Hymowitz at Smart Marriages/ Elusive Altar/ What to do for our kids/ Skeptics comment - 1/18/06
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Thu Jan 18 18:02:20 EST 2007
- KAY HYMOWITZ WILL SPEAK AT DENVER SMART MARRIAGES
- THE ELUSIVE ALTAR
- WHAT DO WE DO FOR OUR KIDS?
- NYTIMES STORY ON WOMEN LIVING ALONE DRAWS SKEPTICISM FOR MARRIAGE
- KAY HYMOWITZ WILL SPEAK AT DENVER SMART MARRIAGES
It gives me GREAT pleasure to announce that Kay Hymowitz, author of Marriage
and Caste in America mentioned in both the Op-Ed and article below, will
give a major keynote address at the Denver Smart Marriages Conference. I
encourage you to purchase the book now and get Kay to sign it in Denver.
She'll sign on Thurs from 5-6pm and again on Friday afternoon, 5:30-7pm
following her keynote. Click here to order on amazon for only $12.59
hardback. I'm delighted that so many of you have written to tell me how
much you're enjoying the book and that you're writing reviews for you local
community marriage newsletters.
- THE ELUSIVE ALTAR
The New York Times
January 18, 2007
If all the world were south of 96th Street, what a happy place it would be!
If all the world were south of 96th Street, then we could greet with
unalloyed joy the news that after decades of social change, more American
women are living without husbands than with them.
We could revel in the stories of women from Riverside Drive all the way to
TriBeCa! liberated from constraining marriages and no longer smothered by
self-absorbed spouses. We could celebrate with those the ad executives as
well as the law partners! who now have the time and freedom to go back to
school and travel abroad, and who are choosing not to get remarried.
But alas, there are people in this country who do not live within five miles
of MoMA, and for them, the fact that many more people are getting divorced
or never marrying at all is not such good news.
For voluminous research shows that further down the social scale there are
millions of people who long to marry, but who are trapped just beyond the
outskirts of matrimony. They have partners. They move in together. Often
they have children with the people they love. But they never quite marry, or
if they do, the marriage falls apart, with horrible consequences for their
children. This is the real force behind the rise of women without men.
The research shows that far from rejecting traditional marriage, many people
down the social scale revere it too highly. They put it on a pedestal, or as
Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins puts it, they regard marriage not as the
foundation of adult life, but as the capstone.
They don¹t want to marry until they are financially secure and emotionally
mature. They don¹t want to marry until they can afford a big white-dress
wedding and have the time to plan it. They don¹t want to marry until they
are absolutely sure they can trust the person they are with.
Having seen the wreckage of divorce, they are risk averse, but this risk
aversion keeps them trapped in a no man¹s land between solitude and
marriage. Often they slide into parenthood even though they consider
themselves not ready for marriage. The Fragile Families study shows that
nearly 90 percent of the people who are living together when their child is
born plan to get married someday. But the vast majority never will.
In her essential new book, ³Marriage and Caste in America,² Kay Hymowitz
describes the often tortuous relations between unskilled, unmarried parents.
Both are committed to their child, but in many cases they have ill-defined
and conflicting expectations about their roles. The fathers often feel used,
Hymowitz writes, ³valued only for their not-so-deep pockets.² The mothers
feel the fathers are unreliable. There are grandparents taking sides. The
relationship ends, and the child is left with one parent not two.
It¹s as if there are two invisible rivers of knowledge running through
society, steering people subtly toward one form of relationship or another.
These rivers consist of a million small habits, expectations, tacit
understandings about how people should act and map out their lives.
Among those who are well educated and who are rewarded by the
information-age economy, the invisible river reinforces the assumption that
childbearing is more arduous and more elevated than marriage. One graduates
from marriage to childbearing.
But among those who are less educated and less rewarded, there is an
invisible river that encourages the anomalous idea that marriage is more
arduous and more elevated than childbearing. One graduates from childbearing
The people in the first river are seeing their divorce rates drop and their
children ever better prepared to compete. Only 10 percent of students at an
elite college like Cornell are from divorced families, according to a study
led by Dean Lillard and Jennifer Gerner.
The people in the second river are falling further behind, and their
children face bad odds. For them, social facts like the rise of women
without men cannot be greeted with equanimity. The main struggle of their
lives is not against the patriarchy.
The first step toward a remedy, paradoxically, may be to persuade people in
this second river to value marriage less, to see it less as a state of
sacred bliss that cannot be approached until all the conditions are perfect,
and more as a social machine, which, if accompanied with the right
instruction manual, can be useful for achieving practical ends.
- WHAT DO WE DO FOR OUR KIDS?
> What Do We Do For Our Kids?
> Most of what our children need to learn to succeed as adults, they learn
> simply from being in a well-functioning family.
> By Orson Scott Card
> Meridian Magazine
This article reviews five child-rearing books like "Reclaiming Childhood:
Letting Children Be Children in Our Achievement-Oriented Society" and "The
Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier,
Healthier Children" and includes the new Hymowitz book, Marriage and Caste
in America which is fitting as her conclusion is that we must focus on the
next generation and help them orient their lives towards being on the right,
smart side of marriage gap, give them a "marriage framework" or "marriage
orientation" that even when unconscious leads to a making and sequencing of
decisions that will better help them have successful, satisfying lives.
