Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Isabel Sawhill on Single Parents, on NPR 6-12

In my last post, I wrote about the remarkable editorial by Isabel Sawhill a couple of weeks ago in the Washington Post.  She was a guest on NPR's show today, Talk of the Nation, with Neal Conan.  Also on the show was Phil Cohen, a sociologist who I've mentioned in prior blogs and who has included comments from me on a couple of his blogs.

I don't agree with every point made on the show (particularly about the nature of the Healthy Marriage Initiatives in the past 10 years) but the points discussed about families and the difficulties of single parents are outstanding. One of the points that comes through so strongly is how difficult it is for children, even with great single parents, when it comes to getting the time and attention they need. They discuss complex issues related to child care and dating and a number of other things.

Isabel Sawhill makes the most important point, in my view, by bringing the discussion back--several times--to how important it is to help the next generation delay having children until other things are settled, especially a clear, committed relationship between two people who want to raise children together.  We usually call that marriage, as she points out, but she gets to the same point I made in my last post. The reason children have an edge when their parents are married before they have children is that commitment questions between these two parents-to-be got settled before the children were in the mix.  No guarantees but it greatly ups the odds. Sawhill gets it that the battle here is for the next generation in terms of prevention.That means things happening to help people before they are in this spot (and also, hopefully, more thoughtful discussions about how to help people best who are already in this spot). 

Before, Before, Before. Before. 

Have a listen (or read) at NPR Talk of the Nation.

(Bill Coffin, thank you for the heads up!)