Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Children "unimportant" in the majority of American marriages

According to a new Pew Research Center study as reported by the Associated Press,"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."
The 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 popular culture is increasingly oriented to fulfilling the X-rated fantasies and desires of adults," . . . wrote [Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of Rutgers University's National Marriage Project] in a recent report. "Child-rearing values - sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity - seem stale and musty by comparison."
Up to this point, even though I found the information disturbing and a bit too reminiscent and confirmational of what Mark Steyn said, the article "made sense."

But then I got to a concluding comment and political proposal made by Virginia Rutter, a sociology professor at Framingham (Mass.) State College and board member of the Council on Contemporary Families. The article said she proposes that
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.
Oh, yeah! As if the United States had more family-friendly workplace policies 20 or 100 years ago!

Is it not, rather, the result of the ever-increasing self-centered philosophy that permeates today's society, a philosophy of death . . . the philosophy that, as Mark Steyn notes, is causing the West to wither away?

Perhaps most striking about the survey results was how sharply divergent the results were in just this one matter concerning children.
  • "Agreement on politics" was perceived as important to a successful marriage by 1% more people in 2007 as compared to 1990: 12% v. 11%.
  • "Faithfulness" declined in reported importance by 2%--from 95% to 93%.
  • "Shared tastes and interests": up 2% (46% v. 44%).
  • "Happy s*xual relationship" was reported important by an additional 3% of respondents--70% v. 67% in 1990.
  • "Shared religious beliefs"--up 4% (49% v 45%).
  • "Adequate income" important to 7% more today v 17 years ago (53% v 46%).
  • "Good housing" up by 9% (51% v 42%).
  • "Sharing household chores" jumped by a remarkable 15%--from 47% to 62% in importance.
But Americans' attitudes toward "Children" changed most of all: a whopping 24% decline.
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