and intact families
School assistant professors Thomas DeLeire and Ariel Kalil ("Citations,"
December/01) confirmed numerous other longitudinal studies by
finding that children of divorced or never-married parents fare
far worse on many social indicators compared with children from
intact families. Yet the summary of their research notes they
also found that "not all broken families are alike. Indeed,
teenagers living with their single mother and at least one grandparent
turn out at least as well and often better then teens in intact
on what indicators are in question, it might be true that children
raised by a mother and a grandparent (in most cases probably a
grandmother) do at least as well as children in intact families.
However, it is misleading to suggest that this family model is
as stable for children. In an intact family, two adults with many
years of life ahead of them have committed to raising their child
to adulthood. A single mother-grandmother household is much different.
grandparents typically die far sooner than parents, often before
a child is fully grown. Second, if the single mother decides to
move in with her boyfriend or remarry, the child is again at risk.
(Cohabitation holds many risks for children, and children in stepfamilies
fare no better on most social indicators than children in single-parent
families.) Finally, although many grandmothers rise to the task
of raising their grandchildren with incredible commitment and
skill, it is unfair to expect them to do so. They have already
raised a generation. It is up to their children, who are now mothers
and fathers, to raise the next.
Marquardt, AM'93, MDiv'99