Monday, October 20, 2008

Lucia The Effects of divorce and a book review

Family First has released new research that shows the devastating financial effects that divorce has on a country.
Family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates is costing New Zealand taxpayers at least $1 billion a year, according to new research.

Prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), the research was commissioned by Family First NZ.

"The study shows that the decline of marriage, New Zealand's high teenage fertility rate, and our rate of solo parenthood is not just a moral or social concern but should also be a concern of government and policymakers,'' said Family First NZ national director Bob McCoskrie.

"The report states that even a small reduction in family breakdown and increases in marriage rates could provide significant savings for taxpayers.''
The article seems to focus on mainly the financial effects of divorce/family breakdown on the country, which unfortunately is the only way to get people's attention as to the detrimental effects of the divorce culture that is so prevalent in the West.

All of this is incredibly timely as I've just finished reading a book on divorce, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study, prompted by a recent separation announcement by one of my cousins last month. Reading the book was really hard, as it broke my heart for both my cousin and her children who are the same ages as my own children. If the future for the children was positive, it wouldn't be so bad, but it seems that divorce for children is devastating from the day they find out about the destruction of their family and it doesn't improve - it gets worse over time.

If parents really knew what the long term effects are on children I doubt they would separate. But there are a number of myths that we as a society believe about divorce that have become entrenched since no-fault divorces became the standard. The major myth being that if the parents are happy, the children will be too. This is a lie, a horrible, disgusting lie that allows parents to split up without too much guilt. But the fact is that children suffer terribly when their parents separate, and they hide much of this suffering from their parents because of a fear of abandonment. Once the marriage is split open, the children are no longer protected by the family unit, and many children become protectors of their parent's emotional states instead.

A couple of days ago I found out another cousin is about to take the step of separation from her husband, and it made me reflect on what the book said about children of divorce and their inability to make their marriages work. Both my cousins that are separating grew up in divorced families. They both have no idea how a man and a woman who are having difficulties reconcile their problems. All they know is that if the going gets tough, you leave. And that's what they'll be teaching their children.

Related Link: Loose morals costs NZ $1b a year ~ Stuff

38 comment(s):

Sb said...

"If parents really knew what the long term effects are on children I doubt they would separate."

Are you being serious or just saying that for effect!

I could see an argument for this in that parents would take more care of the effect on the children consider plans for them in more detail etc. But actually not seperate I would be stunned if the effect was more than 3-5%.

Swimming said...

The report seems to focus on mainly the financial effects of divorce on the country

Well, it doesn't focus on that at all The report is about family breakdown, not divorce. It does not differentiate between married or unmarried couples in family breakdown situations.

ZenTiger said...

Are you being serious or just saying that for effect!

sb, are you being serious too?

Or to put it another way - do you think every single couple that went through difficult times and considered separation actually went ahead and did it (bar 3-5%) or is it possible many more parents took the issue of children into account and thus made a decision to fix their relationship?

There are studies floating around that say that marriages can be repaired, and have been repaired and I would think that figure is much higher than 5%.

Sb said...

I am taking it as Lucyna wrote it.

How many people would not have seperated if they knew the effect on the children.

She said "If parents really knew what the long term effects are on children I doubt they would separate."

I am saying that I beleive that access to that knowledge would change the outcome in only 3-5% of cases.


ZenTiger said...

Yes, and I am disagreeing with you. Because many parents may be together today, having taken such effects into account.

And in having a reason to work things out, may be together happily for it all.

I don't think this is a case of knowledge that children suffer greatly under divorce, because many rationalize that their children aren't in the same situation. Beyond knowledge, couples need understanding of the true effects of separation. I don't think this is well understood, in spite of the obvious evidence all around us.

Lucia Maria said...

Dave, I've modified my post to be more accurate in line with your comments.

SB, prepare to be stunned. The fact is that there are myths that we collectively believe around separation that are incredibly harmful, that make (mostly women who initiate separation) believe that they are doing the best thing in the circumstances for their family. I had a few of those myths given to me as reasons for the rightness of the separation from my cousin last month. At least one of those myths set off my truth-o-meter and initiated an online search for more information. I found the book I mention in my post.

That book is a shocker. It has followed a number of children of divorce right through adulthood and compared those children to their peers raised in intact families. Even if an intact family is unhappy, the outcome for the children is far better than the outcome for children of divorced/separated families.

