Op Ed: Children soar in school when their parents stay together -9/1/02

Smartmarriages ® cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Wed Sep 4 12:03:16 EDT 2002

subject: Children soar in school when their parents stay together-9/1/02

from: Smart Marriages

Scott Haltzman presented "How To Win Your Wife's Heart Forever" at the Smart
Marriages conference.  I strongly endorse the session and encourage you to
get that tape #752-802 ($11 at 800-241-7785).  I also highly recommend the
following tapes - great for couples to listen to in the car -
# 752-304 "Hot Monogamy: The Biology of Love" - Pat Love & Sunny Shulkin
# 752 - 810 "Marital Sex As It Ought To Be" - Barry McCarthy
# 752- 803 " How to Negotiate Without Losing Love" - Willard Harley (his
follow-up to his keynote session that morning.)

Even if you've heard these same presenters do workshops by these same titles
in the years prior, I strongly suggest you listen to these tapes.  They keep
refining their thinking and their message and it just keeps getting better
and better.  Seems every workshop tape I listen to I find myself saying,
"This should have been a keynote!".  I'm working on a package of tapes "for
couples" - get so many requests for this kind of package.  All of the above
will be included. - diane

Diane, Hi.
I was thrilled today to learn that on OpEd piece I wrote got published in
the Boston Herald.  Here it is!

Children soar in school when their parents stay together
    Boston Herald  
    Soon schools will be full of pupils who reluctantly put down their
Louisville Sluggers in exchange for No. 2 pencils and bulging backpacks.
    But besides their heavy backpacks, there's an even heavier burden many
of them will have to carry now and for the rest of their academic careers:
Being the child of divorced parents hinders their scholastic success.
    Of course, having a two-parent family isn't always possible. Many
mothers choose to raise a child even if they don't know the identity of the
father. Other parents have lost a mate to death, or needed to separate from
an abusive or drug-dependent spouse. But domestic violence and substance
abuse explain only a minority of divorces. Most wedded couples part because
they no longer choose to be married; because, one way or another, the
quality of the marriage is not what they would like it to be.
    When it comes to the academic performance of the children, the decision
to separate has a steep price. Take homework. Thinking back to my schoolboy
days, I still recall the telltale wrinkled forehead of my mother as she
attempted to help me with my homework. Invariably, the look was followed
with a declarative solution: `Ask your father.` And Dad did help out.
    In fact, in `Growing Up With a Single Parent` (1994), researchers Sara
McLanahan and Gary Sandefur find that in unbroken families 81 percent of
children have fathers who help with homework. In contrast, most children of
divorce live with their mothers, and statistics reveal the consequences:
Only 56 percent of these children benefit from their father's homework help.
    Schools demand much work from children these days. But educational
hurdles are higher for children of single parents. In `Stepfamilies: Who
Benefits, Who Does Not?` (1994), author Nicholas Zill reveals the chances
of repeating a grade almost double when a child doesn't have married
parents at home. That child also has a 23 percent chance of being suspended
or expelled from school, vs. a 10 percent chance in a child from an intact
household. Single parents are more likely to find their children in the
bottom half of the class.
    Over time, these disadvantages take their toll on kids: Although an
unfortunate 13 percent of children from intact families will leave school
before they graduate, the dropout rate skyrockets to 29 percent in children
of single or remarried parents.
    Data demonstrates that in work, school and college education, children
of intact families fare better. Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher's book,
`The Case for Marriage` (2000), describes more than 50 ways that married
parents bestow advantages on children - advantages that extend into
adulthood including longer lives and better jobs.
    Am I suggesting that parents who now live alone call up their
long-departed spouses, and invite them back to start all over? No. Nor am I
attempting to shame parents who already have struggled with, and made, the
choice to permanently sever their marital bonds. Single parents have enough
challenges without having to revisit past decisions. But I do call on the
many parents of young children who are facing marital problems and
concluding, wrongly, that the only option is to quit.
    The decision to divorce is often based on two premises: 1) struggling
relationships have no hope of repair; and 2) marital separation improves
the quality of life for everyone. In most cases, both of these assumptions
are false. 
    So as the school season gears up, take out your daybook and your No. 2
pencil. Schedule the PTO meetings, the soccer tournaments and the ballet
classes. But cross out that appointment to see the divorce lawyer. Instead,
ask your spiritual leader, your doctor or your local community mental
health center to point you to resources that can help you work on your
marriage. Then, pencil in an appointment with someone who can help. Your
kid's education is at stake.
   Scott Haltzman is chairman of the Ethics Committee of the Rhode Island
Psychiatric Society, and is a clinical assistant professor of Psychiatry
and Human Behavior at Brown University. As You Were Saying is a regular
feature of the Boston Herald. We invite our readers to contribute pieces of
no more than 600 words. Mail contributions to the Boston Sunday Herald,
P.O. Box 2096, Boston, MA 02106-2096, fax them to 617-542-1315 or e-mail to
oped at bostonherald.com. All submissions are subject to editing and become
the property of the Boston Herald.

Scott Haltzman, MD
DrHaltzman at SecretsofMarriedMen.com

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