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.

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


With this in mind, let’s take a look at 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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