So, no, I am not saying what I said for effect.

Sb said...

Well I have requested it from the Library service so it will be interesting to see what turns up.


Cactus Kate said...

"If parents really knew what the long term effects are on children I doubt they would separate".

Put another way, if parents really knew the long term effects on children when they divorce I guarantee they would be far more careful about who they actually marry.

Far too many people get married for reasons that they think they have to, pressure and convention - most of this placed upon them by religious groups and government policy.

If people actually thought through who they are marrying and why, plenty of this nonsense could be avoided from the outset.

ZenTiger said...

Good on you sb.

ZenTiger said...

Cactus Kate, I agree in that society is teaching people that if marriages don't work out, you just cancel them.

No longer is "to death do us part" seriously considered or seriously taught. Once children enter the picture, then the responsibilities of parenthood become apparent, and the failure of so many marriages ever so tragic.

However, I don't think it is all social and religious pressure to marry. There is often the youthful expectation of 'happily ever after', and life just doesn't work that way.

Still, if we focused on your last comment: If people actually thought through who they are marrying and why, plenty of this nonsense could be avoided from the outset. that is indeed the challenge.

I wonder though if we also educated people to understand relationships that succeed involve a certain amount of sacrifice.

The women's movement has made it clear to many secularists that this is no longer the sole job of the wife, but many remain fixated on themselves.

Christianity has always made it clear that marriage is a partnership with roles and responsibilities, with honour and duty, with love and with caritas, until death do they part. That's the attitude needed going in, and the attitude needed when times are hard.

That might be pressure, but it's also telling it the way it needs to be for it to work.

KG said...

I've seen bored young girls decide to get married because it promises them a brief period of being the centre of attention--almost a social occasion without any real thought about the long-term implications.
And their mothers seem happy to go along with it because it allows them a little excitement in their drab lives, organising a wedding and choosing a dress and compiling as big a guest list as possible....
In short, the wedding as spectacle.
Not a good way to commit to a lifetime of sharing and duty and sheer bloody hard work.
When you see thousands spent on lavish weddings by people who can't really afford it you see a set of priorities on display which demonstrate a lack of understanding of what marriage is all about.
No wonder the fate of the kids when it all goes pear-shaped is almost incidental to such people.

Canterbury Atheists said...

Family First have been very selective with their research or at least what they want New Zealanders to believe. A major U.S Study recently revealed Christians are over represented in Divorce Statistics. The study did not get into the legacy of divorce, but merely highlighted that Christian marriages are just as likely or more likely to end, than other denominations surveyed (fundamentalists were the worst) & statistically speaking, a Christian marriage is less likely to last than even than those of evil-old atheists. More evidence Christians can ‘talk the talk’ but not ‘walk the walk’. The summary of this study therefore was: if you want to lower divorce rates in society we need to have more Hindus, Atheists, Jews etc and less Christians. Seems infinitely fair to me. Paul (still with his first wife)

ZenTiger said...

Mr Atheist, I'd be interested in the link; you never know, maybe this research was also selective?

I also suspect many more people that would divorce, if they were married, never bother marrying and simply split up as de facto couples. You might find those unmarried cohabiting couples are non-practicing Christians.

We also might discover that many people that identify as Christian, are in name only.

As for evangelical fundamentalists, they are indeed in a category of their own :-)

Canterbury Atheists said...

I'll do better than that Mr Tiger here's the figures:

11% of all American adults are currently divorced
25% of all American adults have had at least one divorce

27% of born-again Christians have had at least one divorce
24% of all non-born-again Christians have been divorced

21% of atheists have been divorced
21% of Catholics and Lutherans have been divorced
24% of Mormons have been divorced
25% of mainstream Protestants have been divorced
29% of Baptists have been divorced
24% of nondenominational, independent Protestants have been divorced

Naturally there's more to it, broken down into demographics, states, race etc - but you get the picture.

Now before you ask Doubting Thomas's, the Survey was done by The Barna Research Group in California, who are themselves an evangelical Christian organisation!

So there's not atheist consiracy here, this survey company works on behalf of U.S Christians doing research into how they behave, vote etc.

It would be interesting to see what Family First make of this and tell us - why do Atheists marriages mostly last longer than Christian ones?

