I need no convincing about the risks posed by a 40-percent unmarried parenting rate and a 50-percent divorce rate. Troubled people wind up in court, and I have almost come to expect a background of family fragmentation when I see someone struggling and unstable.
This new American Experiment symposium grows out of a book of mine published just about a year ago, From Family Collapse to America’s Decline: The Educational, Economic, and Social Costs of Family Fragmentation, which examined many of the problems and shortcomings resulting from very high rates of nonmarital births, very high rates of divorce, and routinely short-lived cohabiting relationships. One of the book’s central themes is how such family churning—more specifically, the extent to which it hurts great numbers of children—is leading, and can only lead, to stunted mobility and deeper class divisions in a nation that has never viewed itself in such splintered ways.
This Roundtable points the way to making divorce—when it is, in fact, unavoidable—less damaging to all concerned starting with children. What it also does, even more importantly, is point to early Minnesota-based research and its potential for saving some portion of marriages in ways that most therapists, lawyers, judges and others in the field have never considered, or to be blunt about it, have never cared to consider.
How Can Conservatism Better Allay the Economic Fears of Working-Class and Middle-Class Americans? is the third in a current series of American Experiment symposia aimed at vitalizing conservatism in Minnesota and the nation.