an abortion than a heterosexual woman, is that good evidence that lesbians are predominantly pro-life?
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

    "If you could rationalize with Religious people there would be no more Religious people" -Gregory House

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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus
    A social obligation spend more time with the kids than you did when lived together with them but weren't married? No, I don't think I agree.
    Did you read my quotes from the review?

    Its not necessarily that marriage gives you a social obligation to spend more time with the kids. Rather, marriage appears to change the nature of the relationship and also instill greater responsibility for both your spouse and the children. Men who are not bound by marriage fell less obligation and responsibility for either their partner or the children. That has been shown time and again as indicated in these studies.

    TIME spend with kids is a manifestation of this obligation and responsibility, as is financial support and other types of care. Again this can be demonstrated by the fact that many divorced fathers do not pay child support, as they feel that their obligation and responsibility has been nullified to a certain extent by a divorce. (Check out the work done by Frank Frustenberg and Andrew Cherlin).
    Again, from my observation I don't think there are such pressures.
    And you're personal observations are somehow superior to multiple systematic and defined studies conducted by multiple experts in these fields?

    Ok, let's assume that you're right.

    Would you say that a decision to get married is a blind decision to sign a piece of paper? Or would you say that it's a conscious decision to get into a specific type of relationship while knowing the responsibilities and pressures involved? If it's the former then we're talking about a person who doesn't care about the pressures anyway. To them it's just a piece of paper. If we're talking about the latter then the person, before signing that piece of paper, has already decided that he/she wants to have this very type of relationship and be subjected to these pressures and expectations. Thus, marriage is a statement of your feelings and of your intentions.

    If we accept the above then it's not marriage that causes people to be close but it's their decision to be close that makes them want to get married. Let's give people some credit here, Chad. Let's agree they're smart enough to have some idea what they're getting into.
    I disagree. I know of multiple situations (and I'm sure you do to) where there has been societal pressure to get married. In fact my grandparents married because my grandmother got pregnant out of wedlock and I have heard them state that had that not happened, it would be uncertain if they would have ever gotten married. Today they have a great relationship, but I know they have undergone hardships that likely would have driven many couples to divorce, but because of cultural pressures, was not as acceptable in their time.

    I can also recall numerous other examples of people my own age who entered into marriage without full understanding of the obligations and responsibilities.

    So I must disagree that those who enter marriage do so necessarily under full understanding of what it entails and because they fully desire to do so. If we look at this in a historical context, this becomes even more apparent, as in the example of my grandparents. Society did pressure people into marriage without full understanding historically. Society also imposed certain obligations onto those marriages at far more so than it does now.

    Finally, your argument here is based in part on your own observations and otherwise is unsupported. I have provided extensive experimental evidence to support my conclusions. The studies I have cited all suggest that marriage imposes certain obligations that are not present in alternative types of relationships, leading to the observed differences.

    So I would ask you once again to provide more substantial support than merely disagreeing with my arguments.
    I typically cite original research papers and reviews that are available only to a personal or institutional subscriptional. If you wish a PDF copy of the papers I cite, send me a request.

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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Did you read my quotes from the review?

    Its not necessarily that marriage gives you a social obligation to spend more time with the kids. Rather, marriage appears to change the nature of the relationship and also instill greater responsibility for both your spouse and the children. Men who are not bound by marriage fell less obligation and responsibility for either their partner or the children. That has been shown time and again as indicated in these studies.
    I won't disagree with that. "This is the big day, I'm gonna be responsible from now on etc etc etc". One's wedding day IS A HUGE DAY and it carries with it a huge decision and lots of responsibility. But it doesn't change the fact that they're willingly accepting that responsibility. Or do you disagree with that?



    TIME spend with kids is a manifestation of this obligation and responsibility, as is financial support and other types of care. Again this can be demonstrated by the fact that many divorced fathers do not pay child support, as they feel that their obligation and responsibility has been nullified to a certain extent by a divorce. (Check out the work done by Frank Frustenberg and Andrew Cherlin).
    But divorced fathers are, by definition, guys who have moved away from the relationship. I take not a shred of an issue with your claim that a man's closeness to children is (at least very often) dependent on his closeness to the mother. I think that's been demonstrated time and time again. But that being the case, it's not surprising that divorced fathers tend to have a diminished relationship with their kids. Or are you really suggesting that this change occurs the minute the Court grants a Decree Absolute?


