Monday, July 09, 2007

Marrieds with Children

Wait for the explosion of synthetic rage. Purple-faced outrage against 'Same old Tories'. Much talk of 'unreconstructed bigots' and 'cruel attacks on single mothers'. None of it justified of course. But I still think that David Cameron is taking a massive risk by making the case for marriage - even if he has sent IDS out into the war zone to test for land mines. Its a big risk and I agree with him absolutely.

Lets get our defense in first. Of course there are many wonderful single parents, bringing up very successful well-balanced children. And this debate shouldn't be anything to do with morality, sexual exclusivity, homosexuality, etc.. Live and let live I say. The debate is about averages, and facts that have to be faced - and about how we tackle the social breakdown that causes such a swathe of destruction across our country.

On average, children are much less likely to become criminals or drug addicts if they are brought up by two parents living together. And the two parents are much more likely to carry on living together if they are married. The children are much less likely to fail at school. And much less likely to become parents themselves whilst they are still children. That's not to say etc.......

The anyone who can operate an abacus can work out that our tax system (and every other Government system) should be geared towards encouraging parents to get married if they have children - and encouraging them to make the accommodations needed to stay married when things get a bit rocky. It certainly shouldn't be encouraging the opposite. This all seems very logical and uncontroversial to me. But I find myself in total agreement with Janet Daley in today's Telegraph and with the Cornerstone Group in general. Maybe there is a right wing butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. At least, I have the comfort of knowing that David Cameron seems to be thinking the same way.


Anonymous said...

Isn't the problem poverty? Did IDS check out whether those teen mams, drug addicts, prisoners etc had that in common too?

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I think the research has been very detailed - though I have not read it myself. I do think that the relationship between poverty and social disfuction is a complex one. Not sure it lessens the gist of my post.

Anonymous said...

The assumption you are making is that children who come from homes where their parents are not married are more likely to end up in jail, on drugs, pregnant young etc. If the research is that detailed, you should be able to work out whether another common thread is poverty. Or perhaps the right questions weren't asked? I agree the relationship between social dysfunction and poverty is a complex one, but so is the relationship between social dysfunction and marriage.

This has the danger of making your party sound like its against kids from broken homes, and against people who decide (often for very good reason) to break up. Not very cuddly is it?

Glyn Davies said...

anon - For too long this issue has not been faced up to - because so many people are quick to accuse those who want to address it as being in some way 'anti' the groups that suffer most. That is why I said that David Cameron is taking a risk by even daring to consider it. I think that he is both right and brave.

Trying to reduce the number of children from broken homes is not the same thing as being 'against kids from broken homes' as you put it. There is a massive job to do in the field of helping vulnerable children. I hope to become involved myself by joining a company working in this field.

gwe said...

"Trying to reduce the number of children from broken homes is not the same thing as being 'against kids from broken homes' as you put it."

True. But is there conclusive evidence to suggest that married couples are less likely to split than those 'living together'?

I'm all for giving tax breaks to couples with children, but that's not the same as to say that married couples should get a tax break.

There used to be a tax break for married couples in Germany - I think the law has changed now, I'm not sure to be honest. Anyway, as someone bringing up a young family on a single wage I do know that it was slightly surreal to know that childless married couples paying less tax than me!

I must add that I have nothing against the institution of marriage - I am married myself - but it seems bizzare for the state to 'reward' the institution itself. Having the state reward people for having children is another matter - there is not enough practical help given to young parents in my opinion.

John said...

I'm a school governor of a typical comprehensive school and sit on it's "exclusions committee".

The common denominator that I see in all the cases that come before our little committee is family breakdown.

Most are being raised by single mothers. Some live with their mother and step dad (usually unmarried). A high number live with a grandparent because the single mother/mother and step dad either cannot control the child or simply do not want to.

This is not to say, and it needs to be acknowledged (as Glyn says, get the defence in first) that there are many, many pupils from single parent/mum and step dad etc. homes that behave and perform exemplary well and never appear before our committee. I myself have an aunty who has raised two daughters really, really well under difficult circumstances including what would be called "relative poverty" following her estrangement from my cousin's father. A lot do a brilliant job raising their children with the added hurdle of being a broken home. These people should get every support possible from the state and, unless I have missed something in the small print, cannot see the Conservatives saying that they shouldn't.

BUT... it needs to be recognised, accepted and built into the tax and welfare system that the optimum environment to raise children is in a stable household with a married female mother and male father.

You do not need endless research and piles of supporting evidence. You only need to see that the traditional family has been the cornerstone (pun intended) of an orderly society for hundreds of years and should be recognised as such by the tax and welfare system.

That said, I still cannot see the Conservative Party offering anything close to a conservative policy platform at the next election under the permissive liberal Blair-clone of a PR consultant that is David Cameron although I do still hope that the only Conservative gain at the next General Election is Montgomeryshire. Cameron resigns, Glyn Davies for leader!!!

Eton Rifle said...

"Most are being raised by single mothers. Some live with their mother and step dad (usually unmarried)."

Thats actually not possible though is it?

Unless they are married they wouldnt be a step dad.

Poverty is the yardstick, not the parental structure.