Katherine Bindley, Huffington Post, 8/20/2011
Unmarried, cohabiting parents may be putting their kids at risk for a host of personal problems – at least according to a new report from the University of Virgina's National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values. But are the findings in the report really as straightforward as they seem? The report, released August 16 and entitled "Why Marriage Matters," pulls together findings from 18 scholars to argue that kids living in cohabiting households don't do as well socially, educationally and psychologically as kids living in intact married households. The authors point to a lack of stability in cohabiting relationships as one of the culprits: cohabiting couples with a child are more than twice as likely to break up before their child turns 12 as their married counterparts. That lack of stability – defined as the rotating crop of parent-like figures who transition in and out of kids' lives – is tied to school failure, behavior problems, drug use and loneliness. The effects are especially evident in children who experience several of these transitions.