    And you're personal observations are somehow superior to multiple systematic and defined studies conducted by multiple experts in these fields?
    No. Not at all. But that doesn't matter because the thrust of my argument is based on the assumption that I agree with you about the social and other pressures of marriage



    I disagree. I know of multiple situations (and I'm sure you do to) where there has been societal pressure to get married. In fact my grandparents married because my grandmother got pregnant out of wedlock and I have heard them state that had that not happened, it would be uncertain if they would have ever gotten married. Today they have a great relationship, but I know they have undergone hardships that likely would have driven many couples to divorce, but because of cultural pressures, was not as acceptable in their time.
    Sure but that's hardly a representative sample. Remember, we're looking for causation. I married my wife in similar circumstances and we had a great marriage. And my parents married out of pure love and it wasn't all that great. But that doesn't change the simple fact that a person who's getting married KNOWS that they're getting married. They might not be aware of ALL THE PRESSURES (you learn that stuff as you go along) but they surely do appreciate the gravity of the occasion. After all, the wedding day is to many (most?) people one of the most important days in their life (I hope you don't ask me for evidence of this; it's kind of self-evident).


    I can also recall numerous other examples of people my own age who entered into marriage without full understanding of the obligations and responsibilities.
    They didn't know they would share their finances together and would "have" to be faithful to each other and promise to stay together for the rest of their lives and love and cherish each other? Which particular obligations were they not aware of?


    So I must disagree that those who enter marriage do so necessarily under full understanding of what it entails and because they fully desire to do so. If we look at this in a historical context, this becomes even more apparent, as in the example of my grandparents. Society did pressure people into marriage without full understanding historically. Society also imposed certain obligations onto those marriages at far more so than it does now.
    We are in heated agreement about the above. But your study didn't make a distinction between those who got married from "necessity" (pressure) and those who got married because that's what they really really wanted to do. And we don't know the incidence of either.

    Do you disagree that it's very likely that generally people who get married are aware that they're making a commitment and are prepared to make that commitment?

    Do you disagree that a study that examined the tendencies of "coerced" marriages against those of "free" marriages would be useful if we are to conclude which one is the cart and which one is the horse?

    Do you disagree that a study examining, perhaps, infidelity rates in "coerced" marriages against those in "free" marriages would be equally useful?

    Just how do you claim that the study you present establishes causation in one direction and not in the other?


    Finally, your argument here is based in part on your own observations and otherwise is unsupported. I have provided extensive experimental evidence to support my conclusions. The studies I have cited all suggest that marriage imposes certain obligations that are not present in alternative types of relationships, leading to the observed differences.
    Chad, I can't see anything in the evidence you present that would support a claim that it's the act of getting married that changes a person per se, as opposed to the person entering the act of marriage because they choose to have that particular lifestyle in the first place. If I'm missing something then please do point me to it. Otherwise, your evidence is simply inconclusive when it comes to that question.

    If I provided you with a "proof" that 2+2=231 and you took issue with some of the methodology employed, it would be a little rich of me to demand positive evidence to the contrary. It's enough that you dismantled my proof. And I'm not going as far as to say that I've dismantled your proof. I'm asking you how it is that your study establishes this causative link.
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

    "If you could rationalize with Religious people there would be no more Religious people" -Gregory House

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    Re: Marriage better for children

    To support Chad's argument. Several have posited warm people get married rather than Chad's interpretation that marriage leads to increased warmth. I am paraphrasing to be brief. This, though, ignores, the warmth attributes of step-fathers. If they were married and divorced, why are they less warm? According to Mican and Aloc, these men were warm to begin with. Obviously, this isn't the case. Neither is it the case that marriage, itself, causes warmth. Rather, there seems to be some combination of marriage and biology which leads to a better relationship between father and children.
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    To support Chad's argument. Several have posited warm people get married rather than Chad's interpretation that marriage leads to increased warmth. I am paraphrasing to be brief. This, though, ignores, the warmth attributes of step-fathers. If they were married and divorced, why are they less warm? According to Mican and Aloc, these men were warm to begin with.
    Obviously, this isn't the case.
    I'm sorry, I don't understand the issue. Why do you say that "obviously this isn't the case"?