I repeat it's easy 'talking the talk'.



PS: I got it wrong on The Jews, by the way. They were way up there!

ZenTiger said...

Thanks Paul.

I looked at a 2008 survey from that group, and it has different figures.

When I get a chance I'll look at the entire report and comment further.

In the meantime, here's what I saw:

* 22% of adults have never married. See my earlier point about stats for broken families from de facto couples.

* The National Average for divorce was 33%

*Catholics at 28% were below the national average.

* Conservatives at 28% were below the National average.

* Liberals at 37% were above the national average.

* Those associated with a non christian faith were at 38%.

* Declared Atheists and Agnostics were higher than Catholics and Conservatives, but only slightly, at 30%.

So based on those figures I don't think it worth getting into snide "walk the talk" slurs.

That isn't the point of the post in any event. The point is not just about divorce, but divorces where children are involved, and the damage it does.

Just because I say that the Christian ideal is one marriage, with fidelity doesn't mean I don't understand that no person is perfect, and we all make mistakes.

Sometimes its not about if we fail, it's about setting the goal and striving for it, and in spite of all our character flaws, aiming high instead of low generally yields better results.

Furthermore, the thrust of the post was also to explain that the damage done to children of divorce is quite profound. I wonder in those statistics above how many divorces involving children are from parents that themselves were children of divorce?

The main thing I'm saying is that society as a whole, as well as individuals would be better off if more families stayed together, which would involve a sea change in understanding the importance of marriage, as well as being better prepared for marriage.

ZenTiger said...

PS: I should also make it clear that I am not trying to justify or excuse the high statistics of failed Christian marriages.

I agree that Christians need to lead the pack, and demonstrate the 'walk the talk', which I think would inspire others.

I therefore find myself wondering how many of those people are actually devout? And again, no surprises that we are all capable of falling.

fugley said...

Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I was a xtian,and this is one of those times.

I therefore find myself wondering how many of those people are actually devout?

When members of my team let the team down, I just deny they're part of the team. I think that began about 200 years ago.

And again, no surprises that we are all capable of falling.

That's right, its not my its because the world is fallen and so am I.

Gee, being a xtian makes life so much easier than being a humanist and accepting it just might be me.

Canterbury Atheists said...

Yep, same company, different survey year, broadly the same results (atheists score better over-all that fire-brand Christians in the divorce stakes & this comes from a fundamentalist group) I am not being dismissive of the effects of divorce there Tiger, but research of this kind under-taken by Family First, does nothing to establish ‘who it is that is getting divorced?’ and ‘why?. Only then can you address the problem. I am merely highlighting Christian Lobby groups have no moral high-ground in respect to marriage/family break-ups. Family First should be tidying their own back yard up first, in relationship (not a good turn of phrase here!) to divorce, before pointing their righteous finger at the liberalism in secular society as some sort of cause to these figures. See ya. Paul.

ZenTiger said...

Our society is our own backyard, and our front yard for that matter. Clean up society, and the yard we play in is much safer and healthier for us all.

This discussion should not be about who is taking the higher moral ground or not. Indeed, that just diverts us away from the real issue at hand.

In any event, all we have done is bandy about statistics. Do you have proof that the divorce rates with children in Family First are higher than the national average? Maybe they have tidied up their own back yard.

You seem to agree intact families are a good thing, and this post presents evidence that broken families have serious repercussions, more profound than many seem to realise.

So there is the issue. Broken families. Whatever policies help keep families together are to be encouraged.

What are the causes? I'm sure we could list many that we agree upon - it's not rocket science here.

Some of the fundamental causes must surely be lack of preparation for marriage, a growing expectation that if marriage doesn't work out rather than try harder, you divorce and try with some else. Once children come into the equation, this is extremely destructive.

The referenced book in the post also points out how divorce is more common when the parents themselves have been children of divorce.

Society has become more liberal, and there is definitely a link between acceptance of solo parenting, no-fault divorce, both parents working and leaving child care in the hands of strangers, and the radical feminist movement.

As a society our values on the importance of marriage has changed, and it is leaving a trail of destruction.

What do you think the causes are?

Sb said...

"I'm sure we could list many that we agree upon - it's not rocket science here"

I would say its much harder than rocket science.

