The first Mississippi constitution discouraged divorce and “provided that no decree for divorce shall have effect until the same shall be sanctioned by two-thirds of both branches of the General Assembly.”
Little doubt that last provision had an encouraging effect on some shaky marriages that otherwise wouldn’t have made it to death-do-us-part. A far cry from the no-fault divorce laws of today, one concludes that court dockets were not crowded with domestic matters back then.
With that concise not-so-trivial background, consider these random national statistics attributed to a variety of sources: 33% of American children live in a home where the biological father is not present;
80% of adults incarcerated in prisons and of minors in state-operated correctional facilities come from fatherless homes;
400% is the increased likelihood of poverty for those children without a father compared with those where the father lives in their home; after they reach adulthood, those fatherless children of poverty are 50% more likely to continue living the rest of their lives in poverty; whereas, a child growing up in a two-parent home, even in poverty, is substantially less likely to have behavioral problems, more likely to complete his education through 12th grade, and more likely to become employed and come out of poverty;
200% is the increased likelihood of dropping out of school for children without a father compared with those whose father lives in the home;
200% increased incidence of suicide for fatherless children;
100% higher obesity rate for female children in fatherless homes; and
400% higher incidence of pregnancy for female minors who live in a fatherless home.
75% of rapists are products of a fatherless home;
75% of minors treated for substance abuse are products of a fatherless home; and
90% of youths who run away from home are products of a fatherless home.
Nationally, 40% of the children who are born in the United States today are born to unwed mothers; i.e., born into fatherless homes. That shocking figure is even higher for births in the city of Jackson.
Because there is a 300% greater likelihood for fatherless male children to carry a firearm and for a similar percentage to deal in drugs, consider what the teachers and policemen residing in the same communities, towns, and cities are faced with in their jobs. Consider also the personal concerns and fears of other good people who live in the same communities, towns, and cities. Could there be a highest per capita out-of-wedlock birth rate and highest per capita murder rate correlation going on here in Jackson?
Today it is also acceptable, even encouraged, that unmarried couples live together. Because of slack divorce laws, contracted marriages are in some ways not much more stable than non-contractual co-habitation. In both arrangements one or both of the partners can elect to end a relationship for the puniest of reasons or at will for no real reason.
By following the cultural rationalization of changing social mores, Mississippi has legislatively and judicially loosened the bonds of matrimony and the penalty for births outside of matrimony. The law (not the trial judiciary who are charged with following and applying the law) now seems to show little care for preserving marriages. And it appears to barely recognize the importance of family and the reason for marriage, which is to promote and assure, as much as humanly possible, a stable home life for children produced by the union of a man and a woman.
If the sources are credible and the statistics accurate, fatherless homes not only often result in aberrant behaviors in children in their youth but also after they are grown. Boys are more likely to become involved in crimes and girls are more likely to become pregnant, when compared with offspring growing up in a traditional home life. (Note, again, the incarceration figures.) Both sexes are more likely than their counterparts to become behavior problems at school. (Id.) So what legitimate reason exists for the law and society to make it easier for there to be more fatherless homes? Don’t parents have a duty to see that their children have fathers present when they are growing up?
Even Communist China looks to recognize this fact with its new civil code that discourages divorce. Chinese state media defends the new law as “ensuring family stability and social order.” (“Divorces fall 70% in China after government orders couples to cool off,” James Griffiths, CNN World News, May 19, 2021.) Even before the new law, China’s out-of-wedlock birth rate was one percent or less. (“Yale Global,” yaleglobal.edu.out-of-wedlock-births, March 16, 2017.) When Eastern atheists and Western believers agree on a matter that has both societal and moral implications, the woke had better wake up.
I hope that I haven’t offended my regular five and twenty readers, of whom statistically it’s probable that fifty percent have been divorced and one hundred percent are in families that have experienced divorce (including the writer). Use of “fatherless” in part of the current culture is considered derogatory or discriminatory because it suggests that those without a father in their lives have a problem or are a problem. In that condition of fatherlessness, brought about not by death or severe illness but by the choice of one or more parents to be self-absorbed rather than selfless and to be removed from, rather than present in, the lives of children they co-created, those fatherless children do have a problem. But it is a problem that no child causes. For them dysfunctional behaviors and lack of self-esteem to the point of crime and self-destruction are outcomes of improper home life. What else can be concluded from the disturbing published statistics and the frightening results being daily reported in the media and press?
The greatest hope for everyone is faith based in God, not self. Religious faith is taught in loving homes, supplemented and supported by organized religion as well as by the good example of teachers and others in authority. Finally, as faith teaches and reason directs, a father’s presence in the home is good for children and for their mother. Admittedly these are not progressive ideas. But true social justice, a term which I understand was coined by the Church two centuries ago, exists when government and society act to promote the good of the traditional family. And for children the meaning of social justice includes the physical and moral assurance of their fathers in the home.
Chip Williams is a Northsider.