    Neither is it the case that marriage, itself, causes warmth. Rather, there seems to be some combination of marriage and biology which leads to a better relationship between father and children.
    Well that's a nice theory. But again, no support. My argument was that Chad's research doesn't show any causative link between marriage and warmth. There's correlation but not causality.
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Even amongst those who have abandoned traditional notions of family and marriage, few would disagree that divorce has a negative impact on children. However, I have found that these same "progressive" people hold that there is little difference between a married couple and a father and mother who are simply in a "committed relationship" and cohabiting. A point I have often seen made against those of us who hold to such archaic notions that children do best with married parents.

    A study I have just ran across shows otherwise:

    Controlling for background differences, children living with a stepfather spent 4.8 fewer hours, children living with an unmarried biological father spent 3.7 fewer hours, and children living with a cohabiting father spent 3.6 fewer hours engaged with their residential father than children living with two married biological parents. All three groups spent significantly less time with fathers than children of married biological fathers, and the latter three groups are not statistically different from each other. On available time, the difference in father time between children in married biological and married nonbiological (stepfather) families is a significant 4.6 hours, whereas neither the unmarried biological or unmarried nonbiological father’s time differs from that of the married biological father. Examining other types of involvement, children participate in significantly fewer activities with stepfathers and partners of their mother than biological fathers. Similarly, stepfathers and mothers’ cohabiting partners rate themselves lower on warmth. The warmth of unmarried biological fathers also differs from that of married biological fathers in the two-parent, two-child subsample. The results so far do not clearly support either the biological or sociological perspectives, although the results are most consistent with the argument that the biological relationship with the child determines fathering patterns. Married nonbiological fathers (stepfathers) spent less time with their stepchildren than married biological fathers on all the parenting measures. Unmarried nonbiological fathers spent less time with their residential children in activities and are less warm than unmarried biological fathers. The differences by marital status in the expected direction are, first, unmarried biological fathers spend significantly less time engaged than married biological fathers with their children, and, second, they are less warm. Surprisingly, married stepfathers are less available than unmarried partners to their partners’ children. This may reflect the fact that cohabiting fathers’ available time may be inflated by the inclusion of time of other nonrelatives.


    ~SANDRA L. HOFFERTH and KERMYT G. ANDERSON (2003) Are All Dads Equal? Biology Versus Marriage as a Basis for Paternal Investment MARRIAGE AND FAMILY

    So of the factors studied: time spent with the father, available time, and warmth, by far Married biological fathers outscored all others, including cohabiting biological parents. What is interesting, as noted in the paper is that stepfathers have less "available time." This is significant enough that it can account for a lot of the lack of time spent with the child. On the other hand a cohabiting biological father may have the same available time as a married biological father, but that cohabiting father still spends a lot less time and is less warm towards the child.

    According to the popular myth, it shouldn't make a difference. Its not a matter of biology, both are the biological parents and both are present in the home.

    As the involvement of the father in a child's life has been shown time and again to have vast effects on the welfare, development, and emotional well-being of the child, then children with MARRIED parents clearly offer a greater advantage over their peers with unmarried cohabiting biological parents.

    Therefore, the traditional institution of marriage proffers the best environment for children and therefore should be supported socially against alternative lifestyles.
    I don't see your point, honestly.


    Firstly, even if children have stepfathers, we're not saying "The step father will spend less time with his children." You're saying "He will likely not spend as much time with his children." You can only make probabilistic arguments using statistics.

    Secondly, who cares? You're acting like we missed the opening statement "They'll spend 4.8-3.6 hours less with their children" (paraphrased; I presume they meant per week?) So what? That doesn't make them bad parents. If you'd brought up a statistic that said they were more likely to be physically or sexually abusive, okay (although that obviously lacks causation, so it still lacks serious bite). But if your best evidence is that they spend a few hours less together.. Well, what? In those four hours lost, the children are more prone to become gangsters or in crime or something? I mean, unless you can tie some form of abuse or serious neglect to 4 hours, I really don't see this as a tremendously successful argument.

    The best you can say is that "Biological fathers are better than non-biological fathers, on average." And that's a pretty obvious statement to me.

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    Re: Marriage better for children

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737
    But exceptions do not make the rule and as a whole, stepfathers are less loving and spend less time with their stepchildren than their biological equivalents.
    So...Do you therefore believe that it's better for a woman to stay married to the biological father of her children, regardless of the circumstances?
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    Re: Marriage better for children

    In Hawk City, children all know who their sirelings are, but they're loved by all. It doesn't take a scientist to know that children who are loved and who see an example of love grow up better than those who don't. Why do you think marriage is a requirement for love?

 

 
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