Dr. Patrick Fagan

Family breakdown is threatening America’s ability to lead the world, according to a new study released by the Family Research Council.

“A great nation depends on great families, but weak families will build a weak nation,” writes FRC scholar Dr. Patrick Fagan in “The US Index of Belonging and Rejection.”

“Bluntly put, the United States will not be able to maintain its leadership role in the community of nations unless its parents take a leadership role in the communities they have built: their families, which are the fundamental units of our society. If the United States desires to be a leader in the world, pursuing what is good for itself and other nations, its parents must first be leaders of their own homes and children,” warns Fagan, director of FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute.

” … [W]hat proportion of our children grow up in an intact home” is the best measure of the health of the American family, contends Fagan. He notes that only 45 percent of U.S. teenagers aged 15-17 in 2008 were living in homes with both biological parents present. The majority, 55 percent, were living in homes where the biological parents have “rejected” each other. Fagan’s study is based on data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey.


“A substantial body of research shows that children tend to do better growing up in two-parent households where mother and father are married harmoniously to one another,” writes Fagan.

According to Fagan, the research shows children raised in intact families perform better academically, demonstrate greater social development, enjoy better mental health and exhibit fewer behavioral problems. They are less likely to be poor or depend on welfare.

Fagan identifies increased rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing as the primary reasons why so many children are deprived of “growing up in a stable, two-parent family.” Such children pay the price for parental misbehavior, which is rooted in a widespread lack of understanding among Americans about the proper role of sex in their lives.

“[Americans] do not understand how to think about their sexuality holistically, understanding it as a part of who they are, not merely something they do. This lack of a complete view of sexuality means that Americans cannot accomplish the primary purpose of the sexual act: the begetting and raising of the next generation,” writes Fagan.

Children raised outside of an intact family are afflicted with the “emotional, relational and psychological effects of this rejection,” Fagan asserts. They suffer child abuse in greater numbers, are less likely to graduate from high school, become addicted to drugs more frequently, and are more likely to become delinquents and criminals.

The cycle repeats itself as children from broken families are more likely to drop out of school, get pregnant as teenagers and raise children outside of marriage.

The consequences of broken families, felt first by children, are inevitably felt by the greater society as well. Neighborhoods with greater percentages of children raised in non-intact families witness higher levels of domestic abuse and crime. They tend to have higher levels of unemployment, poverty, and welfare dependency.

Broken families are more likely to become burdens on society.

Dr. Patrick Fagan

“The costs of running American society are mounting due to accrued legislation and continually expanding expensive protections through the many additional services needed because of the breakdown of marriage,” writes Fagan. “Current family structures add massively to these costs in every service sector, both public and private, especially in education, health, mental health and the administration of justice.”

The annual cost of divorce to American taxpayers is estimated conservatively at $112 billion, Fagan writes, citing “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing” by Benjamin Scafidi.

Fagan notes that all of these social ills were predicted by former U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his controversial 1965 study, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” but the problem has gotten much worse and has spread throughout the society.

“The Rejection Ratio among Asian-Americans, the highest ranking ethnic group, is now higher than what was the percent of out-of-wedlock births in the black family back in 1965 when Daniel Patrick Moynihan tried to raise the alarm on those earlier indications of rejection,” Fagan writes.

“American men and women need to learn anew how to belong to each other, so that they can not only beget but also raise the next generation together. Correcting this gender dysfunction is likely our biggest societal challenge,” Fagan contends.

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