The financial disadvantages impacting children born outside of marriage is associated with more family instability for children: a UK study has found

In recent decades, much of the globe has witnessed a retreat from marriage. This means more children are being born outside of marriage, either to single parents or cohabiting couples, in countries around the world. This social change raises a few questions:

  1. Are such children less likely to enjoy stable family lives?
  2. Is the growth of non-marital childbearing, including the growth of childbearing within a cohabiting union, associated with more family instability for children? 
  3. Are there financial disadvantages impacting children born outside of marriage?

To answer question 3, the Cohabitation-Go-Round study provides fresh evidence that financial disadvantages impacting children born outside of marriage and that cohabitation is less likely to deliver family stability for children, compared to marriage. As the American expert on family and marriage Professor Brad Wilcox said: “We know that children thrive on stable routines with stable caregivers.

For single parents disadvantage associated with lower income compared to coupled parents is a simple example. The risk is heighted because of the increase in cohabitation in general and the associated instability of these relationships. The study highlights the potential financial vulnerability to which people in longer term cohabitation may be exposed and some of the difficulties faced by parents in settling property and parenting matters.

In Australia, studies show that family instability is associated with a host of negative outcomes for children even among children in higher income households. Recent research from AIFS revealed that while mothers have increasingly moved into paid work (both full and part-time work, increasing from 43% in 1981 to 63% in 2009), the reliance on formal childcare for preschool age children has also increased (from 29% in 1987 to 45% in 2002). And the costs of childcare in Australia is one of the highest in the OECD but with one of the lowest participation rates (according to the Australian and ABC Fact checker). 

These amongst others are issues have contributed to the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Act 2008, which came into operation on 1 March 2009 (and 1 July 2010 for South Australia) which highlight issues faced by parents in settling property. 

Under the so-called “de facto property regime” established through this legislation, cohabiting couples who meet certain criteria (e.g., they have lived together for at least two years, or have a child of the relationship) are treated in the same way as married couples. Before its passage, the new legislation’s treatment of cohabitation of at least two years in the same way as marriage sparked a great deal of controversy, highlighting the tension between respecting people’s private decisions to live together outside marriage and protecting their potential vulnerability in nationally consistent ways should the relationship break down (see Parkinson, 2008). However, little is known about cohabiting couples’ understanding of the legal consequences of their staying together for at least two years, should they have begun their relationship after the “de facto property regime” was established.

There is no doubt that financial vulnerability poses many negative impacts on families and children however unique challenges such as the cost of childcare and property settlement and parenting matters, appear to present children with more challenges than merely being reared by couples parents. 

Source:

  • DeRose, L. Lyons-Amos, M.; Wilcox, W.B.; and Huarcaya, G. 2017: The Cohabitation-Go-Round: Cohabitation and Family Stability Across the Globe, Social Trends Institute, World Family Map 2017.
  • Families then and now: 1980-2010: Alan Hayes, Ruth Weston, Lixia Qu and Matthew Gray
  • Weston, R., & Qu, L. (2013). Working out relationships (Australian Family Trends No. 3). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Bita, Natascha 2015: Australian childcare system among world’s most expensive: OECD, The Australian, November 25, 2015.

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The growth of non-marital childbearing, including the growth of childbearing within a cohabiting union is associated with more family instability for children: a UK study claims

In recent decades, much of the globe has witnessed a retreat from marriage. This means more children are being born outside of marriage, either to single parents or cohabiting couples, in countries around the world. This social change raises a few questions:

  1. Are such children less likely to enjoy stable family lives?
  2. Is the growth of non-marital childbearing, including the growth of childbearing within a cohabiting union, associated with more family instability for children? 
  3. Are there financial disadvantages impacting children born outside of marriage?

To answer question 2, the Cohabitation-go-round study provides fresh evidence that cohabitation is less likely to deliver such family stability to children, compared to marriage and as the American expert on family and marriage Professor Brad Wilcox said: “We know that children thrive on stable routines with stable caregivers.

Similar comparisons can be made to Australian families because family instability is associated with a host of negative outcomes for children.

