A recent Washington Post piece acknowledges that “children with married parents are better off” but simultaneously claims “marriage isn’t the reason why.” The report cites research at Brookings Institution suggesting that higher family income, more educated parents, and better parenting skills help explain the so-called “marriage advantage,” not the institution of matrimony itself.
It’s well known that people with more financial success and more preparation for parenthood are much more likely to marry, so the piece argues that it’s these qualities—not the marital bond—that makes the difference for kids. What this logic ignores is the way marriage changes adults, not just children. Marriage trains people in patience, consideration, sharing, deferred gratification and goal-oriented hard work—just those qualities that make for more financial success and better parenting. Living as a committed and stable couple serves to shape better adults even before they get a chance to parent better kids.