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Children with Married Parents have higher self-esteem than those from Parents who are not, study reveals

Children with married parents show a higher level of self-esteem than those from other types of family, including stable co-habiting relationships, according to a new study.

The study was carried out by the Marriage Foundation, whose mission is to be “a national champion for marriage". It was set up in 2014 by retired High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge.

Harry Benson, research director of the Marriage Foundation, and Dr Spencer James of Brigham Young University in America, analysed data taken from the British Household Panel Survey.

Examining data relating to 3,800 children from 11 to 16 they found that those from families with married parents showed higher self-esteem than those from single families or whose parents were co-habiting.

Boys with married parents were in the 57th percentile for self-esteem, compared to boys with co-habiting parents who were in the 51th percentile. Girls with married parents were in the 43rd percentile , and those with co-habiting parents in the 38th percentile.

Sir Paul said: “Not only is a married couple more likely to save their child from undergoing the trauma of family breakdown, we now have evidence that parent’s public declaration of commitment to each other significantly alters a child’s self-perception and self-esteem."

He concluded: “It is not being moralistic or judgmental to say marriage works best for families – it is a statement of fact.

“The trend away from marriage beginning in the 1980s has coincided with a meteoric rise in family breakdown.

“Unless the Government gets serious about tackling this epidemic now, more and more children will see their lives torn apart."

Last May Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said: “The latest research undertaken in our county by the Marriage Foundation makes disturbing reading. Report after report high-lights the trend away from marriage and the enormous human cost for couples and, above all, for children.

“It can seem that the Christian vision of marriage marked by life-long commitment; chaste love and openness to the gift of children is rapidly becoming a counter-cultural life-style in societies such as our own."



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    What determines ‘self esteem?’ Surely to some extent, a child is influenced by their parents – married or otherwise, but what of the society in which the child lives? If the society teaches children through judgemental religion, media, school, etc. that those who live out of wedlock are sinful or bad, then of course this is going to have an effect on the child’s self-esteem.
    What should be taken from this study (assuming this biased organization used proper scientific techniques), is that children of unmarried parents need to be assisted in gaining the same self-esteem as their friends whose parents are married. It’s not a marriage issue – it’s a self-esteem issue, and with proper education, these kids can be informed that they are every bit as good and deserving as any other kid, regardless of their parent’s marriage status. If these kids have low self-esteem, it’s because organizations like the Church want it that way, as an acknowledgement of their power and control over human lives.

  2. Pete Reply

    Mr.Ganon you better conduct your own research and write your own conclusion about these and will see how you would fare. Telling readers not the marraige thing is not what about the substance of this study all about. The result of the study has nothing to do with your own non belief and twisted views how church acknowledgement of their power and control over human lives.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Pete, is English a second language for you? It’s rather difficult for me to understand your post.
      I don’t doubt that some children of single parent families may have lower self esteem. What I propose is that the reason for this lack of self esteem is because society, under pressure from religion, tells these kids they are deserving of less self esteem, that they are somehow less than their peers with two parents, even though this is not their fault. The article essentially proposes that the answer is for everyone to be a married Catholic, while I propose that a better solution is for religions stop insinuating that these kids are inferior, and work instead to boost their self-esteem instead of drag it down.
      What does an article like this say to a kid who has a single parent? It tells that kid that they are somehow less worthy, less healthy, less well adjusted, etc. than those whose parents are married. A useful article would tell those kids to value themselves, find strength in themselves, create strong bonds with their one parent, and hold their heads up high, and to know that they can do anything with their lives that a two-parent kid can do if they work at it.
      In the case of Catholic parents who divorce, the Church attempts to keep the kids with a single parent, rather than permit that parent to marry again. Essentially the Church says, ‘while it may be better for your child to have two parents – you can’t do that, or you’ll go to Hell if you marry again, so remain as a single parent.

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