I think you would find it incredible hard to get a room full of people to agree on even a short list of 5 items for example.

That's one of the problems people don't agree.

My short list!

1)Giving women the vote
2)Equal pay
3)The Pill
4)Unrealistic expectations of marriage
5) Cheap food.

No I am not joking think about each one!


Canterbury Atheists said...

O.K then Tiger, name me one Family First policy that will reduce the over-all rate of divorce in New Zealand? Compulsory religious studies? Mandatory Church attendance by all able-bodied Kiwi's? Just one policy from Family First would be nice. This isn't rocket-science (your words not mine)

Lucia Maria said...

Paul, why do you want a Family First policy? We don't speak for them. But, I could give you my own ideas for reducing divorce, if you like.

Canterbury Atheists said...

Sure Lucyna, it's easy highlighting a problem, harder finding a solution.Family First could have commissioned research on a whole raft of social ills which would have shown similar negative economic effect = state the bleeding obvious.But what they don't do is give us a solution to the problem, except possibly pointing to changes in the number of married -vrs- defacto's as a reason(?)Historically F.F are into the mandatory banning of anything that's sunful in their eyes - so I'm presuming they'll scrap any form of partnership that doesn't involve a church & a ordained minister? You tell me, I'm not on speaking terms with them. Cheers. Paul.

ZenTiger said...

Income Splitting

Canterbury Atheists said...

The only person I’ve heard espouse the virtues of income splitting is Peter ‘invisible between elections’ Dunne. I’m unable however to make in correlation between a tax policy & lowering marriage break-ups though? My suggestion is to forget so-called Christian values altogether when it comes to divorce. After-all the most Christian Country in the World’s tops the ‘Divorce League’ so the last thing we want is to follow their appalling example. Better we learn from atheistic countries like Japan, who have amongst the lowest rates in the Western World, how they keep marriages/families together.

Lucia Maria said...


which country do you consider the "most Christian Country in the World"? I'm guessing that it's the United States than you are referring to?

I would consider Poland to be far more Christian than the US, and a quick search confirms that.

Poland 89% Roman Catholic (75% practising), had divorce stats for the year 2000 of 43,000 divorces for a population of 38,644,000.

The US 52% Protestant, 24% Roman Catholic (practising figures are low, I'll find them later), 2% Mormon had 22 times more divorces for that year (957,000) for a population only 7 times larger.

A quick look at the divorce rate for Japan shows that their rate of 2.3 divorces per 1,000 in 2002 is higher than Poland's 1.1 divorces per 1,000 in 2000.

Given all of that, I would say that practising Roman Catholicism is far more conducive to stable marriages than just Christianity due to Catholicism's non-recognition of any marriage other than the first. In other words, the deal is you are in it for life. That's RC only.

ZenTiger said...

My suggestion is to forget so-called Christian values altogether when it comes to divorce.

Well, that is exactly what has happened Paul.

And given the wide variety of Christian types, including a huge number that self-identify as Christian but are barely that, I think we can see western society is not only trying to forgot Christian values as quickly as possible, but lumping in rather diverse groups that themselves have moved away from Catholicism to get the kind of results you love to point out, but ultimately, don't really prove your point, it just underscores how far every thing has slipped.

Lucia Maria said...

Here we go: 65% of American Catholics are practicing (defined as attending church at least once a month - I find this definition incredible as we are supposed to go every Sunday on pain of mortal sin, but there ya go). Non-practicing are also very different in their views on a range of social issues.

Poll finds practicing, non-practicing Catholics in America are worlds apart

ZenTiger said...

I agree. So of the 100% self identifying as Catholic, 35% are probably Catholic in name only, and another unknown amount who do not attend Church according to the required weekly obligation likely fall into that category.

So the statistics are incorrect from the very start.

Canterbury Atheists said...

O.K then smarty, a more obvious choice for a defender of the faith, would have been Vatican City if you want to play semantics.

