Get married if you want stable childhood for offspring
Regional technical director of the Southern Regional Health Authority, Dr Michael Coombs has said that a 2017 World Family Map Report, recently released from the Institute for Family Studies and the Social Trends Institute, both in the USA, is advising parents who want their children to enjoy the benefits of a stable childhood, to marry and not cohabit.
This, he says, follows the analysis of data from more than 60 countries across the world.
Dr Coombs highlighted this latest study in his keynote address to the 18th Annual Families and Fathers Conference hosted by the Fathers and Family Coalition of America in California from February 27 to March 3.
According to a release from the Southern Regional Health Authority, the regional director noted that the report indicated that children of cohabiting parents are 98 per cent more likely to see their parents separate by age 12 compared to children of married parents.
“The study is in keeping with previous studies, some of which have indicated a greater likelihood of parental separation for cohabiting as opposed to married parents, up to 500 per cent more likely.
This significantly increased likelihood of parental separation in cohabitation or common-law unions creates an instability that is very traumatic for children, particularly during the early years of life.
These children are more likely to be delinquents, abuse drugs, have behavioural disorders, be depressed and involved in high-risk behaviours among other things,” Dr Coombs explained.
Dr Coombs, who is also the Founder and Chair of the National Association for the Family, further explained that cohabiting parents are significantly more likely to experience intimate partner (domestic) violence either as a perpetrator or victim.
This, he said, when witnessed by a child, may result in scars which may lead to dysfunctional and harmful relationships in their adult years.
The regional technical director pointed out that Jamaica’s high rate of out-of-wedlock births, almost nine out of 10, along with a sharp decline in marriages, suggests much instability in homes which is adversely affecting many children.
He underscored the urgent need to re-establish traditional marriage and the nuclear family, noting that it should not be viewed as outdated institutions, but as the keys to optimum child health and development, societal success, and national development for Jamaica and other Caribbean states.
He stated that for this to be accomplished, legislative and policy frameworks need to provide incentives to get married, especially among men.
He also suggested that greater focus be placed on educating youths through Health and Family Life Education and other programmes about the clear benefits of parental marriage to the health, wellness and success of children.