Romney Raises Inconvenient Truths about American Children – How Brave!

Romney did something brave in the debate last night. He spoke of the advantages to children of intact families and asserted that we should encourage young people considering having babies to get married first. Here are his exact words in response to a question about how to stem the tide of guns and violence:

He [Obama] mentioned good schools. I totally agree. We were able to drive our schools to be number one in the nation in my state, and I believe if we do a better job in education, we’ll, we’ll give people the hope and opportunity they deserve, and perhaps less violence from that.

But let me mention another thing, and that is parents. We need moms and dads helping raise kids. Wherever possible, the – the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone – that’s a great idea because if there’s a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will be able to achieve increase dramatically.

So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity and bring them in the American system.  

I think single moms should be credited, but I don’t think they should be praised more than married moms. And I’m tired of single moms being used to curry political favor. In recent decades, presidential candidates have gushed over single moms “working extra shifts” and “struggling to make ends meet.” “Singling” out single moms reveals the politician’s tendency to lump individuals into interest groups – and the attempt to win the votes of the biggest new voting block: unmarried mothers. 

It was thus that Romney’s statement was refreshing – and brave. He couldn’t hope to win anything by pointing to the benefits of children having a stable family with two parents. But he could hope to start a national discussion about something of vital importance to the most vulnerable members of any society: the children themselves.

Steeped in an intellectual permissiveness, which allows us to believe something is true because our progressive outlook tells us it should be true, we modern Americans have convinced ourselves that parental substitutes are as good as parents at “caring” for children and that children do “just as well” in single parent families, especially if that family is headed by a woman. The inconvenient truth, which Romney referenced, is that children born to unwed mothers are less likely to thrive emotionally and more likely to end up in poverty. The inconvenient truth is that children benefit from “having” both a mother and a father.

The preponderance of research now confirms what common sense and our hearts told us all along: Children tend to suffer from the void caused by permanent separation from one of their parents. Children do, it turns out, derive different, but essential benefits from mothers and fathers.  In Ships Without a Shore: America’s Undernurtured Children, I suggested:

We parents must ask if to be strong is to receive only the messages and information we supposedly want to hear, or is it, rather, to demand access to the truth and to insist upon thinking deeply about choices that affect those we love? Do we want to be ingratiated or would we prefer to be informed?

Unwed motherhood obviously happens to those who never planned it that way. But our society has gone to the extreme of not even encouraging young people to get married, and not even trying to increase the likelihood of successful marriages. Romney – bravely – pointed that out.

  1. PConn

    Loved this line of conversation from the debate as well. I was listening to the Adam Carolla podcast(definatley NOT within the richochet COC, be forwarned) and he made alot of the same points overall. Of course it was a bit blunted by the  F bombs(ha!).

  2. DocStu

    I agree, it was my favorite line of the debate. While we all can commend individuals who rise above their circumstances, why should we encourage the choice of such circumstances. I am a Pediatrician and I see family after family who confirms what we all know, Mom and Dad together results in much better outcomes on average, regardless of individual outliers. Marriage is still an important institution and divorce should be safe and legal but RARE.

  3. tabula rasa

    Amen.  Our current illegitimacy rate is 42 percent. That, in itself, is a cultural disaster in the making.

  4. John Murdoch

    Pet peeve: “single mom” is not a synonym for “unwed mother.” 

    There’s a world of a difference between an unwed mother and a widow. And a world of a difference to that woman’s children. 

  5. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    John Murdoch: Pet peeve: “single mom” is not a synonym for “unwed mother.” 

    There’s a world of a difference between an unwed mother and a widow. And a world of a difference to that woman’s children.  · 2 minutes ago

    Agree.

  6. hobbithill

    Well said Romney…I applaud putting this controversial issue “out there”. I strongly believe the strength of a great society lies in the fabric of a strong family foundation. So much can grow from that foundation through our children which can only be beneficial for society.  It’s upsetting to see that non traditional forms of family are worn a badge of honor rather than a unfortunate and unhappy circumstance. To re-educate young people on the importance of family values is a starting point. I do see evidence that the trend towards traditional family values is resurging with many of our young adults, so to have a leader exemplifying that too would be great. 

  7. Red Feline

    Dare I hope that when Romney is President, his good example will “trickle down” and help turn the tide of this permissive thinking that has invaded America? 

