Increasingly, many Americans think that growing up with two stable parents is not important for the well-being of children. Living in a two-parent home for all of a child’s life is becoming more and more rare. Today, the rate of children born out of wedlock is 40%. Around 27% of children in America grow up in a single-parent household. Single parenthood is a difficult reality for many Americans (and often unchosen), and many single parents are doing an excellent job. But married parenthood offers great benefits to parents and children alike. 

How much do you know about the effects of being raised by two parents? Play this icebreaker game to find out! Two of the three following statements are true. Can you identify the lie?

A. Coming from an intact family does not have an influence on one’s financial success.   

B. Children who come from stable two-parent families have higher educational attainment and student behavior. 

C. Children who come from single-parent families are more likely to get in trouble with the law.

A. Lie! Adults in their 30s who came from intact families are more likely to make more money than those raised by single parents. 77% of Millennials from two-parent homes achieved middle or higher income by their mid-30s. This is 20 percentage points higher than those from single-parent homes. 71% of Boomers from two-parent homes reached that income in their mid-30s compared to 55% of Boomers from single-parent homes.    

B. Truth! Growing up with two parents in the home also improves educational achievement and behavior. An “Education Next” study found that “Spending all three years in a single-parent family, as opposed to none, was associated with completing 0.63 fewer years of schooling and a reduction of 13 percentage points in the probability of graduating from college.” 

Furthermore, recent research reported that misbehavior was “nearly twice as high” among high school students living with separated or divorced parents compared to those with stable married parents. School suspensions or expulsions are also higher for children who come from broken families. 

C. Truth! Lastly, adolescents from single-parent homes are more likely to break the law, which greatly affects their well-being as an adult. A systematic review of 48 studies suggested that growing up in a single-parent family increases an adolescent’s chance of committing a crime. Committing a crime during adolescence is then linked to lower income, worse health outcomes, lower probability, and higher chance of crime in adults.  

Bottom Line: 

The data is undeniable. Stable two-parent families benefit children. The effects of single-parent households negatively impact boys especially. Studies prove the opposite of what many Americans believe—marriage and two-parent families improve the financial, social, and emotional success and growth of kids. This means that in our society and our laws, we should do what we can to encourage strong, stable marriages (ideally before children), and we should recognize that, while it’s not always possible, a married, two-parent family still offers children the best environment.