Benefits of Marriage for Children

Your Quick Guide to Relationship Success
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Your Quick Guide to Relationship Success
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What to Know About Benefits of Marriage for Children

Research shows the many benefits of marriage for children. These benefits, however, should be weighed against the stress that children feel when see their parents constantly fighting. Whether parents should stay together, separate, or divorce is a complex issue best discussed with a Relationship Specialist. One of the most important factors to consider if you are on the verge of separating or divorcing is when to tell the children. Its extremely important not to say anything to the children until you are both certain and have made plans and arrangements for where and how you will set up separate households. Be sure to tell the children that the events are not their fault, that they are loved, and that they will have access to both parents. With that said, let's move on to consider the benefits of raising children within a marriage.

Steven M Cohn, PhD, LMFT
The Portland Couples Counseling Center
1940 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon  97232


Research suggests that there are several potential benefits for children growing up in stable, married households. It's important to note that these findings are general trends and may not apply to every individual case. Here are some potential benefits:

  1. Emotional and Psychological Well-being: Stability: Marriage often provides a stable environment for children, with two committed parents providing emotional support and a sense of security. Emotional Health: Children in married households may experience lower rates of emotional and behavioral problems.
  2. Educational Success: Academic Achievement: Research indicates that children in married households tend to perform better academically on average. Educational Aspirations: Marriage can positively influence children's aspirations for higher education.
  3. Financial Stability: Economic Resources: Married couples may pool their financial resources, providing a potentially more stable economic environment for children. Access to Resources: Children in married households may have greater access to educational and extracurricular resources.
  4. Social Development: Social Skills: Growing up with both parents can contribute to the development of social skills and the ability to form healthy relationships. Role Modeling: Children may have positive role models for healthy communication and conflict resolution.
  5. Health Outcomes: Physical Health: Some studies suggest that children in married households may have better physical health outcomes. Access to Healthcare: Marriage can be associated with increased access to healthcare and preventative services for children.
  6. Reduced Risk of Negative Outcomes: Lower Risk of Delinquency: Research has shown a correlation between single-parent households and a higher risk of delinquency. Lower Risk of Substance Abuse: Children in married households may be less likely to engage in substance abuse.

It's crucial to note that these benefits are associated with stable, healthy marriages. Not all marriages provide these advantages, and other family structures can also provide nurturing environments for children. The quality of parenting, the level of conflict in the household, and the overall well-being of family members are all critical factors in a child's development, regardless of the specific family structure. Every family is unique, and individual circumstances vary.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some more of the benefits of marriage for children.

Children with married parents tend to do better than children who have divorced, cohabiting, or single parents. For example, according to the Center for Law and Social Policy, “Most researchers now agree that . . . children do best when raised by their two married biological parents.”(1)

Improved health, for example, is one of the benefits of marriage for children. Dr. Judith Wallerstein, an expert on divorce and children, reports relational and emotional issues plague children of divorce throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Sometimes the negative affects of divorce worsened as a child grows into adulthood.(2) Health issues of children from divorced families have been reported to increase by 20 to 30 percent over intact families.(3)

Dr. Nicholas Zill (the Journal of Family Psychology) reports that children with divorced parents tend toward “high levels of emotional distress, or problem behavior, [and often require] psychological help.”(4) Additionally, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that children from intact families received professional support for psychological problems and behaviors at half the rate of children from divorce.(5)

Whether you should stay together for the sake of the children is a difficult and painful issue. If you are struggling with this issue, you might want to consider seeing Relationship Specialist.

The first article in this series is titled Second Marriage Children


(1)Mary Parke, “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?” Center for Law and Social Policy Policy Brief, May 2003, p. 1.

(2)Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, Second Chances: Men and Woman a Decade After Divorce, (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1990); Judith Wallerstein, et al., The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study, (New York: Hyperion, 2000), p. xxvii-xxix.

(3)L. Remez, "Children Who Don't Live with Both Parents Face Behavioral Problems," Family Planning Perspectives, January/February 1992.

(4)Nicholas Zill, Donna Morrison, and Mary Jo Coiro, "Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships, Adjustment, and Achievement in Young Adulthood," Journal of Family Psychology, 7 (1993):91-103.

(5)Deborah A. Dawson, "Family Structure and Children's Health and Well-being: Data from the National Health Interview Survey on Child Health," Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53 (1991): 573-584.

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