Downplaying Divorce

December 3, 2019 The Topic: Downplaying DivorceThe News Story: Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to Improve U.S. HealthThe New Research: Doctor’s Orders—Intact Parental Marriages for KidsThe News Story: Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to improve U.S. health The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently issued a press release on new findings detailing how “adverse childhood experiences” (or ACEs) can negatively affect lifelong health. The press release defines ACEs as such things as “experiencing abuse, witnessing violence or substance misuse in the home, and having a parent in jail.” “Exposure to ACEs,” the researchers found, “can result in extreme or repetitive toxic stress responses that can cause both immediate and long-term physical and emotional harms.” So serious are ACEs that they are linked to “at least five of the top 10 leading causes of death.” Interestingly, nowhere in the press release—and only once in a linked summary of the full report—is parental divorce mentioned as one of these “adverse childhood experiences.” This is an oversight, given that many of the other ACEs (violence in the home, etc.) actually increase in prevalence when parents split. In fact, decades of research have shown that what protects children best is marriage. Perhaps in addition to recommending that concerned citizens might “Recognize challenges families face and offer support and encouragement to reduce stress,” the CDC could also have boldly encouraged married parents to stay married. (Source: “Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to improve U.S. health,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Press Release, Nov. 5, 2019.) The New Research: Doctor’s Orders: Intact Parental Marriages for Kids When conservatives speak out against parental divorce, progressives dismiss them as foolishly retrograde, out of touch with twenty-first-century realities. Perhaps these progressives will listen more respectfully to Jane Anderson, clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Surveying available empirical research, Dr. Anderson concludes in an article recently published in the Linacre Quarterly that intact parental marriages greatly benefit American children and that parental divorce seriously hurts them. From “decades of research evaluating the impact of family structure on the health and well-being of children,” Anderson adduces compelling evidence that “children living with their married, biological parents consistently have better physical, emotional, and academic well-being” than do peers living in other home circumstances. Consequently, “divorce and parental separation are damaging to children.” Anderson enumerates the harms that parental divorce visits upon children at sobering length. Compared to peers living in an intact nuclear family, children living with a single parent are almost twice as likely to s
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