Someone once said, “The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.” Ok, it’s a little corny, but I think the divisions between rich and poor, advantaged and disadvantaged, etc. are important to understand. Kay Hymowitz, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has some fresh insights into this division in her new book Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age
In essence, she says the division between the poor and the rest of us is best defined by the difference between people who see marriage as an indispensable condition of child-rearing and those who don’t. She emphasizes that cohabitation is not the same as marriage and does not get the job done. Although her work is not founded on a platform of the Christian faith, I note that all her findings fit very comfortably within that framework. For example, she writes, “marriage orders life in ways that we only dimly understand. It carries with it signals about how we should live, signals that are in line with both our economy and our politics in the largest sense.” From my perspective, marriage aligns us with God’s order within which we are to learn about Him.
It’s a peculiar thing that 92% of children live with two parents in families with over $75,000 annual income while only 20% of kids live with two parents in families with under $15,000 annual income. What’s missing, according to Ms. Hymowitz, is the “life script” for future-oriented child-rearing. That is, marriage and children are connected!
Child-rearing skills are also sadly lacking in unmarried America. For example, the average words heard per hour are 2,150 for a professor’s child; 1,250 for working-class children; and 620 for children in welfare families. What’s more, the talk of the welfare parents is typically meaner and more distracted. These statistics remind me of my wife’s favorite Proverb that deals with the importance of language in child rearing: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” — Proverbs 18:21
I heard about Kay Hymowitz ‘ book through an e-mail review by Smartmarriages.