UNGUARDED TREASURE: Why Marriage Matters to Home Education

by Res Peters

Ninety-seven. The percentage of home educated students whose parents are married. The percentile ranking of ICHE-tested students when compared to the other school districts in the nation. The percentage of home educated adults who do not consider life to be dull.

Why were these statistics electrifying to the Governor's Task Force on Children at Risk? Because they knew of no other group of children where, effectively, both parents were in the home and married.

And why was this single factor of such interest? Because marriage matters when it comes to the health and well-being of children through adolescence and into adulthood.

According to Glen Stanton, Senior Analyst for Marriage and Sexuality, Focus on the Family, thousands of studies have demonstrated that children raised within the stability of marriage perform better academically, financially, behaviorally, and emotionally. He cites the following findings.

Infants can distinguish between male and female interaction by the eighth week. Mothers are more likely to care for children while fathers will be more playful. Through this process the mother will foster security and equity and the father, independence and competition.

Fathers tend to push limits while mothers encourage caution. Rather than risking without consideration of the consequences, or failing to learn independence and confidence from becoming overly guarded, the child learns from both father and mother to prudently expand his experience.

Parents communicate differently. The father is typically more brief, directive, and to the point. The mother is more descriptive, personal, and verbally encouraging. The blend of exposure to both father and mother equips the child to effectively communicate in a variety of relationships outside of the family, from employers to the aged.

When disciplining children, a father's orientation is based on rules, stressing justice, fairness, and duty. A mother is focused on relationships, emphasizing sympathy, care, and help. The child learns the objectivity of the consequences of right and wrong from the father, tempered with a sense of hopefulness from the mother's grace and sympathy in the wake of disobedience.

Fathers and mothers prepare children for life differently. Fathers view the child in relation to the rest of the world and groom that child for the reality and harshness of it. Fathers in the home are more likely to provide the business connections necessary for children to land their first jobs. Mothers see the rest of the world in relation to the child, focusing on how that child can be protected from harm.

Fathers and mothers teach respect for the opposite sex. Married men are substantially less likely to abuse wives or children. Boys raised with fathers are much less likely to be violent and girls are less likely to be exploited by predatory males. These children learn by example how to treat women and how to choose an appropriate spouse.

Qualitatively, mother love and father love are different. It is the complementary nature in marriage of the differing approaches of the mother and the father that fosters the healthy development of their children.

These findings, coupled with the recent Hoover Institute study conducted by Caroline Hoxby, demonstrate why marriage is the greatest societal asset that exists. In studying the effects of family variables, neighborhood variables, and school variables on student test scores, Hoxby's conclusions are startling to the educational establishment. In rounded numbers, family variables impact student test scores 93%, with the neighborhood impact at 4%, and the school trailing at 3%.

The condition of the family, for better or for worse, will be the single most potent predictor of student academic achievement. And in the case of home educated students, the presence of a married mother and father in the home as the norm, significantly contributes to the placement of those scores higher than 97% of the school districts in the nation.

But what about those homeschooling families in the 3%? Those children raised without the benefit of both mother and father in the home. The commitment of that single parent to make the enormous sacrificial investment in homeschooling those children will mitigate many of the statistical disadvantages cited above. And it is the responsibility of homeschooling community at large to reach out to those families, enfolding them into their own family circles and lending them support.

With the stability of married parents during childhood as the norm as the norm, is it not surprising then, that 98% of adults who were home educated describe their life as happy. They believe that people get ahead by their own hard work. They are satisfied with both their work and financial situation. They are engaged in ongoing community service and civic affairs. And even if they describe their work as routine, they do not consider it dull. They are content with their life.

Yet in the face of this research, the outcry for same-sex marriage resounds across our state and nation. This vast untested social experiment inflicted on children would intentionally create motherless and fatherless homes. And after thirty years of fatherless families, thanks to no-fault divorce, we already have thousands of published studies with the results. A stunning failure.

Stanton documents that on average, children living in fatherless homes suffer in every significant measure of well-being. They have higher levels of physical and mental illness, educational failure, poverty, substance abuse, criminal behavior, loneliness, and physical and sexual abuse. Children living apart from both biological parents are eight times more likely to die of maltreatment than children living with their mother and father. And early research indicates troubling signs of gender confusion and same-sex sexual experimentation in same-sex parented children.

No society has at any time ever raised a generation of children in same-sex families. No child development theory says children need two parents of the same gender, but rather that children need both a mother and a father. A loving and compassionate society will never intentionally create motherless or fatherless families.

As part of the ninety-seven percent, we can treasure the security and well-being our marriages afford our children. But we must not forget that when we allow our society to tinker with the essential nature of marriage, children are deeply and irrevocably harmed for the rest of their lives.

Three senators this session denied us the opportunity to constitutionally safeguard traditional marriage in Idaho. Let us all do our part to convince our senators to protect this treasure from the counterfeits that will rob this generation and the generations to come. A treasure unguarded is a treasure lost.

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