Here is the list of the five largest Christian Nations, based on population first/percentages second:

1 USA 224,457,000 85%
2 Brazil 139,000,000 93%
3 Mexico 86,120,000 99%
4 Russia 80,000,000 60%
5 China 70,000,000 5.7%

Here’s the same list for those horrible old ‘liberal’ Atheists:

1.) Sweden 8,986,000 46 - 85% 4,133,560 - 7,638,100
2.) Vietnam 82,690,000 81% 66,978,900
3.) Denmark 5,413,000 43 - 80% 2,327,590 - 4,330,400
4.) Norway 4,575,000 31 - 72% 1,418,250 - 3,294,000
5.) Japan 127,333,000 64 - 65%

So you tell me Lucyna, which countries are better places to live on average, given a choice and social measuring sticks like health/education etc?
Which streets would you rather roam at night? Which countries treat their citizens with respect and care? Which countries would you rather bring your own children up in? Why is it Mexico (99% Catholic) is a crime-ridden third-world sh*t-hole whilst that ‘moral vacuum’ Sweden is a country renown for its cleanliness, education & wealth?

ZenTiger said...

You have very strange thought processes Paul. I don't think you prove what you try to infer at all.

Do you think Russia and Chinese Christians reflect the culture of the nation? Do you know how much these groups were (probably still are) persecuted.

Next you'll be wondering why Christians in Syria or even India have cause for complaint!

The issue is equally the slow destruction of Christian values in liberal society, and your list may be different in 30 years. We can either support the values that assisted democracy and the sharing of wealth (which is a mixture of Christianity, capitalism and democracy) or we can watch it wither away and wonder why society seems to be going downhill.

You are clearly blaming Christianity for Mexico and Atheism for Sweden's success. You are clearly mad. However, I am open minded, and am most interested to see how you prove this assertion.

Please continue.

ZenTiger said...

My apologies Paul. It was rude of me to suggest you are clearly mad. Please allow me to rephrase that line to "I really don't follow you here".

Canterbury Atheists said...

Z.T,it is commonly held falacy that religion makes people more compassionate and moral etc,and all I am doing is proving the fact.

The results of a study by G.S Paul into rates of abortion/crime and other social ills, through-out 17WESTERN Countries (N.Z was included by the way) proved yet again the greater number of non-theists = lower the rates.

This has nothing to do with wealth.

Religious Western Societies tend to have higher rates of abortion, murder, crime, teen pregnancies etc than secular ones. Exception to this rule is suicide.

If you wanted to look at poorer nations 'apples versus apples' you'll reach the same conclusion.

With 99% of the population being Catholic, Mexico should surely be a safe country, and it's average income is USD 11,000 per adult which is close to three times that of an ungodly Vietnamese. Why is it Mexico's murder rate is 5 times as great? It's rape statistics 10 times more? It can't be anything to do with wealth.

Kindly stop continuing to ignore the elephant in the room.


Paul (who has to get back to work)

Canterbury Atheists said...

By the way, no offence taken with the mad comment. My long-suffering wife calls me that so often, it's water off a ducks back there Z.T!

Lucia Maria said...


Ah, I see, now that you've lost of the major point you thought you were making, you've changed the argument.

Forget all the other countries for now (Mexico is not 99% RC, btw), and let's look at NZ.

Compare out murder and crime rates 50 years ago when we were still predominantly a Christian country to today, when those who self-identify as Christians have fallen dramatically. Notice the correlation?

ZenTiger said...

And again, more to the point of the post:

Do you think children are generally better off being raised in a traditional family, by both of their natural parents in the same house, or do your think being a child of divorce is not necessarily a big issue?

Canterbury Atheists said...

Again, there’s an elephant in the room and it’s about to take a dump! Labouring the point….the more Christian a country is the more likely they are likely to suffer social ills like divorce, murder, abortion etc on an ‘apples versus apples’ basis (even with demographics, incomes taken into account) If you think the most densely occupied Christian nations on the planet are shining beacons for us to follow – may your God help you and good luck wandering the streets of Monterrey, Crompton or Sao Paulo after dark! I repeat my proposition that the best bet is we seek the answers, what ever they are, from countries that suffer lower rates of these ills, to see what they do and we don’t. Japan is one example. I’m not a sociologist by the way so not able to answer what is and isn’t an ideal environment for kids, other than saying it involves someone who loves them. End of my contribution. Good speaking to you. Bye for now. Paul.

Madeleine said...

Why don't you look at the murder and crime rates in Saudi Arabia Paul?

They are significantly lower than Japan's.

By the logic of the Canterbury Atheists, lets all embrace Islam.

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