The modern life brings many great things. Medical science that saves lives. Communications technology that broadens minds and eases the flow of information for work and play. Wonders of engineering that allows more people to occupy less space. The modern world is a marvel in which cultural traditions merge and morph to transform cuisines, garments, and the common expressions of understanding. Society in general has access to much that is good. A danger awaits.
Success in Family
Most of the more highly successful people I know (with or without financial abundance) are people who come from strong families. I am glad to have personally known some of these people. Through the media, many of the greatest success stories I have heard about are those with a strong family background. One of the greatest gifts of life is to have been born and to proceed through to adulthood within a solid family structure. This family structure, in those who tend to succeed most under this structure, usually comprises both biological parents present and active in the life of their children. Many widely publicized statements and research refers to this family structure as the highest determinant of a person’s potential.
An acute, specific example of this could be in the person of Jillian Knowles. She is an extremely smart, and well-educated person with a great future. She shares an exemplary story of the power of family in her article on CNN titled, “I still live with my parents and love it“. I know another person from earlier in my career who is from an immigrant family whose story almost matches Jillian’s. He often stated that he felt odd pursuing his masters while staying with his parents. I encouraged him to maintain the situation as his parents are obviously seeing to his long-term success. Unlike others, I showed him, he did not have the certain concerns that could serve to deter him prematurely from a nurturing situation. Today, he is a director on his way to becoming a vice president.
Single Parents are Heroic
Whatever the costs and regardless of the reasons why a biological partner is absent, single parents and their counterparts in two-parent homes continue the cycle of social stability. Stable parenting activity precedes all other societal roles in defining order, structure, and the exercise of values. Single parents are those who continue in this responsibility.
A Single Parent History
I come from generations of single parents. Up the ancestral tree and sideways at each branch. Growing up, I have had legions of friends and associates with the same background. Today, I know dozens more with the same history. I and many of them did grow up with public government assistance for housing, food, and more. I am a little different in that I was born into an upper middle class situation, but my mother later experienced a sudden digression into poverty when I was still very young. I know what growing up poor is like and that single parent situations can increase the likelihood of poor life outcomes (but not guarantee them).
I have not researched the issue of family structure. My sense of the issues are based in experience. Those experiences show me that there is a correlation between home structure and one’s suitability to enacting good patterns of judgement that lead to durable success later in life. You can succeed and thrive despite your background.
Consider Steve Jobs of Apple who only knew of his biological mother for most of his life. With enough will, faith, proper recovery from failure you can rise to where you can be. That is what Steve Jobs did and that made him an exception. Ordinarily though, if you hail from a healthy two-parent family, your chances of success are much greater. That is to say, you do not need extraordinary circumstances or self-constitution to break through when you have the foundation of a solid two-parent family founded on proven values. You can do well and do great things through the momentum of a stable life.
As an adult, I have been privileged with access to the homes and lives of wealthy CEOs due to my work in information technology. I spent several years in the company of those who made excellent decisions in their lives and some of their qualities did rub off on me. When the 2008 recession hit though, you would never know, based on my return to poverty, that I ever had such experiences. What I can say is that I have seen and experienced much of the full span of social strata from the bottom to the top. Success can be misleading if the foundations are not true.
Disunited Past Echos Forward in Time
We sometimes learn from the greater past of our fore-bearers more than we do our own. Behaviors we see expressed may not be the wisest examples to model forward in life. Perhaps in that insight is one of the benefits of having two original parents. The average of their joint behaviors are those that reflect collaboration, cooperation, agreement, validation of the behaviors expressed that are almost always stable and reasonable at a basic level. Single parent homes, situations, and the judgments within are probably much different than those with both biological parents.
What does it say that most healthy two parent homes produce more successful outcomes than single parent ones? I take it to be an indication that what one learns as a child growing up in a single parent home is either not complete enough to build an equivalently successful life or what is retained in knowledge and thought process is not optimal in a society dependent on healthy relationships.
Rebuilding the Family Structure
I am truly thankful that someone created an independent, social process that helped me survive when I was very young. As a rational adult, I know how those processes work and how they do not work. Those programs are temporary solutions. They deal with the physical and I would grant that they would be unnecessary if they could instead successfully address the wider environment. Some have limited the matter to just an issue of money. It is good to be fed, clothed, and housed, but that only cocoons a mind failing to receive the life preparation necessary to be a more productive and acceptable member of society.