Here's the clip on Marriage and Caste.
> The Most Important Gift We Give Our Children
> The most important book of all those I¹ve recently read, however, is Kay S.
> Hymowitz¹s devastatingly fact-based Marriage and Caste in America: Separate
> and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age.
> Hymowitz takes it as a given that we have pretty much destroyed the
> institution of marriage in our society. Marriages still exist, but they are
> not the rule.
> However, the surprise is who has given up on marriage. One would assume,
> listening to the rhetoric of the highly educated in America, that it is the
> upper class, the elite, that have abandoned marriage and are now producing
> babies out of wedlock.
> It is the opposite that is the case. The intellectual elite may preach about
> how a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, but in fact the
> overwhelming majority of children born to educated, well-to-do parents are
> born within a marriage, and raised in married households.
> Meanwhile, it is in the lower classes that the message about the unimportance
> of marriage has been most powerfully believed. The result is that Hymowitz
> sees a deep and self-replicating gap in our society: On the one side, the
> moneyed, educated caste, marrying and raising their children in more or less
> stable families, with the result that these children grow up with a far, far
> greater likelihood of success. On the other side are the less-educated, who
> are increasingly raising their children in single-parent homes, which cripples
> the children from the start.
> Cause and effect can be argued here, but Hymowitz offers compelling evidence
> that unmarriage is a cause, not just a symptom, of the disadvantages of the
> disadvantaged. If there is one book from this column that you read, make it
> this one. Because, by the end, it will be hard for you to argue against the
> proposition that the single most important thing that any would-be parent can
> do to ensure his or her children¹s success and happiness (by any measure) is:
> Provide those children with a father and mother who are married to each other,
> and stay married to each other.
> Fifty years ago, such a declaration would have been met with complete
> puzzlement. Why would anyone need to say anything so obvious? The very idea
> of having children out of wedlock, or breaking up a marriage once you had
> children, was very nearly unthinkable. Now you practically have to apologize
> for doing something so old-fashioned as to marry. And yet ... the smart
> people are doing it, no matter what they say in theory.
> It¹s the great American divide, and the decision to have children outside of
> marriage has negative consequences for generations afterward. Hymowitz chose
> the word ³caste² very carefully: You can easily move between classes based on
> money or education, but you can¹t so easily undo the consequences of growing
> up in a single-parent home.
> Keep in mind: All of the devastatingly failed experiments we have performed on
> our families over the past fifty years have been advocated by passionate
> ³intellectuals² who assured us that the result would be greater happiness.
> But the result of breaking down and denigrating the traditional family has
> been nothing but misery and failure.
> And yet the same authoritarians and ideologues continue to insist that tearing
> down the family is still the smart thing to do, that ³traditional values² are
> to be sneered at. Their theories¹ utter lack of good results does not deter
> them. They go on preaching their ludicrous ³reforms² and sneering at
> traditional values and many are the people who are still deceived.
To read the full article:
- NYTIMES STORY ON WOMEN LIVING ALONE DRAWS SKEPTICISM FOR MARRIAGE
Jan 18, 2007
By Gregory Tomlin
NEW YORK (BP)--A New York Times study of census data from 2005 claims that
51 percent of American women now live alone without a spouse, and most of
them by choice. The report, which appeared in the paper Jan. 16, claims the
number of single women has increased from 49 percent just five years ago and
from only 35 percent in 1950.
Several factors, including women waiting longer to marry, staying single,
getting divorced and living alone longer after their spouses pass away, led
to the increase, the paper reported. ³Coupled with the fact that married
couples became a minority of all American households for the first time, the
trend could ultimately shape a range of social and workplace policies,
including the ways the government and employers distribute benefits,² The
Times article concludes.
But the claims made by the paper about the census and why fewer women are
married may not be entirely correct. The American Community Survey -- the
study used by The Times -- included in its count of women who live alone
spouses of deployed military personnel and other married women who live by
themselves ³for reasons other than marital discord,² Robert Bernstein, an
official with the U.S. Census Bureau, told Baptist Press.
More than 2 million of these married women who do not live with their
spouses ³for one reason or another² were included in The Times¹
calculations. The report also counted among the number of women living alone
those as young as age 15. That inclusion itself may have tilted the numbers
in favor of those living alone without a spouse.
³If you use 18 and over as the threshold, this wouldn¹t be the case,²
Bernstein said. ³A majority of women then would be married in a household.²
Another survey used by the Census Bureau, the Current Population Survey
(CPS), also still puts married households in the majority at slightly more
than 51 percent, contrary to the claim from The Times that married couples
are now in the minority. The CPS relies on personal interviews, home visits
or phone calls to the household, while the American Community Survey is
conducted by mail and also does not include persons living in ³group
quarters,² such as married student housing, military barracks or nursing
homes, Bernstein said.
