As you prepare to end your marriage, you will likely experience a myriad of emotions, ranging from relief to uncertainty to emotional turmoil. However, the upheaval for your children will probably be even worse as they often feel torn, forced to choose between both parents. Andrew J. Cherlin, a professor and sociologist at John Hopkins University, addressed this topic in his insightful 2009 book, “The Marriage-Go-Round.” He theorizes that while Americans strongly supports marriage, the alarming divorce rate seems to contradict those ingrained values.
Americans, Marriage and Divorce
While the United States spends money through the Healthy Marriage Initiative to the tune of $100 million annually to support wedded bliss, their efforts don’t seem to be effective. Instead, marriage rates are dropping even though the nation as a whole idealizes the concept of marriage. Cherlin theorizes that the conflict lies between our traditional view of marriage as a valuable institution and our basic beliefs in the principles of individual rights and freedoms.
A Better Use of Financial Resources
Cherlin advocates taking the money spent promoting marriage and instead directing it toward a child’s security. While children are negatively affected when a marriage ends, their parents shouldn’t immediately look for another partner to provide stability. One study that he conducted with a colleague showed an increased risk of aberrant juvenile behavior, including theft, missing school and drinking, each time a partner entered or left the family home. However, he concedes that this doesn’t hold true for all young people from broken homes.
A Study on the Benefits of Financial Support
Research suggests that diverting funds to resources for single mothers to help them would minimize the pressure they feel to find financial support from a subsequent partner. For example, Wisconsin tried out a program through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The state gave each mother a maximum of $50 in delinquent child support collected from dads. In a follow up program, it instead gave full payments to the mothers and found that, apart from the children’s fathers, the women did not cohabitate with men as often, resulting in less potential drama for the children. The last chapter of Cherlin’s book, “Slow Down,” strongly encourages parents to take their time before starting another relationship, especially when it comes to bringing that person into the home.