While in Australia the rates of living together without marrying are increasing, cohabitation is nevertheless the normative pathway to marriage. While it remains the case that the vast majority of couples in a living-together union are married to each other, cohabitation without marriage appears to have increased by one to three percentage points across each Census year since 1971, reaching 16% in 2011.

Prior to 1997, there was a substantial increase in the proportion of families with children that were headed by a lone parent (father or mother). These proportions were:

  • 12% in 1980
  • 15% in 1990
  • 20% in 1997 and
  • 21% in 2008.

Given the increase in cohabitation rates, changes have also occurred in the marital status of parents. For example, while most lone parents living with dependent children have been married previously, lone parents today are less likely than in the past to have ever been married.

About one in five lone parents living with dependent children in 1986 was never married, compared with around one in three in 2006.

The increase in the proportion of lone parents who have never married does not mean that these parents became lone parents when their children were born. Many of today’s lone parents have separated from a de facto relationship.

For example, recent research in Australia reveals that part of the disadvantage associated with being born to a single mother may be the heighted risk of subsequent union transitions faced by children of single mothers… and union transitions appear to present children with more challenges than merely being reared by a lone parent.

If comparisons can be made to the UK study, and that children are more likely to flounder in unstable families, the spike in children born outside of marriage eludes to the fact that children from cohabiting relationships are more likely to experience parental separation than those living with married parents.

There is also a growing consensus that the number of parental union transitions matters for children above and beyond family structure,  with children being more likely to thrive in stable families and more likely to flounder in unstable ones.

Source:
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  • DeRose, L. Lyons-Amos, M.; Wilcox, W.B.; and Huarcaya, G. 2017: The Cohabitation-Go-Round: Cohabitation and Family Stability Across the Globe, Social Trends Institute, World Family Map 2017.
  • Families then and now: 1980-2010: Alan Hayes, Ruth Weston, Lixia Qu and Matthew Gray
  • Weston, R., & Qu, L. (2013). Working out relationships (Australian Family Trends No. 3). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
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    The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

    For more information on the use and analysis of the Couple Checkup or to simply use the tool, please contact: www.couplecheckup.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #couplecheckup #relationship

    Children thrive on stable routines with stable caregivers… and cohabitation is less likely to deliver such family stability to children, compared to marriage: a UK study has found

    In recent decades, much of the globe has witnessed a retreat from marriage. This means more children are being born outside of marriage, either to single parents or cohabiting couples, in countries around the world. This social change raises a few questions:

    1. Are such children less likely to enjoy stable family lives?
    2. Is the growth of non-marital childbearing, including the growth of childbearing within a cohabiting union, associated with more family instability for children? 
    3. Are there financial disadvantages impacting children born outside of marriage?

    A new study has found that the United Kingdom has among the highest rates of family instability in the developed world. Commenting on the study, distinguished American expert on family and marriage Professor Brad Wilcox said: “We know that children thrive on stable routines with stable caregivers. 

    Research undertaken by the Social Trends Institute highlights the growing consensus that the number of parental union transitions matters for children above and beyond family structure, with children being more likely to thrive in stable families and more likely to flounder in unstable ones.

    Similar comparisons can be made to Australian families because family instability is associated with a host of negative outcomes for children. According to Australian research, households consisting of lone-parent families is increasing (from less than 7% in 1976 to 11% by 2006). The research also found that there was a significant increase in the rate of ex-nuptial births from 1980 (only 12.4% of babies born outside of marriage) to more than one-third of all babies born in 2008 (34.4%).

    Whilst  the proportion of all divorces that involve children has declined since the early 1970s – from 68% in 1971 to 61% in 1980, 56% in 1990, 53% in 2000, and 48% in 2012, the trends do not capture the extent to which cohabiting relationships break down. In any case, over the last decade, at least 47,000 to 55,000 children under 18 years will have experienced the divorce of their parents each year.

    Analysis of data from “Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)”, indicates that children living with cohabiting parents are more likely than those living with married parents to experience parental separation.