  8. Southern Pessimist

    I don’t know what a president can do about this other than pontificate on it but I agree that it was good to hear Romney expouse an obvious truth that few in politics other than Rick Santorum has been willing to discuss.Unfortunately, even mentioning the advantages of a two parent family is more frightening than sharia law to the liberal elites.

  9. Mickerbob

    From a purely economic standpoint, divorce and/or never wed with children is so expensive. In addition to the process with the courts and attorneys, there is the need for two residences and/or need for additional support (daycare, sitters). This national trend will keep people from ever reaching their full potential as individuals or as family units. 

  10. R. Craigen

    I noticed Obama didn’t touch this.  That was smart of him.  Although his “core” is anti-family it’s something he can’t sell to mainstream America, and he would have harmed himself by taking a position.  It was a clever gambit on Romney’s part, and I hoped that Obama took the bait … he didn’t.

    But we did learn something from the exchange:  Romney can now go on about family issues — in this manner that is — more or less free from crosstalk, because the Obama campaign has evidently judged it to be dangerous ground for them.  Thus Romney/Ryan can shore up support among social conservatives of all political stripes without jeopardizing the other, smaller demographic’s support, as long as they take the high road on these issues and don’t pitch their comments as slurring non-traditional “families”.  With care, this will be a freebie for our side.

  11. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    Mickerbob: From a purely economic standpoint, divorce and/or never wed with children is so expensive. In addition to the process with the courts and attorneys, there is the need for two residences and/or need for additional support (daycare, sitters). This national trend will keep people from ever reaching their full potential as individuals or as family units.  · 0 minutes ago

    Yes, the statistics on this are really stark.

  12. paulebe

    Ah, the useful word here that I don’t see mentioned – stigma!  Prior to the Great Society and all the welfare programs designed to pay off those who make stupid choices in life, there was a societal issue with the idea of receiving welfare benefits (or so I’m told).  It was still around when I grew up in the 70′s, began a marked waning in the 80′s (ironically) and by the 90′s was totally non-existant.  

    Growing up, I knew of very few kids raised only by their mom. Young girls who had babies as teenagers but didn’t marry the father did so quietly and gave them up for adoption to grateful parents, benefiting all parties.

    Dan Quayle’s Murphy Brown comments drew heaps of scorn from the left and right coasts.  The stigma was rapidly falling away.

    The children are paying for it.  

    I praise Gov. Romney for even being willing to address it, even if I did wish he’d have said he greatly trusts an involved/motivated American citizen to own a .50 caliber BAR (forget the AK47 – not enough stopping power) more than he does a militarized police force.

  13. KC Mulville

    Talking about illegitimacy reveals one of my pet peeves, and I think Romney touched on it last night.

    Why do we make a distinction between financial conservatives and social conservatives? That’s a false choice.

    • It isn’t a distinction between “practical” people and true believers, or between the frat boys and the frothing zealots.

    I say the most important “issues” are moral, but that they always have financial effects. It’s not one or the other.

    And that’s what conservatism really means to me. There’s an interrelationship between morality and real world success. That’s the core premise of capitalism, and of conservatism. 

    The driving idea behind our culture is that striving for moral character (hard work, prudent risk, attention to others) brings material success. The answer to our troubles, really, is improving our character, not cleverness in writing policies. 

    We should be talking more about morality, but we shouldn’t conduct our collective moral conversation through bitter skirmishes about packaged issues. That’s just a political version of video games. Instead, the core morality about capitalism and our culture is what we should be talking about.

  14. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    Jeff

    Anne R. Pierce Right, …and in some awful cases, it translates into having babies with profit in mind.  For example, in some cities, unwed moms receive funding for their own education, a stipend and free day care.  It’s not that we shouldn’t help young  moms and their babies, but there’s a fine line…..

    Is this a fine line? Do we want to “help young [unwed] moms and their babies? If we care about incentives, wouldn’t we just want to help the baby and not the irresponsible mother?

    The line isn’t fine.  ….

    I think we should question whether it’s best for a baby to remain with a parent (or parents) who can’t support a child. Why not give babies over to parents that can love and afford them, instead of subsidizing irresponsible parents who lack  basic fitness as providers? · 7 hours ago

    Jeff,  I mostly agree regarding national government help and by bringing up  “helping them” I hoped to provoke a discussion such as you have started. I don’t agree with giving babies over….