Instead, it seems that if the family is important for nations and societies then a better approach is to work actively in the matters of family reconciliation and parental guidance. Further, creating institutional relationships with biological pairs who produce offspring in order to foster continued involvement of parents from birth through adolescence. Instead, the remedies that do exist today can be dispassionate and brutally counterproductive to the goal of strong families.
Two-Parent Families Can Fail
None of this suggests that two-parent homes are absolutely the right foundation for a successful life. I have also observed two-parent homes comprising both biological parents in which inadequate life instruction can proceed from that situation. I know people personally in which that is the case. I know people from that situation of material support, good housing, unbroken access to education, and opportunities to live as they want from childhood to adolescence who went on to have difficulties as adults. I would like to think that on the Internet I am forever young, but in reality, I am old enough to have seen several generations of family structures play out all at once. A two-parent family structure that is not grounded in solid principles can be as ineffective as any other condition. What it means is that concerning two-parent families, the path to parentage has to be properly conducted.
Why Does All This Matter?
It has to do with population. The danger is that too many of us without proper growth and foundation will outstrip a system designed to work in parallel to and, in some cases, as a substitute for those foundations. Dysfunction proceeds from such conditions and often can be too difficult to fix. The tragedy is that individuals are lost travelling down roads of failure without a clear path back to a life of steady, good living enjoying a kind of balanced prosperity that is self-supporting. Take the individuals in large numbers and you have the majority of each generation, lost and tossed away.
Everything has a source, a root that can be traced back from a situation of great error to the genesis of those errors. In the case of individuals and generations encountering chronic life problems, many of those problems can be traced backwards in time to family matters. As the population surges, the symptoms of these problems intensify and spread out like a hard cancer. Difficult to treat well infecting even healthy situations until all seems unrecoverable. At that point, regrettable decisions are made in which the cure is worse than the disease.
Food, energy, war and peace, collective happiness, prosperity, and continuation of the noble arts are all affected by population. Philosophers going back a few hundred years predicted that huge population growth would cause stress on society. I do agree with some of what they say as to the symptoms of a huge population. The mathematics is without question but while there is a limit in the availability and replenishment of resources, people’s relationship with those resources need not follow conventional patterns.
When I summarize what I have read and heard others speak regarding the ultimate solution to the problems of population they go as follows. Severe austerity at best. Others have interpreted their work as suggesting that the solution is to kill a lot of people to keep things in balance. At worst, a few believe that people killing each other on a mass scale is inevitable for the reasons of competition over resources. Such destruction, whether probable or influenced are not things I support.
People who come from healthy, two parent families typically involving original parents, as a group, may often act in ways that are considered good and reasonable. By contrast, people from single parent situations, as a group, may often act in ways that do not lead to durable successful outcomes in society. The trends may be that the greater the population, the greater the number of those from the second group. If that holds true, then that implies an increase in social decay; a pervasive emotional coldness in the world; and intensified Social Darwinism that ejects those who deserve to live simply for being born into an overtly or quietly hostile environment. That world of scarcity, of resources, opportunity, and goodwill, does not have to exist if the right judgments are made today.
I have made some pretty broad generalizations. The core of these broad assertions and suggestions are drawn from my experience; how I have seen lives play out; the careful conclusions I have drawn from those observations; and statements and research done by others whose perspectives on the world I respect. All I know is that world can be what we make it. Derived fully from our beliefs, philosophy, judgments, and proof of the same in action.
Other Articles on this Topic
- Education Week: Study: Parents More Influential Than Schools in Academic Success
- The Boston Globe: Number of two-parent families drops, and economic inequality grows
- Time: How Single or Dual Parenting Affects Early Brain Development
- USCCB: Why Children Need Married Parents
- American Psychological Association: How do parents matter? Let us count the ways
- Star Tribune: Two-parent families aren’t always an advantage
- World Family Map: Two, One, Or No Parents?
- HowStuffWorks: Does single parenting affect children?
- Livestrong: The Effects of a Single Parent Home on a Child’s Behavior
- The American Prospect: The Consequences of Single Motherhood
- The Future of Children: Why Do Single-Parent Families Put Children at Risk?