According to The Times, the study it commissioned probed the marital status
of 117 million women, finding that 63 million -- 53 percent -- were legally
married. But The Times then deducted more than 3 million women it said were
separated from their spouses and another 2.4 million that were described as
being alone while married. Ultimately the findings reported in the paper
included multiple demographics and a single conclusion -- that a majority of
American women are now not just alone; they are happier and freer with lives
unencumbered by a spouse.
The Times presented in its article several women who claimed to offer the
real reason why so many women are now single: They have ³sworn off marriage²
after bitter divorces, contentious relationships with live-in partners and
even because they simply want to remain free. Ironically, as many as 10.5
million widows -- some 9 percent of the women counted -- also were included
in the tally of women on their own by choice. They too may have been
enlightened and avoiding remarriage, according to one interviewee in the
³For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of
marriage,² William Frey of the Brookings Institution told The Times.
³Younger women understand this better, and are preparing to live longer
parts of their lives alone or with nonmarried partners. For many older
boomer and senior women, the institution of marriage did not hold the
promise they might have hoped for, growing up in an Ozzie and Harriet¹
Sam Roberts, the writer of the story, said his article "mentions all those
caveats, including low marriage rates among black women too. It also says
that most women do eventually marry."
³But, apparently for the first time, at any given time the majority of women
are not living with a spouse. People have taken that to mean any number of
different things. I was reporting on a statistical benchmark, calling it to
people's attention so they can draw their own conclusions and respond in
whatever way they think is appropriate," Roberts told Baptist Press.
But the research data presented by The Times doesn¹t lead to the conclusion
the article and the experts quoted seem to make -- that there is a devaluing
of the sanctity of marriage or its necessity, Cathy Ruse, senior fellow for
legal studies with the Family Research Council, said.
³It¹s not as if 51 percent of women chose to live life by themselves,² Ruse
said in an interview. ³These figures don¹t account for widows who had long
and happy marriages, who loved their marriages, and they don¹t account
properly for absentee husbands, such as those deployed in the military. My
questions are about whether the research actually holds up, and also about
the conclusions that they draw from the data -- that marriage is actually a
bad thing when we know it¹s not.
³I will concede that there is a trend in marriage. Women are marrying later
in life,² Ruse said. ³But that isn¹t a commentary on marriage. Many women
delay to better prepare for marriage, and to choose more wisely. I didn¹t
marry until age 39, but it wasn¹t because I didn¹t want to; it was because I
hadn¹t found the right man.²
Nevertheless, Frey contends in the article that America has reached a clear
³tipping point,² an era in which the social changes of the 1960s have
finally borne their fullest fruit. America is in an age of ³greater
independence and more flexible lifestyles for women,² he told The Times.
With that much, Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director for issues analysis
with Focus on the Family, can agree. ³There¹s no question in my mind that
the anti-male, anti-marriage messages that originated in the 1960s have
encouraged women to view marriage more negatively. Certainly women have more
professional and educational opportunities today but that doesn¹t mean they
have to jettison marriage.²
The Times report also included comments from Stephanie Coontz, director of
public education for the liberal lobby, the Council on Contemporary
Families. She said that statistical data published by the newspaper is ³yet
another of the inexorable signs that there is no going back to a world where
one can assume that marriage is the main institution that organizes people¹s
That is a suggestion that organizations like Focus on the Family flatly
reject. Earll said the individuals highlighted in the story were pushing a
³The individuals interviewed -- particularly Stephanie Coontz -- are touting
the same party line: that marriage is an outdated and obsolete institution,
and who needs it? The answer is both men and women need it, and benefit from
it. Social science research finds that married people are happier,
healthier, tend to have higher incomes and enjoy greater emotional support.
Domestic abuse rates are higher for women who cohabitate versus those who
are married. The list goes on,² Earll said.
While the motivation for the article on single women and marriage may never
be known, Earll said she believes one thing is clear: ³Certainly the way the
data is assembled and interpreted is suspect."
At least one prominent critic of The Times said he knows how the paper
arrived at its conclusions about marriage. That is the conclusion the paper
wanted to reach in order to advance an agenda for social change, said
William Proctor, whose book ³The Gospel According to The New York Times²
examined a bias toward liberal social policies at the paper.
Proctor said the ³statistics they¹ve reported don¹t add up to what they are
saying about marriage. There might be any number of factors involved.²
Facts, however, have never really concerned The Times when it comes to
pushing for changes in society, Proctor added. He said the paper is
illustrating its bias in favor of a certain type of feminism that suggests
the traditional role of a woman in marriage is to be attacked and even
³This is really a featurized, very slanted look at this picture,² Proctor
said. ³There is a whole set of assumptions built in there, but that is
typical of the way they have operated. It sounds to me like the kind of
thing they will follow with an editorial saying the same thing -- that women
are tired of marriage. They¹ve done it on gay marriage, transgender issues
and abortion. They are very much pushing for social change.²
For many, especially conservative Christians, that still leaves the question
of why. ³When you consider the benefits of marriage for women and men,
society -- and The New York Times -- should be encouraging marriage, not
publishing articles that announce its near demise,² Earll said.
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