  15. FirstAmendment

    Well said. Brave indeed. How refreshing it is to hear a presidential candidate actually talk about issues that matter, beyond “the economy”. This shows the presidential stature of Romney, in stark contrast to Obama.

  16. Devereaux
    KC Mulville: …Why do we make a distinction between financial conservatives and social conservatives? That’s a false choice.

    • It isn’t a distinction between “practical” people and true believers, or between the frat boys and the frothing zealots.

    I say the most important “issues” are moral, but that they always have financial effects. It’s not one or the other.

    And that’s what conservatism really means to me. There’s an interrelationship between morality and real world success. That’s the core premise of capitalism, and of conservatism. 

    The driving idea behind our culture is that striving for moral character (hard work, prudent risk, attention to others) brings material success. The answer to our troubles, really, is improving our character, not cleverness in writing policies. 

    We should be talking more about morality, but we shouldn’t conduct our collective moral conversation through bitter skirmishes about packaged issues. That’s just a political version of video games. Instead, the core morality about capitalism and our culture is what we should be talking about. · 59 minutes ago

    The truths therein were well understood by the founding generation.

  17. Devereaux

    Unfortunately the terms of the debate have been set by the left for so long on this issue that it becomes a lightening rod to just mention it, much less attempt to debunk it.

    I am of the opinion that much of the black-on-black crime that we have these days is a function, at least in significant part, to the lack of a father figure in the home. Males need a father figure to civilize them. What we see instead is the creation of a feral male, who acts as the law of the jungle vis a vis moving “to the top”, and view women only as “hoe’s and Bitc**s”, instead of a partner in a family unit. Unfortunately our government, at all levels, only acts to further this problem.

  18. Astonishing

    Patterns of living tend to be passed from generation to generation so that they become either a virtuous or a vicious cycle: daughters of single mothers are more likely to become single mothers themselves; children whose parents divorce are more likely to divorce; children from stable families tend to have stable marriages themselves.

    Boys and girls need both parents around so they can learn how to relate with adults of either sex. Girls who grow up without a dad around are so vulnerable to cads.

    Isn’t all this just common sense?

    But I’m not sure I trust the federal government to have much of a role in shaping families.  I woudl be content if the federal government would avoid policies destructive to families. The insidious policy of encouraging dependency on government is the policy most destructive of families.

    Call me crazy and mean, but I think Medicare and Social Security are destructive of families because they remove one half of the intergenerational responsibility of caring for one’s own family.

    We care about the things we care for. If the government cares for our children for us, soon we shall stop caring about our children.

  19. Devereaux
    Anne R. Pierce

    Jeff,  I mostly agree regarding national governmenthelp and by bringing up  “helping them” I hoped to provoke a discussion such as you have started. I don’t agree with giving babies over…. · 8 minutes ago

    Very well. ?Then how do you suggest we change the “incentive” approach to child bearing.

    There are several facts out there that have not been connected, but are jointly highly important and certainly highly related if not distinctly connected. First, we have a barely sustainable birth rate. Second, we have a system that incentivizes having children out of wedlock and without appropriate family structure. Third, we have a horrendous rate of child-killing (thank you Tony!). Fourth, as noted above, we have destigmatized things like being on the dole and individual responsibility. Fifth, we have concerted efforts to eliminate religion from the public square. Sixth, by destroying family structure and injecting government retirement “guarantees” we have pushed people towards choosing NOT to have children and allow their retirement needs to be put on the back of the children of others (sort of related to #1).

    As you feel the federal gov’t shouldn’t be involved, ?who should and how.

  20. Anne R. Pierce
    C
    Devereaux:Unfortunately the terms of the debate have been set by the left for so long on this issue that it becomes a lightening rod to just mention it, much less attempt to debunk it.

    I am of the opinion that much of the black-on-black crime that we have these days is a function, at least in significant part, to the lack of a father figure in the home. Males need a father figure to civilize them. What we see instead is the creation of a feral male, who acts as the law of the jungle vis a vis moving “to the top”, and view women only as “hoe’s and Bitc**s”, instead of a partner in a family unit. Unfortunately our government, at all levels, only acts to further this problem. · 22 minutes ago

    Edited 21 minutes ago

    Love and stability are the fundamentals of early childhood that no one else/nothing else can provide as well as parents.  Without them, children are brought up by the media and institutions, leading to emptiness and alienation and, in the case of hormone-driven males, sometimes to aggression and violence.

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