    In another report (Weston, R. and Qu, L. 2013) the authors suggest that trends in the formation and stability of relationships and in childbearing and family formation have changed in striking ways over past decade.

    If comparisons can be made to the UK study, and that children are more likely to flounder in unstable families, the spike in children born outside of marriage eludes to the fact that children from cohabiting relationships are more likely to experience parental separation than those living with married parents.

    Source:

    • DeRose, L. Lyons-Amos, M.; Wilcox, W.B.; and Huarcaya, G. 2017: The Cohabitation-go-round: Cohabitation and Family Stability Across the Globe, Social Trends Institute, World Family Map 2017.
    • Families then and now: 1980-2010: Alan Hayes, Ruth Weston, Lixia Qu and Matthew Gray
    • Weston, R., & Qu, L. (2013). Working out relationships (Australian Family Trends No. 3). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

    Read more: The Cohabitation Go Round: Cohabitation and Family Instability across the Globe.

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    The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy. 

    The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

    For more information on the use and analysis of the Couple Checkup or to simply use the tool, please contact: www.couplecheckup.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #couplecheckup #relationship

    Across the globe, children are more likely to thrive in stable families and more likely to flounder in unstable ones: a UK study has found

    There is a growing consensus that the number of parental union transitions matters for children above and beyond family structure, with children being more likely to thrive in stable families and more likely to flounder in unstable ones.

    Sociologist Andrew Cherlin noted in ‘The Marriage-Go-Round’, family instability is a cause for concern “because it may increase children’s behavioral and emotional problems. Simply put, some children seem to have difficulty adjusting to a series of parents and parents’ partners moving in and out of their home.”

    With cohabitation on the rise, ‘the Cohabitation-go-round’ study found that in Europe and the United State that children born to cohabiting and especially single parents experience higher levels of family instability in the first 12 years of their lives. Using data from 100 countries around the globe, this study also found that family instability is higher in countries where more children are born to single mothers and cohabiting couples.

    National-level data from 68 countries shows that the growth of cohabitation is associated with increases in family instability. In other words, marriage seems to be associated with more family stability for children across much of the globe, whereas cohabitation is typically associated with more instability.

    References:

    • Cherlin, Andrew 2010: The Marriage-go-round:  The State of  Marriage and the Family in America  Today  (New  York:  Random House LLC):  p.5.
    • DeRose, L. Lyons-Amos, M.; Wilcox, W.B.; and Huarcaya, G. 2017: the Cohabitation-go-round: Cohabitation and Family Stability Across the Globe, Social Trends Institute, World Family Map 2017.

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    The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy. 

    The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

    For more information on the use and analysis of the Couple Checkup or to simply use the tool, please contact: www.couplecheckup.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #couplecheckup #relationship

    Alcohol is one of the main causes of conflict between partners

    According to research by travel agency ebookers.com, over a quarter (26%) of British women blame alcohol for any arguments they have with their partners while on holiday. While it’s important for couples to air their issues from time to time, arguing after drinking rarely leads to constructive problem solving.

    To try and stop these conflicts arising, here are a few tips:

    1. Talk about your problems when sober.
    2. Break the routine. If routine dictates that you and your partner get through a bottle of wine most evenings, why not break from it and cut back a little?
    3. Go for a walk, to the cinema or to the gym together.
    4. Eat while drinking. Food can slow down the rate your body absorbs alcohol.

    If you don’t want to cut alcohol out of your diet, make sure you drink responsibly and if a sensitive topic is discussed, agree to discuss it at a later time.

    More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

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    The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy. 

    The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

    For more information on the use and analysis of the Couple Checkup or to simply use the tool, please contact: www.couplecheckup.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #couplecheckup #relationship

    10 things to do for your relationship this Valentines Day

    By Robyn Donnelly, Co-ordinator Marriage and Relationship Education – CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning

    What a lovely reminder Valentine’s Day on 14th February is for those in a relationship – however it is a timely reminder that we should be thinking about what we should be doing daily for our partner.   

    Leading relationship expert, Dr John Gottman says this:  “Small Things Often” and it is the small things often – more often, which make a relationship fulfilling and keeps couples connected.

    Some of my favourite quotes highlight this:

    • “The greatest gift you can give your children is a strong relationship between the parents”
    • “Great relationships are built on a deep friendship, mutual respect and enjoyment of each others company”
    • “What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while”

    So if it’s the small things daily and not just the biggest box of chocolates, an expensive dinner out, a bunch of flowers, a new shirt or tie… that count in the long-term.

    What is it that you can do to show your partner that you are living your love intentionally?

    Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

    • Kiss like you mean it (remember your dating kisses and now due to being busy a peck on the cheek is the daily routine) – always kiss hello and goodbye on the lips;
    • Ask you partner what a great night in is and plan it by surprise after work one night or this weekend;
    • Take over one of their jobs or responsibilities for the next week or two;
    • Ask your partner their favourite meal and cook it this weekend;
    • Break routine – go out for breakfast during the week before you both head off to work;
    • Show an interest in your partners world by asking questions and listening and then ….. asking more questions about the topic – and stay interested;
    • Compliment your partner often;
    • Play a board game;
    • Suggest an evening walk after dinner to buy ice cream or coffee;
    • Take a packed dinner to the beach or park;
    • Ask your partner often “what do you need from me right now”;
    • Buy the book “7 Principles of Making a Marriage Work” and read it together; and
    • Never stop saying thank you or being polite to your partner;

    Here is an idea for Valentine’s Day: Write a list of the things you love and admire about your partner and hand it to them on Valentines day with a credit note saying – How can I help you today?

    That doesn’t sound too hard (but some would say not that’s not very exciting) but it is these small gestures which are going help you stay connected and ensure your partner feels a priority or special.   

    Have a great Valentines Day – for me a reminder day – what should we be doing more often!

    More tips, next week…

    Robyn has been involved in the field of Marriage & Relationship Education for over 20 years; approximately 14 of these with Catholic Care (formerly known as Centacare). Robyn’s passion for supporting couples at all stages of their commitment – pre, post marriage and parenting is contagious, she is a strong believer that prevention is better than cure. Robyn is a FOCCUS facilitator, Co-ordinator & Facilitator of Before We Say I Do Group Programs and Bringing Baby Home Workshops as well as a program called ENHANCE, enrichment sessions she created for post marriage couples in Newcastle, NSW
    Robyn was awarded the Inaugural 2014 Marriage and Relationship Educators Association (MAREAA) Award for Innovation and Excellence in the marriage & relationship field and is currently the NSW Representative for MAREAA NSW.

    More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

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    The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy. 

    The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

    For more information on the use and analysis of the Couple Checkup or to simply use the tool, please contact: www.couplecheckup.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #couplecheckup #relationship

    Problem solving done well can bring immense intimacy to your relationship: Choose a positive response and remain positive

    Effective Communication, Time management and Problem Solving Skills are three skills we are not born with, but critical in terms of success in our relationships.

    Pragmatic approaches to solving problems with our partner are areas that we need to develop together to ensure our relationships are sustained for the long term.

    Reflect, discuss and act on these with your partner today and feel the weight reduce and intimacy take over. Set your relationship up for 2017 with a renewed understanding.

    Here is the next of these three vital skills:

      3. Problem Solving: Couples that are compassionate and share recognition and power are good at solving problems. Whilst challenging, they resist criticism and contempt. They are rarely defensive and never stonewall the other.
      They don’t use win-lose tactics and thet think abundance for both themselves and their partner – they cooperate for mutual long-term benefit.
      They choose a positive response and remain positive. They learn from experiences and are open to changing their position and attitude… they discover a better way and intimacy is created.

    These principles can bring immense intimacy and love to your marriage.

    Refine these 3 vital skills: Communication, Time Management and Problem Solving Skills. Reflect, discuss and act on these with your partner today.

    More tips, next week…

    More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

    Take the Couple Checkup

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    Take the Couple Checkup

    The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy. 

    The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

    For more information on the use and analysis of the Couple Checkup or to simply use the tool, please contact: www.couplecheckup.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #couplecheckup #relationship